Wacha solid, Diaz has big day in Cards rout

Wacha solid, Diaz has big day in Cards rout

ST. LOUIS -- Boosted by Aledmys Diaz's first career multi-homer game, the Cardinals' offense awoke Saturday to spoil Bronson Arroyo's return to the Majors. With a 10-4 rout of the Reds at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals surpassed their season run total in one afternoon and gave Michael Wacha more than sufficient support in his season debut.

Diaz deposited Arroyo's fourth pitch of the game into the left-field seats to give the Cardinals an early lead, and, three innings later, put the Cardinals ahead by five with a three-run drive to nearly the same spot.

"Somebody had to get it going, and he just decided to do it twice," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose club had been shut out on two hits a night earlier. "And then you saw it continue."

Arroyo, who became the first Reds pitcher to start a game at age 40 since 1945, allowed six runs on six hits over four innings. However, just getting back on the mound was an achievement. Saturday's start marked Arroyo's first Major League appearance since June 2014.

"It was a battle. It was a grind, man," Arroyo said. "I didn't get deep enough in the ballgame to really make a difference. But I felt OK."

Arroyo whiffs Diaz in his return

After cementing himself as the team's fifth starter with a standout spring, Wacha continued a string of strong starting pitching performances with his six-inning outing. Wacha scattered three hits -- all extra-base knocks -- while striking out six. He limited Cincinnati to one run.

The Cardinals chose to be conservative with Wacha's workload after padding their lead with a three-run sixth off reliever Robert Stephenson. Wacha exited with a pitch count of 83. With Wacha's start complete, Cardinals starters posted a 1.71 ERA the first time through their rotation.

"Our expectations in this clubhouse are high," Wacha said. "We want to go out there and give our team the best chance to win, and go out there and set the tone for the game. So far, we've been doing that. And hopefully we can keep on attacking them the way we have been."

Wacha strikes out Duvall

Reds outfielder Scott Schebler came off the bench and crushed a two-run homer off reliever Jonathan Broxton in the eighth. It was Schebler's second homer in as many days off the Cardinals' bullpen.

Schebler's two-run home run

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Encore performance: After taking Arroyo deep in the first inning, Diaz put the Cardinals comfortably ahead, 6-1, with his three-run shot in the fourth. Both homers came on offspeed pitches on the inside part of the plate, and both traveled 381 feet, per Statcast™. The multi-homer game was the 14th all-time by a Cardinals shortstop. It was set up by Wacha's two-out RBI single and a Dexter Fowler walk.

"I got fooled two times with breaking balls, so I was just trying to put the ball in play," Diaz said. "He threw me a slider in, and I was able to get the ball fair."

Diaz on his homers, Cards' win

Perfect placement: With an exit velocity of 88.5 mph and a launch angle of 53 degrees, the ball that came off Yadier Molina's bat in the first inning had a hit probability of 1 percent. But Molina enjoyed being the exception. The ball dropped just inside the right-field foul line, in between first baseman Joey Votto and right fielder Patrick Kivlehan, who made a sliding attempt to catch it. Matt Adams, who had reached ahead of Molina on a two-out walk, hustled all the way home to put the Cardinals ahead, 2-0.

"That was just effort. He feels really good about how he's moving right now," Matheny said. "To score on that particular hit shows that, one, he's being really intentional about what he's doing on the bases, and two, he's moving better."

Molina's RBI double

QUOTABLE
"Significant lobbying from Waino. He started early, too, by the way. He just kind of hangs out by me and just waits for me to acknowledge that he's there."
-- Matheny, on how he came to the decision to send Adam Wainwright up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning

Wainwright's pinch-hit single

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Reds pitchers combined to allow 12 walks in the game. It was the first time they've walked that many since issuing 12 free passes to the Padres in a 16-inning game on May 16, 2009. The last time Cincinnati pitchers achieved the dubious feat in a nine-inning game was vs. the Brewers on May 10, 2003, when they walked 13. The Cardinals hadn't drawn 12 walks in a game against the Reds since April 21, 1948, in a win at Sportsman's Park.

"That was just not good," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "You look at the box score at the end of the day and you gave up 10 runs, but you look at 12 walks and a couple of homers. You've got to make them swing the bat at this ballpark. You really do. It wasn't our best game as far as balls and strikes and command goes. So we've got to step up."

STEPHENSON'S COMMAND TAKES LEAVE
In his 2017 debut, Stephenson replaced Arroyo in the fifth inning and produced rough and wild results with six walks (one intentional) and three earned runs over 1 2/3 innings. The right-hander, who threw 33 balls and 26 strikes, went to three-ball counts on nine of 12 hitters -- excluding the intentional walk -- and walked Matt Carpenter and Adams with eight consecutive balls.

"Emotional leads to mechanical," Price said. "We've spent a lot of time working to get him in a position to drive the ball down the slope of the mound. And he kind of got back into some old habits, collapsing his back leg. He kind of has a little teeter-totter at the top where that front shoulder hikes, and it's hard for him to get over the ball and get down to create the plane."

WHAT'S NEXT
Reds: The three-game series concludes at 2:15 p.m. ET Sunday with Scott Feldman making his second start of the season. Cincinnati will be looking for just its fourth series win out of the last 29 at Busch Stadium since 2006.

Cardinals: The Cardinals will close out their opening homestand with a 1:15 p.m. CT game on Sunday. Carlos Martinez, who threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings in his Opening Night appearance, will make the start.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.