Hits just keep on coming for Cardinals as they drum the Pirates 17-4 – STLtoday.com

Unable to bring the team to their living room, the Fowlers found a way to bring their favorite living room pastime to the team by hosting a karaoke party Wednesday to see how many Cardinals can carry a tune. On one of their rare off nights at home when they didn’t have to work together, a group of Cardinals got together at a St. Louis-area joint to see a Dexter Fowler and Adam Wainwright duet, Marcell Ozuna’s take on Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Yadier Molina’s two-step.

Evidently, a team that sings together strings swings together.

The day after their open-mic night, the hits just kept on coming.

The Cardinals drummed the Pittsburgh Pirates for 11 runs by the end of the fourth inning and soared to a 17-4 victory Thursday at Busch Stadium. A chorus of 16 hits, six doubles, and eight walks gave the Cardinals their most runs scored of the season and the most scored without a single home run in more than a decade.

To blast a weeklong dirge littered with errors and shutouts, the Cardinals didn’t need big pop stars, just the classics. They sent nine batters to plate in the second inning against Bucs starter Joe Musgrove, 10 more in the fourth, and nine again in the sixth. Ozuna joined the jam session and had three at-bats with the bases loaded and four RBIs. The first six batters in the Cardinals’ order all reached base safely at least three times each. Paul Goldschmidt ended a two-week stretch without an RBI, strumming three hits – one to each part of the outfield. Then he delivered the hook.

“If we want to accomplish our goals that we want to accomplish and get into the postseason, you’re going to have to do it consistently every night,” Goldschmidt said. “For the most part we’ve done that. It’s one win. We could win 1-0 or score big. Our mindset is to try and do it every day. The team that is the most consistent throughout the year is probably going to win the most games.”

The Cardinals had been blanked twice in the previous six games and lost six of their previous seven as Pittsburgh arrived for a four-game set. How they lost was as unsteadying as the losses. Manager Mike Shildt, playing off a refrain from spring training train, said one night the Cardinals “beat ourselves.” The offense’s volume turned down, the mistakes in the field reached a crescendo. All four positions in the infield committed at least an error in the first three games of the home stand. One to trip to Chicago, and the Cardinals came back without any of the rhythm that had won them the best record in the National League. They lacked timely hits, baserunners, routine plays, and all that jazz.

Still, shortstop Paul DeJong stood at his locker early Thursday and said with the Pirates in town, “Now we have a chance to make a statement in the division. Winning two early is going to help us win the next two.”

But first, some music to set the mood.

Fowler, the karaoke organizer-in-chief, and his wife Aliya have a karaoke machine at their Las Vegas home and will share on social media their sing-a-longs. They had wanted to host a team party before and Aliya organized the wives to make it happen Wednesday night. Many Cardinals and their significant others attended. Many even sang. Ozuna did his go-to, “Simple Man” by Skynyrd, with backup vocals from Wainwright. Kolten Wong got his “beep beep” and “toot toot” going. Cagey karaoke vet Luke Gregerson drew raves for his Joe Cocker takes. Molina likes his “chicken fried” and “a pair of jeans that fits just right” with his karaoke standard by the Zac Brown Band. So much of this was captured and shared on social media, including Fowler and Wainwright, with their spouses watching, belting out “Shallow,” the torch song from “A Star is Born.”

“You saw that?” said Wainwright, a karaoke aficionado who hosts a sing-off for charity every winter. “Any time you can get together with the team and have a moment like that, just let loose a little bit, it’s going to help put the stress of work behind you. That’s why they have karaoke bars, right?”

So many of Wednesday’s crooners were Thursday’s contributors. Molina doubled home the Cardinals’ first run and moved ahead of Enos Slaughter for seventh all-time with 366 doubles for the Cardinals. In the fourth, Molina nearly had the showstopper when his 380-foot RBI single came yards shy of a grand slam. Fowler put the Cardinals ahead with a two-run double in the second, had three RBIs by the end of the third, and squeaked a grounder by Josh Bell that allowed two more runs to score. The musical numbers continued.

Kolten Wong rapped two doubles. Ozuna walked twice and scored twice before getting four RBIs in his final two swings. Matt Carpenter reached base four times, and he and Goldschmidt combined to go five-for-nine with five runs. All of it carried Michael Wacha (3-0) to an early lead that he held with a perfect fourth and 5 2/3 innings. Of the Cardinals’ 41 at-bats, 25 came with a runner in scoring position. They hadn’t had that many since the heat was on in 1985.

True to his position, DeJong was in the middle of everything with a diving play to his left, a ranging play to his right, two walks, and he scored from first on Ozuna’s bases-clearing double in the sixth. For the first time in at least a week, the Cardinals’ play had harmony.

“We talk about homers – they’re nice, we’ll take them,” Shildt said. “When we’re at our best, we’re doing damage in a lot of different ways and using all of our skills and playing the game based on situations.”

And wearing out third-base coach Ron “Pop” Warner.

“Pop is ready to rock,” Shildt assured.

Not Shildt, not yet. The manager admitted after Wednesday’s game that he has never been out for karaoke, doesn’t have a go-to song, wouldn’t even know where to start. Fowler, karaoke devotee, said he’s ready to help. Because if it’s going to strike up the band for 17 runs, 16 hits …

What else do they do for an encore?

“We’re going to have to do it again,” Fowler said. “Round 2.”


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