Weaver Allows Eight, Bats Come Alive Too Late In Blowout Loss

Jun 30, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis (22) rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals starter Luke Weaver took his hat off and slumped in disappointment as he watched Nick Markakis’ grand slam sail over the right field wall in the fifth inning.

A pair of runs followed with two outs in the inning, as Weaver was pulled after 4 2/3 innings pitched. The rookie gave up eight runs, ten hits and two walks in the Cardinals’ 11-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

“That game came down to that fifth inning,” manager Mike Matheny said. “It started out with a strikeout, an infield single and a bloop; then it turned on a very good at-bat. He got Markakis probably four foul balls there on good pitches, but [Markakis] won that one. That swayed the game pretty radically.”

Weaver’s downfall began on a Markakis double to lead off the second inning. Four of the five hitters that inning squared up the ball, resulting in an early 2-0 lead for the Braves.

“Mechanically, I was just a tick off,” Weaver said. “I was leaving some pitches up a little bit. The damage was done on a couple big swings, and I thought I threw some pitches in good spots, but I’ve gotta execute a little better.”

Although Weaver wasn’t getting any help from his offense to start with, an eight-run deficit through five innings will take the wind out of just about any team. The Cardinals had four hits through eight innings — none of them for extra-bases.

Braves starter Max Fried kept the St. Louis lineup off balance by hitting his spots with a sharp-breaking curveball, a mid-90’s fastball and a variety of other pitches. His night ended after 6 2/3 innings, recording 11 strikeouts, his first career base-hit, and holding a shutout.

“[Fried] has got good stuff,” Matheny said. “He kept everybody off balance. It was one of the better left-handed breaking-balls we’ve seen this year. He had enough giddy-up on his fastball at the top of the zone to make his breaking-ball effective where you get chases at the top. Yeah, he did what he wanted to do.”

Reliever Matt Wisler kept the Cardinals lineup in check, as a shutout looked to be in the near future — until a Jose Martínez leadoff home run to start the ninth inning.

Martínez’s 13th long-ball of the campaign began a four-run rally in the ninth that included three extra-base hits. The 11 run deficit could only be cut down so much though, as the offense got going too late for the second straight game.

John Gant (2-2, 3.48 ERA) will try to build off a seven inning, one hit performance in his last start. He’ll take on one of the best pitchers in the National League in Mike Foltynewicz (5-4, 2.14 ERA) at 1:15 p.m. Friday at Busch Stadium as the Cardinals look to avoid getting swept.

Jack Parodi covers the St. Louis Cardinals for 590 The Fan and you can find him on Twitter @jack_parodi.