ST. LOUIS (AP) — Michael Wacha’s first start of the season was just what the St. Louis Cardinals wanted.
Wacha pitched six fine innings and the Cardinals, behind two home runs from Aledmys Diaz, beat the Cincinnati Reds 10-4 Saturday to spoil Bronson Arroyo’s return to the majors.
Reds manager Bryan Price thought Wacha looked like his old self.
“Velocity was back up,” Price said. “I think his hallmark of his game is the downhill plane and he was at the bottom of the zone and below with his fastball.”
Wacha (1-0) allowed three hits and a run, striking out six and walking one. The Cardinals ended a three-game skid and stopped the Reds’ three-game winning streak.
Wacha went 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 30 starts in 2015, but struggled a year ago, going 7-7 with a 5.09 ERA in 138 innings. He earned the fifth spot in the rotation with a strong spring, posting a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings over seven starts.
“I was able to establish the fastball down in the zone and was able to work that changeup off of it and I was able get some swings and misses on it,” Wacha said.
The Reds called up 40-year-old Arroyo (0-1) to make the start. The right-hander, who spent 2 1/2 years out of the major leagues with elbow and shoulder troubles, allowed six earned runs on six hits over four innings, with three strikeouts and three walks.
Diaz hit a solo homer in the first inning. He connected for a two-out, three-run drive in the fourth after Wacha extended the inning with his 14th hit in 143 career at-bats.
“Yeah, that killed me,” Arroyo said of Wacha’s single. “You know we get the pitcher out there it’s 2-1 and I’m going into the fifth and you’re looking pretty good, keep yourself in the ballgame. But I opened up a can of worms there I just couldn’t put the lid back on and Diaz hurt me twice, both of them were the two worst pitches I threw all day.”