Nolan Arenado is proving to be a perfect fit with the St. Louis Cardinals, who continue their three-game series Saturday afternoon against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
Arenado made a successful home debut on Thursday with a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning, giving St. Louis a 3-1 victory in the Cardinals' home opener. The five-time All-Star was acquired from Colorado on Feb. 1 and is batting .345 with at least one hit in each of his first seven Cardinals games.
After dropping two of three against Cincinnati to open the season, St. Louis has won four in a row with its new third baseman leading the way. Arenado received a curtain call after Thursday's heroics.
"Our fans, I don't know if they know this, but he's so focused on being a world champion as a St. Louis Cardinals player. You can't even believe it," St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright said. "Guy eats, sleeps, drinks, reads baseball, and he wants to win as bad as anybody I've been around. He wants to win here."
Milwaukee is 2-2 on its six-game road trip but needs to jump-start its offense after averaging just 2.3 runs over its last six contests.
Catcher Omar Narvaez is off to a strong start with eight hits in 18 at-bats (.444), including two homers, but the Brewers need more production from regulars such as first baseman Keston Hiura (1-for-23), shortstop Luis Urias (2-for-21) and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (1-for-19).
Milwaukee could be without its starting second baseman this weekend after Kolten Wong (2-for-19) exited Thursday's game with a left oblique strain.
Wong was facing his former team for the first time on Thursday when he was injured on his third at-bat. The team's leadoff hitter is listed as day-to-day and will be reevaluated prior to Saturday's game.
"You know, things like this happen," Wong said. "It's part of the game. We understand that injuries happen. And that's something you really can't control. So I just hope that this isn't something too bad where I can hopefully get back sooner than later."
The Brewers will need to adjust if Wong lands on the injured list, especially after trading infielder Orlando Arcia to Atlanta on Tuesday.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell could start Hiura or Daniel Robertson at second if Wong is unavailable. Hiura started at second before moving to first base upon Wong's arrival.
Either way, the Brewers face another tough matchup on Saturday against St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez (0-1, 7.20 ERA), who owns a 6-5 record and 2.23 ERA in 29 career games (15 starts) against the them, with 114 strikeouts in 105 innings.
The 29-year-old right-hander is looking to bounce back after allowing four runs over five innings in a 12-1 loss to Cincinnati last Sunday.
Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser (0-1, 3.60 ERA) is also seeking his first victory after the righty gave up two runs on four hits over five frames in last Sunday's 8-2 loss to Minnesota.
Paul Goldschmidt is 4-for-11 with two homers against Houser, who is 1-2 with a 4.64 ERA in seven career games (four starts) against the Cardinals.
Goldschmidt was held out of Thursday's game due to lower back tightness and is listed as day-to-day. The slugging first baseman is batting .308 with two RBIs through six games. Goldschmidt has settled in as the Cardinals' second-place hitter in front of Arenado.
--Field Level Media