Sometimes Superman Forgets His Cape

We’ve been spoiled.  We really have.

Most of the time, rookie pitchers don’t come up and act like they’ve been in the league for 10 years.  They falter, they need time to adjust to the level of competition.  They are more flawed hero than Superman.

Not so for much of this season for the Cardinals, however.  Shelby Miller has an ERA under 2.00.  Tyler Lyons has two wins and pitched fairly well in his loss.  Seth Maness is a double-play machine.  Trevor Rosenthal, who probably just slides into this category, has been a dominant late inning force.  Carlos Martinez, for the most part, got the job done before returning to Memphis.  Even John Gast was solid, with his one real bad inning coming when he was up 10-0.

Michael Wacha‘s first start indicated that he’d be more of the same.  Another pitcher to just come in and own the league from the get-go.  So it was a bit of a shock last night to see that Superman found some kryptonite.

I missed all of Wacha’s outing since I was at my son’s little league game, but you wonder if a little lack of concentration played into his problems.  The pitcher gets a two-out RBI hit.  The eighth-place hitter hits a three-run homer.  Of course, even eighth-place hitters in the bigs are better than the players he was facing last year in college.

Wacha’s start, of course, tells us basically nothing save that he had a bad night.  Every pitcher has an off night–ask Adam Wainwright about facing the Mets usually or Matt Cain about facing the Cardinals–so that’s possible the only thing that was working here.  We’ll get at least another start from him to see if there’s any cause for concern.

It was a strange game because the starting pitcher gets the Goat tag and, if I awarded it to a group, the bullpen would get the Hero one.  Seth Maness came in with two on and two out in the fifth and got A.J. Pollock to strike out.  After that, the bullpen gave up a total of three hits before Victor Marte came into the game in the 14th.  I’ll freely admit that I turned it off after 13, given that it was ridiculously late (I’ll be feeling that all day long) and that Marte was coming in.  It was a foregone conclusion that the Cards weren’t likely to pull this one out in that situation.

I’m going to give the Hero to David Freese for his four-hit game, the first of his career (and, to be fair, that ball that Willie Bloomquist got his glove on I’d have ruled an error), but there were a number of guys that helped out in this one.  Allen Craig and Shane Robinson going deep.  Yadier Molina driving in a key two-out run.  Carlos Beltran stealing third (though apparently there was some question on this one?) and also driving in the tying run.  The offense didn’t lie down and quit, especially against a young pitcher they’d not seen before.  You have to like that.

Still, there were a number of missed opportunities, especially late.  First and second and one out in the seventh, after just tying the game and forcing a pitching change, and Matt Holliday and Craig harmlessly fly out.  Two on, two out in the ninth and Craig grounds out.  Runner on second in the 11th and Beltran pops out on the infield and Holliday strikes out (and destroys his bat afterwards).  Two on, two out in the twelfth for Pete Kozma, who Ks.  Runners on the corners with two out in the thirteenth, but Craig again can’t come through.  For a guy that excels at coming through with two outs, Craig had an off night.

And give some kudos (and some ice) to Matt Carpenter, who set a Cardinal record by being hit three times in the same game.  Carpenter had only been hit four time total in his career, so it wasn’t a stance issue or anything like that.  Just a weird evening, because it was pretty obvious they weren’t throwing at him intentionally.  That will, however, leave a mark.

As you can read in the Prospect Preacher’s farm report, Jake Westbrook had a fairly nice outing for Springfield last night.   Westbrook allowed only one run in 3.2 innings for the club and felt good afterwards.  I would expect at least one more rehab outing, with another one coming depending on those results and how the rookie pitchers are looking in St. Louis.

Last night’s game obviously has major repercussions for today’s contest, as it was scheduled to be Joe Kelly to start this one.  Kelly should still be the starter, given that he wasn’t used in last night’s marathon, but the expectation is and has been that he wouldn’t be able to go deep into the game since he’s not been built up to be a starter.  He could go 65-70 pitches, but that might not even get you to the fifth. All of those bullpen arms that were going to be used tonight got used last night, though, which may create a problem.  The club may make a roster move, though their options that are on the 40-man roster are limited, especially since Michael Blazek isn’t eligible to return yet barring an injury.  Keep an eye on Twitter to see what move the club may wind up making.

Kelly will get his first start tonight and it won’t be the first time he’s faced the D-Backs.  Here’s what he’s done before:

Paul Goldschmidt 4 4 1 0 0 1 2 0 2 .250 .250 1.000 1.250 0 0 0 0
Jason Kubel 4 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .750 1.250 0 0 0 0
Miguel Montero 4 3 1 0 0 1 2 1 1 .333 .500 1.333 1.833 0 0 0 0
Gerardo Parra 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .500 .750 0 0 0 0
Ian Kennedy 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Cliff Pennington 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Martin Prado 2 2 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 .500 .500 2.000 2.500 0 0 0 0
Eric Hinske 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
A.J. Pollock 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Total 24 23 6 2 0 3 6 1 6 .261 .292 .739 1.031 0 0 0 0
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/5/2013.

Middling results, really.  Probably needs to be real careful with Martin Prado, but on the whole nothing that seems to indicate he’ll get beat around the yard.

Arizona will send out Wade Miley.  After being a Rookie of the Year candidate last year, Miley has struggled a bit this season, putting up a 3-5, 5.01 mark.  His last two starts he gave up seven earned runs each, though it was in seven innings against the Cubs and just 3.2 innings at home versus the Padres.  Add those to a six-run, five-inning stint against the Braves four starts ago and, well, it’s not been a good run for the youngster.

Ty Wigginton 8 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .125 .125 .125 .250 0 0 0 0
Carlos Beltran 3 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Allen Craig 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Tony Cruz 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0
David Freese 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 3 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 .500 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0
Shane Robinson 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000 0 0 0 0
Total 27 25 7 2 0 0 3 2 3 .280 .333 .360 .693 0 0 0 0
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/5/2013.

Similar to Kelly, the Cardinals have had middling success against him.  Nobody has taken him out of the yard, but the St. Louis attack this year is more hit after hit after hit rather than the longball.

Might be a high scoring game today!

  • Ben Chambers June 5, 2013, 4:16 pm

    First, I loved your article. It was really good.

    I think that Matt Carpenter might have deserved the hero award last night, though. Not only for the simple fact that he was able to stay calm after being hit 3 times in the right arm (hand, forearm, shoulder), but also because he made some good moves on the base paths. He took second on a ball that was in the dirt when most people would have just gone back to first base. He also took second and forced a throw to keep him from going to third when a ball went to the backstop. He was doing everything he possibly could in order to get the win for the Cardinals last night, and he fell short.

    What do you think about sending down Marte maybe when Blazek is available to come back? He hasn’t really done much since he’s been called up, and in the two games that Wacha has started, he entered the game with the score tied, and both times we lost the game. Against the Royals, he came in with it tied 2-2 in the 9th, and although the loss went to Boggs, he definitely didn’t do us any favors. In last night’s loss, he came in with the game tied 6-6 in the 14th and gave up the winning run. I don’t expect him to have a good night every night he goes out there, but I’m not confident he’s shown enough for me to trust him when he does have those bad nights.

    • Cardinal70 June 6, 2013, 7:22 am

      I wouldn’t argue with a Carpenter Hero tag on this one. You are right in that he did a ton to help the team win–seems like he’s doing that every night, doesn’t it?

      As for Marte, obviously you wrote this before the swap with Cleto. I would be surprised if we saw Marte again this year, though, and he’s on the short list for being waived off the 40-man when we need a spot for someone like Chris Carpenter.

      • Ben Chambers June 6, 2013, 8:09 am

        Actually, I think I wrote it right about the same time that the move was happening, but I didn’t learn about it until about an hour later I read about the move from my twitter feed.

        I agree with Carpenter doing everything that he could in order to help the team. He’s been great in the leadoff spot. Even in last night’s game (6/5), he was doing FANTASTIC. I honestly thought they might put Descalso out there for him in that game, though, and give him a night to rest after 14 innings, 3 HBP, and the fact that we were playing a lefty. (Even though Descalso also hits left-handed too).

        • Cardinal70 June 6, 2013, 10:39 am

          I’m guessing Molina’s absence plus the fact that they knew they had to score a lot to win played into that. If Molina’s there and a full bullpen as well, maybe he would have gotten the break.

          • Ben Chambers June 6, 2013, 10:42 am

            Completely agree!

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