It’s tough going into a game with the mindset that, unless things break just right, you are going to have to lose the match. Not that you can’t win it, just that the cost involved is too high. You could go for broke, but why? You could win this game, perhaps, but at the cost of a number of others. In other words, you’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.
Last night was one of those games. Going into it, the Cardinals probably figured they weren’t going to take it. After all, you had a reliever starting and, even if he was effective, he couldn’t go too long. The bullpen was wiped out from the night before, so there were few arms to call on. If something started to go out of control, there was no real mechanism for arresting that trend.
Even with all of that, though, the Cardinals could have won that game, though likely even if they’d been able to hit off of Wade Miley, the Diamondbacks could have made a comeback off of the depleted bullpen. Joe Kelly was definitely the Hero of the piece, not only limiting the Diamondbacks to effectively one run (he was charged with two, but that’s because Randy Choate–and more directly, Matt Holliday and his inability to cleanly catch a tough fly ball–allowed an inherited runner to score) and going 5.2 innings in the deal. Kelly went 80 pitches and looked like the starter we saw last season. Even though there are a lot of other options for the rotation, Kelly proved yet again he could be one of them as well.
The problem was not with the rotation but the offense that put runners on but never drove them in. Miley, who had struggled his last few times out, gave up 11 hits and a walk in his 6.2 innings, but the Cards only scored three runs, two of them on a bases-loaded single (with him thrown out at second) by Carlos Beltran after the Diamondbacks had basically put the game away. However, the two-out hitting that we’ve come to be accustomed to wasn’t there and a couple of double plays nipped any early threat in the bud. Give credit to Matt Carpenter, though, as he went 4-5 and did it without any more balls to the torso.
I think I’m going to give the Goat to Matt Holliday. The fielding error, even if it was on a tough play (and I’ll admit, I missed that part of the game), was a tough blow to Kelly’s stellar start. With Maikel Cleto coming in, even if the Cards had gotten a lead it would have been severely in jeopardy, but you still hate to see that. Plus Holliday grounded out in the seventh after the Cards had scored two and had a runner on third with two outs. It wasn’t a key moment, but it’d have been nice to pick up that run.
Cleto, you figure, might not pass Go or collect 200 bucks when it’s time for a roster move. Obviously in a more normal game 1) he wouldn’t have been out there and 2) he’d have been pulled before he gave up three more runs after the grand slam to Paul Goldschmidt. Still, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the live arm he has isn’t going to translate to the majors. He got five strikeouts out of his seven outs, which is outstanding, but he gave up seven (charged with five, Choate got two of them) runs in that span as well. He got the first two outs in the eighth before allowing three runs in that inning. With the various roster machinations that are going to have to be done this summer, it seems only reasonable to expect Cleto to be taken off the 40-man and subjected to waivers fairly soon, perhaps as soon as Michael Blazek can return from Memphis.
St. Louis also went into this one short-handed on the bench, as Yadier Molina dropped his appeal and served his suspension last night. Molina continues to maintain that he didn’t deserve it, but discretion is the better part of valor at times. Being that he wasn’t likely to play tonight after 14 innings (sad to see Yadi getting old–just a couple of years ago he caught 20 then came back the next afternoon) and not wanting to risk having the suspension upheld during the coming Reds series (though baseball hardly ever moves that fast), he went ahead with the sitting last night. At least it’s out of the way now.
It looks like Chris Carpenter will be throwing a simulated game before tonight’s matchup, which might be just as intriguing as whatever goes on in the scheduled matchup. If Carpenter feels good after that, I’m guessing another simulated game sometime soon, then you might start hearing details about a rehab start. If that’s the case, Carp could be back in St. Louis by the beginning of July. The Cards have a five game homestand against the Marlins and the Astros around that time, which might be the perfect way to get him back into the big leagues.
It’s the day I suggested should always be Stan Musial Day (6/6) and we get a start in the six o’clock hour as well. Shelby Miller will go out there and see if he can’t give the bullpen a little bit more of a breather. He went seven last time out and, if things are clicking, could easily do the same tonight. Miller has never faced the Diamondbacks, so they are in for a fun night at the ballpark, he said sarcastically.
On the other side is Ian Kennedy. Kennedy is having a so-so year, with an ERA in the high fours and a .500 record. Still, in his last four outings he’s got a 3.96 ERA and has 24 strikeouts over that span, which is an increase over what he’d been doing. Just like Miley was coming in cold, Kennedy is coming in….well, not hot. Warm? Luke-warm? Uncomfortably-but-still-tolerable warm?
However he’s coming in, he’s got a chance to up the heat level with this matchup. Holliday is about the only one that has hit him with any regularity and Matt’s not exactly scorching at the moment. Otherwise, Kennedy’s been pretty successful against the club.
The Cardinals haven’t lost a series since the end of April. They’ve only lost two all year, but one was to Arizona. Let’s hope Miller can get the team a split!