Hang on, wait a minute, this just in–the Cardinals have hit another home run.
For a team with such a respected and prolific offense, the ultimate in baseball power had been lacking with this squad. Before last night, they were 26th in major league baseball in home runs with 47, roughly 35 behind the leaders. It clicked last night, though, as they clubbed five home runs, including a sweep of the Matts and a pitcher quite surprisingly helping his own cause.
There’s no doubt that last night’s Hero was Shelby Miller. His pitching line was unremarkable–six innings, two runs (all in the first), nine strikeouts (OK, unremarkable for him at least)–but add in his contributions at the plate and it’s a winner. Miller got his first two hits of the year (being a nice 0-22 to that point) and one of those hits left the yard. All in all, a pretty good night to be that guy and an illustration of just how important the draft can be, as the Cardinals were making selections while keeping an eye on a guy they picked just a few years ago.
Of course, there were a number of other offensive heroes. As noted, all of the Matts went yard, which has to be a first. Matt Holliday started the scoring with his two-run home run, part of a two-hit night. It would seem that Holliday is starting to work out of his slump which may make for some more high scoring games. Matt Carpenter continued his excellent work in the leadoff role, getting two hits (including the long ball) and scoring two runs. Then there’s Matt Adams. Big City, Big Mayo, Grizzly, whatever you want to call him, there’s no doubt that when Adams gets into one, you aren’t going to see it again. His three-run home run to highlight the eight-run fourth was absolutely crushed and he chipped in a double later in the game.
Then you had Allen Craig with two hits and two RBI, Daniel Descalso with the other home run, part of a three-hit night for him, Yadier Molina with two hits, Jon Jay got a key base knock, and David Freese extended his hitting streak to 16 games. All in all, a great night to be hitting wearing the birds on the bat.
The same can’t be said for Cardinal pitchers that followed Miller, at least not for all of them. When you have to bring your closer into what was a 12-2 game, that’s not exactly optimal. Kevin Siegrist got to be the Major League Debut of the Week, striking out four of the five outs that he recorded and giving up just one hit. Other rookies didn’t fare as well, with Seth Maness and Keith Butler vying for the Goat of our game. Both gave up three runs in just one-third of an inning, but the edge goes to Butler because he walked three batters in his outing, forcing the club to bring in Edward Mujica to make sure things didn’t go completely south. Which is going to happen with young pitching like that. They’ll make adjustments, then the hitters will, and we’ll see some inconsistency. Still, better that than Maikel Cleto and Victor Marte, right?
Chris Carpenter threw to batters again yesterday. He wasn’t quite as sharp as he was on Monday, but that was more to rust and the general nature of pitching, not any sort of setback. While it may not have been a step forward, it was at worst a step to the side. They are still continuing on with Carpenter’s program, and while we still don’t know when he’ll return, the fact that he should return seems to be more and more definite as the days go by. Carp may not have been all that excited about his results, but as the great line in the Post-Dispatch story goes, “on a baseball field, it seems Carpenter is not entirely happy unless he’s unhappy.”
As mentioned, the draft began last night. The Cards took two lefties with their picks, Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky. You can read write-ups about them here and here as well as over at CardinalsFarm. When the bloggers talked with John Mozeliak in April, there was a question about the draft and whether the lack of middle infielders would drive their focus when picking. Mo said it’d influence it, but that they wouldn’t necessarily draft a shortstop first if there was a better player available. It’s all about stockpiling talent, whether you have a surplus there or not. Because, as we’ve seen, you can never have too much pitching.
For their second-round selection (third pick overall) the Redbirds did get into that weak spot, taking shortstop Oscar Mercado. While it sounds like Mercado isn’t a fast-riser, he also was described as a first-round talent, so perhaps St. Louis got a bargain here.
More of the draft today–keep checking here and CardinalsFarm for discussions of the various picks.
Tonight is a series that a lot of us have been waiting for, as the Cards head to Cincinnati to try to get some distance between themselves and the Reds. St. Louis goes into this series three games up on the team from Cincy (and four on the Pirates), which is about as much breathing room as they’ve had lately. The Reds have been tough at Great American Ball Park, going 21-9 there so far this year. Of course, that’d be more impressive if it wasn’t for the fact St. Louis is 20-9 on the road. In theory, something has to give here.
When you are going up against a tough (and, depending on your position in the fan base, hated) rival, it’s always good to bring along an ace. Adam Wainwright is 3-3 with a 4.30 ERA in GABP (4-7, 4.14 overall against the Reds), but pitched well there in 2010, the last time he was fully Adam Wainwright. He also has faced the Reds once before this year, going seven innings and allowing only two runs when they came into Busch back in April.
When you look at the overall numbers, you wonder how the Reds have done as well as they have against the big guy. Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce are average against him, but that’s about it. We’ll see if Waino can keep those numbers dropping this evening.
He’ll be up against Mike Leake. Leake’s having another nice season and is coming off of six scoreless innings against Pittsburgh. In fact, he’s had four scoreless outings in his last 10, though three of those have come on the road.
His chart seems more favorable to St. Louis. Holliday has especially liked facing him, and with Holliday apparently warming up, this could be a nice confluence of events. Hopefully the offense didn’t use up all their hits and runs in last night’s explosion (though, to be fair, they were needed).
I know a lot of people don’t like the Reds and there’s some significantly good reasons why they shouldn’t. I personally will never be rooting for Johnny Cueto again, for instance. However, I don’t mind the Reds organization as a whole and, save for divisional titles and when they face the Cards, wish them well. Of course, there’s a personal reason for that.
As many of my regular readers are aware of, my wife is an Ohio girl and her father is a big Reds fan. He’s a fan of baseball in general as well, though, and always enjoys talking it in a rational manner. He would tune in KMOX on his radio when he could get it (before he bought himself an XM radio a couple of years ago–now he listens to anything he can!) and we always enjoy talking about our respective teams.
On Sunday, we got a significant scare when he was rushed to the hospital. He’s not taken very good care of himself and there were some dire reports. While it’s not as bad as we thought, he has been diagnosed with colon cancer. It doesn’t seem to have spread yet, which is a positive thing, and colon cancer is much more treatable and survivable than liver cancer, which is what the doctors originally feared. We don’t know if we are out of those woods yet, but there are optimistic signs.
While you are watching the series this weekend, if you’d spare a thought or a prayer for him, I’d appreciate it. I’m looking forward to calling him soon to talk about this Cardinal sweep!