Chicks may dig the long ball, but the Cardinals lately have been asking their fans to be a bit more sophisticated than that.
St. Louis put up 11 runs last night in a rout of the Phillies, but no balls cleared the fence. David Freese got close, but had to settle for a double. This wasn’t at all an unheard of event. In fact, the Cardinals haven’t hit a home run since the All-Star Break and they are 4-1 in that stretch. For a team that, in the past, has been criticized for being too reliant on the round-trippers, it’s a pretty refreshing change.
The Redbirds have scored more runs than anyone else in the National League, yet they sit tied for 12th in homers. To put it in perspective, they are scoring six runs per home run, while their divisional rival Pirates are just at 3.9 runs per HR, meaning that if you can shut down their power game, you’ve got a pretty good chance of shutting them down entirely. (The Reds are at 4.6 runs/HR. The Giants are actually better than the Cards at this with a 6.2 mark, but they are in the middle of the pack when it comes to runs.)
Even if we aren’t getting the fireworks of some big flies, there’s still a lot of fun baseball being played in St. Louis (or, soon, on the road). Last night the Cards scored early, kept scoring, had a big inning, and then scored some more. I don’t think anyone would argue with that plan of attack.
A lot of hitters had really nice days at the plate, but we’ll give the Hero tag to Shane Robinson for three hits and three RBI. Granted, he probably wouldn’t have gotten a triple out of one of those hits had the centerfielder not tried to dive for the ball….after it had already landed. Likely that bases-loaded single would have plated two anyway, but the misplay allowed another run to score and Robinson to go to third. When the ball first got past John Mayberry Jr., I thought we were going to see an inside-the-park grand slam. Talk about your highlights!
The Post-Dispatch story highlights Robinson and Matt Adams and for good reason. Adams is proving that there’s no need to bench him when a lefty is on the mound, hitting .333 against southpaws this season. Sure, it’s a limited sample size, but it still tells you something. When Matt Holliday gets back, you wonder how Mike Matheny is going to juggle things to make sure Adams gets plenty of playing time and stays sharp.
(By the way, talk about things working out–even though Holliday is healthy now, he’s on the disabled list until Saturday. That meant he could be around when his wife had their fourth child yesterday. Congrats to the Hollidays!)
Allen Craig had two hits (though, surprisingly, no RBI) but Yadier Molina said you don’t get the batting lead that easily, putting up three hits of his own and opening a bit of space between the two Cardinals. Of course, if either one of them slump too much, Matt Carpenter is right there to take over. Two hits for him as well last night.
For all the offense, there was some solid pitching by Jake Westbrook–speed merchant Westbrook, who stole a base last night–as there tends to be when he’s at home. He had a stumble in the seventh when he allowed two runs, but as he was up 9-1 last night, he might be forgiven for a lack of concentration or experimenting with some other pitches. He did give up nine hits, but he didn’t walk anyone which was nice to see.
We’ve got to name a Goat. Can’t be anyone on the pitching side, because Westbrook and then Kevin Siegrist and Carlos Martinez put together some great outings. Only one starter didn’t get a hit, so we’ll have to give the tag to Carlos Beltran. He had two infield popups and left five on, so it wasn’t his best night. He’s only 2-15 since coming back from the festivities in New York, so when Holliday is available, you might see Craig giving him a breather while Adams stays at first.
The headline of the story is “Cards Appear Unlikely to Make Major Trade“. In other news, water is wet and the sun is coming up in the east today, so look alive. I’ve said a number of times that I’m 75% sure there’s no trade at all at the deadline. What John Mozeliak would have to give up for what he could get back, unless there are folks we don’t know about being targeted, just doesn’t make sense. The offseason seems a much more likely time to offload any prospects and Mo likely will do some dealing then.
Cards wrap up the series and the homestand by sending the slightly volatile Lance Lynn to the hill to try to complete the sweep. We know of Lynn’s recent struggles–four of the last five times out he’s allowed four runs or more–and you have to figure he’s needing a good start to stop speculation about him losing a rotation spot. The Cards have Martinez there and they are just looking for a place to use him more regularly. Those looks might intensify if Lynn can’t produce tonight.
At least Lynn has history on his side. The Phillies haven’t ever hit him with much regularity in the few times he’s faced them. You hope that continues this evening.
On the flip side is Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick’s lines look a lot like Lynn’s of late. He gave up six against the Mets last time out and has given up four or more in three of his last five starts. He’s a little worse on the road (ERA is about .75 points higher) but nothing really drastic.
What the Cards have seen of him, they’ve liked. Not a lot of home runs against him but, hey, who needs that when you’ve got this well-oiled hitting machine called the St. Louis lineup?
Chris Jaffe sends along a neat historical note, as he is known to do. 5,000 days ago the Cardinals made the move to get Darryl Kile. Obviously a stellar trade and one that still reverberates around the organization given his tragic passing. There are some other Cardinal things that happened on this day, so be sure to check out the full article.
Last home game for close to two weeks as the club then goes to Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. While you are enjoying the game, remember that the Game 6 DVD contest (for this blog) ends soon. Only one entry so far so get yours in today. The odds are with you!