It happens way too often, at least for my taste. The opposition scores more in one inning than the Cardinals do in the entire game. It also seems that Lance Lynn tends to have that happen to him more than others.
A quick check back on some of Lynn’s starts: Last time out against Pittsburgh, all four runs he allowed came in the fifth. Time before that, against Chicago, all three runs came in the seventh. He was better against Cincinnati, but again, the only two runs he allowed came in the second. You’d have to go back to July 20 against the Padres to find a game where he allowed runs in multiple innings before last night’s affair.
We saw again last night, and while I am giving Lynn the Goat for allowing five runs in an inning, the top of which had seen Hero Yadier Molina smash a two-run homer to give Lynn a 3-0 lead, a lot of the carnage in that inning wasn’t really his doing.
Jonathan Lucroy, who has been beating up on the Cards this series, started with a regular single, though Jon Jay put a good effort on it and almost came up with a diving catch. Next up was Aramis Ramirez, who does tend to hit St. Louis well. Ramirez smashed one toward third but David Freese couldn’t come up with it.
Obviously, this is couch jockeying, but that looked like a ball that often is gobbled up and at least the lead runner is nailed if not a double play turned. If Matt Carpenter is on third last night, does that play get made? If so, that would have turned the whole inning.
Instead, two on and nobody out. Khris Davis then hits a butcher-boy type of hit that Lynn gets a glove on but that’s it. A tough play, one Lynn probably should have made, but obviously not a ball that was crushed.
The problem, and we’ve seen it often, is that when things start going downhill for Lynn, they tend to snowball. Lynn left a pitch out in the middle of the plate for Scooter Gennett (with a name like that, you have to figure he’s destined to be a utility Cardinal infielder someday) and he stroked it hard. He did the same to Sean Halton, who tied the game up.
The rest of the inning was more bad luck for Lynn. Logan Schafer breaks the tie with a broken bat dying quail that falls just over the infield. Kyle Lohse, who you know was glad to finally beat the Cards after losing to them the last three times, popped up a but that, again, Freese should have come up with in the air. If he does, he might have doubled off Schafer but, at worst, would have kept the runners at first and second, which would have meant that Norichika Aoki‘s fly ball would have been a harmless second out instead of a sacrifice fly.
Again, that wasn’t as bad of a game for Lynn as it looked, though he did give up another run in the fifth after two were out, which didn’t help his cause any. He wasn’t blameless by any means–Gennett and Halton got some pretty fat pitches to hit, which you really don’t want to do with the bases loaded–but that inning could have worked out much better with a little bit better luck.
The problem is, these are games the Cards need to win. Cincinnati lost, which means that 1.5 games cushion is still there, but Pittsburgh had no trouble with San Diego, putting them now two games ahead of St. Louis for the divisional title. You really hate to lose a series to a team you’ve dominated this season and is languishing at the bottom of your division, but now that’s a real possibility.
Big congrats to Kolten Wong, who finally got a hit that left the infield. His first hit last night was an infield ground ball, though hit sharply enough off of Ramirez that it bounced out to the left fielder, but in the fifth he had a line drive and in the seventh, his first extra-base hit. Throw in another steal and that spark the Cards wanted to see seems to have arrived.
St. Louis is really in a must-win situation today but the problem is Jake Westbrook is the one taking the mound. Mike Matheny isn’t saying that this is his last shot in the rotation, but that seems to be a fairly informal consensus. Westbrook has struggled mightily recently and the idea that a regular routine now, after having too many then not enough days off, is about all one can grasp at.
Unfortunately, it’s not like Westbrook has had a lot of success against the Brewers. How Ramirez has that kind of average and hasn’t gone yard against him is beyond me. If he gets around Ramirez one way or another, he might be able to limit the damage. It’s going to be a tightrope either way.
Cardinals get to face an old friend in Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny has made his way around the NL Central, with stops in Pittsburgh and Chicago, and has some good numbers this year but has mainly been used in relief. He’s made five appearance against the Redbirds this year, all of the one inning variety, and only once was he more than scratched. He gave up two runs on a Daniel Descalso home run on May 4, otherwise only a hit, a walk, and a hit batter.
Being that he’s a lefty, it’s not too surprising that he has solid numbers against a lot of Cardinal hitters. He’s even corralled Molina (which makes you wonder if they’ll rest Yadi today, day game after a night game and, oh by the way, a knee issue) though Matt Holliday has done some damage.