No Hitter? No Problem

I’ve never been fishing, which does make me stand out in this part of Arkansas.  However, from what I understand, you put out your line and patiently wait until the right moment, then reel in your catch.

If that’s the case, the Cardinals have been master fishermen these last couple of nights.  In both games, they’ve lulled their opposition to sleep by getting no hits until two were out in the sixth, only to wake the bats up and tug the Milwaukee pitchers into the boat, claiming another trophy.

To be fair, last night St. Louis really did have a hit in the second.  Matt Adams, who would later homer off of a left-handed Brewer reliever to give the final margin, drove a ball down the line that hit the wall on the fair side of the painted line.  Unfortunately, the umpire didn’t see it that way and Adams had to settle for a walk in that at-bat.  I guess next year that could be a reviewable play, I don’t know.  Even in this case, I’m just not that fond of instant replay.  I know, I know, get it right, we can do it, blah blah blah.

Even though he didn’t get the win, you’ve got to give the Hero tag to Lance Lynn.  If we could see more outings like that out of Lynn, the world would be a much better place.  He only allowed one unearned run, which meant that this time through the rotation, the five starters allowed just two runs (and only one earned) in 32.2 innings.  He only walked two, which was his lowest total in three starts, and he struck out 10.  While Rick Hummel stated in the game story that he “surely maintained his place in the rotation for the rest of the season,” I’m not sure I’d quite go that far.  That said, he’s obviously getting another start, which would be on the 16th against the Rockies.

Most likely no matter what he does there will have the qualifier of being in Colorado, so he goes again the 21st against these Brewers.  It’d have to be a real stinker to get pulled from the rotation with just one start left, so Hummel is probably right just because of how little is left in the season.

There’s a caution flag, though, as I talked about last night on UCB Radio.  If you recall, last year Lynn started strong, faltered in the middle of the season (so much so that he was moved to the bullpen), returned to the rotation late and was good, then was pretty bad in the playoffs.  We’re seeing a similar story unfold here, so even if he has three more good starts, I’m not going to be comfortable with him starting in the postseason, even though he will definitely be in Mike Matheny‘s rotation if that happens.

I think the biggest positive from last night was how Lynn didn’t crumble.  In the second inning, he puts two runners on, which is already a situation where he has slumped his shoulders in the past.  Then the Brewers work a double steal that shouldn’t have worked–Tony Cruz‘s throw was there well in time, but Daniel Descalso just missed it.  (Even though he has a hit, Descalso gets the Goat for that play which would have been extra-large had the Cards not had their late rally.)  A run scores, another runner is on second.  Lynn walks the eighth-place hitter, but strikes out the pitcher to get out of the inning.  Often that would have exploded into a much bigger inning, but kudos to Lynn for the maturity and the focus to keep it small.

Another great night for the Matts.  As we noted, Adams had the home run.  Matt Carpenter had two hits and scored a run while Matt Holliday had two hits and scored two runs.  Five of the six hits came from a Matt in this one, after Matts talled all but one hit the night before.  There won’t be a child in Milwaukee named Matthew for a year or so at this rate.

Edward Mujica knows that he’s not been as sharp lately, but he’s not concerned.  It seems to be a function of him not being used a lot, which does make some sense and that shouldn’t be an issue in the playoffs.  That said, if regular work doesn’t do the trick, there’s no reason to hesitate to swap Trevor Rosenthal in.

Yadier Molina (and Bengie Molina) were not at the ballpark last night as their mother had surgery yesterday.  I’d guess it was something a little sudden, as there was no indication before last night that Molina would be missing and, indeed, I believe the first reported lineup yesterday had Molina in it.   However, Mrs. Molina came through the procedure well and seems to be in good condition.  Since she had the surgery in a St. Louis-area hospital, it seems reasonable to think that Molina would be back in the lineup tonight.  Of course, it seems just as reasonable to think he wouldn’t be, so we’ll have to wait and see.

All right, let’s take our trip around the scoreboard.  Atlanta and Los Angeles lost, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati won.  So now the combined standings look something like this:

Atlanta            —-
Los Angeles  2.0
St. Louis         2.0
Pittsburgh     3.0
Cincinnati      5.0

Cards got absolutely no help from Texas in expanding out their divisional lead as the Pirates went and swept the Rangers in Arlington.  (That American League wild card race is pretty nuts as well.  Texas is in pretty good shape, 2.5 up on the first slot, but there are five teams within two games of that last slot.)

What does today look like?  Well, the Braves and the Marlins conclude their series with an 11:40 CDT start, as Freddy Garcia takes on Nathan Eovaldi.  The Pirates go back home as the Cubs come into town, with Chris Rusin going up against Jeff Locke.  On the West Coast tonight, the Giants and Yusmeiro Petit go against Zack Greinke and the Dodgers.  The Reds are idle this evening.

For the Cards, Joe Kelly takes the mound, trying to continue this great run both of outstanding recent starting pitching and his own run of dominance since he slid into the starting rotation.  Kelly hasn’t faced the Brewers since he faced them three times in May when he was still in the bullpen.  He didn’t have the greatest of results then either, giving up four runs in three innings in three combined outings.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Norichika Aoki 10 9 5 2 0 0 1 1 0 .556 .600 .778 1.378 0 0 0 0
Carlos Gomez 10 9 3 1 0 0 0 1 1 .333 .400 .444 .844 0 0 1 0
Aramis Ramirez 7 7 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .286 .286 .286 .571 0 0 0 0
Yuniesky Betancourt 5 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250 .400 .250 .650 0 0 0 1
Jonathan Lucroy 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0
Jean Segura 4 2 1 0 0 0 2 1 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 1 0 0
Martin Maldonado 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0
Logan Schafer 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0
Jeff Bianchi 1 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0
Total 46 41 16 3 0 0 6 3 3 .390 .435 .463 .898 0 1 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/12/2013.

Which is a large reason these numbers don’t look that good. Obviously Kelly has pitched better since he moved into the rotation and you’d like to discount some of these, but it isn’t necessarily the best of signs.

The Cardinals will have to see if they can get hits before the sixth inning off of Tyler Thornburg.  Thornburg has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen, allowing only two runs in six innings last time out against the Pirates (for which St. Louis was very thankful).  Unfortunately, the Cards have never seen Thornburg, though at least he’s not a lefty.  His K/BB ratio is close to 1.00, though, so some patience and maybe they’ll be able to solve him quickly.

It’s always tough for this club to sweep, especially since that’d give them a six game winning streak.  Should be another interesting one tonight!

  • Ben Chambers

    On the Cruz throwing error, I didn’t get a chance to see the game last night, so I kept getting confused on how Descalso missed it on the throw when Freese was at 3rd last night. Then I looked up the video of the play, and why was Cruz throwing down to second? There was a lefty at the plate, so the play should have been to Freese at 3rd. shouldn’t it?

    • Cardinal70

      I think Cruz thought he had no chance to get the lead runner, so he went to second. With two out, either would work. I’m not sure if that’s accurate, but I think that’s what he was thinking.

      • Ben Chambers

        It’s possible. Gomez was the lead runner, and he is faster than Scooter Gennett, or at least I would think that he is. I don’t know if he’ll say anything about it, but I’d like to hear if that was his thought.

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