It was all lined up so perfectly. A pitcher that had terrible numbers? Check. Playing a sub-.500 team? Check. Pittsburgh lost earlier? Check.
So, of course, the Cardinals were unable to complete the transaction. Opportunity squandered, which is a huge thing when there are now only 12 games left.
While the blame for this tends to fall on Trevor Rosenthal–and don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely going to be the Goat here–you have to again point an accusing finger at the offense. You are in the most hitter-friendly park known to man and you are facing a guy that has a 10 ERA and you can only scrape up two runs? And one of those in the eighth?
Surprisingly enough, there’s not much difference in their offensive stats home and away. At home, they are hitting .274/.336/.401 and on the road .260/.323/.398. It seems like they struggle more away from Busch and maybe those totals are inflated from earlier in the season, when they were such a good road team. Whatever the case, the offense didn’t make much of an appearance last night.
Still, even though the Cards had just seven hits and two runs last night, they were in a position to win it had the bullpen held. Rosenthal came into a tie game in the eighth and walked the leadoff batter, which is one of those things you just don’t do. Leadoff walks so often come around to bite you, and it did this time. He tried to work around it, but Rosenthal really didn’t have much last night. Axford came in and allowed two of the inherited runners to score, but everyone knew that as soon as the first run of the inning came across, the game was over. The other three were just nails in the coffin.
It wasn’t a stellar night for the bullpen at all, with Kevin Siegrist allowing a go-ahead run in relief of Lance Lynn. Siegrist, however, came in with runners on the corners and gave up a bloop that just barely got over Daniel Descalso‘s head. While it obviously wasn’t what you expected from Siegrist, especially against a lefty, it’s hard to lay a lot of blame there.
I was a little surprised, though, that Mike Matheny didn’t bring in Seth Maness there. Sure, lefty on lefty and Siegrist is more likely to get you a strikeout, which is big with a runner on third, but Maness is the ground ball specialist, the guy that is known for inducing double plays. You could make an argument that Maness should have come in to get the grounder, but you can’t argue with Mathney’s logic in selecting Siegrist either.
Lynn had his second strong start and is starting to relieve fears of him starting in the postseason. (That said, he had a nice run last September also, then had a terrible October. I still say the Cards make the World Series if it wasn’t for him.) Lynn deserved better than being on the hook for the loss until the eighth, but that’s a little balancing act for those games he won with strong run support, I guess. Still, it’s very good to see him right the ship, especially since trying to lengthen out Tyler Lyons or Carlos Martinez right now isn’t really optimal.
Last night’s Hero tag goes to Matt Carpenter. Carpenter had two of the seven hits (Matt Adams had two as well) and drove in the tying run with an exceptional piece of hitting in the eighth inning. At-bats like that show you why Carpenter is in the running for MVP, in my book. Just a shame the Cardinals couldn’t completely capitalize on it.
Our daily look at the standings:
St. Louis 2.5
Los Angeles 3.5
Interesting to look at the National League and see there are only two teams still alive–Arizona and Washington–that aren’t currently sitting in a playoff berth. Both have elimination numbers of 4, something that could be in play today as Atlanta and Washington have a doubleheader due to yesterday’s tragic shooting at the Navy Yard down the street from the Nats ballpark. Mike Minor and Dan Haren, yesterday’s scheduled starters, will go in the opener followed by Freddy Garcia and Tanner Roark. The grizzled vet versus the fresh-faced rookie in that one. You’d figure it’s likely to be a split doubleheader, though the Nats really need a sweep.
Eric Stults goes for the Padres against Jeff Locke and the Pirates. It seems unlikely Stults can match Andrew Cashner‘s work last night, but Locke has been a hittable guy of late. Could we dare hope for another Padre win? They did take two of three from Atlanta last week.
Cincinnati figures to at worst hold serve as Mike Leake goes against Houston and Jordan Lyles. I have a soft spot for Lyles, as he once tossed my son a ball at a minor league game, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to hold off the Reds in this one.
If you need a game won, you could do worse than looking at the schedule and seeing that Joe Kelly is scheduled to take the mound. Kelly did lose his last outing and you wonder if regression is starting to take effect, but there’s no particular reason to think that Kelly will struggle tonight.
Obviously Kelly has limited exposure to the Rockies hitters, but he has done OK with them in that short time. He’s never pitched in Colorado, though, so that could be an extra challenge for him this evening.
Juan Nicasio will go for the team in purple. Nicasio has had a middling year (8-7, 4.58 ERA) and is coming off of back to back games where he allowed just one run. Of course, those games were in San Diego and San Francisco and his last home game, he allowed Cincinnati six runs in 4.1 innings. It looks like a team with a good offense can get to him. Whether the Cards will have a good offense tonight is a different story.
Not a lot of experience there, so you just hope that it works out much better than last night’s affair did.
Joe Strauss has up a good story on Mike Shannon and his recovery. Sounds like everything is going well and the Moonman will be back in the booth as expected on Monday. I doubt Mike travels with the team during the playoffs, so they’ll just have to win the World Series at home, won’t they?
I said yesterday that games like last night were games this team needed to win if they wanted to win the division. They caught a break in that Pittsburgh lost, but they can’t afford any other missteps. They need a win tonight and let’s hope they get it!