The Offense Springs A Leake

Before the game yesterday afternoon, I listened to Mike Matheny in his pregame chat with Mike Shannon.  Both of them indicated that Tuesday night’s rally was something that could inspire confidence, that the team could “feed on for awhile”.

Apparently, rallies don’t go as far as they used to*.  (Not to be confused with Rally’s, which may go perfectly far, I don’t know, ours went out of business many years ago.)

*Even before the game, it seemed like the hype around Tuesday’s comeback was a little overblown.  Yes, they were down four runs and often a game can be over if a team grabs that kind of lead, but it’s not unheard of to come back from that deficit, especially when it’s the second inning.  Maybe not all at once, as the Cards did, but a good offense like that should be able to at least chip away at an early gap.  It’s nice, sure, but it’s no World Series Game 6, which, as you know, you could still enter to win.  I promise you, I didn’t begin that sentence planning on a plug.  “Started well, that sentence.” “It got away from me, yeah.”

Anyway, after all that talk about feeding on rallies and confidence being inspired, the club went out and posted four hits, two of which were erased on double plays.  Tough to win ballgame that way.  Not impossible, of course, but tough.

The Cardinals just couldn’t seem to find a way to hit Mike Leake.  You can’t even blame a getaway/end-of-series lineup, as the only regular that didn’t get a start was Allen Craig, who hasn’t been hitting anyway.  We’ve seen feast or famine out of this club for a couple of years now, so I don’t think anyone was shocked, but it’s still a rough way to spend a gorgeous afternoon*.

*All those that were at the ballpark have my envy.  I’ve already expressed as much to our cohort Dathan, who took the day off to watch the Cards.

Shelby Miller did what he could, but he was burned yet again by a home run.  It seems like that’s going to be a bugaboo for him all year long.  When the offense is clicking or even just giving him regular support, that may not be a huge deal.  After all, a solo home run, even a two-run one, should be able to be overcome.  Yesterday, though, the two-run blast by Devin Mesoraco was all the Reds were going to need.  Save for that home run, though, Miller pitched well, even getting around a leadoff triple by Billy Hamilton without him scoring, which is a pretty solid feat.  If only he could pitch like Lance Lynn to get his team to score for him…..

To be fair, Miller wasn’t blameless.  Besides the home run, he allowed two stolen bases–when Yadier Molina can’t even throw down on them, you know that they’ve stolen them off the pitcher.  He’s got to keep that in mind, even if he won’t necessarily run into a team that will steal as often as the Reds very regularly.

Hamilton stole two bases (one in the ninth off Pat Neshek) and you know Molina is just dying to throw him out.  That’s four bases in Hamilton’s young career that he’s stolen off the best throwing catcher in baseball, which will have to give you a lot of confidence if you didn’t have it before.  Then again, given that he tagged up on that shallow fly to Jon Jay, confidence isn’t something Hamilton is lacking at all.  I know Jay has a very weak arm (which showed there), but even with that scouting report, gambling on a fly ball that barely leaves the infield requires guts–a two-run lead doesn’t hurt, either.

Tough to find a Hero in this one.  I’ll give it to Matt Adams, who had the only extra-base hit of the day while going 1-3.  As I say every year, not every Hero and every Goat are worth the same.  Some days the bar for each is a little higher or a little lower.

While we are talking about good parts of the game, kudos to Seth Maness for a scoreless inning.  Maness has struggled ever since we started seeing game action in Jupiter and putting a zero on the board has to help him out some as well.

Let’s find us a Goat.  Don’t want Miller, because even though he got the loss, there were some good aspects to his game.  I was going to with Matt Carpenter, given his 0-4.  Remember, leadoff hitters in my system tend to bear the brunt of things.  If there are an equal number of people I could pick for the Goat, a hitless leadoff guy breaks the ties because it’s so important for him to get on base.  Carpenter’s had a good start to the season, but everyone has an off day.  However, reading the stories, I see he made some good defensive plays, which could mitigate his lack of production at the plate.  So I guess I will go with Jon Jay, given his 0-3 and the fact that he allowed that highlight-reel play from Hamilton.

On the face of it, it’s troubling that Neshek gave up another run.  Then you see it was a bunt single, a stolen base, and a base hit up the middle that scored Hamilton and it makes a little more sense.  He definitely didn’t get beat around the yard, it was just Hamilton using that speed of his, which was on display all day long.

Day off today, then the Cubs come into today for the weekend.  The Cubs beat the Pirates last night and are 3-5 on the season, with another game against the Bucs this afternoon.  They’ll put Jeff Samardzija on the mound, which gives the Cardinals another tough pitcher to face.  Samardzija is 0-1 this season, but with a 1.29 ERA.  He shut out Pittsburgh on Opening Day for seven innings but didn’t get the decision, then allowed a couple of runs to the Phillies next time out.  We’ve watched as Samardzija has developed into the ace of this staff and it could be another tight game Friday night.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Matt Holliday 21 17 4 0 0 0 0 4 1 .235 .381 .235 .616 0 0 0 0 1
Jon Jay 19 18 8 0 0 0 2 1 4 .444 .474 .444 .918 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 19 17 9 1 0 0 2 1 2 .529 .579 .588 1.167 0 0 0 1 1
Matt Carpenter 16 13 2 0 1 0 2 3 1 .154 .313 .308 .620 0 0 0 0 0
Daniel Descalso 14 11 2 1 0 0 2 2 2 .182 .286 .273 .558 0 1 1 0 0
Allen Craig 8 8 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 .375 .375 .500 .875 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Kelly 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0 0
Shane Robinson 5 4 2 0 0 0 1 1 1 .500 .600 .500 1.100 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Adams 4 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 .500 .500 .750 1.250 0 0 0 0 0
Tony Cruz 4 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 .000 .250 .000 .250 0 0 0 0 1
Pete Kozma 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 125 110 34 5 1 0 10 13 19 .309 .384 .373 .757 0 1 1 1 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/10/2014.

The Cardinals have been able to hit him in the past, of course, but that’s become a little less frequent in the last year or two.  He gave up three runs in six innings when the Cards saw him in September, but before that he allowed two runs in 8.1 innings in June.  They can get to him, but whether they will or not is debatable.

St. Louis counters with Joe Kelly, making just his second start of the year.  He got the only win in Pittsburgh, working out of jams and keeping runs off the board.  In other words, a fairly typical Kelly start.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Anthony Rizzo 14 13 1 1 0 0 0 1 3 .077 .143 .154 .297 0 0 0 0 0
Starlin Castro 13 12 3 1 0 0 0 0 6 .250 .308 .333 .641 0 0 0 1 1
Welington Castillo 10 9 3 0 0 0 0 1 4 .333 .400 .333 .733 0 0 0 0 0
Nate Schierholtz 10 10 4 3 0 0 0 0 3 .400 .400 .700 1.100 0 0 0 0 0
Justin Ruggiano 9 9 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .111 .111 .111 .222 0 0 0 0 0
Darwin Barney 7 6 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 .333 .429 .333 .762 0 0 0 0 0
Junior Lake 6 5 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 .200 .333 .400 .733 0 0 0 0 0
Luis Valbuena 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .167 .000 .167 0 0 0 0 0
Jeff Samardzija 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Sweeney 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Edwin Jackson 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Villanueva 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Travis Wood 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 89 83 16 6 0 0 2 5 25 .193 .247 .265 .512 0 0 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/10/2014.

Kelly’s done pretty well against the baby bears in his career.  He’s limited the extra-base damage and, for the most part, kept the Cubs off base.  If he can do that again tomorrow, it could be another 1-0 type game.  I don’t think it’ll be quite that low scoring, but the potential is there.

I see Michael Wacha is already getting to be the face of an advertising campaign.  Pretty neat that they looked to him to be part of the RBI Baseball ’14 launch!

Likely no post tomorrow, unless something happens that needs discussing or I get creative (really, you shouldn’t hope for the latter, you’ve seen what results).  Enjoy the off day and let’s see if the Cards can’t win some games against those Cubs!

  • Alan in Toledo

    I predict Jay is gone by the trading deadline. Not to be prepared for a throw to the plate is unforgivable (not to mention later hitting into two double plays).

    • Cardinal70

      I think that’s a possibility, definitely. There are a lot of minor leaguers coming up. If Grichuk looks ready or Taveras seems to be able to handle center, at least as a backup, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jay moved on.

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