Usually, as the song says, two out of three ain’t bad. While that’s still a good way to pile up wins and work your way back into the postseason, it’s still good to sweep a club from time to time, especially when you have them down 2-0 in the series. A loss isn’t the end of the world, but it’s still disappointing. Unfortunately, “loss” could be applied twice to yesterday’s game, which made it much more than disappointing.
As you know by now, of course, Joe Kelly had to leave the game against the Brewers after pulling a hamstring trying to beat out a bunt for a hit. While there’s hope that it’s not severe, it seems fairly likely Kelly is at least going to miss his next start, which would be the opener of the series with the Mets in New York. Bernie Miklasz runs down the various options, but I agree with the Preacher, it looks like Tyler Lyons might get a spot start. That obviously works with me, as long as the Patron Pitcher of the Blog doesn’t change his number.
As for the actual game, there’s little to say. The Hero goes to Allen Craig, who stroked his first home run of the year which accounted for all the scoring. Craig is slowly starting to come around, with a hit in each of his last five games, just about doubling his average in that time. It’s still not the Craig that we know and love, but you can see the outline of that Craig in his current production. Soon hits will start falling even more often and we’ll all feel a bit better.
On the flip side, our Goat is Seth Maness. I mentioned on Twitter yesterday about how Maness, after having a few good outings, apparently still wasn’t fixed. Folks helpfully pointed out that he was undone by a Jhonny Peralta error, which has merit. (Well, save for the fact that they changed it to a hit afterwards.) Obviously, the inning would have been over had Peralta been able to handle Wily Peralta‘s hit (too many Peraltas in this situation) but Maness still had two outs and a runner on first.
The top of the lineup was coming up, but he should have been able to get an out and get out of the inning. Instead, a walk and a single loaded the bases, then two more singles brought in three runs. I don’t know if the error rattled him or what, but Maness has got to be able to get good batters out. Mike Matheny already has trust issues with much of the ‘pen and for the sake of Kevin Siegrist and Carlos Martinez and their continuing health, other people have to get outs.
Apparently, one of those other people is going to be Jorge Rondon, per our friend Eugene Tierney over at Examiner.com. Rondon, who sparkled for the most part in spring training (save for some control issues), hasn’t exactly dominated Memphis, but with the bullpen being taxed yesterday and the uncertainty around Kelly, a fresh arm was needed. Looks like Keith Butler will be who Rondon will be swapped for. Butler had a good inning yesterday, but unfortunately he was out there for more than just three outs. After loading the bases with nobody out in the eighth, he was pulled for Pat Neshek, who mainly got out of it, though he did walk in a run.
Rondon’s not likely to add a whole lot of confidence in the bullpen to Matheny’s mind, at least not at first. There’s no doubt he’s another hard-throwing, electric arm and if he’s able to get batters out instead of putting them on, that could turn around quickly. We saw how the youngsters made their mark last year, after all.
When you start talking about the bullpen, everyone starts to ask, “Hey, how’s that Jason Motte guy doing?” Well, he’s facing batters in extended spring training and still seems to be on a timetable to return next month, even though his rehab assignment hasn’t started yet. So while he may be able to stabilize the relief corps when he returns, there will still have to be some temporary measures put into place to get that far. Jaime Garcia is also throwing, though he’s even farther behind. He may get into an extended spring training game this week and they’ll go from there.
Cardinals are off to Washington for a four-game set. They’ll get a test right off the bat in the form of Taylor Jordan, who has never faced the Cardinals before. He’s faced Atlanta twice this season and struggled, but does have eight strikeouts in 11.1 innings. He’s a fifth-starter type, especially for the pitching-rich Nationals, but we know how much trouble those guys have given St. Louis in the past.
At least the Cards get to counter with Adam Wainwright. Waino’s on a roll this year, though he’s not always getting the support he needs. He’s had some trouble with the Nats before, of course–Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS comes to mind–and that’s reflected in the numbers.
That said, last year he faced the Nationals twice and did well both times. Most notably, last April in D.C. he threw 8.1 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. I’d say we’d take that again, wouldn’t you? Let’s hope Wainwright is on his game tonight!