Some nights, four errors by the opposing team are just what you need to win. Some nights, eight runs are crucial to getting the W. Some nights, 14 hits are a big deal.*
Those nights don’t have Adam Wainwright on the hill.
*Of course, some nights you win the World Series, but that’s not relevant at the moment. Well, as irrelevant as winning the World Series ever can be.
Wainwright threw a two-hit shutout and garnered a couple of hits on his own. He went into the ninth looking for his first one-hitter (and that one was an infield single that according to Twitter–I didn’t see it–could have been debatable had it been the only one of the game) but Adam LaRoche at least avoided that indignity for the Nationals.
There was plenty of other shame to go around for the Nats, though. Four errors on the night, and that’s just what actually was officially recorded. There were numerous other iffy plays, non-error errors, and just generally bad play. If you are a Nationals fan, you probably aren’t reading this, but you have to take heart that there’s little way any of the other games in this series could get any worse. It was a perfect storm of things in this one, best represented by the fact the Cards scored eight–but still left 15 on. Baserunners were like pennies last night, plenty of them to go around.
Which means that there were a number of good offensive performances as well, even when you factor in the Nationals’ sloppy play. The top three men in the lineup–Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, and Matt Holliday–all had two hits. Matt Adams just had one, but he drove in three. Jhonny Peralta also had two knocks and Wainwright, well, he had as many hits as he gave up, if the Washington faithful really want to be depressed. He even doubled in the ninth, trying to make a bid for that Silver Slugger he really wants. He’s hitting .444 on the year now, with that double and two RBI, plus a walk, so he’s well on his way to getting it!
Everybody got a hit and there was no bullpen to look at, so it again becomes tough to pick out a Goat. (I didn’t explicitly note it above, but I think it’s pretty obvious Waino got the Hero tag.) It’s a rare occasion, but I think I’ll give it to Yadier Molina this time. He went 1-6 and left six on, though did have an RBI. Allen Craig went 1-5 without the RBI, but he only left one on. Coin flip it if you want, but I’ll reluctantly take Molina.
Joe Kelly got an MRI on that hamstring yesterday and found out that it was “just” a strain. As we noted during the day yesterday, the club placed him on the 15-day DL, which hopefully will be enough for him to heal up and just miss a couple of starts. The general idea now is that someone will come up from the minors on Monday to take his start, most likely Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons.
This makes a lot of sense, and I don’t say that just because I want to see that big 70 on the mound again. The argument for moving Carlos Martinez to the rotation is interesting, but given this is a short-term assignment (apparently), it seems not worth disturbing the relief roles and the good work the bullpen is doing (well, some of it) for a temporary fix. If Kelly doesn’t heal as quickly as they expect, that could be revisited.
Which is somewhat the problem that I was afraid of with Martinez getting into the pen–he’s too valuable to take out of it. It’s a long time from now until then, but it’s going to be interesting to see what the Cards want to do next spring if Martinez spends the entire year being that shutdown reliever. Will they be able to move him back to the rotation? Again, way down the road, but something to watch.
It’s been–maybe not curious, but at least a bit surprising–to see Jon Jay playing a lot of center in the last few days. Mike Matheny said he wanted to play the hot hand, as it were, and Jay’s put together the better at-bats. Given Peter Bourjos‘s acquisition, not many of us thought we’d see a lot of Jay, but with Bourjos struggling at the plate, Jay’s taken advantage of his opportunities. It’s still not a platoon and it’s not where Jay is going to be the starter, but he’s getting more playing time than expected.
Which maybe the best position for Jay. After all, he was the fourth outfielder in 2010, but played well enough to get Ryan Ludwick traded. He returned to the extra outfielder role in 2011, but played well enough to get Colby Rasmus traded. After taking on the starring spot, his production slipped somewhat, but now, back out of the spotlight, he’s producing again. Maybe he needs that challenge?
Jaime Garcia will throw in a game situation Saturday, being limited to 35 pitches. The most interesting comment was that they are putting him on a spring training-like program and this would be considered halfway through. If that keeps up and there are no more setbacks, you’d figure he would go on a rehab assignment in about three weeks, get a couple of starts, and be ready to be with the Cards maybe by the beginning of June. If that’s the case, it’s going to be fun trying to figure out how to fit him into the picture.
Cards and Nats go at it again tonight, most likely with the Nationals playing a cleaner game, but no guarantee there will be more hits. After all, the last time Michael Wacha faced them, Ryan Zimmerman broke up his no-hitter with two outs in the eighth. Sure, he’s not likely to do that again. However, it’s Michael Wacha, so you never rule anything out, right? Besides, Zimmerman is on the DL tonight….
The Nationals get to the head of their rotation, throwing Gio Gonzalez. St. Louis was able to get to him in spring training, for whatever that’s worth, and he’s coming off allowing six runs to the Braves. However, he threw two-run baseball over seven innings the last time he saw the Redbirds in the regular season (last September), but lost because, well, Michael Wacha was on the other side.
If both pitchers live up to their billing and the defense behind them is sharp, this could be a tight duel this evening. Nobody’s had just a ton of success against Gonzalez, though I still remember a spring at-bat where Adams was able to get a hit off of him, which gave me a little more confidence about Adams hitting lefties. So far, that’s held up and hopefully he’ll be able to do the same this evening.
Come back later this morning for the latest UCB project, my picks on who, from the official ballot, should get into the Cardinal HOF. Enjoy your weekend!