The comparisons between Monday’s game and Tuesday’s game for the Cardinals are pretty chilling and not at all fun to revisit. Both games they got up 3-0, both games they let the Brewers back in the game, both games they lost in the 11th inning. When we talk about consistency, this is not what we mean.
There was a stat put up by Fox Sports Midwest last night that showed the Cards had a winning percentage of .375 in extra-inning games over the last couple of years (basically, since Mike Matheny took over). While there’s some luck involved in extras and playing at home versus on the road can be big, you wonder if there’s a correlation. Here are the extra-inning marks for the first three years of Matheny and the last three years of Tony La Russa:
So, basically, it doesn’t make much difference who the manager is, the Cards just aren’t that successful when you get into double-digit innings. You have to go back to 2007 (7-4) to find a year that the Redbirds were good in extras, and that year they weren’t all that good in regulation.
One bad inning did in Lance Lynn. Even after a wild pitch before an RBI single, he still had plenty of chances to get out without further damage. With two outs and two on, he walked the eighth place hitter Martin Maldonado. It wasn’t intentional, but it might have been of the unintentional-intentional variety as none of the pitches were that good, not good enough for Maldonado to try to swing at, at least.
There are issues in walking the eighth place guy. You’d much rather get him out and start an inning with the pitcher, at least in my book. We see too many intentional (or otherwise) walks at the bottom of the order because the manager (and this goes throughout baseball, not just Matheny) thinks it’ll be easier to get the pitcher.
And, sure, it should be. However, you also put your pitcher in a bind to make good pitches to his counterpart. Lynn started off 2-0 and had to come to Kyle Lohse, who is a pretty good hitter for a pitcher. Lohse eventually flared one over the infield, the game was tied, and the top of the order was up. Luckily Lynn got out of it without more damage, but still, it’s a sickening feeling to see a lead vanish at the hands of the opposing pitcher.
You wonder if Lynn would have had that kind of inning if Tony Cruz was behind the plate. However, if Cruz had been, most likely Lynn would have been at best playing in a tie game, because for the longest time, the only runs in the ballgame came from Yadier Molina‘s homer in the first. I’d give Yadi the Hero tag just for that swing, but he came up after Allen Craig had tripled in the tying run (and Matt Adams had struck out for the second out, which was killer as well) and struck out, unable to get him in to break the tie. That was fairly significant as the Cards didn’t score again.
So I’m giving the Hero to Pat Neshek. Neshek came into a tie game and just blew away the Brewers, giving St. Louis time to make a rally. That they didn’t shouldn’t reflect on him. Neshek pitched two innings, his longest outing of the season, and struck out three, giving Milwaukee absolutely nothing.
The Goat has to go to Matt Carpenter again and it’s not even due to a tiebreaker. 0-6 in a game like this is a tough thing to have to swallow from any major contributor. He did score a run on Craig’s triple after having reached on a fielder’s choice, but also struck out three times.
The Cardinals have lost two games to the divisional leaders who are playing with about half their roster. No Ryan Braun or Jean Segura or Aramis Ramirez (at least last night) to torment the club and they still can’t put the Brew Crew away. It’s only April (we can say that for another day) but it’s not encouraging to see. Every year has an upset, an underdog team that surprises. Every year has a highly ranked team that falters and underperforms. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask the question if that’s what we are seeing from both sides here. I don’t think we can determine it and there is a strong likelihood that things will be different at the end of May or June than they are now, but there’s a chance it won’t be.
By the way, we got to see Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons pitch last night, which was a bit of a surprise given that he’s in the rotation. Lyons, who gave up a tie-breaking home run to Carlos Gomez (who is quickly becoming one of my least favorite players), still is a starter, but with the off day they’ve decided to skip his start and get Adam Wainwright on the mound on his regular rest. Which is interesting, since earlier they had said the opposite, that they were going to stick with things. Apparently they decided that, if you can have Adam Wainwright pitch, you let Adam Wainwright pitch, which is a darn smart thing.
Oh, and thankfully the Cardinals gave Lyons just as much support in his one inning of work as he got in his first two starts, otherwise he’d have taken the loss last night. Maybe they can score more than one when he goes next time around.
Congratulations to Randal Grichuk on his first major league hit. (Not so much on his first major league double play later on in the game.) Grichuk’s appearance is not great news for Peter Bourjos, who is going to have to figure out how to get out of a slump without playing, something baseball players have struggled with since the game began. Wow, those offseason projections and discussions really got scrapped quickly, didn’t they? At least David Freese and Fernando Salas aren’t exactly tearing it up in Anaheim either.
Springfield is going to be a happening place this weekend as Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte both start rehab assignments down in AA. Garcia is still being treated as a starter, which is going to make for some interesting decisions if he can get through the rehab assignment without another injury. Motte probably will move faster, I’d guess, since he doesn’t have as much stamina to build up. If everything goes right with him, he could be in St. Louis in a couple of weeks, I’d guess. Which will also make for some interesting choices on who stays and who goes.
Cards get the afternoon game tonight and Shelby Miller hopes to get a win in regulation. Miller had a dominant performance against the Brewers in Miller Park a couple of weeks ago and looks to continue a recent run of successful outings.
We’ll see if Ramirez is back in the lineup today–I expect he will be. Unless it’s something serious, those kind of numbers can’t be ignored, I don’t think. Thankfully Miller’s been good about limiting damage and hopefully he can play the stopper role today.
Cardinals will have to try to get some runs off of Matt Garza, which they were able to do last time they faced him in Milwaukee. Historically, it’s not been a major issue either.
Things are lined up well for the Cards to avoid the sweep today. Then again, with a shorthanded Brewers team, they shouldn’t be in this situation, so all bets are off.