Through all of these rough times over the last couple of weeks, one constant has really been Michael Wacha. He’s been the security blanket, the knowledge that even if the Cards didn’t win the game, it wasn’t going to be his fault. Twice he’s thrown scoreless outings and the one time he allowed three runs to the Yankees, they were spread out. Wacha hadn’t lost a lead since May 9 in Pittsburgh, when the Cards rallied to put him up 3-2, only to see him allow a Pirate run in the next frame. So, when the Cards got up 2-0 yesterday, it was easy to think that, if nothing else, the bullpen was going to cause the angst. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
We continue to go back to the big inning work that we did in relation to Lance Lynn. Wacha had only one such inning this year, when he gave up three runs in the seventh to the Brewers in April, which also frittered away a lead. The odds were against what we saw in the sixth last night. Then again, the odds have been against a lot of things that we’ve seen this season.
(By the way, in his career, Wacha had allowed only four runs total in the sixth inning before yesterday. Because, of course.)
Still, you can’t completely pin this one on Wacha. He didn’t have his good stuff–just one strikeout, which is almost unheard of for him–but a quality start is named that for a reason. With a reasonable facsimile of an offense, you should win a game like that. That offense would not reside in St. Louis.
I wrote the Bird’s Eye View for the Toronto series this morning (if you aren’t signed up for the United Cardinal Bloggers’ email series previews, you can do so right here) and noted that in the last ten days, the Cardinal offense has combined for a .231/.298/.340 line (For comparison, Toronto’s hitters the last ten games: .301/.362/.504. This weekend has the potential to be ugly.) Not surprisingly, that corresponds to this terrible crash-landing we’ve seen since the Cards came home from Cincinnati with us thinking this was the team we’d been waiting for. Apparently, that was a little wishful dreaming.
So, if we aren’t tagging Wacha with the Goat in this one, who gets it? The Cards were able to manage some hits yesterday and if it hadn’t been for some stellar defense from the Royals, they might have been able to get a few more runs for Wacha to work with. Most notably, Matt Carpenter was robbed of possibly a double in his first at-bat, which really hurt after Matt Holliday and Allen Craig both reached as well.
I guess I’ll go with Jhonny Peralta, who is really scuffling now. Peralta went 0-4 with two strikeouts, including one in the ninth after Oscar Taveras had beaten out an infield single to start the game.
While we are on that topic, a couple of points. One, we’ve seen replay used a lot this year, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a call that was so egregiously blown as that one was. Usually it’s those split-second decisions, but that was almost like the reverse of the Don Denkinger call. At least they got it right with the replay.
Two, exactly why did Matheny pinch-run for Taveras there? I’m not seeing any explanation anywhere for that. Taveras is a fairly quick guy and while Randal Grichuk isn’t slow, I don’t know that you gain anything there. Even if you do, it’s minimal. And while baseball is a game of inches, that seems a lot of work for a small amount of gain. The darker explanation is that Matheny pulled him because, even though he was right, Taveras was so expressive in arguing with the umpire. Which could be understood if it wasn’t for the fact that Matheny has said they’ve told the players to go a little “over the top” if they think there’s a chance at something being overturned to let the dugout know they should look at it. Given those directions, Taveras’s actions were perfectly understandable. I hope someone in the comments can clear this up for me, because otherwise it goes on the ever-growing #BecauseMatheny pile.
Hero of the game has to be Jon Jay, the only person that had two hits and the only person that crossed the plate. I don’t like the DH and never will, but I’m not going to argue that it’ll be a little beneficial over the next few days, allowing all the various outfielders to get time while not necessarily forcing someone to the bench.
Kolten Wong left yesterday’s game because his shoulder, jammed on Tuesday, flared up with pain again. Rick Hummel, in his story, says “No one is saying this is a serious injury.” That’d be more of a comfort if no one had said Joe Kelly‘s hamstring was a serious injury either. If Wong misses any time, even just a few games, that’s more time for Mark Ellis and Daniel Descalso to play, neither of which inspire a ton of confidence in anyone that doesn’t wear #22 for the Redbirds. Let’s hope it’s just a day or two, but it’s a worrisome thing to see it come back like that.
Cards get their passports out and head north of the border today, getting a chance to visit Toronto as they celebrate 25 years of Rogers Centre, which is always going to be SkyDome to me. I still remember when that opened and how revolutionary it was*. Lance Lynn gets the call and, a little surprisingly, he’s faced the Jays before, getting three innings against them in his third major league appearance. Most of the info in this chart, though, is from when these guys were on other squads, mainly the National League versions.
*Yes, yes, I’m old. I know.
Very small samples, of course, but at least Lynn has been successful against these folks when he’s seen them. Of course, Edwin Encarnacion is a little different hitter than he was the last time Lynn saw him…..
Cards have to up against Marcus Stroman whom, given that he’s making only his seventh appearance in the bigs, nobody on this team has seen. Again, the newbie factor hasn’t seemed to be as obvious this season, but that could be because most everyone has shut down this offense during the season so the young guns don’t stand out as much. Stroman did struggle in some of his relief appearances before going into the starting rotation, so perhaps the St. Louis hitters can find something they like in his pitch selection.
The MLB draft continues today. The Cards loaded up with pitchers last night, as the Preacher told you, so we’ll see if and when they start to diversify. It sounds like they did a good job with the first rounds and, given their success in the later rounds in the past, paying attention to the folks they take today would seem to be a smart play!