The Cardinal offense awoke during their three day stint in the Rockies. Totals of eight, five, and nine were enough to inflate the moribund offensive numbers we’ve seen out of this club for much of the season. The question was, would the bats follow when they left the thin air of Denver?
The initial verdict: not on your life.
Now, let’s be fair. St. Louis was facing a very good pitcher, one with a no-hitter already to his credit this season, in a very good pitcher’s park. This season, it ranks about the middle of the pack with a park factor of slightly under one, giving the advantage to the pitcher. Last year it was 28th, with only CitiField and Petco being bigger pitcher havens. The degree of difficulty went up significantly last night.
The game likely turned in the seventh, when Allen Craig was thrown out at home, which is just exactly what you’d figure with this season. Jon Jay got the hit, Craig did everything right….and it still wasn’t enough. When a part of your game is struggling, it seems like nothing goes your way. If the Cards score there, the eighth might turn out a little different, or at least Mike Matheny might have been more likely to reach into the pen. But they didn’t, and when you have a tie game in late innings on the road, chances are it’s not going to wind up in your favor.
I’m giving the Hero tag to Adam Wainwright anyway, even though he finally broke in the eighth. One run over eight should win you a ballgame, though, especially when you strike out more (seven) than you allow baserunners (six). When you talk about baseball being an unfair game, this would be a prime example.
Matt Holliday gets the Goat in this one. Not only was he 0-4 but he also hit into a double play after a leadoff single, which helped Beckett get into his groove. Mark Ellis didn’t help the cause either, going 0-3 with two strikeouts and dropping his average back under .200 after breaching the Mendoza line in the Mile High City.
It was like a playoff game in June, two contenders going all out. You tip your hat to the Dodgers and you move on, but losing a Wainwright start is not a good way to go about even getting a split in this series, not with Clayton Kershaw looming on Sunday.
Shelby Miller is scheduled to oppose Kershaw on Sunday but that’s still not set in stone. He feels pretty good, but the Cardinals limited him to flat ground throwing yesterday instead of a bullpen off the mound. If the Cardinals aren’t going to start him, they better figure it out quickly because it’s going to take some more logistical maneuvering to get someone on the roster available to start. I think Miller will make that one, but the bullpen might be quite active behind him.
Which means tonight’s start by Carlos Martinez could be a big deal. Martinez is cleared to go 100 pitches tonight, so he could help keep that bullpen rested by going deep into the game. We’ll see if he does, though. Martinez sometimes has trouble finding the plate, but if he’s locked in he could easily get through seven on 100 pitches and turn it over (hopefully) to Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal to close it out. Then, with Lance Lynn going tomorrow and likely going deep, the bullpen would be really fresh for Miller and whatever may come.
Unsurprisingly, the Dodgers haven’t seen much of him, with what they have seen coming during last year’s playoffs. If he can keep that going, you have to like the odds tonight.
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On the flip side, Los Angeles runs out Hyun-jin Ryu. Ryu has thrown back-to-back games of six-inning, one-run ball. In fact, he rarely goes more than six innings, having thrown four straight games like that. His ERA for the season is a tick over three, so runs may be at a premium for the Redbirds again tonight.
Like the Dodgers against Martinez, it’s a small sample for the Redbirds against Ryu, but it’s not a positive one. It may take bunching the three-four hits they are going to get tonight together to get an early run and see if Martinez and the pen can hold it.
Another late start out there on the West Coast, so be sure to get your coffee going if you want to stay up for the ending!