Missed It By That Much

It’s been a dominating series for the Cardinals against their World Series opponents from a year ago.

No it hasn’t.

Would you believe a close but satisfying two wins?

No, I wouldn’t.

How about an even-up split?

You couldn’t get more balanced than St. Louis and Boston in the first two games.  Both have a win and there’s been an equal number of runs scored.  Which would be more encouraging if this was the 2013 version of the Red Sox, not the last-place, just-sold-everything-with-a-pulse 2014 version.  Let’s quickly recap.*

*My apologies for no post yesterday. I had to evacuate to my parents’ home–I know, I know, I should have been in their basement anyway if I was a good blogger–since our air conditioner gave out.  I’d have much rather written a post than that check.

Tuesday (3-2 win)

Hero: A.J. Pierzynski. 2-3 with a walk and a run and was instrumental in the rally the Cards put together in the eighth to take the lead.  It’s becoming more obvious why the Cardinals went after Pierzynski, though it’s still strange HOW they went about it.

Goat: Oscar Taveras.  He did keep his hitting streak going, but every starter got a hit.  What really hurt is when Taveras came up with the bases loaded and one out and hit into the 1-2-3 double play.  It happens to everyone, but it’s never easy to swallow, especially when you need runs like this team does.

Notes: Lance Lynn again was a rock out there, giving up two runs, only one of which was earned, in seven innings.  He did bobble a ball which led to the Red Sox taking a short-lived lead, but he got out of the jam with a strikeout to keep his ledger fairly clean.  Seems like a long time since we were talking about The Lynning, doesn’t it?

Jon Jay returned from dealing with a wrist injury to drive in the winning run.  Peter Bourjos had a chance to at least bring up the Jay/Bourjos debate again, but in his five starts he went 2-15.  That said, I still wouldn’t be surprised if Jay went elsewhere in the offseason, given that his price tag is going to increase, and they went with Bourjos in center next year.  It’s at least a possibility.

Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal locked this one down.  Sadly, that wasn’t a line we could repeat in the recap for last night.

Wednesday (2-1 loss)

Hero: Matt Adams.  2-4, drove in the only run, plus got a hit in the ninth that at least allowed the tying run to be on base.  I love me some Adams, there’s no doubt about it.

Goat: Matt Holliday. He went 0-3 and had a key play in the outfield that I hesitate to call a misplay–the ball was well-hit and it was a deep drive–but it really seemed like it should have been caught when it bounced off his glove.  That led to the Sox’s first run, which turned out to be huge.

Notes: Rosenthal, of course, is going to be most folks’ choice for the Goat in this one and I can’t blame them.  After all, he did come out and immediately allow Boston to take the lead.  However, two things: one, that inning could have been much, much worse.  Bases loaded, nobody out?  If you get out of that with just one, that’s pretty good.  At least he left the Cards a chance in the ninth.

But also, there’s a question on whether Rosenthal really should have been out there.  I don’t mean tactically–using your closer in the ninth of a tie game makes some sense, though Neshek would have been just as good of an option. Here’s the last few days for Rosenthal:

Saturday: 17 pitches
Sunday: 27 pitches
Monday: Team off day
Tuesday: 12 pitches

That’s a pretty good workload for a guy.  He also threw 14 pitches last Thursday, so he’d had two days off this week, Friday’s loss to Milwaukee and the off day on Monday.

To be fair, Neshek threw on all those days as well, though his pitch count was 10, 9, 19, and 13.  So maybe there wasn’t a much better option.  However, the consensus, given John Mozeliak’s moves at the deadline, is that the Cardinals are going to be playing a lot of close, low-scoring games.  Neshek and Rosenthal can’t be run out there every single night.  Mike Matheny‘s going to have to find a couple of other guys he can trust in the late innings occasionally.  Easier said than done, of course, given the volatility of folks like Jason Motte and Kevin Siegrist, but it’s still something that probably needs to happen.

Major kudos to Shelby Miller, who dealt with the emotion of facing his old friend Joe Kelly for the first time and was quite good doing it.  Miller is finally starting to look more like the guy we thought we were getting this year.  Since the beginning of July, he’s had one bad start (the game against Pittsburgh) and even counting that game, he’s posted a 3.60 ERA in that span.  Take out that four-run ugliness and it drops to 2.88.

What’s the difference?  The most notable one is more control.  Except for that game against the Pirates, he’s not walked more than one in any appearance since the beginning of July.  Compare that to his starts in June, when he averaged almost three walks a game.  The strikeouts aren’t on the rise, which would be another good indicator, but if he can get folks to put the ball in play, he’s going to do better and go deeper into games.

Last night just seemed like a game of inches, more so than any other.  Taveras almost added to the Cardinal lead, but Xander Bogaerts just stretched enough to keep his ball on the infield and record the out.  It was an outstanding play (and a frustrating one for Cardinal fans!)  Holliday missed the long drive by Bogaerts by a fraction.  Even the last play of the game, Jay hit the ball well, but it couldn’t get past Dustin Pedroia.  Nothing broke St. Louis’s way and, eventually, that winds up coming back to bite you.

It’s frustrating to lose that one given the fact that Milwaukee also lost and the Redbirds could be tied for first right now.  That said, they still have the chance for the series win tonight, which is the objective anytime a team comes to town or St. Louis hits a new stadium.  Plus we get Adam Wainwright in the rubber game, so even though he’s had two bad outings in his last three, you gotta like the Cardinals’ chances.

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
David Ortiz 6 5 3 1 0 0 2 0 0 .600 .500 .800 1.300 0 1 0 0 0
Dustin Pedroia 6 6 3 1 0 0 1 0 0 .500 .500 .667 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Xander Bogaerts 5 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .400 .400 .400 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Yoenis Cespedes 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Napoli 3 3 1 1 0 0 3 0 0 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Daniel Nava 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Total 27 26 9 3 0 0 6 0 7 .346 .333 .462 .795 0 1 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/7/2014.

The table doesn’t look good, but that’s not surprising given that most of this is from last year’s World Series, a Series that saw Waino get rocked in the first game.  You’d like to think things would be different tonight and there’s every reason to be confident that it will be.

Brandon Workman also saw the Cardinals last October, but in a relief role.  So while he did pretty well in the Series, we’ll have to see if he can continue that success over a longer period of time.

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Matt Adams 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 8 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .125 .125 .125 .250 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/7/2014.

Workman has been everywhere this year.  The rotation, the bullpen, AAA.  He’s coming off a two-run, five-inning affair against the Blue Jays, but threw seven innings and allowed just three runs in a game against the White Sox before that.  The Cubs got to him for six at the beginning of July, but other than that he’s been pretty solid over his last 10 games.

Let’s hope that the Cardinals can use the old Wainwright-throws-a-shutout trick and can take the series tonight!

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