Cardinal fans, step back and breathe for me. One of the worst things about baseball is the way it can turn on a dime inside 24 hours. This time last night, Adam Wainwright was setting up the mighty Yoenis Cespedes for a knee buckling curve ball that would end the Red Sox threat and lead to a Cardinal win and a series clinch. Waino fist bumped as he went off the mound. Kids kicked the feet. Grown men screamed and babies did double fist pumps across the metropolitan area. It was a good night and finished off a successful 4-2 homestand. Then, The Cards ran into a Baltimore jigsaw. As I write this the Cards are losing 12-2 in the bottom of the 8th. Now I could run over the highlights in a long stream of consciousness or I can single out the damage. Sometimes, things don’t seem as bad if they are explained thoroughly.
I present..The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of August 8th in Baltimore. As iced black coffee goes down the chute and Bob Seger plays in the background, let’s get rolling.
THE GOOD-Scrapping the bottom of the peanut butter jar here…
*A.J. busts out the boomstick. Pierzynski finds himself back in a familiar park and hits his first home run as a Cardinal. With all the talk about his attitude when he came into the Cards clubhouse, I have seen nothing but steady defense behind the plate, the advertised edginess and a bat that produces hits. A former Red Sox player called him a Dark Cloud. All I see is blue skies and base hits. What was once a huge void behind home plate has been filled to a certain degree by Pierzynski. A.J. is 10-32 with the Cards.
*Randy Choate sighting. The last time we saw old man Choate, the Padres were blowing the Birds out of the water in Ron Burgundy Country. That was on July 30th. The last time Choate recorded an out was July 29th. Tonight, he struck out 2 batters and joined Seth Maness as the only two Cards pitchers to not allow a run.
*Justin Masterson. After escaping a bases loaded and nobody out jam in the first, Masterson poured more gasoline on the mound in the 2nd inning. He allowed 4 runs in the frame and allowed another in the 3rd inning before leaving the game. Masterson surrendered 5 runs and only got 6 outs. A terrible start for the new Cardinal pitcher. Questions about the man’s health will only trail concerns over his effectiveness. After eating innings and offering low liability service for the past 2 seasons, Masterson has endured a rough 2014 season. Will it get better? The man hadn’t pitched in three weeks and got Milwaukee and Baltimore right out of the gate. He gets a shot at Miami next week and Cincinnati after that. The starts won’t get any easier and the games won’t mean any less. At worst folks, Masterson could be bumped by a healthy Michael Wacha in September. Masterson gets four more starts(at least) before that happens.
*Lefthanded relievers not named Choate. Nick Greenwood and Sam Freeman did pitch four innings but they got shelled for 7 runs and surrendered four home runs. The Orioles lit up Camden Yards with six long balls and did most of the damage against these two young hurlers. Greenwood escaped a dicey third inning before getting rocked in the 4th inning. Freeman didn’t provide much support afterwards. By the time they left, it was 11-0 Baltimore.
*The Cards anemic and inconsistent offense. Two runs on four hits in a hitters ballpark. Chris Tillman is a good pitcher but I really don’t care. If A.J. doesn’t decide to hit a long ball, this is a shutout. The result still stinks. When will this group of professional hitters break out? It helps to have a bench that doesn’t resemble a minor league death squad. Shane Robinson, Daniel Descalso, and Mark Ellis wouldn’t strike fear in the hearts of little league kids right now. It’s pitiful. Tony Cruz is a backup catcher so he escapes the mix but his .228 average won’t raise any hairs. All together, the four men combine for a .202 average(74-366). The bench is downright despicable. When I asked for Descalso’s release in May, someone threatened to stone me. Now what? He isn’t the problem but the bench is.
That’s it folks. Tomorrow is a brand new day. The Pirates won and take back second place from the Cards but the Brewers are losing 3-2 in the 7th against the Dodgers. To me, the Central division will remain a tightly wound race until the final days of September. While the Cards made moves at the deadline and the other teams did not, they can’t find a way to put together a winning streak. The Cards traded for two starting pitchers but are only seeing returns from one. The season is getting old and Friday’s loss was ugly. I would suggest a cold beer, a relaxing soundtrack and a calm end to the night. Action resumes tomorrow afternoon.
Find more of my Cards intake on Twitter, @buffa82.