Always Take The Wong Way Home

Got a handful of lightning
A hatful of rain
And I know I said
I’d never do it again
And I love you pretty baby but I always take the long way home.

—Norah Jones, “The Long Way Home

Last night there was more than a hatful of rain, but Kolten Wong surely had a handful of lightning.  It seemed pretty obvious he wanted to tell Boston that that whole “picked off to end the game” thing, he’d never do it again.  There’s no doubt he took the Wong way home, while thoughts of the Wongs at his home in Hawaii dominated his thoughts.  (Our prayers and thoughts are with the folks in Hawaii as hurricanes head that way.)

Here’s the entire list of Cardinal players that have gone deep more than once a game this season:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS WPA
1 Kolten Wong 2014-08-07 STL BOS W 5-2 4 4 3 3 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.230
2 Matt Adams 2014-06-23 STL COL W 8-0 5 5 2 3 0 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.138
3 Jhonny Peralta 2014-04-27 STL PIT W 7-0 3 2 2 2 0 0 2 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.190
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/8/2014.

Not a long one, which isn’t a surprise given the lack of firepower we’ve seen out of this squad this year.  You could make an argument for any of those guys having the best night–Matt Adams had six RBI, Jhonny Peralta didn’t make an out–but Wong not only got his homers, he stole a base as well.  That’s the all-around player we thought we’d see when the Cards brought him up.  That’s the overall player you get when you let him play, Mike Matheny.*

*Matheny’s not even tried to bench Wong lately, which is good but very different than what we saw earlier in the season.  If Allen Craig hadn’t been traded, would we have eventually seen the same thing with Oscar Taveras?  Moot point now, but I wonder.  Maybe.

So Wong’s our Hero, though he wasn’t even FOX Sports Midwest’s player of the game.  That honor went to Adam Wainwright and it was quite well deserved, though I still think hitting two home runs and creating the space needed to breathe in the late innings is more impressive.  Waino, though, was pretty typical Waino, going seven innings and allowing only two runs.  Though it was a little atypical as well–Wainwright needed 122 pitches to get through seven innings, much more than some of his complete games.  He got nicked and poked some, giving up seven hits, but got the outs when he needed to do so.  Like the ace that we have come to expect.

Taveras kept his hitting streak going and drove in another run to boot.  That’s the thing about his hitting streak.  For the most part, it’s not a ninth inning bloop that has kept it going.  He seems to get his hit when there’s a runner on and he can do something.  Not always, of course–that double play with the bases loaded over the weekend still haunts–but it does seem that, right now, Taveras is going to get one hit and he’s going to do it when a runner is in scoring position.

Two hits by Jon Jay and Jhonny Peralta, with Peralta driving in two early to help the Cards jump out to a 3-0 lead.  Kevin Siegrist worked around a one-out double (that was hit hard) and Pat Neshek gave Trevor Rosenthal a night off.  Hopefully that would have happened even in a one-run game, but with a three-run gap Matheny probably felt freer in not using the closer even though it was a save situation.

To find a Goat, we’re going to have to look at the big man.  Matt Adams had an off night, going 0-4 and striking out twice.  Matt Holliday also went 0-4, but he made more contact.

Of course, with a couple of series wins under their belt, Matheny’s going to get creative with the lineup.  I’m joking about blaming that on the skipper, though.  There’s no doubt that Daniel Descalso and Mark Ellis need to see the field some and this weekend, when you can have a DH and not hurt the offense too much, is a real good time to see if they can get some timing or at least see some live pitching.  They aren’t going to play often going forward, but this is a pretty good chance for that to happen without causing a major ruckus.

What’s more interesting is that Randy Choate hasn’t pitched since he gave up two runs without getting an out against the Padres on July 30.  That’s seven games (eight days, counting Monday’s off day) where he’s not made it to the mound.  He had a similar gap around the All-Star Break, though of course four of those 10 days were days off due to the game.  Combine those two and he’s pitched in just 11 of the Cardinals’ 30 games since the beginning of July.  That’s kinda low for a guy that could go every other day with little difficulty, I’d think.

Of course, there are three lefties out there.  Sam Freeman has pitched in 12 games since the first of July, Siegrist five since he returned from the DL July 25.  Given the increased innings from the starters, this lack of Choate isn’t a huge surprise, but it’s a bit strange anyway.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him come in to face Chris Davis during this upcoming series in Baltimore, but hopefully the rust won’t play a factor if he does.

As noted, the Cards head out and face their former city opponents, seeing the old Browns in Camden Yards.  Justin Masterson goes for the Redbirds, hoping his second effort for the club is both the same (a win) and different (much better pitching) than his first.  Masterson, of course, will be no stranger to the Orioles.

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Adam Jones 31 26 6 3 1 0 3 3 3 .231 .355 .423 .778 0 0 0 2 0
Nick Markakis 31 28 5 0 0 0 2 3 2 .179 .258 .179 .437 0 0 1 0 1
Delmon Young 22 21 3 1 0 0 2 0 6 .143 .136 .190 .327 0 1 0 0 1
J.J. Hardy 20 18 5 1 0 0 3 1 2 .278 .350 .333 .683 0 0 0 1 0
Nelson Cruz 17 16 4 0 0 1 1 1 3 .250 .294 .438 .732 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Davis 17 16 4 2 0 1 2 1 7 .250 .294 .563 .857 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Flaherty 9 7 4 1 0 1 4 0 1 .571 .667 1.143 1.810 0 0 0 2 2
David Lough 9 8 3 0 0 0 1 1 1 .375 .444 .375 .819 0 0 0 0 1
Manny Machado 7 7 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 .286 .286 .429 .714 0 0 0 0 1
Total 163 147 36 9 1 3 18 10 26 .245 .313 .381 .694 0 1 1 5 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/8/2014.

Masterson struggled against the Orioles earlier in the year, giving up eight hits and five runs in 5.2 innings.  Overall, though, he’s done OK against the big bats in the Baltimore lineup and hopefully that continues tonight.

St. Louis won’t have the same luxury of knowledge with Chris Tillman.  Not by a long shot.

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
A.J. Pierzynski 18 18 5 1 0 0 2 0 0 .278 .278 .333 .611 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 13 12 2 1 0 1 1 1 2 .167 .231 .500 .731 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Ellis 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 1 0
Total 33 31 8 2 0 1 3 1 2 .258 .303 .419 .722 0 0 0 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/8/2014.

Perhaps A.J. Pierzynski can tell them a little about what Tillman is like, but otherwise it’s video and scouting reports for these guys.  Last time out, Tillman threw seven scoreless innings against Seattle and on the season has an ERA under 4.00, so the hitters may be in for a long night.

Come back tomorrow for a question swap with Doug of Baseball Geek In Galveston as we let Wes Keene get some rest so we can watch his word count for the season!

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