How do you know when a team gives one away? When you blow a four run lead against a weak opponent. Let’s take a deeper look.
The Cards jump out to a 4-0 lead on the talented young pitcher Jesse Hahn of the San Diego Padres. They jumped on Tyson Ross early on Friday and had their way with Hahn Saturday night. This should lead the Cards to cruise to a victory and keep up the pace with the Milwaukee Brewers, who were busy getting the best of Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles(that’s becoming illegal on the West Coast). Every game is a must win right now. The division race is tightening, so the time to give away a 4-0 lead is obsolete, right? WRONG. Shelby Miller gave it back in a 38 pitch, four run third inning. A player named Jake Goebbert(you don’t know either, right?) cranks a three run triple and the game is tied.
That’s okay because Matt Adams, aka Big Mayo, cracked his 5th triple into the right field corner to score Matt Holliday and the Cards were up 5-4. It stayed that way until the 7th inning, after Miller stabilized and maintained the lead and gave way to Kevin Siegrist. Siegrist got the first batter but allowed the next four batters to reach and score, as Jedd Gyorko blasted a grand slam to make it 8-5 San Diego.
The Cards blew two leads against San Diego, a team that generally sits on a field in August and September for other teams to smack around and gain ground against. They can also exist as a thorn in a playoff hopeful team’s side, and that is what happened Saturday night. The Cards gave one away, and lost a game in the standings to the Brewers, who climbed Kershaw Mountain and conquered it for a 3-2 win.
The Cards fall to 65-57 and three games out while maintaining a 1.5 game lead on third place Pittsburgh.
Takeaways from the evening-
*Rain speaks up and takes away more than baseball. While I was nursing a Cardinals Rain Delay at my dad’s h0use, I tried to watch Cinemax’s new brilliant series, The Knick, and my dad’s dish gave up and lost the signal. Baseball and cable series viewing was lost. One reason I hate a dish. It is so dependent on the weather.
*Shelby Miller didn’t pitch good and he wasn’t terrible. He allowed 4 runs in 6 innings, while walking 6 and throwing 110 pitches. It comes after an outing in Miami where Miller got beat up. This is the second start in a row against a bad team that Shelby doesn’t produce a quality start. After a pair of quality starts, Miller hasn’t delivered against bad teams in a stretch drive. What does this tell you? A lot and a little. Miller is a pitcher I can’t figure out. He seems to be in control and then he seems to be lost. He came out for the third inning breathing as hard as I’ve seen a professional athlete in great shape breathe in some time. He gave away a game that was in control. It is one thing to be beaten by Giancarlo Stanton twice. It’s another to struggle with the Padres. Tricky times ahead for Miller, or as I call him, the starter the Cards kept at the deadline.
*Adams has gotten hot. It didn’t take a Memphis trip this time. Maybe it was a push from the media and bloggers of the net. Hey, we aren’t useless when it comes to roiling the wings of a baseball clubhouse. It could have been a change in the streaky bat of this young hitter. I don’t think Adams’ elbow is hurting his swing or his power. I think he is going through second year adjustment pains. He will look bad at times but he can also produce in a flurry. He has 7 hits in his last 4 games and 4 RBI. His average is back up to .308 and Adams is back to being that force in the middle of the lineup.
*Siegrist gets sent down to Memphis this morning after his rough outing. The lefty hasn’t been right since his activation in July. Several pitches left up, the velocity slightly down and his breaking pitches sitting in the middle of the plate. The forearm issue may take time that could stretch into September or the winter. They are hard to predict muscles that play a huge part in a pitcher’s arm strength and carry over from outing to outing. Siegrist isn’t good enough to carry one run leads late in games. Hopefully, a Memphis tuneup does him well. The emergence of Sam Freeman helps this cause.
*Trevor Rosenthal didn’t pitch for the second day in a row, which makes a 35 pitch outing seem likely today.
The Cards go for a series win today and it can’t be said enough how vital it is. If the Cards lose this game and Milwaukee wins, the deficit in the division is four games. There are games left against Milwaukee, but falling further behind as the calendar crosses over into the latter part of August isn’t a healthy practice. Win today. I don’t think there is a better way to confront this team for the rest of 2014. Day to day.
As Mike Matheny would advise his team, “Go out there and compete. These guys care and that can’t be forgotten. We’re going to take it a day at a time.”
That’s a fine thing to say and quite fatherly. I’ll add this at the end. “Stop Giving Away Games.”
Thanks for reading and chin up Cardinal Nation.