The Cardinals took three of four from the Padres this weekend. The Padres are a team now seven games under .500 with an offensive production that resembles a Imperial Stormtrooper’s blaster accuracy–not a lot of hits, few scores. So why is it that it seems the Cards were able to escape with a series win and that it could have been so easily a different result?
Friday (4-2 win)
Hero: Lance Lynn. There was just enough offense to get Lynn another win, but it’s not like he needed a bunch of it. Lynn went six innings, allowed just one run, and struck out six. If he’d had an off night–even by just a hair–things could have been significantly different.
Goat: Shane Robinson. 0-4 and left four men on. While I can understand Oscar Taveras sitting one game after his baserunning issues, it makes it tough to swallow him sitting out another one when Robinson does this. At least OT pinch-hit and got an RBI single.
Notes: You start to wonder what kind of voodoo might be on the ninth inning for the Redbirds. Trevor Rosenthal definitely didn’t need to pitch after Thursday’s ugliness and, with a three run lead, Mike Matheny turned to Pat Neshek. Neshek quickly got the first two hitters and went to 0-2 on Yasami Grandal before leaving a pitch in the wrong place and watching it go over the wall. That was the first run Neshek had given up since the end of July. He then allowed a double to make things really interesting before getting out of the jam.
Two hits each for Matt Adams and Jhonny Peralta. Adams came through with a hit with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first, which was nice to see. I don’t think anyone would have ruled out watching Tyson Ross walk the sacks full only to see him get out of it unscathed.
Saturday (9-5 loss)
Hero: Oscar Taveras. 2-4 with a run and an RBI, which was a good showing for the young outfielder. Peralta and Adams had similar lines, but given this was Taveras’s first game back after a couple off, we’ll go with him.
Goat: Take out your coin, please. Do you want to give it to Shelby Miller, who was staked to a four-run lead (and helped get that lead by scoring on a Matt Carpenter double) and then immediately gave it back, in part with the six walks he issued in six innings? Or do you go with Kevin Siegrist, who came into a game with a one run lead and promptly blew it by loading the bases and then giving up a grand slam? I think I’d go with Siegrist–at least Miller had five tolerable innings out of his six, while Siegrist was so rough that he’s now in Memphis.
Notes: You almost wish they’d have just called this one after the rains came following the grand slam. Waiting an hour and 45 minutes to come back and go through the motions of losing is not exactly the most productive way to spend an evening. In the three innings they played after, the Cards got one hit (a double by Peralta) and a walk by Jon Jay. Not exactly worth waiting out the storm for. Adams got his fifth triple of the season, which leads the team. Not exactly the person you’d expect to be at the top of that category, but when you hit the ball as hard as he does, sometimes it’s hard for the outfielders to go chase it down.
Sunday (7-6 win)
Hero: Matt Carpenter. Without Carpenter, they don’t win that game. A home run to extend the lead to 5-0 then a double that scored two and gave them a 7-4 cushion. Carpenter also had a hit to lead off the first inning and scored later on as the club batted around. There’s absolutely no doubt Carp had the best day out there.
Goat: Trevor Rosenthal. Walking three of the four batters you face is no way to get through the ninth, kid. The runners scored when Seth Maness came in, but the fact that they immediately removed Rosenthal tells you all about his day. You’d almost expect this kind of outing if Rosie had pitched the day before–we’ll get into this in a moment, but his stats on zero days’ rest are atrocious–but when he struggles this much with two days off, it gets you pretty concerened.
Notes: Two hits for both Jay and Peter Bourjos, who were both in the lineup as Matt Holliday deals with a sore knee. The expectation is that Holliday will be back in the lineup tonight against the Reds, but I don’t guess it’d be too surprising if they gave him another day with it, especially since Holliday’s been in a bit of a slump lately, likely due in part to that soreness.
After the game, Matheny reiterated that Rosenthal was the closer. Given Rosenthal’s last few outings–plus the angst he’s given most fans throughout the season–that seemed a bit curious. That said, if I’m going to give Matheny grief for not being overly positive about Taveras in the press, it’s hard for me to then say he should come out and say things are in flux for the ninth inning.
And, for the most part, Rosenthal has done the job. Before yesterday’s game significantly inflated it, Rosie had a 2.19 ERA for the second half of the season. He has saved all eight of his chances–his two losses over that span came when he appeared in a tie game, which granted is a point of concern, but late inning tie games can be pretty volatile no matter who is pitching. Rosenthal hasn’t blown an actual save since July 5, though yesterday might have been the end of that streak had not Matheny gone to Maness.
What concerns me the most about Rosenthal continuing in the closer role is his basic inability to do anything two days in a row. Look at the two tables below.
As you can see, back to back days are just ugly for him. The two-days line got skewed up yesterday, but before that it seemed OK to bring him in if he’d had some rest. However, my feeling is a closer has to be able to go pretty regularly, especially when you get to the postseason. Are the Cardinals going to run him out there to get the save in Game 7 of the NLCS if he’s thrown the day before? Do you gamble your trip to the World Series on that?
It’d be an interesting thing for Matheny to almost name co-closers, letting Neshek come in when Rosenthal went the day before. However, that would seem to be a bridge too far for Matheny to go, I think. When there’s a save situation, Rosenthal is the guy, whether he should be or not.
Cardinals start a series with the Reds tonight. (BTW, I’m writing the Bird’s Eye View for this one. If you aren’t signed up for it, do that here.) Justin Masterson hopes that the adjustments he made last time out carry forward and give the Cards what they traded for. Masterson missed the annual Indians-Reds series this year, but he’s seen them before and done all right.
If those stats hold, it’ll be a nice outing for Masterson this evening. I saw mention that Brandon Phillips could be activated (actually, I see he is in the lineup) for this one, which might up the level of difficulty, but all in all I like the chances of another Master-ful outing. (Yes, I went there.)
The Reds, after losing a couple of devastating games, including the second game of a double header that started around 9 Central, have to hope Mike Leake can give them a little momentum before they fall completely out of the playoff race. St. Louis has done OK against Leake in the past, which hopefully will continue tonight.
Nice numbers for Holliday, though if he’s battling that knee it might be just as well to sit him out for the evening. However, checking the lineup (I hate working on these posts throughout the day), I see he’s back in there, so hopefully his success against Leake will overcome any injury.
It’s getting into must-win-series territory for the Redbirds. Let’s hope they can get a win tonight!