When you looked at this series before it began, Wednesday’s game seemed to be the hardest of the bunch. Sure, Lance Lynn was going and he could be expected to give you a quality start, but Johnny Cueto seemed to be on another level and, at best, you could hope that the Cards kept it close and got into the Reds bullpen late.
So, because baseball, this was the only game that (for the most part) was a rout.
Lynn surely held up his end of the bargain, throwing seven scoreless innings before a rain delay ended his night. If not for the rain, I’m pretty sure he gets through the eighth (he only was at 94 pitches and Lynn often gets to around 110) and, with an efficient inning there, maybe goes for the complete game. That’s worth a Hero tag right there, I think. He allowed only six runners to reach base all night, which was one more than the runs the Cards scored for him while he was in the game.
Cueto seemed out of sorts all night, with the only real burst of energy he showed being when he tried to beat out a double-play ball. To say he jogged otherwise–down the line after a routine grounder, back to the dugout, back to the mound–would be a huge overstatement. Cueto didn’t seem all that comfortable on the mound, either. While it was a warm and muggy night, it shouldn’t have led to that kind of lethargy. I guess that’s for Reds fans to sort out. There’s no doubt St. Louis will take that anytime he wants to give it, however.
The offense had a good night as well. What the boxscore doesn’t show were some balls that were really launched early in the game. Matt Adams was robbed of an extra-base hit by Billy Hamilton, who then doubled Jon Jay off of first, for instance. Interestingly enough, Adams walked twice in this one, matching his total from the six games prior. When a guy’s walked only 15 times (counting last night) all season, two walks is huge. He didn’t get any hits, but he played a role anyway.
Jay was all over the place last night. Three hits plus yet another hit-by-pitch meant only once was he actually retired. The hits were all singles, but he did drive in a run and score two of them. That said, it was a mixed bag overall for Jay, who as noted was doubled up in the first on a TOOTBLAN and botched a ball in the ninth that led to two runs and a runner on third. If Trevor Rosenthal hadn’t actually sealed the deal, Jay might have gotten the Goat even with three hits.
Jay was the only person to get more than one hit, but with six walks, the other hits came at the right time. Daniel Descalso was 1-2 with two walks, continuing a bit of a late-season resurgence for him. I understand Wes Keene will be looking into Descalso for his regular Saturday Conclave appearance, so be sure to be looking for that.
So the lineup was OK. Lynn was outstanding. So how in the world did this game get to where the tying run was at the plate? That’d be our Goat, Carlos Martinez. He got the last out of the eighth with no problem, but then things got a bit rough in the ninth. To be fair, it wasn’t all his fault–Kolten Wong made an error on a tough play and Jay botched that fly ball–but the Reds did seem to be able to put good swings on him and hit the ball hard. There’s been some talk about moving Martinez to the closer role. If you could get the Good Martinez from Monday night, you might go with it. The problem is, sometimes Bad Martinez pops up as well and that’s a tough pill to swallow in the ninth.
The brooms came out and the Cards not only swept, but gained a little ground on Milwaukee as well. (It also make the Central race a little more exclusive–now the Reds are 10 games out and five games under .500. It seems like they’ll be just playing out the string from now on.) Both the Brewers and the Cardinals get Pennsylvania opponents this weekend, as the Pirates go into Miller Park while the Cards head to Philadelphia. With the Phillies 15 games under .500 and the Pirates still fighting to stay relevant in the divisional race, this (in theory) would be a good time for the Cards to cut even farther into that 1.5 game lead the Brewers have.
Mike Matheny might be thinking that as well, since he’s decided to use this off day to swap Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright. Waino will go in the first game, which means he’ll also get into the series against Pittsburgh that follows. With the Pirates not that far off the Cardinals’ bumper, it’s not a bad idea to get your ace out there to face them. First off, though, he gets to deal with a Philadelphia team that is in the middle of the pack when it comes to offense. I mean, they aren’t as low down as the Cardinals, but they might not be a huge issue for the Redbird ace.
They don’t seem to have posed him much of a particular problem in the past, either. Jimmy Rollins has been a bit of a pest and he’s had an uptick in home runs this year, though his average is down. If Waino can keep him in that small ballpark, he should be OK.
Kyle Kendrick will be on the hill Friday for the Phillies. Kendrick is 5-11 with a 4.90 ERA, numbers that don’t really jump out at you. He’s only gone five innings in each of his last two starts and given up a total of eight earned runs in that span. While he’s had a few good games–he allowed just one run in seven innings against Houston at the beginning of the month–he not going to strike fear into anyone. When he faced the Redbirds in St. Louis back in June, he allowed five runs in six innings.
Overall, the Cards haven’t done a lot with him, but they’ve held their own. Jay’s got a nice line there and given how hot his bat has been lately, that’s a nice thing to see. Matt Holliday has only three hits against Kendrick, but two of them are home runs. All in all, it’s a matchup that would tend to favor St. Louis.
What would also favor St. Louis is getting some key players back from injury. Michael Wacha threw another bullpen yesterday and there were no reports of any troubles, so you have to think he’ll be going on a rehab assignment soon, especially since the minor league seasons are quickly drawing to a close. Yadier Molina hit a little bit and has been doing some throwing as well. He’s not going to be back immediately, but those are steps that make you feel good as a Cardinal fan that he might make the field again before September is too far gone, giving him a chance to get his timing back before hitting October.
Off day today, so enjoy it. The monthly UCB project is tomorrow, so be sure to check it out!