Fighting Off The PNC Urges

8fdf797b5e9841faba8fba909d253bb7-f711fa05ae31495eafa49564fa72dfd7-6When did PNC Park seem so scary to play baseball in? The Pirates home park treated the Cards rudely in 2012 and 2013, and while the record is better in 2014, the games aren’t easier to watch. The Cards won a close game Monday night, and fought off the usual urges they come into with this ballpark.  Let’s break it down into the good, bad and the ugly, shall we?

THE GOOD

John Lackey

Just another solid start from the True Grit righty who is making John Mozeliak look like a genius. While the Justin Masterson trade isn’t exactly painting it red at the moment, Lackey is racking up the innings and mowing down hitters. He isn’t just giving quality starts. He has beaten two Cards rivals in his three weeks as a Cardinal pitcher. The two men traded to Boston for Lackey aren’t even seeing action in the field(Craig with a foot injury and Kelly with a shoulder issue) but Lackey is running and gunning. Tonight, he scattered 6 hits early but only allowed the Pedro Alvarez home run. He threw 8 pitches in his final inning and finished with 7 strong frames and a win. Due to a lack of run support, Lackey is only 2-1 officially but he is 4-1 in the “if you scored any runs for me” department. He is a proven ace who can close down big games and he is only a 3rd or 4th starter on this team. Imagine that.

Matt Holliday

The Thor of Stillwater, Oklahoma had a key 2 run single tonight that meant the difference in the game. Holliday is hitting .328 with runners in scoring position, and has 67 RBI on the season. With a hot September, he could finish with 80-85 RBI. He is only hitting .256 in August but still getting on base, still collecting big hits and cranking doubles(his 31st tonight). All together, it may not be pretty for Holliday but he is still doing good things.

Jon Jay

He didn’t start tonight, as Mike Matheny sat his hot August bat in favor of Peter Bourjos(who happens to hit a lot of very good lefties well, Clayton Kershaw among them). Jay did play a factor in the game changing 7th inning. He came off the bench and lined a game tying single to left field and scored what would eventually count as the winning run because he took second base on the throw. Jay is hitting .414 with 14 RBI in August. I don’t think he should sit for anyone right now. If Matheny wants to get Bourjos in, sit Oscar Taveras. Jon Jay plays.

Pat Neshek

He threw 18 pitches and actually let a hitter get a 3-0 count but he did his job. With Trevor Rosenthal making saves as digestible as an episode of True Blood, the crowd of Neshek fans wanting him to close the ninth won’t settle down any time soon. Pat is having an unreal season and it came out of nowhere. He also leads the roster in the fantastic facial hair department.

THE BAD

Oscar Taveras

I love the kid’s potential but he had a bad night. He went 0-4 with two strikeouts. In a big spot in the 6th inning, after Francisco Liriano had walked back to back Cardinals, he swung at the second pitch way out of the zone and into an inning ending double play. Oscar has to start recognizing pitches and their breaks and take advantage of grooved fastballs. Oscar has a lot of good baseball ahead of him but he has gotten the majority of the starts and produced little sizzle. He has a ton of singles. I want doubles, home runs and some big hits. Improvement above all else. The judgement on OT will come after 300-350 at bats. For now, a few big hits. Whenever I tweet something critical about Lord Oscar, his fearless supporters stand up and protect. The hype is killing this kid. It’s swallowing him up. Maybe one day, he will just be able to play. He is improving for those of you who check the box scores. He has raised his average from .213 to .233 in the last 10 games. He had 5 hits in the Philly series. Good times ahead.

Trevor Rosenthal

He didn’t pitch bad but did allow a leadoff solo HR to Andrew McCutchen. It was only the 2nd home run allowed by Rosenthal in 59 innings this year, but it was a no doubter. It wasn’t a walk, which came two batters later. Rosenthal got his 39th save on 11 pitches, but wasn’t great..again. He has given up some runs lately and still walking a bunch. With the games becoming extra crucial, Rosie can’t afford to burst right now.

THE UGLY

The Padres

They got smacked around by the Brewers tonight and did not help the Cards climb back within a half game. San Diego hasn’t been as bad in the second half but they still aren’t anywhere near good. Their job of spoiling was unsuccessful tonight. So much for Ron Burgundy.

The Cards are back 71-69 and are 1.5 games back of Milwaukee but firmly in control of the Wild Card. If the playoffs started today, The Cards would be in it.

There are still games to be played. Lance Lynn takes the hill tonight and I like his chances. Lance Lynn never fared well at PNC until this year and that is a good representation of his growth as a pitcher. Conquering old foes. Let’s hope Lynn and the Cards carve another win tonight and reach a new century mark(13) on the season.

Thanks for reading and come back for more.

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