Have you ever bought one of those real fancy fireworks? You know, the big kind that promises a lot of color and noise, probably with some great or unique packaging. And then you light it up and nothing really happens? That was yesterday in Busch Stadium.
Whatever else happens, you know the home opener is going to bring the pomp and circumstance. There’s the Hall of Famers in their red jackets coming in via convertible. There’s the World Series trophies on display at home plate. There are the Clydesdales trotting around the field. There’s the sea of red, a full ballpark in the middle of the afternoon. Yesterday even included a moving tribute to Oscar Taveras (I’ve not seen it, though a quick search finds someone recorded it off their TV and put it on YouTube), a tribute that really hit the players hard, and a moment of silence for him and Bryan Burwell. It had all the trappings of a great day.
Then the game happened.
To be fair, the game wasn’t entirely miserable. I mean, it’s not like the Brewers came out and beat them 10-0 or anything. The Cardinals had their chances, had some rallies, made it close. However, neither side seemed to be really ready to get a game going, as sloppy play was the order of the day.
After his first start where he continually started off innings with men on base, Adam Wainwright had similar issues this time, with the leadoff man reaching in four of his seven innings. Granted, one of those was the first batter of the game, which was because of Kolten Wong’s first error of the day, but it still wasn’t classic Wainwright. Now, he did have a stretch where he showed his normal form, retiring 10 in a row from the second to the fifth, but may have stuck around too long, allowing the deciding runs in the seventh. Given how stretched the bullpen was in the Cincy series, however, Mike Matheny probably wanted to go with Wainwright as far as he could, and Waino was just at 85 pitches going into the seventh, so most of us probably would have made the same call, though the leadoff hit in the inning might have changed some minds.
Jhonny Peralta gets to be our Hero of the day again, getting two hits including a huge two-run double in the bottom of the seventh that cut the lead to 5-4 with nobody out. It probably was only going to take one hit to tie the game up, giving us the rally we desperately wanted. Jon Jay looked to bunt (which drove much of the Internet insane) but finally flew out on five pitches. Yadier Molina grounded out on the first pitch. Then, after an intentional walk to Wong to get Wainwright out of the game, Randal Grichuk pinch-hit and jumped on the first pitch. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as far after he hit it as it did when it was pitched. An easy out, an opportunity spoiled, and a game effectively over, as the Cards just managed one single in the last two innings.
I think the Goat has to be Yadier Molina. 0-4, though he did draw a walk. Molina’s now hitting .143 on the season, which is surprising because he’s a career .270 hitter in the first month of the season. It has been only a week and it’s probably just a little slump to start the year–heaven knows the Cardinals have enough of those guys–but given his weight loss and just the mileage on him, you do wonder if he’s slowing down some. I think he’s going to be someone to really keep an eye on for the next few series and we’ll hopefully see him start to break out soon.
Jason Heyward is also struggling. After getting a warm ovation in his first appearance, he was just 1-5 on the day, with the hit coming in the eighth inning. He’d have traded it for one of his other at-bats, as he could have used it in the third after a Matt Carpenter double or in the fourth when Wainwright was at second with two outs. We keep waiting for him to catch fire and perhaps he will as the others do, when the rhythms of the game are more regular. With openers and rainouts, it’s been tough to get to where you feel like you are really playing ball, but that should happen soon as, starting Wednesday, there’s less pomp and more playing.
One Job Randy Choate actually did his job this time, getting a lefty batter out. That makes him 1 for 3 in those situations this year, something we’ll keep tracking if only to use the “YOU HAD ONE JOB” meme. The bullpen as a whole did well yesterday afternoon, though they only had to cover two innings. Good to see Matt Belisle get into the home opener and rebound from a rough outing as well.
Jaime Garcia is looking to face hitters pretty soon, as he threw a bullpen session on Sunday and might pitch batting practice on Friday. It still doesn’t sound like his return is imminent, though. It’s pointed out that at extended spring training he can throw games on his schedule, whether that’s five days or eight days, as he tries to make sure he can regularly go at least 80-90 pitches without repercussions. Once he can do that, they’ll have him get on a regular five-day rotation, then see how that goes. It really sounds like June would be the earliest we’d see Garcia, especially since there’s no reason to rush him back. If there was a need, that might be different.
A day off today–you know the Cards are really going to want these days later in the season, though there doesn’t seem to be a terrible run right now in August or September–and then Jackie Robinson day on Wednesday, with everyone wearing 42. Lance Lynn will be on the mound, making his second start of the year. Last year, Lynn was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts against the Brewers, so they probably aren’t all that excited to see him, no matter what his number is.
He’s been able to corral the Sith Lord (who didn’t do a lot of damage yesterday, though he did drive in a run with a ground out), which is probably why he’s had some success against the Brew Crew. If he’s able to limit Carlos Gomez as well, there’s a good chance this will be a low-scoring affair.
Wily Peralta goes for the Brewers. The Cards had trouble with him last year, as he was 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA in five starts. That’s 33 innings, which is a pretty good sample. We can only hope that 2015 goes a whole lot differently.
For someone that shut them down last year, there are some gaudy numbers on that table. It’d be nice if Heyward could break out or the Matt Attack kicked in tomorrow evening. Treading water in April isn’t exactly how we expected this season to start and now that all the formalities are out of the way, it’s time to get after it!