It was a great weekend of baseball in St. Louis, one like we’ve not seen in a little while. Then again, it was the Reds and if there’s one thing the Cards have been able to do over the past few years, it’s beat the Reds.
Friday (6-1 win)
Goat: Jon Jay. The only starter without a hit, though he did draw a walk and score a run. Not all Goats are created equal, as I’ve said many times.
Notes: Michael Wacha continued to show that there’s no reason to worry about him, throwing seven innings and allowing only a first-inning home run to Joey Votto. (After this game, Votto had four home runs. Three of them were off Cardinal pitchers.) Wacha struck out four, which was better than his initial start but still not to the levels that we expect out of him. That’s a nit, though, not a real problem. As he continues to get comfortable, we’ll probably see the strikeout numbers go up a little, though as long as he keeps being this successful, it’s not a huge deal.
Matt Carpenter continued his ridiculous hot streak, but we’ll probably talk more about that in one of the other games where he ALSO continued that streak.
Matt Holliday is off to a pretty good start as well, going 1-2 and driving in the first run of the game in this one. To some degree it’s feast or famine with this lineup, not just day-to-day but slot-to-slot. Holliday and Carpenter are helping offset the slower starts of Matt Adams and Jason Heyward. If they all started clicking at the same time, life would be really good.
This was only the second time the Cards had reached serious levels with their run total. The first was against the Reds in extra innings in Cincinnati. Mobil On-The-Run isn’t sweating things just yet, but hopefully they’ll have a run on 50-cent drinks as the weather warms.
Saturday (5-2 win)
Hero: Matt Adams. Adams went 2-for-3 and drew a walk plus drove in the first run of the game to set the tone. The big guy isn’t stroking it yet, with his lone home run his only extra base hit, but it’s nice to see him contribute even without the power.
Goat: Jhonny Peralta. While Peralta’s had a nice start to the 2015 season, everyone has off days. Peralta did score a run, but went 0-4 and left four men on base, including two with two outs in the fifth. The Cards got a cushion the next inning, but a hit there would have been nice to see.
Notes: Heyward broke the home run seal, depositing one into the Cardinal bullpen to make it a 2-0 game. He also made at least one sensational catch as well, showing what the whole package will look like once he gets it completely unwrapped. Hopefully this run of games coming up will help him find a rhythm. If not, it might be time for Mike Matheny to think about dropping him down in the lineup and letting him get into that mindset.
Carlos Martinez continues to show that he wants to be a starter and he’s got the stuff to prove it. Six innings and he might have been able to get an out or two in the seventh had his spot in the lineup not come up in the bottom of the sixth. He only allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four. He did get touched by Zack Cozart for a home run, but I think we’d take a solo home run or two if that’s all he’s going to allow.
Carpenter doubled as one of his two hits and drove in two runs. You know, just another day at the office.
Randy Choate came in. As you know, HE HAS ONE JOB. He again wasn’t able to do it. He has pitched in five games. He has faced five batters. He has gotten two outs. While I appreciate that Matheny is limiting him to true LOOGY status (perhaps more than anyone ever!) he’s got to, you know, actually get the out or he just becomes a LGY. Which becomes UGLY real quick.
Sunday (2-1 win)
Hero: Adam Wainwright. Pitching without a cushion for much of the game, all the ace did was go eight innings and allow only one run. He ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth, perhaps tiring as he reached 100 pitches, but he got the out he needed to and the team picked him up with a run in the bottom of the inning to get him a win. The starting pitching on this staff is just incredible, with everyone having an ERA under 2.80.
Goat: Lots of 0-fers to choose from here. We’ll go with Jason Heyward, because he mixed in a double play along with his hitless night. With a game like that, though, there were a number of possibilities.
Notes: This was the annual Bloggers’ Day game (though at night this time). While I was unable to attend, I know in the past that these games seem like they fly by anyway. You are talking with people, you are eating, and all the sudden you look up and it’s the seventh. So I can only imagine what those bloggers felt like when the game ACTUALLY went that fast.
I was going to go with a high school friend of mine that lives in St. Louis. When I couldn’t make it, he went without me and he told me before the game in the question-and-answer session that Bill DeWitt III addressed the pace of the game and he was glad things were going quicker “but we don’t want to get it down to two hours or anything.” Then, of course, the teams got it down to two hours. While some of the rule changes (most notably the commercial breaks, I think) obviously have helped, a game like this would have been very quick anyway. Good, aggressive pitching means that there are fewer hits and all that go along with it. I think that’s been the reason game times are down more than the rule changes, though there’s no doubt a few minutes have been shaved by those as well.
Carpenter led this one off with a home run, giving him seven straight games with an extra base hit. Pitchers that are expecting him to go deep in the count and as such throw up strikes to start the at-bat are finding out that Carp’s a bit more aggressive this year. We’ll see how the pitchers adjust and then how he adjusts in response, but it’s a nice thing to have going right now.
Jordan Walden got the save as Trevor Rosenthal had worked a little too much the day before (which, given it was a three-run game, isn’t exactly optimal). Walden made sure that people didn’t forget about Rosie, allowing a hit to the leadoff batter and running a three-ball count on the next hitter before finally settling in and locking it down. Getting just an easy 1-2-3 just isn’t in the cards anymore, is it?
Some transactional news as well since last we spoke. Randal Grichuk went on the DL Sunday with a back issue and Dean Anna was called up to take his place. Given that the other transaction also involves an outfielder–Peter Bourjos is going on the paternity list for three days due to the birth of his first child (congrats, Peter!)–the outfield is going to be pretty thin during this series in Washington. Granted, Matheny’s not been doing a lot of playing the bench anyway and Holliday, Jay and Heyward were going to get almost all the time, but it does raise some questions if something happens. I assume Anna could play out there for a game or two until Bourjos is back–it seems unlikely they’d make a move with Stephen Piscotty with Bourjos only gone the few days.
With Bourjos being unavailable, the Cards have gone ahead and brought up reliever Mitch Harris to give themselves bullpen depth. I knew we’d see Harris at some time this season, even if it was just a September callup to thank him for his dedication and get him a little time in the bigs so his story could be told. That was at the minimum–I don’t want anyone thinking that Harris doesn’t deserve to be here, because he certainly does. He’s put together a great minor league career for starting so late and he’s doing fine at Memphis again this season. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all if we see Harris again this summer, but I hope the Cards are able to get him into a game in Washington.
The Redbirds get to face what is probably the odds-on favorite to represent the National League in the World Series. The Nationals might have stumbled out of the gate, but they have righted the ship somewhat and now are just a game under .500 and in third in the NL East. Tonight’s game will also be the first televised on MLB Network that has the Statcast technology, so that should bring an interesting wrinkle to things if you want to check that out. The Nationals, of course, have plenty of good pitchers to turn to and St. Louis will first have to face Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez has scuffled a bit this year, with a 5.11 ERA in the young season. However, the Cards haven’t exactly had his number.
Jay’s 3-10, Peralta has the only home run against him. Given how this offense can sputter anyway, this could be a pretty quiet game for the bats.
At least the Cards have the pitching to match, as Lance Lynn goes to the mound. It’s amazing that, since there have been rainouts and off days, Lynn is only making his third start even though we are two weeks into the season. The first two have been very good outings and there’s no real reason to think this would be any different.
The Nats haven’t faced Lynn much, what with them being in a different division and all. If he keeps Danny Espinosa in check, he just might do OK, though Bryce Harper is a threat no matter what the career numbers are.
This entire series should be a pitching-rich environment. Let’s hope the Cards come out on top!