Sometimes it’s more about when than what.
Last night in Washington, the Cardinals tallied 12 hits. In most reasonable situations, that’s good for two to three runs at least. I had that old scoring efficiency stat that I played around with earlier in my blogging career and if I remember correctly, average was about a run every three baserunners, so the Cards should have gotten five via that theory when you factor in their four walks. That’d have been plenty–the way the pitching staff is going, get them two and you have a strong chance to win. Five is like a luxury.
However, being that none of those hits came at a good time, that all of them were singles save a Yadier Molina double, the meager St. Louis offense could only muster one run and that wasn’t until the ninth, when Cardinal favorite Drew Storen did his best to hand a run to the Redbirds. The Cards accepted it, but wouldn’t take any more, ending that inning on a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play. I don’t think you can fault Mike Matheny too much there–it was obvious you couldn’t wait around for three hits in a row to drive in a run.
That’s the problem with a lack of power. It takes so much to get a run in, plus runners on first can be wiped out by double plays, as we saw twice last night. While you’d rather have a runner on first than no runners at all, getting some extra base pop would have done wonders for run-scoring last night. Credit Gio Gonzalez for some of that, but if folks were making that much contact on him, you’d think they’d have more to show for it.
Looking through the play-by-play, there’s not a single inning the Cardinals went 1-2-3, though a number of those innings are due to our Hero, Matt Holliday. Holliday went 4-4, drew a walk, and singled in the only run in the ninth. There’s not much more you could ask out of the outfielder and I gotta say I think those calls of “not clutch” have quieted down over the past couple of years. Either that or I’m not looking in the right places.
Kudos also to Kolten Wong, who had three hits and stole a base. Molina was the only other person to have multiple hits. Which was also part of the problem–the Cardinals might have had 12 hits, but nine of them were concentrated on those three players.
Our Goat will be Carlos Villanueva, because if you allow a home run in extras that’s typically what happens. Villanueva hadn’t pitched much, but that’s part of his job description. He’s only going to come into games where innings need to be eaten, such as when a starter is knocked out early (and given this rotation’s ERA is now 1.88, that doesn’t happen) or extra innings are necessary. Villanueva didn’t blame being rusty, which was good to hear. When you are tied on the road in extra innings, the longball is a ever present threat. These things happen, though obviously they’ll happen a little more often with a guy like Villanueva. That said, Yunel Escobar is known for having power, so it’s not like he was taken yard by a rinky-dink guy. (And I’ll be honest, I thought Escobar’s slide into home underneath the waiting mob was pretty good. I don’t think I’ve seen that before.)
I was tempted to put Jon Jay in the Goat spot given his offensive results, where he grounded into a double play after a leadoff walk by Mark Reynolds as well as grounding out with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, but his defense made up for it. That’s not something you always say about Jay, but he made a number of solid catches that kept runs from scoring, including one in the ninth. He also looked like he might have sent the game to the 11th with a great grab for the second out of the 10th, right before Escobar went yard. From the eye test, he had a great night out there. I wasn’t able to see the Statcast broadcast–it was blacked out here, which you’d think MLB would have figured out for such a big deal how to do it without blackouts–so I don’t know what those numbers said.
Our season-long YOU HAD ONE JOB following of Randy Choate got another data point last night, as Choate came into the game in the eighth. He had a ball hit right back to him and he had trouble with it for a moment, but retired the man at first. So, for those keeping track, that’s six opportunities, three outs.
We knew that pitching was going to dominate this series, so last night’s game wasn’t a huge surprise. Bernie Miklasz points out that while the offense has scuffled in the early going, it’s not that much off the averages of the rest of the league. Right now, pitching is dominating all across the board most nights, save those occasional football-like scores that happen.
I want to take a quick moment to talk about Matt Adams. Adams didn’t start last night’s game but came in later on. In the eighth, he dropped an easy foul popup by Jayson Werth, who of course then singled. He made another error in the ninth, which allowed the Nationals to load the bases with one out. Neither error came back to haunt the Cardinals, but there seemed to be a lot of outrage focused on the first baseman even after the first error. There seems to be a portion of the fan base–I have no idea how big, but they were definitely audible last night–that are done with Adams.
That makes little sense to me. OK, so he had a rough night in the field. That happens. On the whole, though, I’ve found him to be fairly agile and effective around the bag, especially for a guy his size. And yes, he’s not hitting much this season, but look above in this post. Not many people are. Adams has significant power and is still learning how to tap into it. He’s also at basically the league minimum. There’s little not to like about him being at first base for the Cardinals and those that want to take pot shots at him should step back and ask themselves if they’d rather have Mark Reynolds playing out there every day.
I still need to finish up these Cardinal Approval Ratings. On this pace, I should be done about the All-Star Game. Let’s get three more of them done.
Today’s player is Trevor Rosenthal. Given the frustration level that Rosenthal inspired last season, I wasn’t sure how he would fare in this survey. It was his first year in front of the “voters”, as it were, so there was nothing to base a guess on. Given that, Rosie’s 76.1% mark isn’t all that bad. I would have thought those wild ninths would have pushed him down a little farther.
On the media side of things, we have John Rooney, who has become a fixture on the radio side of things, as this is his 10th season of pairing with Mike Shannon on KTRS and KMOX. Rooney usually winds up in the low 80s, but this year he dropped to 77.3%. I don’t think there’s anything that could be tied to that particularly, since he’s doing the same old thing in his broadcasts. I will say that, no matter your opinion of Rooney’s broadcasting, he does seem to have one of those old-time radio voices.
Our miscellaneous focus of the day is the Secret Weapon, Jose Oquendo. Oquendo, as we talked about when we were counting down toward the season opener, has been wearing the Cardinal birds on the bat for longer than most anyone that’s not named Red. If he doesn’t get a managerial job somewhere, buzz around which has noticeably been quieter of late, he could be having his own honoring ceremony at some time in the future. Oquendo clocked in at 85.5%, which is pretty much in line with what he gets every year. He’d have to blow a lot of waving runners to drop much, I’d think.
John Lackey goes for St. Louis tonight, trying to keep that run of good starting pitching going. Lackey struggled at Cincinnati in his first start before putting together a great one in Busch against the Brewers (which, to be fair, could be discounted on the basis of the Brewers being pretty awful). Lackey’s done better in St. Louis than away from it since his trade from the Red Sox,
Not a lot of exposure there. Escobar has seen him a lot, since they were both in the AL East, so Lackey’s going to have to be careful with him. He’s got to have some pressure on him, knowing that if he gives up three runs, he might lose the game. We’ll see if that pressure shows up.
Doug Fister goes for the Nationals, as they are like the Redbirds in that they can continue to throw good pitcher after good pitcher at folks. St. Louis put up four runs in six innings against him in St. Louis last June, but that’s pretty much the extent of their experience with him. Of course, that makes the table look good.
Small sample, but Jason Heyward has never gotten a hit off of him. I’d say it might be a chance to give Heyward a break, as I believe he’s played in every game, but since there aren’t any outfielders on the bench, I don’t think that’d happen. So hopefully he breaks that 0-5 tonight!