Even good things occasionally need a little shake.
Before Tuesday’s game with the Phillies, Mike Matheny decided that it was time to mix up the lineup a little bit. He moved Matt Carpenter out of the leadoff spot and bunched him with the other Matts while moving Jason Heyward down to sixth. The results, well, whether it was due to the change or the fact they were playing a weaker team, the results were quite satisfactory.
Tuesday (11-5 win)
Hero: Matt Adams. It’s tough on a day when the offense just goes nuts to limit yourself to one Hero, but Adams had three hits, including a double, two RBI, and scored a run. For a guy that was getting a lot of grief earlier in the week, it had to be a good feeling.
Goat: Jhonny Peralta. No matter how many runs or hits a team has, there always seems to be someone that doesn’t completely join in the fun. Peralta went 0-4, though he did drive in a run on a sacrifice fly.
Notes: So awesome to see things just click, even if it was just for one day. Carpenter did his usual thing, getting a double and a triple. Jon Jay, which seemed to be a questionable decision when it came to the new leadoff man, tallied two hits and two RBI. Matt Holliday got three hits. All in all, an exciting game when the Cardinals were at the plate.
On the mound, things were pretty good, even if not to the level we are used to. Then again, when you’ve been given some significant leads, it does allow for a little laxity on the bump. Michael Wacha was tolerable, but allowing four runs in just shy of six innings would easily be his worst outing of the season. Would things have been different if he’d been pitching with a one-run lead? Perhaps. Still, if he’s going to have an off night, it’s good he has it when the Redbirds put up 11 on the scoreboard.
The second-tier relievers got into this one and did fine. We can’t do the YOU HAD ONE JOB bit for Randy Choate, as he actually pitched an inning and a third. Of course, that’s four outs and in that time he allowed two hits and an unearned run, but he was facing righties as well and we know that never goes well. (Though one of the hits was to Ben Revere, a lefty, which goes along with the rest of Choate’s season.) Mitch Harris and Carlos Villanueva finished it up, allowing just one hit between them.
Wednesday (5-2 win)
Hero: Peter Bourjos. You want to test a lineup? Putting Bourjos at the top of it may give you an indication of its staying power. Bourjos was having a tough start to the season–and, let’s be honest, one game doesn’t entirely change that–but he wound up with two hits, including the game-tying triple and the tie-breaking run on a groundout. Plus he ran the length of the field–I can’t swear he didn’t start at home plate–to run down a ball Chase Utley launched to wrap the seventh. Bourjos wasn’t perfect–he was caught stealing to end the sixth–but his speed obviously paid dividends. Bourjos got the start because he was historically good against Aaron Harang, but we’ll see if last night’s outing doesn’t get him another start soon.
Goat: Pretty interesting that the offense continued to click with some big names not getting a hit. We’re giving this to Yadier Molina, because he went 0-4 and left five men on, but neither Carpenter or Matt Holliday tallied a knock, though Holliday did walk twice.
Notes: Two-hit nights from Adams and Heyward and Heyward got to show off that arm of his by gunning home and starting a rundown in the fifth. We’ve heard a lot of about Heyward’s defensive reputation and so far, it’s been justified. On the mound, Carlos Martinez had another strong start. He allowed a home run to Ryan Howard, which isn’t unheard of for Cardinal pitchers, though it was a wall-scraper that Heyward almost snagged (and obviously believed he should have gotten it). Other than that, six innings, three strikeouts. Not quite as dominant as we’ve seen him (six hits and three walks) but he continues to show that he should be in the starting rotation.
Adam Wainwright talked to the media a couple of days ago and made sure he would always be well-received by this fanbase. Asked about the DH, Waino said he never wanted to see it in the NL and, in fact, he wished the AL would remove it. “Baseball is a National League game” should go on a plaque somewhere.
Let’s quickly bust out another set of approval ratings. The player today is Wacha, who unsurprisingly did well last year on his first year on the ballot. This season, he dropped off significantly to 74.1%. Apparently his injury affected a number of those voting this year as I’m quite surprised that he came in that low. Mike Shannon is our media member. Shannon’s grown on me over the years and while I still don’t want to use him to know what’s going on in the actual game, it’s a nice thing to listen to his stories and that familiar voice. Shannon clocked in at 79.0% this year, not too far off of last year’s mark, though his numbers have steadily decreased over the years. Finally, we take a look at the Cardinals’ Theme Nights, where you buy a special ticket and get a special item. They’ve expanded this over the years, but do people like them? 70.4% tally seems to show that they are well-received, though perhaps not overwhelmingly so.
So we get to see another debut from that vaunted pitching stockpile tonight as Tim Cooney takes the mound against Philadelphia. While I hope that we’ll see a great outing from him and have him help the Cards win their sixth series in a row, I can’t say that I have a lot of long-term hope for him. Marco Gonzales should be ready in a week or two and I’d expect we’ll see him as soon as he’s ready. It’s no more than a feeling, as I’ve not followed Cooney in the minors, and perhaps it’s not fair to judge him based on the success of Gonzales and Michael Wacha, but I’m not confident Cooney will be a guy we are talking about much in the future. Again, he can help the team and he can definitely fill a hole, but I don’t see him in the Cardinal rotation in 2016 and beyond. Which maybe this will serve as a good audition in case John Mozeliak needs a trade chip.
Cardinals will go up against David Buchanan. They faced him a couple of times last year, with mixed results. The first time, Buchanan got a win by allowing just one run in 7.2 innings in a great example of Never Seen Him Before Disease. The second time, things were a little better as Buchanan left after five having allowed two runs in a game the Cards eventually won.
Hopefully third time is the charm and this new lineup can do some more damage!