For a while yesterday, I was a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t write up Tuesday’s game yesterday morning. There wasn’t any particular reason, just had a little trouble getting motivated to get out of bed and write about a game I didn’t see much of. After watching last night’s game, though, I’m glad I didn’t. I’d hate to have this post all about that one. It’d be pretty short.
Tuesday (8-3 win)
Hero: Matt Holliday. Two hits, including a three-run homer that provided some needed cushion. The game had started to get much closer than most folks wanted, so his blast was truly appreciated.
Goat: Kolten Wong. A lot of folks were excited about seeing him at the top of the lineup. However, it didn’t work in this game as he went 0-5 with two strikeouts.
Notes: Listening to the beginning of this one on the radio, John Rooney made note that Cleveland either won big or lost big, as they’d only had a few games (don’t remember the exact number, maybe three?) that had been decided by two or less runs. It looked like the Cards were going to add to that until Holliday’s big blast. He wasn’t the only one with a good offensive game, though, as Mark Reynolds had three hits and two RBI and Matt Carpenter got back into the swing of things with a pair of hits and a couple of runs scored. Interestingly, the Cardinals flashed back to 2013 and scored all of their runs with two outs.
On the pitching side of things, we saw a much better outing by Lance Lynn. Nine strikeouts–which seemed impressive until last night’s game–and no runs, though he did only go six innings and walked four as well. Still, much better than allowing a ton of runs, which he’d been doing lately. We saw good work out of Miguel Solocovich (1.2 innings, no runs, three strikeouts) and Kevin Siegrist‘s line looks good, though he allowed his inherited runner to score.
We’ve not kept up with the Randy Choate YOU HAD ONE JOB tally lately, but he slipped again in this one, allowing a double to Michael Brantley, the one batter he faced. That’s five times this season he’s come in and not retired a batter. Seven other times he’s pitched 0.1 of an inning, so he’s on the right side of 50%, but it’s still a struggle. That said, we saw old friend Marc Rzepczynski in this one, who came in to get one batter out–and also failed. Apparently it’s going around.
Wednesday (2-0 loss)
Hero: Jhonny Peralta. He kept us from hearing all about a no-hitter this morning, though it’s not like Corey Kluber isn’t getting plenty of headlines anyway. Other options–Holliday, the only person not to strike out (given he left the game after being hit on the elbow, which also kept the perfect game watch at bay) and Matt Adams, the only person in the lineup to only strike out once (which was not at all what you expected, was it?). Honestly, when your team gets one hit and strikes out 19 times (18 times against the starter), it’s not real easy to find a Hero.
Goat: Pick a starter and most likely they went 0-fer with two or more K. We’ll go with Peter Bourjos, because he went 0-3 with 3 K. So did Reynolds, but let’s be honest, that’s part of his gig. If everyone’s striking out, it’s tough to blame the strikeout king of the roster. Really, though, you could go with most anyone.
Notes: John Lackey had a tough first inning and, honestly, scuffled a lot of the game but was able to work out of trouble most of the time. He walked five, allowed the two runs in the first that was way more than Kluber needed, and left with one out in the sixth having crossed the 100 pitch plateau. We continue to talk about how the starters need to go deeper in games and Lackey did last time around, but either the road woes are getting to him or it’s just going to be a random selection of how he’s going to perform start-to-start (I think there’s some of both). Still, it gives more fuel to the idea that St. Louis needs to go and get an innings-eater. I don’t think they can get or need to get someone on the level of Cole Hamels, but someone that can legitimately go seven innings every time out and do so without straining the offense to get a win would be worth a lot to this team.
I made a bit of a sarcastic comment (I know, that’s a stunner) yesterday on Twitter when Choate came in with two on and hit a batter. I expected that to be his only man (and again failing the YOU HAVE ONE JOB criteria) but he stayed in to face the next hitter, switch-hitting Carlos Santana. I mocked the fact that Choate was facing a righty with the bases loaded, but it was pointed out to me that there was a run of lefties after that and it would save the bullpen. I acknowledge that and I can understand what Mike Matheny was going for, but it almost backfired spectacularly. Santana lined a ball up the middle that Choate reactively grabbed. Without his reflexes, that ball likely goes all the way through and it’s 4-0. Again, it didn’t matter because Kluber wasn’t allowing anything, but in a different game that could have been a big moment. However, Jason Kipnis (whom Choate hit) is significantly worse against lefties and with Lackey at the end of his rope, that move made sense. I’m not sure what else you could have done without running through the bullpen, so I’ll admit Matheny saw the bigger picture and I didn’t.
We’re pretty used to second-guessing Matheny, but I’m not sure we aren’t finally seeing that in-game growth that we’ve been hoping for the last few years. The bullpen usage isn’t completely rigid or incomprehensible, the lineups make sense, players like Bourjos aren’t being buried. The only major issue I’m seeing right now is roster construction and that’s at least partly on John Mozeliak, though likely Mo defers to what Matheny wants for the most part in this arena. I’ve never been a fan of the 12/13 hitter/pitcher split and it’s been going on for a long time, though it’s defensible given the starters and their lack of innings.
However, with Holliday going out of last night’s game with no idea on if that plunk will linger and Jon Jay not being up to taking over for Holliday yesterday, with Pete Kozma instead going out to play left, the Cards probably will have to do something. I know the bench isn’t quite as important in these funhouse mirror games called playing in the American League, but still, if Holliday and Jay can’t go, that means you have nine of your 12 hitters in the lineup and two unavailable, which means your bench is Tony Cruz, whom you probably don’t use because you can’t afford to do so. That’s not going to cut it. If nothing else, you’ll need something by tomorrow. Most likely the Cards make a move today and it’ll be interesting to see what it is. The most likely move would be to bring up Xavier Scruggs and let Mark Reynolds play outfield if necessary. Scruggs is already on the 40-man roster and has six homers in Memphis, though he’s just hitting .229. You could see the debut of Stephen Piscotty, but that’d take a 40-man move as well and unless Jaime Garcia had a setback that allowed you to move him to the 60-man DL, I don’t know what that move would be. It’s possible they could release someone like Ed Easley or Nick Greenwood, I guess.
These East Coast times have been pretty crazy this series. Today’s no different, with first pitch at 11:10 AM, so you’ll be able to watch some baseball on your lunch break. Michael Wacha tries to make sure the Cards 1) don’t lose their second series in a row and 2) win their first ever series against the Indians. Wacha’s not going to make a run at 18 K (he has 19 for the entire season so far) but hopefully can continue his run of strong starts. The only Indian Wacha has faced is Zach Walters, whom he retired once last year when Walters was with Washington.
Trevor Bauer goes for Cleveland. Bauer was highly touted but he’s never quite made it to the level he was projected to reach, though he’s still young. A 4.19 ERA on the year, but that has skyrocketed after he gave up 11 runs combined in his last two starts (against Toronto and Minnesota) in 9.1 innings combined. The only Cardinal he’s ever seen is Jason Heyward, who went 0-3 against him in a game in 2012, back when Bauer was a rookie for Arizona. Not a lot of experience there, but there wasn’t against Carlos Carrasco in the first game and that turned out OK. Honestly, it can’t get worse than last night. Right? Right?