A last place team coming to town, a team that’s struggled to win? A pitcher that has trouble going more than five innings? Against the best team in baseball, a team that’d won six of seven? We should know what that means.
Baseball may be a funny game, but it’s also a bit unpredictable. The NFL likes to say that “any given Sunday” one team can beat another, but that’s true every day of the week in MLB. Such was the case last night, as the Brewers got a run early and then just hung on for dear life.
Perhaps it was Mike Fiers taking two hours between pitches, perhaps it was a bit of overconfidence, perhaps it just wasn’t their night, but the Cardinals kept getting opportunities and doing nothing with them. This quote from Derrick Goold’s game story says it all:
The Cardinals had seven plate appearances with a runner in scoring position.
They didn’t get a ball out of the infield once in those spots.
What’s sad is in a game like this, you expect to see a lot of 0-fers in the box score, but all but two starters got at least one hit, with Kolten Wong and Mark Reynolds getting two. The team also drew three walks, so there were chances all right. Finding a Goat means finding out who did the most damage to those chances.
With two on and one out in the first, Jhonny Peralta struck out and Yadier Molina grounded out. With two on and two out in the sixth, Jason Heyward popped out. With two on and one out in the eighth, Peralta and Molina both struck out. And with two on and two out in the ninth, Wong grounded out. Looking through this, I think Jhonny Peralta gets the tag again today. I was listening to John Rooney during the eighth and it sounded like Peralta could have walked but swung through ball four. Even with Molina not being the offensive force that we are used to, having bases loaded and one out would have been a nice thing for the club, though there’s no guarantees they’d been able to cash in. But even a fly ball by Peralta there would have likely tied the game. He just wasn’t able to come through when it counted, though he was hardly alone in that.
Which meant that our Hero had a wasted game. Jaime Garcia continues to show why the Cards have been so patient with him, even through all the arm and shoulder problems. When he’s healthy and when he’s on, he’s a dynamic force. Seven innings of one-run baseball should get you a win almost every night, but not this night. Just three hits, but two of them came in the first which turned into the run. Otherwise, he dominated the Brewers, a team that, for all its flaws, still has some offensive weapons. Garcia’s pitched much better than a 1-2 record would indicate and hopefully he’ll stay healthy enough to get some more wins down the line.
Randy Choate had one job and he did it, retiring Geraldo Parra on a comebacker. Matt Belisle made the eighth interesting with a couple of hits, but worked a scoreless 1.2 innings. The bullpen, as they so often do, did their job and gave the offense a chance to rally. They just couldn’t seal the deal.
In the seven games on this homestand, the Cardinals have scored 20 runs, 13 of those against a Diamondbacks team that has one of the worst ERAs in baseball (though, to be fair, a quarter of a run better than the Brewers). The offense is again scuffling and hopefully the rest of this series will give them an opportunity to break out, because it’s not likely to come this weekend in Los Angeles.
Jon Jay started last night, going 0-4 and leaving three men on base. There seemed to be some grumbling about him getting the start over the hot hands of Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk, but I think I’d worry more if Jay got two or three starts in a row. He’s got to start occasionally to have a chance to get into a rhythm and to stay sharp, just like we occasionally see Pete Kozma or Tony Cruz get a day in the lineup. I don’t read much into him playing last night. Now if he plays again today, that might be a different story.
Milwaukee had to juggle their rotation after they used Matt Garza in that 17-inning game on Sunday, so as of Sunday afternoon, they still didn’t know who would be pitching today. I said in the Bird’s Eye View that they’d probably dip into the minor leagues and pull up someone the Cards had never faced before, which always goes so well for St. Louis. Sure enough, they are sending out Tyler Cravy, who is making his major league debut. He’s no top prospect, having spent seven years in the minors, but he’s made steady progress and while his numbers at AAA this year are a bit pedestrian (5-4, 4.04), he’s been playing at Colorado Springs (which I think I might have known wasn’t a Colorado farm team anymore, though I’d forgotten) which excuses some of it. Ed Easley has actually faced him in the minors, going 0-3 against him if MLB’s preview is to be believed.
Lance Lynn tries to shut the Brewers down and he’ll be Cravy-ing some offense (oh, that’s terrible, really really bad) to make sure he’s not the latest Jaime Garcia. Lynn’s not been that dominant force that we had come to expect recently, going six innings against Arizona and allowing three runs in the loss after allowing five runs to Kansas City. He’s also had mixed results against the Brewers this year, allowing one run in five when he faced them at Busch and six runs in five when he was in Miller Park. We’ll hope for more of the former today.
Not terribly great numbers there, but hopefully they aren’t predictive. The Cards really don’t need to lose a series to the cellar dwellers. It happens, of course–that’s baseball–but it’s not a great look.
I’m expecting it to be a little slow at work today. If anyone’s interested, I’d love to take Twitter questions. Use the hashtag #askc70 and I’ll give you some sort of answer, even if it’s nonsensical!