Just like Monday night, the score was 1-0. Just like Monday night, the losing team had more opportunities to score than the winning team. Just like Monday night, it came down to Kolten Wong in the ninth.
Only difference? The team that won.
While the Cardinal offense might be missing in action right now, at least the pitching staff is doing its thing. Lance Lynn was the Hero last night, going 7.2 innings and not allowing a run to cross the plate. Lynn’s starting to get used to having absolutely no support when he goes out there, which is such a turn around from his earlier days. When the Redbirds scored in the second, he may have figured he would need to make that stand up and make it stand up he did, allowing just five hits and a walk. Mike Matheny (and David Bell, who was the one who had to finally come get him due to the Joe West kerfluffle we’ll discuss in a bit) let him be the workhorse, finally getting him when the pitch count hit 118.
If anyone can go that long, of course, it’s Lynn, but we’ll see how that impacts his next start on Sunday against the Dodgers. FOX Sports Midwest put up a graphic of how good Lynn has been this year on five days or more of rest. He’s not been quite as sharp with just four days off (the standard), and when you couple that with such a workload last night, it does make you concerned about what we’ll see in LA. That said, it was a one run game and Lynn was dealing. It’d been darn tough to take him out before they did and I don’t have any complaints.
When I wrote the Bird’s Eye View for this series, I wrote “we’ll probably see them dip into their minor leagues to throw a starter no one has ever heard of at the Cardinals. Which, as we all know, is a sound strategy against the Redbirds.” That did turn out to be the case as Tyler Cravy had about as good of a major league debut as you could hope for (if you were a Brewers fan or part of the Cravy family) without getting a win, giving up just the one run in seven innings. He was adept at getting out of any minor trouble with a double play, though that doesn’t take any special talent when you are facing St. Louis.
Just four hits on the night and Randal Grichuk had two of them and scored the only run. If it wasn’t for Lynn’s performance, he’d have the Hero tag. Mark Reynolds got one of the other hits, driving in Grichuk but then being caught trying to go to second on the throw home, which was pretty inexplicable given that he was out by roughly half the distance. Not that it likely would have made any difference, but I’d have liked to have a runner on with two outs than ending the inning on a play that wasn’t even close. Still, he got the run in, which is more than anyone else did last night.
With all the zeros in the box score, the field for the Goat is pretty wide open. My rule of “tie goes to the leadoff hitter” would work here, as Wong went 0-3 and hit into a double play, but it was his turn on that final double play that was so key to the win. With Ryan Braun on third and a slow chopper hit to Matt Carpenter, if Wong doesn’t have the quick turn there, the game is tied and we go into extras, most likely. Trevor Rosenthal owes Wong dinner, I believe. Rosie scuffled a bit–you could say Braun’s hit was bad luck as it was corralled by Jhonny Peralta who just couldn’t make a play, but the single by Jonathan Lucroy that put runners on the corners was smoked. He got the double play and the save, but it was a bit tense.
We’ll go with Jon Jay as the Goat as he had two strikeouts to go with his 0-3 night, but really there were a number of possibilities. Still, having Jay play while Jason Heyward sat was a little surprising, given that Jay had just started the night before. Many people are worried that Jay is going to start taking time from players that have been producing because he’s “Matheny’s guy”. I’m not necessarily in that camp, but two starts in a row is a little disturbing. Hopefully we won’t see that for this afternoon’s matchup.
Matt Holliday‘s streak of games getting on base to start a season ended at 45, eight short of Derek Jeter‘s record. While many would say that the streak ended due to Joe West’s ejection of him, the fact is that he wouldn’t have come up again (assuming the game played out as it did) so he had three shots at extending it and wasn’t able to do so. His double play in the fourth was especially egregious, given it was a very low pitch that Holliday had to reach for on 0-1. Whether it was because of the strike zone or he just got a bit impatient, I don’t know, but he did have his chances and it didn’t look like he was really in sync last night.
Of course, then there was the seventh inning battle between him and West as West rang him up on a pitch that was inside (though not so much that it backed him off the plate). Given that it was Cowboy Joe, Twitter immediately rushed to Holliday’s defense. I know that West isn’t necessarily the greatest of umpires (the fact that folks know his name AND he has a nickname is a huge giveaway in that department), but I can’t fault him too much for this one. While the zone was wide, it’d been wide all night long and with two strikes, Holliday should know he’d have to protect on pitches that he might not like.
Even if the call was unconscionable, though, Holliday did enough to deserve to be run. He didn’t swear at West (according to him, and I don’t believe there’s any reason to doubt that) but that’s not the only thing that gets you tossed. Holliday expressed his displeasure at the plate, but continued to talk to West as he left and made it very obvious by walking backwards to the dugout while he was doing so. Anytime you show up an umpire like that and be that obvious about an argument, you are probably going to be run.
Now, some including my good friend Nick said that West shooed him away, which I missed in the whole altercation. While that’s not exactly professional, that’s not what set Holliday off nor do I think it added to his ire a significant amount. Holliday was worked up about the strike zone and he had a case for sure, but the next player that wins an argument like that will be the first one.
What I am surprised about is that Matheny took forever to get out there. Once Holliday was walking backwards to the dugout, Matheny should have been out there to try to keep his player in the game. Instead, he waited until Holliday was tossed to run out there. Now, that may save Holliday some money and a suspension, since he got between Holliday and West, but it didn’t keep him in the game (nor did it help Matheny, who also got run, but that was a given as he had to defend his player). I’ve got to say, I’ve seen Holliday complain a number of times, but I’ve never seen him as worked up as last night, especially after the ejection. He kept asking, “What did I say, Joe?” and it basically took two other umpires to keep him back. Not a job I’d have wanted, given Holliday’s size.
An afternoon affair at Busch today, the last game of the homestand. Jimmy Nelson will go for the Brew Crew. Nelson’s kinda like their Shelby Miller, a top prospect still figuring it out at the big league level. His last outing against Arizona wasn’t terrible (four runs in six innings, but he struck out eight and walked none) and that’s about an average start for him, though he does do better than that fairly regularly.
Good numbers for the Redbirds, who have had some success with Nelson in the past. Small samples, of course, but that 2-5 might be enough to get Jay yet another start given how Matheny uses this info. Would you rule it out?
John Lackey tries to keep the Brewer offense quiet and, given the fact that it’s a day game at Busch, two of his most dominant splits, it would seem pretty likely he’ll be successful. Then again, if he is he’ll have to overcome some of his personal history against these folks.
Some struggles, especially with Adam Lind, who saw him a lot in the American League. We’ll see which force–history or current events–wins out this afternoon. Hopefully the latter!