If the club is going to hack a database, I’d have guessed it was John Mabry looking for some hitting tips to pass on to this offense. It definitely needs something.
Tuesday (3-2 win vs. Twins)
Hero: Mark Reynolds. He only had one hit, but he made it count, driving in two runs that proved to be the difference in the game. As you know, I keep expecting the regular playing time to start showing some holes in his game. Perhaps more accurately, to reflect what we’ve seen in the past out of Reynolds, the low batting average and the high strikeouts. While he still strikes out (though just one in this game), being out there every day hasn’t been a detriment so far. And given how little anyone else is producing at the plate, that’s a good thing.
Goat: Jhonny Peralta. Both he and Jason Heyward went 0-3 with a walk, but we’ll give it to Peralta because he was up higher in the lineup and left more on base. That’s the problem–the Cards can seem to get folks on, just not all together. You’ll see hits and walks scattered up and down the order, but the runs still aren’t coming with any sort of regularity.
Notes: Kevin Siegrist locked down another save as Trevor Rosenthal was still unavailable, though apparently Rosie was good to go (or at least able to go) Wednesday night, so maybe this won’t be a long-term thing. Even if it was, Siegrist has handled it fairly well. He obviously has gone to the Jason Isringhausen School of Closing as well, putting the go-ahead run on in this one, but Rosenthal did that as well and seems to have been able to shake it this year. If nothing else, Siegrist has shown that there’s no reason you can’t rest Rosenthal every once in a while, even with a save situation.
The bullpen on the whole was outstanding again, like they have been for a long time. In the month of June, before they gave up a run last night with two outs in the eighth (after instant replay overturned the third out), they had a 0.29 ERA. That’s insane. It’s over a run better than anyone else’s bullpen and a huge, huge reason that this club is still playing around .667 ball. The offense isn’t going to give you a lot to work with, so you don’t want to give any of it back.
Two hits and a walk out of Matt Carpenter, which may mean whatever funk he was in, it is finally dissipating. Which is big, because this offense doesn’t go without him. It’s questionable whether it goes with him, of course, but at least it’s a discussion then.
Wednesday (3-1 loss at Minnesota)
Hero: Jason Heyward. Two hits and the only RBI.
Goat: Kolten Wong. On June 5, Wong was hitting .314. In the ten games since that time, he’s batting .158/.200/.342. He does have some extra base hits in there, but overall he’s in a bit of a slide. Last night continued it, going 0-4 including a big out in the eighth with two out and a runner on.
Notes: Almost went with Reynolds as the Goat given his miss of Carlos Martinez‘s pickoff that led directly to two runs. It wasn’t the best throw from Martinez, but it was catchable, which is why Reynolds got the error. Without that, we might have been in a 1-0 game in the eighth, which would have affected things a little bit. Reynolds did get a hit and score the only run, though, so that got him off the Goat hook.
Martinez had another fine outing, running into a little trouble in the seventh and not being able to finish the inning but otherwise being solid. Five hits and three walks, coupled with six strikeouts, should win you a lot of games. Just not this one.
Randy Choate did his job, though, getting Joe Mauer after Martinez had loaded the bases and left the game. Choate made it interesting, running the count to 2-0 before coming back with three strikes. I give him enough grief for not getting folks out, though, so I’ve got to give him props (as the kids say) when he comes through.
Four runs is not a big deal in baseball. Four runs is a pretty average offense, wouldn’t you say? Yet the Cardinals have not hit that plateau since June 4, when they had back-to-back days of seven runs against Milwaukee and the Dodgers. From June 5 to June 17, a span of 11 days, they are hitting .230/.289/.373. That OBP is the real killer, as the occasional hits would be much more effective if folks were reaching base. Instead, they’ve walked 27 times in 382 plate appearances. That’s not particularly good. It’s a testament to the pitching staff that the club has gone 7-4 in those games instead of 1-10, which could have easily happened. They have scored 30 runs in those 11 games and have allowed 30, though 11 of those came in one game in Colorado. Thank goodness for pitching!
Of course, like things such as the housing market and the dot-com fiasco, bubbles burst. We’ve seen Cardinal teams in the past get by with stellar pitching for a good portion of the first half, only to run into trouble as the law of averages, warmer weather, and fatigue drive those ERAs up somewhat. You are dancing on the edge of a knife here–it’d take basically a run a game more allowed and this nice gaudy record would shrivel up like a worm on a summer sidewalk.
Not that I have any solutions, of course, but it may be time for Mike Matheny to look at another lineup shakeup. Of course, that time period we’re looking at almost exactly ties to the loss of Matt Holliday, so it may be less order and more personnel. If Holliday is going to return in a short period of time, perhaps the pitching staff will hold out. The problem is I’ve not seen any updates on Holliday in a while, so it would seem unlikely he’s going to be back in the lineup shortly after the DL stint is up. It’s something John Mozeliak and Matheny will have to keep informed about to decide whether they can’t wait to go out and get another bat.
The hacking scandal is still in the press, of course, as the Cardinals issued a more strongly worded statement yesterday and talked a little bit to the media. (It is interesting, as Kevin Reynolds pointed out on Twitter, that Mo talked to a national writer in Bob Nightengale over the local beat writer in Derrick Goold. My guess is that they wanted to make sure it reached a wider audience and to look less like they were hiding something by talking to what might appear to be a more sympathetic ear.) They are saying what we in the blogging and Twitter community have been saying, that it’s a low-level issue and not a systematic one. Perhaps we believe that as fans of the organization, but there’s not even a shadow of proof yet that what they are saying isn’t accurate. There’s no weasel terms in these statements and interviews. They truly want to get it resolved and move on.
The problem, of course, is that they’ll never really be able to move on. Even if they find the folks responsible and fire them publicly, prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and so on, folks are going to say that it’s a cover-up, that those are fall guys, that obviously folks knew. It’s a catch-22 situation, and I’m not talking about when Matheny was a player. Darned if they do, darned if they don’t. You just have to hope that intelligent folks will see that it’s not the Cardinals that were hacking, but a couple of Cardinal employees. That’s a significant difference.
People are lazy, though. Even if they don’t believe there’s anything, it’s going to be a fallback joke for years to come. Heck, I even have gone that way on occasion, though not seriously. Once it enters the legacy, though, it’s hard to remove, whether fairly or not. The Cardinals have been proactive, they’ve been cooperating with the investigation and working for a while to figure out who and how. We’ll see if that helps mitigate the responses, though. It would seem unlikely.
(I enjoyed Nightengale’s piece, but unless he has other information, I take issue with his line that “this isn’t a fraternity prank gone wrong”. I’m not sure it’s not pretty close to that, though obviously with criminal and personal repercussions. My feeling is that folks, perhaps not in their right mind, decided to try out some stuff and see if they could embarrass Jeff Luhnow. It could be that they were as surprised as anyone when it worked. Then again, we don’t have all the info so maybe it was more deliberate, but I wouldn’t rule out prank gone wrong just yet. Again, that’s not to condone or mitigate what happened. Pranks gone wrong have real consequences that have to be dealt with.)
St. Louis tries to move a little further away from the scandal and back into the win column with an afternoon game in Minnesota. Which, if the weather’s nice, should be almost a perfect day for baseball, especially in lovely Target Field. Jaime Garcia hopes that the offensive support he got last time carries over–for all the talk about low runs, at least they scored some last time, unlike most of his starts. The only batter he’s seen before is Kurt Suzuki, who struck out in his only plate appearance against the Cardinal left-hander. Hopefully Garcia can keep his strong season going and bring home a series split.
If he does, he’ll have to outduel Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey, a former New York Met, is having a strong season at 5-3, 3.18. That ERA would be even better but the Rangers got to him for eight runs in less than four innings his last time out. Heyward, for one, might be looking forward to the reunion.
Some good numbers there, but Pelfrey’s been better of late. Let’s hope there’s an afternoon shower of runs for the Cardinals!