If you are going to have to deal with two hit-by-pitch in the same inning, it’s good to make it count.
After Sam Dyson plunked Carlos Martinez while he was trying to bunt and Randal Grichuk a batter later to load the bases, there were a lot of Cardinal fans wondering if St. Louis would make them pay. When Jhonny Peralta struck out and Mark Reynolds ran the count 0-2, it really didn’t appear they would. Credit to Reynolds, though–not only did he get the tiebreaking RBI, he did so by lining his hit off of Dyson’s shin, which was poetic justice.
That could have been enough to get Reynolds our Hero tag, but instead, I’m going with Xavier Scruggs. Scruggs didn’t have the best defensive night, of course, but he did go three for four and had the biggest hit of the evening, a two-run double that tied the game up. Scruggs also led off that decisive seventh inning with a single and his pinch-runner Pete Kozma scored the winning run. While it’s likely Scruggs won’t be back in the lineup tonight (unless Mike Matheny wants to give Mark Reynolds a night off again), it’s good to see him have a little success in the big leagues and hopefully he’ll be able to channel that into some late-inning pinch-hit heroics.
We talked yesterday about Jason Heyward heating up and he continued to prove it last night. Only the one hit, but it was a long one, a homer in the fourth that started the scoring. As I said on Twitter, I like June Heyward better than April Heyward. And I liked April Heyward just fine.
On the mound, it was another pretty strong outing for Carlos Martinez. Yes, he gave up a home run that might not have landed yet to Giancarlo Stanton, but lower earth orbit is full of baseballs hit by Stanton. Martinez isn’t exactly the only one in that club. Other than that, the hits were a little on the high side (eight) but he gave up just three runs and went seven innings, including the last inning with that bruised shoulder. In that inning he got two groundouts and finished with a strikeout (his last of nine) so odds are he’s going to be fine, though I imagine that shoulder has stiffed up a little today. It’ll be something to watch Sunday when he pitches against the Cubs, but I don’t expect it’ll be an issue.
All in all, it was good to see the Cardinals be able to rally, especially since they were facing a pitcher they’d only seen in spring training. It’s a team they should beat, sure, but that doesn’t always mean anything. They needed the win since Pittsburgh and Chicago also took their games last night. I know, it’s not vital that the Redbirds win when those two teams are, but it’s surely nice. Right now the Pirates are six back and the Cubs 6.5, but we saw last week (and we know from Cardinal history!) just how quickly leads like that can get a little less comfortable. Then again, I’m all for pennant races when they don’t involve the Cardinals. In their situation, I’m perfectly happy with getting out to a 10-game lead and extending it from there.
Before we leave this, we do need to find a Goat. I think it’s going to have to be Jhonny Peralta, who went 0-5 with two double plays and that aforementioned strikeout. A rough night for the shortstop. It’s actually pretty impressive the Cardinals were able to do anything offensively when the top three folks (Kolten Wong, Grichuk, Peralta) went a combined 0-9. At least Wong and Grichuk each drew a walk.
Kevin Siegrist could have gotten the tag, though, had it not been for a timely stop of a fastball by the home plate umpire’s chest protector. Siegrist got the first two outs, then a walk and a single put runners on the corners. Yadier Molina set up off the plate, but Siegrist (and I believe this was intentional, not pitches that got away) went inside. Even though I think he was expecting it, Molina couldn’t get to the pitch and it struck Adam Hamari in the chest, shaking him up a bit. (You know that Hamari is probably a good umpire because I had to look up his name and I’ve still never heard it. If Siegrist was going to stun an ump, most of us would rather Joe West or Angel Hernandez be back there.) Kudos to Hamari for not only shaking it off eventually (I mean, the pitch knocked him flat on his back) but for not flinching when Molina and Siegrist ran the same setup two or three more times in the at-bat. I’d have told Molina to get in front of me!
Matt Carpenter had a little back tightness and so Matheny figured a day after an off day was a good time to give him a break. Given Carpenter’s season and his bout with exhaustion earlier, I don’t think anyone can blame the manager for such a tactic. Carpenter actually took it in stride and used it as a rest day, which shows how he’s changing as a player.
Looks like the club is going to reevaluate Matt Holliday when they get home this weekend. All reports seem to indicate he’s healing well, though I think it’d be a surprise if we saw him on the field after that evaluation. Still, maybe he can return before the All-Star Break and give this team a little boost. Have to wait and see.
Jaime Garcia looks to continue his stellar season (and hopes to get a little bit of offensive help) tonight as he takes on Miami. Garcia has not allowed a run in his last two starts, though he only has one win to show for it. He’s not seen a lot of this Marlins team but he’s shown smarts in dealing with them–he’s walked Stanton in two of the three plate appearances.
Mat Latos is on the hill for the Marlins. The Cards have seen a lot of him from his days in Cincinnati and San Diego and that’s usually been a pretty good thing for them.
Perhaps this is what gets Jon Jay on track? Not like anything could really hurt at this point. Latos is coming off a tough start against the Yankees where he allowed three runs in 5.2 innings. Three of his last four starts have been kinda yucky, actually, and he’s only gone seven innings twice this season, so let’s hope the offense clicks and they can take the series tonight!