Time and time again, he provides the highlight of the night for the Marlins. He’s the reason there were 18,492 folks in the ballpark last night instead of 492. A rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation has him approaching 60 homers by the end of the season. And yet, time and time again, he goes home on the down side of the final score.
*Please note I’m only talking about some surface similarities and not suggesting at all that Giancarlo is anything but all natural.
Last night was the same thing. Stanton hit a laser off of Jaime Garcia in the second to straight-away center, then watched as his team did nothing around him. Stanton had three hits, the Marlins had seven. If there had been enough people there, you’d have probably seen them head for the exits in the ninth after he singled. I’m sure the Marlins management was glad that he kept people around that long.
This isn’t a Marlins blog, though, and as much as we might empathize with the plight of Stanton (mitigated by the fact that he took $325 million to stay in the place), we have to be glad that our focus is on the Cardinals, who don’t resemble that 1998 or 1999 team at all. I mean, they don’t have the power of McGwire in their lineup (though the club is up to 60 homers as a group and tied with the Padres for 21st in MLB, which is an improvement) but they are winning games like he used to hit long balls.
They powered up last night, with five of the six runs coming from two home runs. Kolten Wong‘s home run in the third was huge, because not only did it take ultimate advantage of a rare Randal Grichuk walk, it answered Stanton’s home run quickly and let Garcia pitch with a lead for most of his time on the mound.
For a while there, it looked like Wong’s homer was going to be the only hit Mat Latos gave up, which would have been a cruel way to lose a game. (Garcia would have been able to identify with the lack of support, though.) Instead, Latos slipped in his last inning of work, allowing a flare hit to Jhonny Peralta and, improbably, a four-pitch walk to Mark Reynolds to bring up Jason Heyward.
As Heyward stepped into the box, I had a feeling he was going to get into one. Tim McCarver called it as well on the broadcast, so perhaps everyone had that feeling. Heyward has been so torrid lately–he had three homers and an OPS of 1.316 in the week of games leading up to this one–that it was no shock when he roped one out to right and broke the game wide open. It was Heyward’s only hit of the night, but boy, was it big. It’s exciting to see him going on a tear.
Either of those would have been fine selections for hero, but Jaime Garcia‘s work was, again, just outstanding. Seems like every game he pitches, he gets the Hero tag, but that’s because he’s basically giving the other team nothing to work with. Save for Stanton’s home run, which is no reflection on the pitcher or how he is going because Stanton hits them off everyone, he gave up just four other hits and walked a batter. It was interesting that Mike Matheny let him hit in the eighth with 90 pitches under his belt and his typical medical history, but Garcia was going so strong that it’d been a shame not to see if he could have an efficient eighth and rest the bullpen for an inning (not that they really needed it). If he’d not singled and then cramped up while scoring the final run (making the game serious), we would have found out. Shouldn’t be anything that affects him going forward, but anytime Garcia leaves a game unexpectedly, folks get worried.
The Goat for last night has to fall on Jon Jay again. The other two starters who didn’t get a hit, Grichuk and Reynolds, at least drew walks and scored on the home runs by Wong and Heyward. Jay went 0-4, dropping his season average to .226. He’s gotten 50 at bats in June over 20 games and is hitting .160 in that span, so it’s not like things are getting better. He has almost as many strikeouts in June (11) as he did combined in April and May (13) in less than half the at-bats. I know the theory is that he has to play to get his timing and get back into a groove, but what if the timing never comes? Do you continue to run him out there?
I guess the key will be what they do when Matt Holliday returns. Holliday is supposed to be evaluated when the Cards come home tomorrow and, while I don’t expect that he’ll be activated from the DL or anything, hopefully there will be a timetable (a short one) for him getting back in the lineup. If Matheny continues to run Jay out there regularly in between Holliday and Heyward, there needs to be an intervention. We’ve seen Grichuk play center perfectly capably and while he’s got his flaws as well, he does much more for this team that Jay does. Right now, it’s Jay versus Peter Bourjos, which is like picking the tallest hobbit at times. I still think Bourjos should be out there more–he’s got as much claim to the “timing” excuse as Jay does–but I’d concede that it might not make a lot of difference in results.
We’ll get a roster move today as Lance Lynn comes off the disabled list to pitch for the sweep in Miami. That probably means saying goodbye to the Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons for a while, as I think they’ll want him to continue the starter routine in Memphis to be ready in case he’s needed in a situation like we saw this month again. Lyons at least gets to return to Memphis with not only a couple of big league wins in his pocket but also that batting line against the Phillies. There were a lot of good things about his time up here in St. Louis and I’m anxious to see him again in the bigs, though not at the expense of any of the current starters!
Lynn’s done pretty well against Miami in the past. He’s even limited Stanton to one hit in 10 at bats. That hit is, of course, a home run.
Dan Haren goes for the Marlins. Of course, we all know the story of Haren, a former Cardinal who was traded away for Mark Mulder in one of the worst trades Walt Jocketty ever made. At the time, everyone recoiled because we sent Daric Barton in the deal. Haren was an acceptable loss for a guy like Mulder. Assuming he’d been healthy, that might have been a deal that one day looked favorable for the Cards given Barton’s inability to become anything more than a replacement player. Haren had some stellar years, though, and Mulder….well, he had that 10-inning scoreless game against Roger Clemens. That really was about it, wasn’t it?
Haren’s never been particularly tough on the old squad. I mean, he’s had success, don’t get me wrong, but in line with his other success, not like Bud Norris levels of success, when you can’t figure out why this is happening. I worry with that 1-2 Pete Kozma would be in the lineup, but hopefully the fact both Peralta and Wong hit him well and Matt Carpenter just had an off day will keep Kozma safely on the bench.
Cards extended their lead in the division to seven over Pittsburgh and 7.5 over Chicago last night. Be nice to at least keep it that way by sweeping the Fish!