The old saying is, of course, you can’t win if you can’t score. That works for both sides of the equation, though. THEY can’t win if THEY can’t score either. Given the Cardinal offense, it’s a good thing this pitching staff is as good as it is. As our regular commenter says, this is one of the best run-prevention teams ever and, when they are on, it’s a beautiful thing. This weekend in Milwaukee, for the most part, they were on.
Friday (6-0 win)
Hero: Randal Grichuk. He only had one hit, but he capped off the one inning the club scored with a three-run homer, a blast that became important later when Lance Lynn had the bases loaded and two outs.
Goat: Jhonny Peralta. 0-4 with two strikeouts. Mr. Peralta didn’t have the greatest of weekends in Wisconsin with the bat.
Notes: Lynn threw six scoreless innings, though he worked out of a few jams created when he walked four. The pitching performance of note may have been Carlos Villanueva, who threw three perfect innings, striking out three in the process. While the game wasn’t in doubt after Lynn left (thus keeping Villanueva from the Hero tag) it still was a great performance and it rested the others in the pen, which is never a bad side effect.
The Cardinal offense seems so often to be like a summer thunderstorm. There will be nothing, one deluge in one inning, then nothing. Six runs was a nice shower, though. Two doubles by Matt Carpenter in this one and two hits by Jason Heyward and Yadier Molina as well.
Saturday (3-0 win)
Hero: Jaime Garcia. Yes, almost every night you could put the starting pitcher in this spot, but there’s no doubt that Garcia earned it. Four walks is a little high, but when you couple that with just two hits over seven scoreless innings, it’s a darn good night on the bump.
Goat: Molina, Peralta and Heyward all had identical lines (0-4, one left on). We’ll assume Molina had a little something to do with Garcia’s outing and eliminate him. So that we aren’t just picking on Peralta, Jason Heyward gets the nod. Feel free to flip the coin and come up with your own personal result, though!
Notes: While Garcia earned the Hero tag, Stephen Piscotty could have easily garnered it, driving in two of the three runs with a couple of two-out hits. It’s still fairly remarkable that, since he was hitting eighth, Milwaukee didn’t try to walk him or at least pitch around him in those situations. Sure, he’s a rookie, but the pitcher is behind him. Even in the seventh, when he drove in the third run, the Cardinals might have pinch-hit for Garcia, but then you get him out of the game. Some interesting decisions by Craig Counsell there.
Sunday (5-4 loss)
Hero: Matt Carpenter. His three-run blast to put the Cardinals on top would have won many a game. Turning a lead over to the bullpen has been almost automatic of late. Even though it wasn’t the game-winner, though, it was still a beautiful thing. Since going back to the leadoff role to start the Colorado series, which is a nice and convenient 10 games, he’s hitting .375/.432/1.025 with five doubles and seven homers in 44 plate appearances. (I assume he was at least a finalist for Player of the Week, even though Andrew McCutchen won it.) It’s too simplistic to say that the move triggered all this, but it surely didn’t hurt.
Goat: Jonathan Broxton. I wasn’t on Twitter or watching the game at this point, but apparently there was some controversy about removing Kevin Siegrist from this one. Just looking at the play-by-play, I’m not really sure why Mike Matheny went that route. I mean, yes, he has plenty of capable arms, Siegrist had pitched the night before, and it does seem that Siegrist either has it and dominates or doesn’t and gets blasted, so maybe I could work my way to pulling him, but then you look at Khris Davis against lefties versus righties and you scratch your head again. Then you read this in the game writeup:
The righthanded-hitting Davis had done far worse against lefties this season, batting only .145 with a .309 slugging percentage. With more at-bat against righthanders, he’s been a .268 hitter with a .476 slugging percentage. Matheny sided with more personal numbers. Davis was one for one with a double against Siegrist.
He’d gone hitless in two tries against Broxton.
Look, I know I put the tables in these posts every day, showing what the hitters have done against the starters. I do that mainly because it’s interesting to see, but as is always implied when it is not overtly stated, those are such small samples that you can’t make major decisions on them. That said, those samples are huge compared to what Matheny used above, if that’s what he did. Three total at-bats versus a season (actually, Davis’s entire career he’s hit lefties worse, though it’s more pronounced this season) worth of data. That’s….there are no words.
One loss is not a huge thing, of course, especially when the team now sits at 71-40, but that’s just bad decision making. Even if it’d had worked, it would have been bad decision making. It’s like playing poker–you can call a raise when you are holding K-2 and occasionally you’ll get a full house to come out on the board, but more often than not you are going to be a lot poorer.
If nothing else, pay attention to the fact that Broxton struggled as a Brewer on a regular basis and perhaps not throw him in Miller Park, at least not when the game is on the line. Goodness, I’m glad that I didn’t look into this until I started writing this post. I’d have been irate for a much longer period of time.
Notes: John Lackey allowed a one-out homer to the eighth place hitter to snap the 37-inning scoreless streak, then allowed a two-out, two-run homer to Davis. Lately, it seems Lackey has one bad inning and really clicks everywhere else. The problem is that, with this squad, one bad inning can often doom you. He was lucky to get bailed out by Carpenter’s homer.
Another two-hit day for Heyward, who drove in the other Cardinal run. A nice birthday for him. The Cardinals have indicated they’d like to talk whenever he wants to talk about a contract extension, but they aren’t pushing him on it. It seems a good approach for Heyward, who appears fairly comfortable with the organization. Is that a guarantee that he’ll return? Not at all. That said, he’s indicated that his decision may not be entirely about the money and, after coming up with your hometown team and seeing that go sour, he may like what he has in St. Louis and not be willing to risk that elsewhere. We’ll see, I guess, but my feeling more and more is that Heyward will be a Cardinal next year and for years to come.
Big series with the Pirates starts tonight. It’d been nice if Los Angeles had a bullpen and/or had been able to take a game or two this weekend from Pittsburgh, but that (coupled with a Cubs sweep of the Giants) is a good indication the power teams of the NL are in the Central. In a short playoff series, anything could happen, but long haul, these teams are better. So the Cards, even though they have the best record in baseball, only have a 5 game lead on the Bucs coming into this one. A sweep by the Pirates and the lead is at 2. Of course, a sweep by the Cards and it’s at 8 and we all feel much better.
Carlos Martinez and Jeff Locke will meet up tonight in the first game. Martinez, of course, struggled the first time he faced Pittsburgh, giving up seven runs, but when he saw them in July he allowed nothing over 7.1 innings. Let’s hope for more of the latter. And here’s the table for informational purposes, NOT FOR DECISION MAKING!
|Jung Ho Kang||6||5||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.400||.500||.400||.900||0||0||0||1||0|
Locke has faced the Cards twice and they’ve been able to get to him a little bit each time. He gave up three runs in 6.2 innings in May (up against Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons!) and then allowed four (but only one earned) in five innings up against Martinez in July. All the runs scored in that one in one inning, so we may have to hope for another cloudburst tonight!
Should be a fun series. Let’s hope it’s a successful one for the Cards!