A long time ago (at least in blogger years), my good friend Nick coined the phrase “Honkin’ For Jaime” over at the original Pitchers Hit Eighth blog. While the initial usage was indicating support for Jaime Garcia making the rotation, it seemed well enough suited to celebrate his dominant outing yesterday.
It’s pretty easy to determine the Hero of the game when the starting pitcher has more hits than the opposing team does. Garcia was outstanding, striking out 13 while being dinged just once. Besides that hit and a wild pitch on a strikeout, no Brewer reached first base. Of course, when you are the Brewers, you have come to expect this when you are facing Garcia. After all, his second-best game in the majors (arguably) came at their expense as well.
It’s never been stuff with Garcia, it’s been health. Last spring training, it was a foregone conclusion that the Cards would decline his option for 2016 given the fact that he couldn’t stay on the field. Then he went out and, well, stayed on the field. The option pickup moved from no question to debatable to no brainer as the year progressed. The Cardinals are lucky enough to have a reasonable option for 2017 on him as well, and assuming health (which is becoming a little easier to believe after the past year), they’ll be sure to pick that up as well.
Garcia didn’t need much in the way of help yesterday and had all he needed in the second, a rally in which he helped in by snagging his first hit of the day with two outs, allowing Matt Carpenter to drive in two more runs with a double, making the score 3-0. However, it’s always easier to pitch with a wider margin of error, so Randal Grichuk and Jeremy Hazelbaker added two-run homers to the mix. Granted, if the Brewers were paying attention to the fact Grichuk went past Brandon Moss on the home run trot it wouldn’t have counted, but since it didn’t really matter in the long run, no real harm done.
Yadier Molina also helped the cause with two hits, including a double that let him pass Albert Pujols for most doubles in Busch Stadium. (You know you were a force when your cumulative records still stand after you’ve been gone for four years.) Aledmys Diaz had a double as well, getting back on track after a couple of hitless days, and all in all it was a great afternoon of baseball.
Except for a couple of players. I went with Matt Holliday as the Goat, given his 0-3 with two strikeouts, but you could have easily given it to Moss (0-3, 3 K) as well. I guess it was good that the weak part of the lineup was back-to-back so that it didn’t destroy all the rallies, but it’s really not pleasant to see your three and four hitters have that kind of day. Unfortunately, they are days that these guys have been having often.
Keeping it short today, so let’s just talk about tonight’s matchup as the Cincinnati Reds come to town. Carlos Martinez goes against Tim Melville. Melville made his major league debut last time out, limiting the Pirates to one run over four innings. He walked four, though, and threw 92 pitches in that span, so it sounds like command is still an issue for him. Then again, the way that the Cardinals tend to approach new pitchers, he may look like a Cy Young candidate when they are done with him.
At least Martinez is likely to keep the Reds from putting up a lot of runs as well. Martinez probably had the best start of the year in his pocket until Garcia’s outing yesterday and he’s done pretty well against most of these Reds as well.
While I doubt that we’ll see another one-hitter, following up Garcia with Martinez is a pitching lover’s delight. Let’s hope that story line holds!