Perhaps it’s not surprising that when this team went Hollywood, they got a bit of stage fright. After a boffo performance up (down? I have really no clue on California geography) the road in Anaheim, the Cardinals went into Chavez Ravine for their last outing in front of Vin Scully and were lucky to salvage one of the three games, throwing more fuel on the “can’t beat good teams” fire.
Friday (8-4 loss)
Hero: Kolten Wong. If you look by the offensive stats, Aledmys Diaz should be here, what with his double and home run. However, defense has to play a role as well and Diaz failed in that aspect of the game in this one. Wong, however, had two hits (both triples) and scored a run, which put him right at the top of the offense. He did have a baserunning blunder after his first triple, which is why he didn’t score two runs, but nobody’s perfect. We’ve not seen a lot of games like this out of Wong as of late and it would be wonderful if he could get started.
Goat: Randal Grichuk. If you look by the defensive stats, Aledmys Diaz should be here, given his three errors that could be directly tied to three runs, but note the above offensive numbers. Grichuk, on the other hand, went 0-4 with a strikeout and four runners left on base. Even just one hit at the right time could have made an impact in this one.
Notes: Matt Carpenter walked three times but only scored once, the former is what you want to see out of a leadoff guy, the latter not as much. Behind him, Stephen Piscotty had a hit and Matt Holliday had two, but they just weren’t timed well enough to get more runs out of that deal. Yadier Molina, who has become a hitting machine, also had two hits in this one.
On the pitching side, it’s a little hard to know what to make of Michael Wacha‘s outing. He only allowed two earned runs, thanks to the shaky defense behind him, but he allowed six overall in four innings, which can’t be all laid at the feet of his fielders. After all, two of Diaz’s errors were to the leadoff man and while that does up the level of difficulty, it’s also not a huge stretch of the imagination to see a pitcher settle down and strand some of those guys. That didn’t happen. Wacha allowed eight hits and was just shy of 100 pitches in those four frames, which is a tough night all the way around. The defense obscured it some but this wasn’t a stellar performance at all against his old college roommate.
Patron Pitcher Tyler Lyons allowed one run, a homer to Yasiel Puig, in his two innings of work. Lyons seems to be prone to the long ball, perhaps a by product of his improved control, and that will probably keep him from higher leverage situations. Still, it was a good solid outing on a night where they had to save the bullpen some wear and tear.
Saturday (5-3 loss)
Hero: Jeremy Hazelbaker. His pinch-hit home run may not have meant a lot in the long run, meaning the Cards lost by half the margin they were looking at, but it did run Scott Kazmir and give a bit of late hope to the squad. Besides, it’s not like anyone else did a whole lot.
Goat: Carlos Martinez. Coming off that fatigue-shortened outing and with a little extra rest, Martinez really had to be better than four runs in five innings. To go out and load the bases with nobody out right after the team–more directly, Martinez with his sacrifice fly–had tied it up is extremely frustrating. While that inning could have gone a lot worse, each one of those runners scored and the best chance of winning had quickly evaporated.
Notes: Two hits for Randal Grichuk in this one, which gives some hope that there’s still life in the bat. He also had the only extra-base hit that didn’t come from Hazelbaker, a double in the seventh. Only five hits total in this one, which means there wasn’t much else to note. Even Yadier Molina went hitless.
Before Friday’s game, Seth Maness was sent down (or, at least, they tried to send him down; after doing an exam, the club instead put him on the major league DL) and Dean Kiekhefer got the call, making the first roster change since after Opening Day and Tommy Pham‘s injury. Kiekhefer got into this one and struck out four in 1.2 innings of work, though Corey Seager did get him for a home run. As we shall see, that’s not exclusive to the new guy. John Nagel and I discussed Kiekhefer on Meet Me At Musial this week and we thought he might be more of a situational lefty, but if this outing is any indication, the club is comfortable with him going for more than one batter.
Sunday (5-2 win)
Hero: Yadier Molina. Given the night off, Mike Matheny deployed Molina in the best of situations, actually using a bit of strategy by sending up Brandon Moss first and making the Dodgers decide how who they wanted to face. With a runner on second, it wasn’t surprising that they walked Moss and then faced Molina, but that might not have been the best of choices given how hot Molina has been. Yadi’s double brought in both runners and the Cards were on their way to a win.
Goat: Matt Holliday. Rough night for Holliday, going 0-4 and leaving four men on, not counting the one lost when he hit into a double play. Holliday’s shown some life since a terrible start, but I’m still not sure what it’d take to move him out of the third spot in the lineup.
Notes: Matt Carpenter started the scoring with a home run, which quickly was matched by the first of Corey Seager’s two shots on the night. Thankfully they were both solo shots, but the Dodgers probably have themselves a very good long-term answer at the shortstop position. Hits were scattered up and down the lineup, but the only extra-base one not mentioned was another double by Randal Grichuk.
Another very good outing by Mike Leake, which starts to make you feel much better about that contract. One could be a fluke, two could be luck, but if we see three, we’re probably seeing a pattern that is going to be more in like with Leake’s history. The Cardinals don’t need him to be a staff ace (at least in theory, though some of those “aces” aren’t pitching like it) but they do need solid, above-average starts. The last two games he’s given that to them, including this one where he went six and allowed just one run. He could have gone longer, as he was just at 71 pitchers, but that was the time when they pinch-hit Molina. It’s not always you see Matheny forgo a longer outing by his starter to take advantage of a offensive situation, though it’s not unheard of (at least after the fifth).
Trevor Rosenthal scared us all again, but it worked out much better than his last outing. After walking three and getting yanked in Anaheim, Rosie comes out and walks the first batter in this one, then runs the count to 3-1 on Yasmani Grandal. Tara noted on Gateway (which was going on as this was happening) that Matheny did have someone warming up and you have to think that if he’d lost Grandal, Rosenthal might have had another walk-full, out-empty appearance. Instead, he came back to get Grandal and got a double play out of Howie Kendrick. The worries aren’t gone when it comes to Rosenthal, but that helped a little bit.
We saw a shuffled lineup in Sunday’s game, somewhat necessitated by the days off given folks like Molina, but you wonder if, given it was a successful evening, things might continue to look a little different tonight when the Cardinals take on the Rockies. After all, Diaz didn’t look overmatched hitting fifth. Slip him in there and Grichuk seventh as he continues to try to get hot? Who knows? I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion once that lineup drops on Twitter this afternoon. There always is!
St. Louis hosts old friends Jason Motte and Daniel Descalso (who just recently made his season debut) tonight as the Colorado Rockies come to town. Jaime Garcia goes for the Cardinals while the Rockies counter with Chad Bettis. Bettis isn’t a name I’m all that familiar with, but he has seen a few of the Cardinal hitters before.
Garcia has probably been the best of the Cardinal hurlers this season. While there’s no real reason to think that won’t continue tonight, it is a little concerning (as much as a small sample can be concerning, I guess) that he’s been rocky against the Rockies.
Right now, the Cards are doing well against weaker teams. I’m not sure what that means for this series, when the Rocks are a game over .500. That’s where the Dodgers were and we saw what that was like. Maybe being at home will help!