I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day holiday. While the Cardinals got us a win on most folks’ day off, over the past few days we’ve seen that they are still unable to string wins together at any sort of consistent rate. Which is unfortunate, because both Chicago and Pittsburgh (especially the Cubs) seem to have that talent.
Thursday (2-1 loss at Washington)
Hero: Aledmys Diaz had the only scoring for the club, so I’ll guess I’ll go with him. Diaz’s only hit was a home run, but the Cards only had six hits total and, for a while, that one run looked like enough.
Goat: Yadier Molina. Rough night for Yadi, who went 0-3 and left three men on base. Which is kinda key in a 2-1 game.
Notes: Mike Leake got a lot of consideration for the Hero award as he threw another strong outing. Two solo homers, especially when one of them is to Bryce Harper, is nothing to sneeze at when that’s all you allow in seven innings. If the offense we’ve seen often this year had shown up, Leake probably cruises to a win. Instead, Joe Ross again solved the Cardinals and Leake is the hard-luck loser.
With such a quiet game, there really wasn’t much else to say about this one, though it was the final appearance of Ruben Tejada in a Cardinal uniform. Greg Garcia‘s strong work while filling in for new dad Matt Carpenter pushed John Mozeliak to go ahead and designate Tejada for assignment instead of waiting until Jhonny Peralta was ready to return. It’s times like this that we appreciate Mo’s bargain shopping, as the Cards will only be on the hook for $1.5 million instead of $3.
Friday (6-2 win at Washington)
Hero: Stephen Piscotty. His grand slam in the third was the largest part of a five-run inning that made things a lot easier for Jaime Garcia. The offense was pretty concentrated in that third inning, with the Cardinals only managing four hits (and four walks), but if you are only going to get a few, bunch them together.
Goat: Tough night for Randal Grichuk, who went 0-4 and struck out twice. Grichuk’s been playing better of late, but these kind of nights are just going to happen.
Notes: It was very good to see Garcia get back on track. He gave up a long ball to Danny Espinosa (who apparently has St. Louis’s number, given that he has five total home runs on the season and four have come against the Cardinals) and that was about it. Seven innings helped the pen out as well, with just Kevin Siegrist and Matt Bowman being used in this one.
Saturday (9-4 win at Washington)
Hero: Matt Holliday. Two hits, including a home run that responded to the Nationals after they had cut the lead in half. He also scored another run and drew a walk, so overall, a productive game.
Goat: I guess this one’s going to have to be Aledmys Diaz, who has been struggling of late. Diaz went 0-4, though he did get a free pass, and struck out twice.
Notes: From an overall perspective, this was a good game for Adam Wainwright. He got the win, he drove in two big runs early with a double, and he struck out five and walked none, which is not really what we’ve been seeing from Waino this season. Four runs on three homers, two by Ryan Zimmerman, does give you a little pause, but given the game situations it’s probably not surprising that Wainwright did more challenging than nibbling. He’s not all the way back, but at least he made it through seven innings for the first time this season.
Greg Garcia enjoyed staying in the big leagues, putting up three hits including a double. Matt Adams had a key pinch-hit, driving in two off of the lefty reliever Sammy Solis. Adams really seems to have done better against the left-handers this year. I’m not saying he’s a world beater against them or anything, but in a small sample (20 plate appearances) he’s got a line of .316/.300/.579 with one homer, numbers that are very much in line with what he’s doing against right-handers. Again, I’m not saying that he needs to be out there when a lefty starts the game, but if he continues to hit like that, it’s worth trying more often.
Two hits, a double and a triple, by Mr. Grichuk. All in all, it was a great day at the ballpark, which was good, because Sunday surely wasn’t.
Sunday (10-2 loss to Washington)
Hero: Brandon Moss. Two for four with a home run is a solid day at the ballpark. That home run looked pretty meaningful until the bullpen stepped in.
Goat: Jonathan Broxton. After the Cards had gotten one run to get the score to 3-2, Broxton comes in and immediately gives away any momentum they may have had, allowing a home run to his first batter and then allowing two more singles before striking out Chris Heisey and giving way to Dean Kiekhefer, who let those runs come in to score.
Notes: I’m not sure the thinking on bringing in Kiekhefer there. Looking at Kiekhefer’s game logs, his inflated numbers are pretty much all from the four runs in two innings against the Cubs, but this is still a pretty pressure-packed place for the rookie to go. Some of the reasoning is that the bullpen is taxed from the short starts of late, which is somewhat fair, but the club had just had three starts of seven innings before Michael Wacha went six in this one. I’m sure there’s a cumulative effect but many of these arms were getting some rest lately. Kiekhefer had pitched the night before, but Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons hadn’t gone in five days. I’m not saying to use Lyons there–and, indeed, the Patron Pitcher came in to this one and didn’t do well either–but if rest is a factor, maybe he’s your choice.
Broxton had four days off before coming into this one and that didn’t seem to help. We continue to talk about Trevor Rosenthal needing to work more, but he hadn’t thrown since Wednesday. It was an unorthodox place to use your closer (and, honestly, I was thinking it was the eighth–he’d have never come into the seventh) but keeping it close and being in position to steal a win would have been nice. (Granted, then you have similar problems in the eighth, especially if you take a lead, so it’s more speculative than suggestive.)
I’m not really disputing that the work on those bullpen arms was a factor here, it’s just a little interesting to hear both Seth Maness (when he was on the roster) and Rosenthal with the “they need more work” excuse and then you get “the pen’s working too hard”. It’s a long season and obviously situations change, but it’s strange to hear.
A bit better game for Wacha, which is not exactly saying much since the last three starts had been of the six runs or more/four innings variety. Six innings and three runs is a quality start and I think we’d take a lot more like that given what we’ve been seeing.
Three hits from Holliday and two from Jedd Gyorko. It’d have been great to be able to beat both Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in this series. To go into Milwaukee with a three game winning streak over a quality team might have been the boost they needed to get out of this three-games-over-.500 orbit they seem to be in. Was not to be, however.
Monday (6-0 win at Milwaukee)
Hero: Carlos Martinez. So, so good to see the good Carlos again. Eight innings, no runs, eight strikeouts. If the rotation can look more like what we’ve seen the last five games, there might be a run in this club after all.
Goat: Brandon Moss. While pretty much all the offense was in the top four spots of the lineup, Moss got the golden sombrero yesterday, which is almost always going to have you right here. Moss was a late addition due to a stomach bug attacking Stephen Piscotty, so maybe that had something to do with it, but with Adams playing as well as he is, Moss may not see the field quite as often.
Notes: Huge day for the top of the order. Matt Carpenter had four hits and scored three runs. Aledmys Diaz had two hits and scored a run. Holliday had three hits, including one that left the stadium–literally. 466 feet on his blast and it was a great thing to see. Adams had a double and an RBI. If the rest of the lineup could have done anything this one would have been a slaughter. As it was, it was just serious.
After all that, of course, the Cardinals still sit 9.5 back of the Cubs and three back of the Pirates. About this time last year the Cardinals had a similar record to what the Cubs have now and the Pirates and Cubs were six back. It’s not unheard of for a race to be made, but it’s getting late for St. Louis to really make a push. This week marks a third of the season gone, which means things really need to heat up quickly.
Cardinals try to do their part by sending Mike Leake out to face the struggling Brewers tonight. We know how good Leake has been of late and all those that thought the contract was a bust already can quiet down some. (I was critical of Leake early, but I wasn’t writing a five year deal off in the first few starts.) Leake will try to get this club back to that three-games-over mark and hopefully he’ll succeed. However, the Brewer hitters might be looking forward to this matchup.
Old friend Wily Peralta goes for the Brew Crew this evening. Peralta has been a mixed bag against the Cardinals in his career, spinning some great starts and getting whacked around. When St. Louis saw him earlier this season, they got him for five runs in five innings. Let’s hope for more of that this evening.
St. Louis really needs to beat the bad teams. We’ll see if they can tonight!