So I know I said that I’d try to do Heroes and Goats while I was gone on my trip to Ohio, but given the fact that I had such limited access and I wasn’t able to do more than see the scores the day after, it seemed better to try to get home, get a decent connection, and dig into things here. (Of course, it didn’t stop me from recording a Meet Me At Musial last night even without actually examining box scores.) So let’s see if we can quickly recap before talking about where we go from here.
Friday, July 15 (7-6 loss vs. Miami)
Hero: Tommy Pham. Big night for the young guy, with two homers as part of his three hit, four RBI outing.
Goat: Trevor Rosenthal. Little of the bullpen was unscathed, but Rosenthal gave up three runs, two of them charged to Jaime Garcia, and recorded just one out before being pulled. Apparently Mike Matheny thought rest would cure him, but on paper that doesn’t seem like a situation you put in a guy that is struggling as much as Rosie is.
Notes: I actually followed a little of this one via Gameday in a hotel room in Columbus, but went to bed when it was 4-1 and was bitterly surprised at the final I saw the next day. Another tough outing for Seung-hwan Oh in the ninth here, giving up the go-ahead run. Since he took over the closer role against Kansas City (and through Saturday’s game with the Dodgers), he’s got a 2.38 ERA and has struck out 16 while walking five. It’s just that he was almost unhittable before the change so it feels like he’s scuffling when he really probably isn’t.
Randal Grichuk led off in this one, proving that Matheny really doesn’t have a good idea of how to treat the leadoff spot with Matt Carpenter gone. It worked out here, as Grichuk had two hits, but his OBP isn’t exactly what you want to see when you are casting a guy to set the table.
Garcia’s line looked a bit worse than it might have, since Rosenthal allowed those inherited runners to score, but he did put 10 baserunners on in 6.1 innings, which isn’t terrible but it’s not like he was lights out either. Garcia’s such an interesting case with the trade deadline coming up, if John Mozeliak wants to get real creative. However, as we said on MMM last night, that’s not really Mo’s forte.
Saturday, July 16 (5-0 win vs. Miami)
Hero: Adam Wainwright. A three-hit shutout, saving the bullpen and basically reminding us just how awesome Uncle Charlie can be. He was probably ticked about striking out four times at the plate, though.
Goat: Kolten Wong. The only starter without a hit or a run (or a shutout, I guess).
Notes: This may be the game that I most missed watching. To have a classic Waino start is a sight to behold for sure and there’s no doubt the Cardinals needed it right then. As for the offense, a home run by Jhonny Peralta (before his return to the disabled list) and two hits by Pham and Stephen Piscotty was really all that the Cardinal ace needed.
Sunday, July 17 (6-3 loss vs. Miami)
Hero: Matt Holliday. When the team gets four hits and one guy gets three of them, chances are he’s the Hero and you didn’t do that well. Holliday had a home run and the only RBI. The Marlins may have tried to give the game to the Cardinals, but they weren’t having any of it.
Goat: Jonathan Broxton. Broxton has had more successful outings than bad ones, I think, but when they blow up, they blow up. Coming into a 3-3 game, he immediately allowed a single, a double, and a sacrifice fly to give Miami a lead they’d never give up.
Notes: Michael Wacha didn’t exactly cover himself with glory either, going only four-plus innings with his 101 pitches. Nine baserunners in that span didn’t help much at all. Wacha just can’t seem to get things to click, at least not for more than a start or so.
Big kudos to Matthew Bowman, who came in with the bases loaded, nobody out, and Giancarlo Stanton up and wound up not letting a run score. Talk about being thrown into the lion’s den! I wasn’t sure why the Cards were making a Rule 5 pick this offseason, but Bowman is again a testament to their scouting department.
Monday, July 18 (10-2 win vs. San Diego)
Hero: Jedd Gyorko. Gyroko, as we’ll see, really liked facing his old team. Three for three in this one, including a solo home run in the seventh.
Goat: Tommy Pham. 0-5 in the leadoff spot, leaving three on base.
Notes: Obviously, when you reach double digits in runs, there’s usually a good number of offensive contributors. (For all the explosions that we’ve seen this year, this was the first time they reached 10 runs since June against the Mariners.) Two hits, including a triple, for Aledmys Diaz. Three hits, including a home run, for Piscotty. A two-run homer for Grichuk, which was his only hit.
Then you had the pitching, which worked out pretty well since Mike Leake decided to continue striking guys out. 11 K in six innings with just one run allowed. That was back-to-back games with double-digit strikeouts for Leake, who typically doesn’t have those kind of totals. It wasn’t a new leaf though, as we saw in last night’s game. We’ll get to that, of course.
The bullpen had a 6-1 lead before they were called into action, so it make it less likely they were going to destroy anything. Bowman allowed a run (not sure why he was pitching in this one since Tyler Lyons, the other long man, hadn’t thrown since before the All-Star Game) but Seth Maness had a scoreless inning, continuing to show that maybe his issues from this year were more related to the injury than we thought. Through Saturday, he’s had 4.1 scoreless innings in his last five appearances, dropping his ERA from 5.71 to 4.57. Again, we saw him struggle some last year and I am not suggesting that he’s going to be a lock-down guy going forward, but he might be more solution than problem, which is saying something in this pen.
Wednesday, July 20 (4-2 win vs. San Diego, game 1)
Hero: Carlos Martinez. He allowed two runs in the first, then nothing after that. Four hits in seven innings with five strikeouts in the mix. Right now he’s in that “Wainwright’s the ace, but Martinez is making a case, right?” discussion. This time next year there’s a good chance that ace title has changed hands.
Goat: Randal Grichuk. He did draw a walk (again miscast as the leadoff hitter) but went 0-3 otherwise.
Notes: Gyorko continued to do damage, smacking a two-run homer in the fourth to give the Cardinals the lead. Two hits out of Diaz and also out of Yadier Molina.
Wednesday, July 20 (3-2 win vs. San Diego, game 2)
Hero: Jedd Gyorko. Appropriate that on Star Wars Night, the Jedd guy gets the top billing. (Yes, I stole that from MLB’s headline.) Three hits, drove in all three runs, and scored two of them because he hit two homers. John and I discussed on Musial whether this is just because he’s getting more playing time or what, but it’s a great thing to see no matter what the reason.
Goat: Stephen Piscotty. 0-4 and left two on base. Of course, he was hitting after Gyorko, so there wasn’t going to be much for him to do after Jedd cleaned everything up.
Notes: Another solid outing for Garcia, who got two outs in the sixth on 94 pitches before being relieved by Maness, who retired Alexei Ramirez with two on and two outs. Garcia gave up just one run while he was in there, striking out four. That’s pretty acceptable by anyone’s standards.
The Patron Pitcher allowed a home run in this one while retiring just one batter, but since that was his first time on the mound since the Saturday before the All-Star Break, I guess it’s not surprising he was a bit rusty. As we will see, he was saving some of his best pitching for a better time.
Thursday, July 21 (6-5 win vs. San Diego)
Hero: Aledmys Diaz. Two hits and two RBI, including the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth. The kid’s all right.
Goat: Randal Grichuk. 0-4 with three strikeouts.
Notes: Stephen Piscotty should get a lot of consideration for the Hero tag, given that he cracked the three-run homer in the ninth that wound up tying the game and giving Diaz a chance to win it an inning later. Tommy Pham also had two hits and Kolten Wong picked a fine time to have a solid pinch-hit, doubling in front of Piscotty’s smash.
Another fine outing by Wainwright. No shutout, of course, but six innings of two-run ball, with eight K and zero walks is something that everyone is glad to see. The bullpen wasn’t very good, with Bowman and Miguel Socolovich (who came and now has went quickly) allowing runs to let the Padres get some hope of taking a game in the series. Broxton, though, came in and kept San Diego at bay for 1.2 innings and picked up a win for his efforts.
Friday, July 22 (4-3 win in 16 vs. Los Angeles)
Hero: Tyler Lyons. Gyorko had the home run that tied it in the ninth and Matt Adams had the longball to win it in the 16th, but the former would have been moot and the latter never would have happened if the Patron Pitcher hadn’t manned up and kept the Dodgers from putting runs on the board. In 4.2 innings between the blasts he allowed one hit and one walk, so he struck out as many guys as he allowed to reach. His yeoman’s effort meant that Mike Mayers makes the start on Sunday Night Baseball instead of him, but there’s no doubt that the Cardinals would take that trade every day. What’s more amazing is that his work meant that the Cards ended the game with two relievers still available in the bullpen, which is remarkable because we’ve seen Matheny be out of pitchers in 10 or 11 frames at times. You’d have thought it would have given them an advantage for Saturday, but not so much…..
Goat: Stephen Piscotty. Seung-hwan Oh gets off the hook due to Gyorko’s heroics, but Piscotty had a rough night, going 0-7 including a double play and stranding five men on base. Not a stellar night for Matt Holliday either, with a matching 0-7 and two strikeouts.
Notes: This was a game that, honestly, the Cardinals had no business winning. Their first hit, by Diaz, drove in two. Their second hit didn’t come until the seventh. The Dodgers left a small village on the bases, leaving 13 on the night. And yet, and yet, the club pulled it out. A lot of years, you’d think a game like this would signal something, a change, a momentum shift, something that you could look back on it and say this is where it all came together. This team, though, not so much. It was a great win, for sure, but expecting it to signal a sea change in results seems a bit naive.
Good work out of the entire bullpen but Oh, who only gave up the one hit, it just looked to be a game-losing one until the bottom of the ninth. Other than that, nine scoreless frames from a variety of sources (but mainly Lyons) and that let the Cards sneak away with one.
Not a bad start out of Wacha either, though he kept having to battle out of jams. He went six innings and allowed 11 baserunners, though only one came via walk. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. It’s a little luck pushing as well, so I don’t think we’d recommend that for most outings.
Saturday, July 23 (7-2 loss vs. Los Angeles)
Hero: Matt Adams. He might have had an error, but he also hit a home run that was basically all the Cardinal offense. And we sure aren’t going to give it to the pitching staff.
Goat: Mike Leake. Leake stopped striking people out (only four in this one) and all the contact killed him. Seven runs, six earned, in just six innings. 12 hits allowed. And Grichuk threw a runner out at home, so it could have been a little bit worse.
Notes: The only consistency on this team is the inconsistent kind. After a win like the night before, you’d think the Dodgers would have been the ones to come out flat but instead it was the victorious Cards who didn’t seem to have much. Granted, you had a bit of a B-team lineup (after the regulars got worn out) but with Leake pitching the way he was, it really didn’t matter. The Cubs lost, which meant that you squandered the opportunity to pull within 5.5 of the leaders, and now you have the guy making his debut trying to win the series. It’s not optimal.
Piscotty had two hits and Alberto Roserio had a hit and scored a run. Rosenthal and Socolovich combined for three scoreless innings with only two baserunners, but it was too little too late in that regard.
So here we are, waiting for Sunday Night Baseball. As noted above, Mike Mayers will make his major league debut. We talked about Mayers on the Musial podcast, noting he’s having a good season and while John would have liked to see Luke Weaver get the call, it did make sense that since this was just a one-shot deal to bring up the guy that might not be in your long term plans. My guess is that Mayers will go to the bullpen for a few days since Socolovich can’t return for 10 days, though it’s possible they’ll move Jordan Walden to the 60-day DL (freeing up a 40-man spot) and promote someone like Ryan Sherriff for the pen.
Or, of course, Mo could just make a trade already. There’s a week left until the deadline and while many of us dream of a Chris Sale trade, it’s going to be more likely that the Cardinals do something in the vein of Zack Cox for Edward Mujica. Whatever Mo is going to do, though, it’d be nice to see him go out and do it. However, given his track record, it’d be surprising to see a deal before Friday unless something comes along to force his hand.
Anyway, St. Louis goes up against Scott Kazmir tonight. Kazmir was one of those guys that was attached to the Cards in the offseason before they settled on Mike Leake and he’s had a so-so season with the Dodgers. He gave up just one run over seven innings against the Nationals last time out, but before that it was three runs in three innings to the Padres in Dodger Stadium, so you can’t be sure what you are going to get. A crafty lefty, though, so that’s not a great thing for the Redbirds. He faced off against them when they went out to LA earlier this year and went 8.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) over that span.
It’s good to be back, folks. Looking forward to some good talk down the stretch!