Not Exactly Hitting a Stride

The Cardinals went into Milwaukee, a place where they are quite happy to play, against a team that they have done quite well against, and won two out of three.  Even that is a little disappointing, given the situation, but sweeps are hard.  The problem is that with just a little bit less luck, they’d have been swept in that series, which would have been a sky-is-falling type of thing.

We’ve talked about the first two wins, now let’s talk about that loss.  Luke Weaver had a fine game, he just made basically two mistakes.  He walked his counterpart Matt Garza with two outs, then lost his composure enough to allow a double and a homer right after.  If he gets Garza, which given Garza’s hitting prowess, he probably should have, then maybe this game goes differently.  You have to give him a lot of credit, though, for limiting the damage there.  Two of the four hits he allowed were in that sequence and he struck out 10 Brewers over his six innings.  Most nights, even with the three-run homer, that’s going to be enough to win.

The problem was that the offense just didn’t show up again.  Weaver gave up more hits than the Cardinals got and he only allowed four!  You have to give the Hero tag to Yadier Molina mainly because his home run was almost the only thing resembling a threat (and he also had two of the three hits).  The Cards did put a couple of runners on in the eighth, but Matt Carpenter hit a rocket right at second base, which seemed to be an omen.  Jedd Gyorko struck out, Brandon Moss walked, then Jhonny Peralta gave one a ride but fell short.  Nothing happened, which was a theme for the evening.

We’ll give the Goat to Jedd Gyorko since he struck out two of the four times he was at the plate, including that big one in the eighth.  There were a lot of options for this, of course, when only Molina and Greg Garcia hit safely.

It was an interesting and slightly frustrating choice to have Greg Garcia playing second base in this one.  While some of us thought that maybe Mike Matheny had used that Kolten Wong interview as an impetus to find more playing time for him, it turns out that at least in part Wong was in there the last couple of nights because Garcia’s knee was bothering him.  It was still bothering him Wednesday night, but instead of turning to Wong again since he’d had a couple of good performances, Matheny determined the knee was good enough for Garcia to play second if not short and put him out there.  Garcia did get one of the only hits, but why send some one out there dealing with that?  You have a day off the next day.  Let him rest again, continue to see what Wong can do, and then you can let Garcia start in Cincinnati having had plenty of time to heal up.  That would be the logical thing, it would seem like, but logic doesn’t always seem to apply.

There’s a nice article on Matheny’s recent usage of his relievers–well, mainly Seung-hwan Oh.  I think folks have noticed that Matheny has done a better job of turning to Oh in non-traditional situations, such as a tie game on the road.  He did it a couple of times with Trevor Rosenthal earlier in the year, I think, at least bringing him into the eighth when he might not have normally done so.  I do think Matheny is getting better about how he uses his bullpen, though that’s of course a low bar to clear.  A lot of the problems Matheny has with the pen these days is, honestly, the options that he has and when to get them work.  Something that might not get a lot of help with the expanded rosters, given the lack of options that would seem to be coming up.

The Arizona Fall League players were announced and the Cardinals will be sending Carson Kelly, Harrison Bader, Ryan Sherriff, Rowan Wick, Corey Littrell, and Paul DeJong.  While Derrick Goold notes that this doesn’t preclude these players from coming up in September, I think a lot of times the Cards would want to give them the weeks off before sending them out to Arizona.  That might be less of an issue for the hitters than the pitchers, though I don’t expect any save Kelly might be in line to visit St. Louis.  Sherriff and Littrell, though, might be nice arms to have out in the pen for occasional use.  Memphis’s season doesn’t finish up until Monday, so we might not see any callups until then, though since the Redbirds are just playing out the string, it wouldn’t affect their season if those players came up earlier.  As of yet, though, no indication has been made that they’ll be expanding the roster.

It was reported a couple of days ago that Lance Lynn has been shelved for the rest of the season.  I did think that it was possible that they might try to use him as an occasional arm in the bullpen during September, but I can’t fault them for not pushing Lynn to return this season.  Hopefully given that he was this close that will mean he’ll be ready to go from the opening bell next year, though we’ll have to temper our expectations, especially seeing what Adam Wainwright did in 2012 and this year after having time off.

Cardinals are in Cincinnati tonight, starting their last series in Great American Ball Park this season.  With the calendar flipping, we are going to get to a lot of “lasts” for the 2016 season fairly soon.  (Next weekend, for example, will be the last time the Cards see the Brewers.)  Alex Reyes makes his second major league start and, perhaps importantly, the first one on full rest.  Will we see Matheny let him go 100 pitches tonight?  I’m sure it’ll all depend on situations, but hopefully if he’s one out away this time, there will be more leniency about letting him finish.  The Reds have actually seen Reyes, as he debuted against them throwing a scoreless inning.  Hopefully there will be more of the same in that bandbox tonight.

Cincinnati counters with Anthony DeSclafani, who is having a solid season for a struggling team.  Not only does he have a nice 2.96 ERA, he actually has eight wins to just two losses.  When you lose as often as Cincy does, that’s saying something.  (And what it is saying is that DeSclafani has done most of his pitching this year in the second half, when Cincinnati has been playing much better.)  St. Louis did beat him last month, when he allowed three runs in five innings (including, unsurprisingly, two home runs).

Name PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Brandon Moss 16 15 5 1 0 1 3 1 6 .333 .375 .600 .975 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 12 9 5 1 1 2 3 3 2 .556 .667 1.556 2.222 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 11 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Stephen Piscotty 9 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 .222 .222 .222 .444 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Jhonny Peralta 8 7 3 0 0 1 1 0 1 .429 .500 .857 1.357 0 0 0 1 0
Randal Grichuk 5 5 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 .600 .600 1.000 1.600 0 0 0 0 0
Greg Garcia 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jaime Garcia 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jeremy Hazelbaker 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Total 77 71 19 2 2 4 7 5 20 .268 .325 .521 .846 0 0 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/2/2016.

In the other wild-card action, the Cubs and Giants play this afternoon at Wrigley Field (Albert Suarez vs. Jon Lester, so on paper the Cards could make up some ground there).  Tonight, the Pirates host the Brewers (Junior Guerra vs. Jameson Taillon), the Mets (Noah Syndergaard) host the Nationals (A.J. Cole) and the fading Marlins are in Cleveland, with Cardinal antagonist Andrew Cashner going up against Carlos Carrasco.  It’s time for scoreboard watching to start in earnest!

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