I wasn’t planning on writing this morning, as I only saw bits and pieces of the game and didn’t feel like I had a lot to say about it. Then I realized, when has that ever stopped me before?
No, what I really noticed was everyone talking about Kolten Wong this morning. Which is a legitimate topic of discussion, don’t get me wrong. Wong was all over the game last night and there are direct lines you can draw from what he did to the final loss to the Brewers in extra innings. I understand that. You could even give him the Goat for last night, though I don’t think I will for reasons I’ll get into later. It wasn’t the best night for Kolten and, to his credit, he shouldered that blame like a pro.
However, it’s the first time that I can remember that the closer has given up a game-losing three-run homer and barely had his name mentioned the next day. Seung-hwan Oh did have to throw more pitches given Wong’s error and the inning didn’t go the way he’d have wanted it to, but he was also one strike away from getting out of the whole thing unscathed. Where is the blame for Oh giving up yet another home run this season? For all his faults, Wong didn’t throw that pitch.
And sure, it’s frustrating to see a team rally from a deficit only to have the game get away from them, but where’s the blame for that deficit in the first place? It was an off night for Michael Wacha, giving up four runs in his six innings of work. Would that be enough to give him the Goat tag? Not at all, but it’s still a big part of the fact the Cardinals lost last night. It’s great that they rallied, but looking at the whole game Wacha played a part as well.
Let’s also submit some mitigating factors in for Wong’s defense. There was a collective groan when Wong was doubled off of third base with the Cards down one, ending any chance of a rally. However, there were questions at the time about whether Chris Maloney threw the stop sign up too late or whether he should have thrown it up at all. Heck, even with all that, if Wong doesn’t hit a slick patch of grass, he’s back to third without a problem most likely. It wasn’t what you wanted to see, given how the Cardinals have been running the bases this year, but it wasn’t as bone-headed as Matt Carpenter going from third on Sunday. Too bad Wong didn’t have the credibility of an Albert Pujols, who routinely ran through stop signs. If he had, he probably scores the tying run there and maybe folks aren’t quite as hard on him this morning.
Then again, maybe not, because people forget that he drove in the tying run. The 10th inning probably doesn’t happen if Wong doesn’t bounce a ball through the Brewers infield. Granted, it was a generous scoring of a hit since both the pitcher and Jonathan Villar touched that ball, but it still drove the run in and it subverted the expected trope.
Setting up for a Grichuk K and Wong GIDP
— Zach Gifford (@zjgifford) May 2, 2017
Randal Grichuk indeed struck out with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on first with nobody out. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone to see that double play and, indeed, Greg Garcia followed Wong with exactly that. Another missed opportunity, but not one anyone is focusing on this morning.
I told you above that I wasn’t going to assign Wong the Goat, even though I get why other people would and I wouldn’t fault them for it. For all of this, Wong did have a big hand in how things went last night. That said, I’m going with Dexter Fowler as the Goat in this one. No hits again for the leadoff guy, two strikeouts, and the walk that he received was negated when he was doubled off first on an Aledmys Diaz liner. At least Wong had the tying RBI in his favor.
I also want to say that I was impressed with the fact that Mike Matheny came out and praised Wong in the press, saying that he just needs to shake this off because he’s been playing great baseball and he needs to continue to do so. It’s not what we’ve typically heard out of Matheny in regards the second baseman and hopefully that helps Wong not dwell on this game. Getting some support in the clubhouse might be what Wong needs to be a better, more consistent player.
The Hero obviously is Jedd Gyorko, what with four hits including two homers. The Cardinals blasted four homers last night, but all were solo shots. Shades of 2016 again, right? Gyorko seems to be settling in well at third base, but I can’t stop thinking about the upgrade Josh Donaldson would be if the Cards could get him. That’s a couple of months away, though. Gyorko seems to be doing a great job holding down the fort right now.
Carlos Martinez takes his freshly-cut hair to the mound tonight against Wily Peralta. The Cards were able to beat up on Peralta last time so maybe they can do the same here. If the Redbirds can match what they did in Milwaukee, dropping the first and taking the next three, I think we’ll handle it. Just would have been nice to not get off on the Wong foot last night. (Sorry, impossible to resist!)