Fans: Man, that was an outstanding game by Carlos Martinez. I don’t think anyone could top that.
Adam Wainwright: Hold my Pappy’s.
While Martinez’s game against the Dodgers on Wednesday night was probably better from a pitching aspect, since he went eight innings and allowed just a single run, Wainwright’s game on Thursday afternoon was more complete. Not only did he go six scoreless innings, striking out six and allowing just four hits and two walks, he also clubbed a two-run home run that was the only tallies of the game. As Rob Rains noted on Twitter, it was the first time in Cardinal history that a starter provided all the runs in a shutout win. With six total baserunners, it wasn’t like it was completely smooth sailing for Uncle Charlie, but he managed any situation that came up. Just like vintage Wainwright would have done.
Over his last five starts, Wainwright has an ERA of 1.42. That stretch starts in Miami, where he has a line of four earned runs in 5.1 innings. However, if you remember, three of those runs scored when he left the ballgame. Now, he put them on so you can’t discount it too much, but if a competent reliever had come in and just allowed one of those to score, the ERA is 0.57. Tara and I have noted on Gateway before that he had a few good stretches last year even as the year as a whole was pretty miserable, but it’s tough to find something that really compares to this. July of 2016 he had an ERA of 1.77 in five games due to that complete game shutout he threw against the Marlins and his first game in August was pretty good as well, but that stretch was bookended by six run outings. It does feel like this is a different Wainwright than what we saw earlier in the season–I mean, it really is given the results and how deep he’s going into games–but there’s no guarantee those struggles won’t return.
And I guess that’s life as a veteran on the downside of their career. There are going to be stretches where the talent and the preparation shine through, then there are going to be stretches where adjustments have to be figured out. The good stretches have to outnumber the bad ones and we’ll see if Waino can keep this good stretch going against the Reds next week.
Other than that, there really wasn’t much going on in this one. The Cardinals were able to put runners on second and third with nobody out in the third, only to see Yadier Molina and Tommy Pham take some questionable at bats and not get any of those runners in. Stephen Piscotty–who is starting to resemble the Piscotty we remember, with a hit and a walk in this one after two hits Wednesday night–led off the fifth with that walk. The Dodgers kept throwing over to first, which led to this Tweet:
Dodgers seemed concerned about Piscotty at first. They apparently don’t realize it’s best for them to just let the Cardinals try to run.
— Cardinal70 (@C70) June 1, 2017
Sure enough, after Jedd Gyorko flew out, Mike Matheny (I figure) called for that Molina/Piscotty hit-and-run that worked just about as often as it always does, resulting in a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play. Piscotty has five caught stealings on the year, which is tied for the league lead. I get that Molina in the past has been a hard guy to strike out, but this year he’s got his highest strikeout rate (by a couple of decimal points) since his rookie season. Molina’s still not the worst person to expect to make contact, but this combination really isn’t working. Piscotty should probably Velcro his foot to the bag when he gets to first. Or studiously avoid looking at the signs, one of the two.
I wrote yesterday morning about how Dexter Fowler isn’t walking. Of course, then he goes out and battles through an at-bat to draw a walk. Fowler also had a hit to get his OBP up to .317. That’s not the level the Cards thought they were getting when they signed him, of course, but hopefully it’s a sign that things are on the way up. Also, Gyroko wound up having a good day overall, getting three hits in four at-bats. Gyroko will be out on paternity leave the next couple of days, which means we’ll see Magneuris Sierra for a bit in Chicago.
We’ve got Wainwright as the Hero, of course, but who would be the Goat? I think that’s got to be Yadier Molina. Matheny dropped Yadi in the lineup from third to fifth, but it really feels like he should be hitting sixth on a regular basis, flipping spots with Pham. I don’t know that it would have made a huge difference yesterday, but Molina did go 0-4 with six left on base–I guess that includes Piscotty before he got thrown out, but maybe not? Yadi, Pham, and Aledmys Diaz went hitless but Molina easily stranded the most runners.
We’ve not done this for a while, and it’s not as nice a picture as it has been, but let’s take a look at the standings:
In a normal year, the Brewers would probably be third, excited about the improvement of their team, thinking maybe about a wild-card run, but not expecting much more. With this division? It’s not inconceivable that instead of trying to trade Ryan Braun, they’re looking to add pieces at the trade deadline. I still think someone catches fire and passes them up, but every day they are in first is one day closer to the deadline.
The Cardinals moved over .500 with their win yesterday and while there’s not a lot of reason to think about the wild card (five back already is not a good sign), thankfully the division is as miserable as it is. They go out on a road trip to Chicago and Cincinnati over the next seven games. Just one win in Chicago would make sure they leave the Windy City in second place and the Reds–well, I was going to say they aren’t the team the Cards faced a couple of times in April, but they probably are about the same. Hopefully St. Louis just does better against them.
If nothing else, the Cardinals have been pretty good on the road. They’ll try to keep that going this afternoon facing their old friend John Lackey. Remember when folks thought maybe Lackey wasn’t worth a two-year deal when he was a free agent a couple of years ago? Lackey has allowed five runs in back-to-back starts and three times this season. His ERA on the year stands at 5.18. Maybe he’ll make adjustments and have a stretch like Wainwright is having to get back to league average or better, but right now, it’s probably a good thing he’s not in St. Louis. The Cards got him for four runs (three earned) in six innings in his first start of the year back in that opening series at Busch. He’d probably take that today, given how things are going.
It’s not like St. Louis doesn’t have its own concerns with its pitcher. Lance Lynn has had a very nice season so far, but over his last four starts, he has a 4.30 ERA and he’s averaging less than six innings an outing. Those numbers include his eight inning, one run outing against the Dodgers, so you can see why folks are a little trepidacious. Even as bad as Lackey has been, with the Cardinal offense, they’ll need Lynn to be sharp in this one.
Afternoon baseball is always interesting (and it won’t interfere with recording Meet Me At Musial tonight, which is nice) so here’s for a strong start from Lynn, a couple of home runs for the boys, and to extending the Cubs’ losing streak!