With the scratch of Yadier Molina due to soreness, five of the nine starters in last night’s game (Carson Kelly, Luke Voit, Paul DeJong, Tommy Pham, and Luke Weaver) started their season in Memphis. Given what the AAA team has accomplished this year–congrats to Stubby Clapp on that manager of the year award–it’s not surprising that they brought that Beale Street magic with them.
All Memphis does is win and apparently, if you can reach critical mass with their players, you can win as well.
Of course, it helps when you can face Matt Garza. While Garza did well against the Cardinals earlier in the month, he’s nobody’s idea of an ace and it’s been a long time since he’s been considered a key part of a rotation. As we mentioned yesterday, last night was his eighth straight game of not getting an out in the sixth. He didn’t help his case by fumbling a potential bases-loaded double play grounder by Kolten Wong in the third, which wound up getting nobody out and opening the floodgates. He also issued five walks in 3.1 innings, which wasn’t exactly helpful either.
So what did our Memphis crew do? Kelly went two for four with a walk and scored two runs. Voit went two for five and drove in four runs (one due to some nifty baserunning by Dexter Fowler). DeJong went two for five with two runs, three RBi, and our Hero of the game. Pham, well, he Phammed–two for four, two walks, one run. All that combined? Eight for 18 (.444), two doubles (Pham and Garcia), five runs, seven RBI, three walks. That’s a pretty solid night’s work, even if Pham marred it a bit by being thrown out trying to steal third.
Our fifth Memphian did big work as well. Through five innings of work, Weaver had allowed one run on three hits while walking one (Eric Thames, who also had homered off of him) and striking out 10. That’s an amazing line and since he had 93 pitches to get through the five innings, it’s not too surprising that Mike Matheny let him start the sixth to see if he had a quick inning in him. Given the state of the bullpen, you’d like to think a 9-1 lead was safe, but we all remember that Pittsburgh game.
Ryan Braun hit the first pitch for a single. Weaver then spent three pitches to get Hernan Perez to hit into a double play. With two outs and nobody on in the inning, even with his pitch count at 97, leaving him in to get that last out made some sense. Then a single on two pitches. Another single on three pitches. Two outs or no, you’d think that at 102 with two on for a young pitcher would be the time to trot out there and get the ball, give him a pat on the back, and trust that someone else could get you out of this jam.
Instead, Matheny left him in there and Keon Broxton singled on a ball that a better third baseman might have been able to turn into an out, but it was a bit awkward and Broxton runs fast. A run scored and there are two on with Weaver at 108 pitches. Still Matheny doesn’t stir. Orlando Arcia smoked a ball that amazingly Carpenter got a glove on, even if he couldn’t come down with it. If Carp doesn’t slow that down, it’s probably a double with at least one run in and runners on second and third. Instead, it’s bases loaded and finally time for the bullpen. Zach Duke throws three pitches, gets a liner right back at his head, and makes the catch to retire the side.
Like I say, you’d rather not use the bullpen but Weaver has been the most effective arm you have had over the past couple of weeks. He threw 107 pitches against Milwaukee last time, but ran into trouble at the end as well. It’s not the most egregious thing Matheny’s ever done, but he still needs to be better at this. It was a situation that if Duke doesn’t retire his guy, if that ball gets through, it’s 9-4 with two on. Another hit and it’s 9-6. With this bullpen, when you don’t trust them fully with an eight run lead, bringing them in when the other side has momentum is just asking for trouble.
It worked out though and again, I’ve got no problem with Weaver starting that inning. I’d have just pulled him a batter or so before. C’est la vie and all that.
Our Goat will have to be Randal Grichuk, who couldn’t get in on the offensive fun, going 0-5 and leaving five on base, though he didn’t strike out any. Right now it’s tough to say who should have the upper hand between him and Stephen Piscotty, but it may open the door for Jose Martinez to get a few more starts out there.
Kudos also go to Matt Carpenter for his home run, which raised $30,000 for Houston flood relief efforts between himself, Adam Wainwright, and the Cardinals organization. Some have criticized the Cardinals for not giving more and it is true that $10,000 per home run isn’t going to break them, but generosity is a good thing, no matter what level it is. The Cardinals did not have to give anything. No one was really expecting them to. Yet they decided matching Carpenter’s gesture was a good thing. The DeWitt’s may have made larger personal contributions, they may not have. That’s their business, not ours. It’s nice to see them helping out in this manner and it’s great that Carpenter had the idea and Wainwright stepped up to match it as well.
It’s an afternoon tilt in Milwaukee as the short series wraps up before the Cardinals head to the West Coast. It’s that time of year when you start getting to those “lasts” of the season and this is the Cards’ last game in Miller Park for 2017. Carlos Martinez goes for the sweep against Chase Anderson. Martinez last saw the Brew Crew on August 1, when he allowed three runs in five innings and took the loss. He also had a terrible start in Milwaukee in April (five runs in five innings) but shut the Brewers down in May when he saw them at Busch. Martinez has a 2.89 ERA over his last four starts and hopefully can keep that going.
Anderson has seen St. Louis twice this year, going six innings with just an unearned run against them in April (though he still lost) and allowing four runs in 4.2 innings in May. Anderson missed all of July and most of August with injury, but has been solid since his return. It would be surprising if he went deep in the game, but if he can turn it over with a lead unlike Garza, the good arms may make it difficult to rally. Should be a fun afternoon!