The Cardinals returned to Busch last night and faced a pitcher that they’d pummelled just a few weeks before. They still somewhat got to Trevor Williams, but on the night they mustered five hits and four walks. (All but one of the hits came from Williams, who left with an out left to go in the fifth.) Yet somehow this squad was able to not only win the game, but win it comfortably.
For that, a huge amount of the praise again goes to Luke Weaver, our Hero for the night. Weaver wound up allowing more hits than he had been, which helped his pitch count elevate to the point that he didn’t finish the sixth, but he struck out seven and none of the hits went for extra bases. It wasn’t the most dominant start we’ve seen out of Weaver since he took Adam Wainwright‘s spot in the rotation, but it was up there. In his four starts since joining the rotation, he’s put up a 1.42 ERA, a .232 BAA, and 36 strikeouts to four walks in 25.1 innings. That’ll do, I think. Most everyone seems to agree that, with two spots opening up in the rotation with Mike Leake gone and Lance Lynn unlikely to return, Weaver has staked his claim to an opening.
Another great night for Jose Martinez, who continues to be a rock in the lineup. Two hits, including a big bases-loaded single that brought in the last two runs of the night. Since the start of that last road trip (11 games, eight starts), he’s hitting .469 with a 1.358 OPS. He’s also improving over at first base as well. I don’t think we’re talking Gold Glove by any means, but it’s less of a “why the heck is he over there” and more of an average to slightly-below average fielding job at first. And first base is the one place you can get away with that, especially if you are putting up an OPS over 1.000.
One of the chores for Martinez is corralling some really weak throws from Matt Carpenter over at third. Carpenter was back after taking a cortisone shot that has apparently helped with his shoulder, but you couldn’t tell it by the throws from first, which have almost a rainbow quality to them. I’ve been noticing those for a while and I don’t think that was common while he was there regularly, so I imagine the shoulder has impacted that. He also drew three walks last night, so at least he was getting on but we didn’t really get to see how that shoulder was going to impact his swing much, with a flyout being the only time he put the ball in play. (I was a little surprised, looking at the recap, that it wasn’t on a two-strike pitch, which would indicate he went up there not wanting to swing. It was a 1-1, though, which goes against that theory.)
We’ll give our Goat to Stephen Piscotty, who went 0-4 with two strikeouts and four left on (which, when the guy ahead of you walks three times, is going to happen). Piscotty took extreme exception to one of those strikeouts, suggesting that he checked his swing, but even with that (and he may have been right) it was another rough night. Seeing that right after his good weekend in San Diego is a bit disheartening. You’d have liked to see him keep that roll going even coming back home. We’ll see how the rest of the weekend goes before drawing any large and unsupported conclusions, though.
It was nice to see Juan Nicasio make his debut and do it so flawlessly. His first batter resulted in a strong play off the mound and he buzzed through the ninth without incident. Thirteen pitches for four outs. We could get used to this and, as much as we’ve assumed this is just a three-week deal, it could be that a strong three weeks gets him a contract offer. There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, but if he’s starting to figure things out he might be a good asset for next season. Past history on him is a bit hard to judge since he’s spent a lot of it in Colorado, but first impressions are definitely in his favor.
Carlos Martinez gets on the bump tonight for the Cardinals, who didn’t gain any ground in the wild card standings last night as both the Brewers and the Rockies won. (That Brewer win did get the Cards a game closer to the division lead.) He’ll go up against Chad Kuhl, who cooled the Redbird bats last time out, allowing just one run in five innings. We’ll see if the bats can warm up from their recent slump–they’ve only scored seven runs over their past three games after scoring eight in the game before that stretch. Elsewhere, Chase Anderson and the Brewers go against Mike Montgomery and the Cubs this afternoon and Chad Bettis and the Rockies look to keep the Dodgers and Alex Wood in a bit of a slide. Meaningful September baseball is always interesting!
Oh, and by the way, if you need something to get you through the afternoon, there’s a new Meet Me at Musial!