Feast and Famine

I’m sure he’s not the only one, but Larry Underwood on Twitter has typically had a Tweet like this one after the Cardinals have a big scoring outing.

It’s a really strange thing but so indicative of the inconsistency the Cardinals have had this year.  The Cardinals have scored in double digits six times this season.  Here’s what they’ve done after:

Date Team Runs Hits Next Day Team Next Day Runs Next Day Hits
4/12 Reds 13 13 Reds 5 13
5/18 Phillies 12 15 Phillies 6 7
5/31 Pirates 10 14 Pirates 0 4
6/26 Indians 11 13 Indians 1 6
7/5 Giants 11 18 Giants 2 5
7/10 White Sox 14 16 White Sox 0 4
If we expand it down to nine runs which they've done three times we get these added into the mix.
Date Team Runs Hits Next Day Team Next Day Runs Next Day Hits
4/22 Reds 9 12 Mets 5 10*
4/25 Mets 9 7 Mets 4 11*
5/11 Padres 9 13 Padres 1 9*

*–Extra innings
Bold–first game of a series

Average runs in first game (counting both tables): 10.9
Average hits in first game: 13.4
Average runs in second game: 2.7
Average hits in second game: 7.7

First off, you could take it as a positive sign that out of the six games that the Cards have scored 10 or more runs, three of them have happened in the three weeks.  Unfortunately, it seems like the extremes are getting more prevalent as well.

Look at the games that happened in April and May.  Those had a dropoff the next day, sure, but you can’t score that high every time.  But in the games selected, the next game in the first two months had an average of four runs scored the next time.  That’s not super, but it’s not like the offense just completely hibernated.  In June and July, the average drops to one run.  They’ve not actually scored a TOTAL of four runs in those games.

I also found it interesting how often these big explosions happened in the first game of a series.  If I had the time, I might see what the average runs per game in a series are, but it would seem that the first game would have the highest edge.  Do the hitters then get complacent, thinking this series is in the bag?  Do they let off the gas knowing they only have to win one of the next two (most of the time) to take the series?  Does the other team adjust and the Cardinals don’t?  I have no idea.

(Also, how really strange that every time the Cardinals have scored nine runs, they have an extra-inning game the next day?  That feels like a Jayson Stark tidbit or something!)

Anyway, you don’t come here for crazy numbers or things like that.  You come here for game recaps and opinions (I think), and I’ve got those for you!  Let’s get into the White Sox series, both of which games are referenced above.

Tuesday (14-2 win)

Hero: Dexter Fowler.  No matter what you think of the whole Fowler situation, if you were a Cardinal fan you had to have a bit of a smile on your face when Fowler crushed that grand slam.  While the game wasn’t necessarily in doubt even at that time (and definitely not later), that had to be a huge weight off his shoulders to be able to come through there.  He also had another hit, though he did strike out twice.  Nobody’s saying he’s fixed, just that it was a good step.

Goat: Yadier Molina.  I mean, Yadi did drive in a run with a sacrifice fly, walked, and scored a run himself, but he went 0-3 and when the box score is full of multi-hit games and a pitching section that only had two runs in it, someone has to draw the short straw.

Notes: The last couple of days have been busy with meetings and projects after work hours and so I didn’t get to see much of this series and heard a little bit of it on radio as well.  When I saw the notification that Charlie Tilson had tied the game up with a two-run single, I figured that was some sort of baseball karma at work (though the trade for Zach Duke still seems to be favored toward the Cardinals).  Thankfully, we didn’t have to worry about talking about the one that got away because the bats kept rolling.

I probably should have gone with Kolten Wong as the Hero (and my Gateway cohost Tara Wellman will likely chastise me for not doing so) given that he went 4-5 with a double, home run, two runs scored, and two RBI.  That’s a very good night for Wong, who has now jumped his average up into the .220 range instead of languishing below the Mendoza line.  We’ve often said regular playing time works for Wong more than some others and he’s showing that to be the case.  Pair that with his outstanding defense and there’s no real reason to get him out of the lineup.

Two hits apiece for Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong, with Jose Martinez chipping in three knocks.  All in all, it was a game that tantalizes you with what the Cardinals could do.  (However, I don’t think it’s a real good selling point for the DH in the National League.)

Miles Mikolas–that should be All-Star Miles Mikolas, even though he’s not going to be on the roster since he’s pitching Sunday; I assume he still goes to be part of the festivities–allowed just that two-run single in six innings, striking out six and allowing just three hits.  The bullpen combined for three scoreless innings, though I don’t think Greg Holland looked as sharp as his line might indicate.  He gave up a hit and a walk but got Jose Abreu to ground out to escape damage.

Why couldn’t this have been the second game of the series, so we could have enjoyed it during the off day?  That’s not how these Cardinals roll, however.

Wednesday (4-0 loss)

Hero: Luke Weaver.  I know he took the loss, but he gave up one run on three hits in six innings, striking out seven along the way.  You could maybe discount his outing against the Giants because he got such a big lead before he even had to pitch.  That wasn’t the case here and he still put up a gem.  We talked earlier in the week about the inconsistencies that come with young pitchers, specifically Jack Flaherty.  Weaver’s going to have some of that as well, even though it feels like he’s been around a while.  Hopefully this is an uptick in his personal roller coaster and we’ll get some more good outings out of him going forward, especially coming up against his personal nightmare, the Cubs.

Goat: Tommy Pham.  0-4 with four strikeouts.  That’s a very rough night and not completely unheard of for Pham this season.  This is the third game this season that he’s struck out all four times he’s come up and seven times he’s struck out at least three times.  Pham had only one four-strikeout game last year (against the Marlins on July 4) and only four with three or more K.  You may remember that he started off July looking like he had figured it all out, going for a 1.006 OPS in the first five games this month.  After that first game against the Giants, he’s gone 0-13 with seven strikeouts (and three walks), meaning his July splits are looking like May and June’s.

Pham had two on and one out in the eighth, a spot where he really needed to come through to at least get the Cardinals on the board.  It’s a spot he has come through in a lot.  Just not last night.  Which makes you wonder if he won’t start sitting a little more frequently for Harrison Bader as well.

Notes: Matt Carpenter had the best offensive game, getting a hit and drawing two walks, but with Pham behind him nothing came of it.  Jose Martinez, Yadier Molina, and Paul DeJong got the other hits.  DeJong has a hit in each game he’s played in since he got back, though none of them have gone for extra bases, which will continue to be a concern given where he was hit.

Mike Mayers struggled last night, allowing three straight two-out hits in the seventh to have two runs score on him.  At least Yadi spared him a little more grief by picking off Charlie Tilson at first to end the inning.  Gotta figure for as good as he has been this year, Mayers is still going to have an off night every once in a while.  When it starts becoming a trend, then it’s a concern.

All this and I’ve not gotten to the Bud Norris/Jordan Hicks/Mike Matheny issue.  We’ll save that for another post, maybe this afternoon if I can get it done.  Until then, remember the Cincinnati Cardinal Six is available for your picks!

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