Getting Our Phil(lies) of Losing

For a couple of weeks, there was a large outcry and clamor on Twitter and other channels about the lineup.  With the team in a tailspin, the lineup needed a shakeup.  Dexter Fowler was doing so well and Matt Carpenter wasn’t, so shift things around to move Dex to the top of the lineup.  Finally, before the Braves series, the lineup was tweaked.  How’s that working out for the club?

  • The team is 1-4 in the five games with Fowler at the top of the lineup.
  • The team is averaging right at six hits and 3.5 runs a game.
  • Overall, they are slashing .188/.262/.303
  • Fowler is 0-19 with no walks and three hit by pitches, dropping his season average from .283 to .247

In Solo: A Star Wars Story, there’s a moment when the Millennium Falcon needs a boost and they put just a drop of a highly charged superfuel into the equivalent of the fuel line.  It should give them a ridiculous kick, but at first, it winds up shutting down the engine and it looks like all is lost until it kicks in and blasts them out of harm’s way.  Now, maybe these five games have been the equivalent of that shutdown before they come roaring out of the gates, but I have my doubts.

Because, frankly, it’s a Murphy’s Law situation right now.  Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.  You make a move that should obviously pay offensive dividends, it shuts down the engine.  You take a 3-0 lead into the ninth, your sure-fire closer melts down.  If it’s not the hitting, it’s the rotation, and if it’s not the rotation, the bullpen takes their turn.  It also seems that the manager has had better days as well.

The Cardinals have played two games in Philadelphia over the last two days, both delayed by rain.  However, maybe they should have played through the storm.  Something needs to charge them up.

Tuesday (4-3 loss)

Hero: Paul Goldschmidt.  After his homer in the first (and Marcell Ozuna‘s two-run blast that soon followed), you’d be forgiven in thinking this game was going to be different.  Goldschmidt tacked on a single later on to be the only Cardinal with multiple hits.  Given that they only had four, maybe that’s not a surprise.  As for Goldschmidt, it seems like all the talk about “his bat will heat up soon” might be starting to come true.  In his past seven games (including Wednesday), he’s hitting .385, though this homer is the only hit that went for extra bases.  Still, it’s better than what we had been seeing and if the hits come, the extra base hits will as well.

Goat: Dexter Fowler.  He and Matt Carpenter both went 0-4, but as always, tie goes to the leadoff batter.  I don’t know if he’s seeing different pitches or approaching things differently, but the five games before the switch he had an OPS of 1.116 on the strength of five walks and three extra-base hits.  You’d like to think he’d try to do the same things he was doing when moving to the leadoff spot, but maybe he’s adjusting to a different approach by pitchers when he’s the first guy they see.  Or, just as likely, the leadoff spot is cursed and nobody will ever hit well there.

Notes: While three runs in the first might be enough on some days, for most pitchers in this league they need a little more.  Adam Wainwright had one of the best games you are probably going to see from him in this stage of his career, striking out 10 and walking none in six innings, but he allowed four runs, two coming on a home run by Cesar Hernandez.  Overall, he gave up eight hits, so the Phillies had some chances, but he was able to work out of most jams.  Just not all of them.

Giovanny Gallegos did well in his two innings of work, striking out three, and if nothing else that meant the bullpen didn’t have to get all that active.  Which was good given what was on the horizon.  Also, Harrison Bader threw out Bryce Harper at home, but Harper had two doubles and two RBI.  Harper got off to a slow start but over his last two weeks he’s hitting .313 with three homers.  He might not be living up to the price but he’d still look good in St. Louis’s outfield.  Ah, well, water under the bridge.  (Unlike around these parts, where the water is threatening to go over the bridge.)

Wednesday (11-4 loss)

Hero: Matt Wieters.  He wasn’t the only person with multiple hits, but until the eighth inning outburst (when already down 10), he was really the only offense.  Wieters cranked a home run in the fourth and doubled in a run in the eighth, plus added a walk into the mix as well.  He has as many home runs and RBI in 30 plate appearances as Francisco Pena had in 142 last season.  It’s just sad that Yadier Molina was obviously hurting Sunday night but it took until Wednesday to convince him to sit.  Yadi’s going to start every Adam Wainwright start so they can keep pushing that total of theirs higher, I get that, but still Wieters has shown that he’s more than capable of playing more than once a month.

Goat: Michael Wacha.  The inning that Wacha pitched (stretched over two frames–Mike Shildt really seems to love the move of bringing in a reliever with one out left in an inning, then letting him go into the next one) was possibly the most brutal stretch of pitching I’ve ever seen.  Here’s what transpired:

  • Walk
  • Single
  • Double, two runs score
  • Strikeout (ends fourth)
  • Walk
  • Fly out
  • Home run
  • Home run
  • Walk (to the pitcher)
  • Home run
  • Strikeout

So, in the span of 11 batters, he allowed three walks and three home runs.  (The double by Bryce Harper would have been a single from most people, but he hustled to get the extra base.)  What do you say to that?  I mean, even if you thought that moving him to the bullpen would help you pick better spots or let him focus his stuff, it’s hard to see how that is still an argument now.  You wonder if there will be some sort of injury found relating to his shoulder and they will slide him onto the IL.  If not, you can’t imagine they could use him again with a game in any sort of doubt.

Notes: Genesis Cabrera made his debut last night and it went fine.  Wacha’s antics allowed his last run to score and Harper hit a two-run homer off of him, but he also struck out the side in the second and finished with five of his 11 outs coming by the K.  He was pulled after just 53 pitches, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I mean, I guess perhaps the manager wanted him to go out while the game was in reach, but he had two outs and a runner on second.  The top of the lineup was coming up, but he threw 84 or more pitches in his last four starts in Memphis (over 90 in three of them) and he shouldn’t have been reaching his limit.  It would seem it was just to give Wacha a chance to stretch and go multiple innings but, well, we saw how that turned out.  Cabrera was intriguing enough to get another turn or two through the rotation.  If he does well enough, someone else might get bumped when Alex Reyes is ready.

The Cards put up three runs against Juan Nicasio, a former Redbird, but it’s hard to take that as any sort of positive sign when it took that just to cut the lead to seven.  At least John Brebbia got his first hit and scored his first run, plus he threw 1.1 scoreless innings.  Tyler Webb did a fine job as well with two scoreless frames, though he did walk three and allowed two hits.  I know a lot of people don’t want to see Webb and I don’t want him out there in big situations, but he can do a decent job and he’s been really tough on lefties this year, so that has value as well.

The Cardinals look to Dakota Hudson this afternoon to avoid a sweep.  That should tell you just how bad things are getting for the Redbirds.  Hudson has pitched better as of late and he might well stop the losing, though he’s up against Jerad Eickhoff, who has a terrible three start stretch but the start before that started was eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball against….St. Louis.  Yep, that’s what May has wrought.  Hopefully the bats will get going.  It’s a unique lineup going out there today but hey, can’t be worse than what we’ve been seeing!

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NL Central Standings

TeamWLPct.GB
Cardinals9171.562 -
Brewers8973.5492.0
Cubs8478.5197.0
Reds7587.46316.0
Pirates6993.42622.0

Last updated: 09/30/2019

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