Folks, we’ve talked about Jordan Hicks and we’ve talked about Mike Shildt, but we’ve not actually talked about games in almost two weeks. We have to do Heroes and Goats (though if things don’t turn around with my habits, this might be the last year of hitting every game) so a quick run-down. I’ll try not to do much discussion about each game so as to not turn this into a post longer than War and Peace. More than anything, this is just putting it into the record and if you want to skip it, feel free. (Then again, it seems like most of you do that for a lot of these posts!)
Monday, June 17 (5-0 win vs. Miami)
Hero: Matt Carpenter. Three hits, including a home run that started the scoring and that legendary bunt double. That was Carpenter’s first three hit game since May 25 and he’d had only one other multi-hit game in that span.
Goat: Paul Goldschmidt. 0-4 and he left four men on base, which could have been really big had the offense not gotten some runs late.
Notes: Good start by Miles Mikolas, who threw six scoreless innings. However, given Mikolas’s season (like Michael Wacha in the series in Florida), it’s hard to know how much credit to give him versus how much it is due to facing the Marlins. Dexter Fowler hit a three-run homer that broke the game open in the eighth and it’s always great to see Dex succeed. Two hits by Marcell Ozuna and Paul DeJong and a great outing by the bullpen. Too bad more games aren’t like this.
Tuesday, June 18 (6-0 loss vs. Miami)
Hero: Genesis Cabrera, by default. The club only got one hit that wasn’t from the pitcher. Every other pitcher besides Cabera allowed a run. Cabrera came in and got the three batters he faced in the ninth out. It was low leverage and it meant nothing to the game, but it was clearly the best performance of the night.
Goat: Paul Goldschmidt. While there were plenty of choices here, Goldschmidt again left four men on base while going 0-4, which is tough to do when only seven runners reach the entire game.
Notes: Jack Flaherty was solid, allowing three runs in seven innings while striking out eight. However, he got touched for two home runs, which is kinda the thing with Flaherty this year. Somewhere around 20% of the balls hit in the air wind up going out of the ballpark and it’s not because there’s so few going in the air.
Also, I’m sure Jordan Yamamoto will have a nice career, maybe even a great one, but two hits? Really?
Wednesday, June 19 (2-1 win in 11 vs. Miami)
Hero: Paul Goldschmidt. Nice to be able to put him on this side of the ledger. He struck out in his first appearance in the ninth but sent everyone home with a walkoff homer in the 11th. That’ll get you Hero points.
Goat: Marcell Ozuna. 0-5, two strikeouts, five left on base. That’s not what you need out of your cleanup hitter, especially when no one else is doing much. He edged out Dexter Fowler, who had one hit but four strikeouts.
Notes: Daniel Ponce de Leon took the start here and ran with it, putting up six scoreless innings. He’s trying to make the case that he should stay in the rotation long-term and doing a fine job of it. Well, maybe not fine enough as he got demoted after this game, but he did all he could do. Plus he’s back now! Though probably in the bullpen. Things are a bit messy with the pitching staff, as you know.
Other than Carlos Martinez giving up the tying run and forcing extras, the bullpen was lockdown as well. It’s nice to see good pitching like this, isn’t it? It may be all that gets us through for a while.
Thursday, June 20 (7-6 loss in 11 vs. Miami)
Hero: Yadier Molina. Three for five, plus a walk, and it was his double in the 11th that brought the Cards to within one run and put the tying run on second with two outs. Unfortunately, Jack Flaherty then took his spot, wandered off without paying attention, and the game ended without another pitch.
Goat: Andrew Miller. I could go Matt Carpenter, since he went 0-6, but Miller came into a tied extra-inning game and gave up a walk and a home run. Without that, the run the Cards scored in the bottom of the frame (assuming it would have gone the same way) would have won it.
Notes: John Brebbia is still struggling, allowing two runs (one earned) here that made it harder for the club to come back. Decent start by Adam Wainwright (5.1 innings, three runs, six strikeouts) and it feels like he’s settled into that, where he’s going to give you a quality start or something approximating it. That said, his next one will be on the road, though it’ll be against the Mariners who have a big ballpark and have been struggling. We’ll see how he does there.
Offensively, Jose Martinez also had three hits and Paul DeJong and Paul Goldschmidt each had two, plus a run and an RBI. It took getting into the Marlins’ bullpen for the bats to come alive as former Cardinal farmhand Zac Gallen had himself a fine debut, but it doesn’t really matter when you score the runs as long as you score enough of them. The Cards did, at least enough to give themselves some extra time.
Friday, June 21 (5-1 win vs. Los Angeles Angels)
Hero: Michael Wacha. Look, I expected nothing from this start. I would have liked to see him go against the Marlins, figuring that they were a weaker opponent that he’d been able to handle recently. Running him out against an Angels lineup that has a lot of good bats, including the best in Mike Trout, didn’t seem the wisest play. Instead, after a Justin Upton double in the first that plated the game’s first run, Wacha seemed to be in control and managed six innings with just five hits and four strikeouts. He’s had two good starts with a clunker in between. We’ll see what happens tonight in San Diego.
Goat: Paul Goldschmidt and Harrison Bader had similar lines, with both going 0-3 with a walk and leaving two men on. Goldschmidt had two strikeouts, though, and that’s enough to tip the scales to him.
Notes: Let’s just talk about the Albert Pujols weekend here. It was incredible, it was amazing, it was emotional, it was more than I ever expected. If you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, sometimes you don’t know that you are missing it until it returns. While some of the reaction might have been a bit over the top, it was still wonderful to see him back and to see the love poured out on him. This wouldn’t have happened if he’d returned in 2012 (a recent report said the Reds were the runners-up–can you imagine if the Cards had played Albert 18 times a year for the last eight years?) but time really does heal all wounds.
Saturday, June 22 (4-2 win vs. Los Angeles Angels)
Hero: Dakota Hudson. It’s still remarkable that Hudson is the rock of this rotation given his early struggles. Nothing to complain about here, as he went seven innings, struck out six while only walking one, and the only run he allowed was a home run to Albert Pujols, which delighted the home crowd perhaps more than anything. (Both my podcast partner Allen Medlock and my father thought that he served that one up on purpose or that Yadier Molina had a hand in it. I don’t think so but who knows?)
Goat: Paul DeJong. 0-4 with a strikeout and two left on base.
Notes: Still limited offense here. Marcell Ozuna hit a two run homer but the other runs came on a throwing error by the pitcher, which turned an easy out into a 2-0 game. Also, Jordan Hicks walked off the mound in this one before the game was over. We knew he probably was hurting, we didn’t know we wouldn’t see him again until late 2020.
Sunday, June 23 (6-4 loss vs. Los Angeles Angels)
Hero: Kolten Wong. Two hits, including a two-run double during that furious ninth inning rally.
Goat: John Gant. While you don’t know what would have happened if the game had remained 2-0, watching Gant allow four runs in a third of an inning pretty much closed the book on a win. It was remarkable they got as close as they did. Unfortunately for Mike Shildt, there weren’t a whole lot of options available that evening.
Notes: I really wanted to give the Goat to Paul DeJong not only for going 0-5 but for that last out ending the game and snuffing out what could have been a legendary rally. Imagine if they would have scored seven runs with two outs in the ninth to win! That sort of momentum….would have probably died with the off day because that’s how things go with this team.
Tuesday, June 25 (7-3 loss vs. Oakland)
Hero: I know that Matt Carpenter “tripled” in two runs and scored the other, but I can’t give him the Hero tag because that was obviously a dropped ball and it should have been an error. So we’ll go with Marcell Ozuna, who went 2-3 and walked twice, putting him on base a lot and yet somehow never scoring. This offense, man.
Goat: Jack Flaherty. Seven runs in 4.2 innings, most after being staked to a 3-1 lead. Three homers allowed, including back-to-back jobs by Chase Pinder and Marcus Semien that erased the lead. Flaherty’s home run to fly ball ratio is third in the big leagues behind Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. He’s actually just ahead of Dakota Hudson, but the difference is Hudson gets ground balls 61.7% of the time. Flaherty? 36.4%. More balls in the air means more balls over the wall.
Notes: John Brebbia didn’t allow any of his own runs here, but he did allow the two runners he inherited from Flaherty to come around to score. We’ve talked about Brebbia before and it doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. Not sure if it’s overwork or there’s something more there but the Cards really need him to be more like the Brebbia they got used to earlier in the year.
Wednesday, June 26 (2-0 loss vs. Oakland)
Hero: Tommy Edman. Two hits, which is almost as much as the rest of the team put up. I’m not sure how long-term a solution Edman is, but he’s proven that at least right now he can provide a bit of a spark. I expect he’ll be in the lineup against San Diego tonight and there’s a good chance he’ll be leading off even if he’s not playing third. His use over the next couple of weeks could be interesting to see.
Goat: Jose Martinez. 0-4 (though you could say that about a lot of the guys) and left three men on, two of them in the sixth when a base hit could have at least cut the lead in half.
Notes: Adam Wainwright did a fine job, just got touched for a couple of solo homers. Many nights with many teams that is enough to get a win. Instead, it was another quiet, downer night.
Cardinals have issues right now. For as much as I defended Mike Shildt’s comments, there’s a lot of truth in the criticism of this team. You can’t be exciting on the basepaths if you don’t actually get runners on the base paths. I think that’s the biggest thing. Even if the rotation winds up giving up 4-5 runs a night, you can still have a buzz and excitement if you are scoring about the same. Don’t get me wrong, pitching duels can be fun and I love seeing a good one, but watching so many games with a ton of groundouts and 1-2-3 innings isn’t going to do much for the excitement level.
We’ll see what they can do in San Diego. That’s usually a good pitching environment so that might not be what the team needs right now. You never know, of course!