You can’t win them all. Sometimes you can’t win all of them in a single day.
The Cardinals pulled a Snoke and split their games with the Mets right in half. (Don’t worry, we aren’t going to continue overloading on the Star Wars references.) They took the early game, running their win streak to six, before being halted in the nightcap. Which was pretty typical–beat Marcus Stroman, lose to a bullpen game. The 2021 Cardinals haven’t been quite as faithful to the historical source material but it still pops up here and there.
Let’s talk about the opener first. I didn’t see the game (honestly, I saw only a little of the second), so let’s just do it bullet-point style.
- Paul Goldschmidt gets the Hero tag as he gave the Cards the early lead, rocketing a ball off the Big Mac Land sign. Being that it’s digital now, he didn’t do any damage (though the sign operators unlit the “D” as if he had) but it was still a remarkable homer. Goldschmidt may be starting to heat back up. Counting this game, he had six hits over his last three starts, with a double and a home run. He also had a single in the nightcap, bringing his season average closer to .250 than the .214 it was at the end of April.
- Kwang Hyun Kim was solid in this one, though the early support helped. He only went four innings, which was in part a function of the shorter game due to a double header. Five baserunners in four innings isn’t really that bad, though the fact that three of them were walks is a little scary. It’s the third straight start where he’s only allowed one run, though he still has yet to get through the sixth.
- The bullpen was exactly what you’d want to protect what was at the time a one run lead. Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos, and Alex Reyes combined for three innings, no hits, one walk (by Helsley) and three strikeouts. That’ll do every time and stands in pretty sharp contrast to how the bullpen went for the second game.
- Other offensive lines worth noting: Nolan Arenado went two for three with a run and an RBI, continuing his upswing that’s seen him hit .412 in the early May going and Paul DeJong continues to be a Mets killer, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth that gave the Cardinals insurance and resulted in the final 4-1 score.
- The Goat goes to Andrew Knizner, who was the only batter without a hit or a walk. Knizner started off hot as Yadier Molina‘s replacement but hasn’t gotten a hit in May so far, dropping his average 100 points. Even if he could have caught the second game a la Molina, it was probably a good idea to get him a breather. He might need another this weekend as well.
All good things come to an end though. It’s probably easiest to do the bullet-point thing again here for the nightcap.
- The game might have been lost early when the Cards got down 3-0 but it really felt like it swung in the fourth. Down 4-0, Tyler O’Neill leads off the inning by being hit by a pitch. Two outs later, Dylan Carlson singles him in and Tommy Edman follows with a single. Matt Carpenter wasn’t able to capitalize, though, flying out to end the threat. The Mets immediately got two more and any chance of a rally was gone.
- The inning before was disappointing as well. The Cards got two on with one out with Nolan Arenado and Paul DeJong coming up. Arenado hit a liner that looked off the bat like it might be a hit, only to be snared by Jeff McNeil. DeJong then lined out and that went for nothing as well.
- We’re going to give the Goat to Johan Oviedo, even though there was a lot to like in his outing. He struck out two in four innings, didn’t walk anyone, and allowed five hits. The biggest problem? Two of those hits were home runs, resulting in four runs scored. When he kept it in the yard, he was solid. I imagine, with some off days coming, he’ll be sent back to Memphis but I’m sure we’ll see him again this season.
- I have been one that has argued Tyler Webb has been an underrated part of this bullpen for a few years now. That said, there’s no defending the argument that, at minimum, he’s going through a rough stretch right now. In his past three outings, he’s given up five runs in 2.2 innings. I know that some of those were allowed by subsequent relievers, but he still 1) allowed the runners to get on and 2) was shaky enough that the club had to replace him on the mound. I don’t know if it’s a mechanical thing, an injury thing, or the league is finally catching up with him, but he needs to figure it out. With Andrew Miller hurt (and, honestly, not that much more effective) he has some job security but it won’t be forever.
- The club might have hoped Bernando Flores Jr., whom they picked up from the White Sox in the offseason and was called up for the 27th man yesterday, could be a guy to replace Webb should that be necessary. Early returns there aren’t great, however, as he walked the first two batters he faced and gave up a hit to the third. Kodi Whitley came in to a bases-loaded, nobody out situation and limited the Mets to a run on a groundout. Flores probably will get another shot, but it might be a while.
- Carpenter again bunted against the shift, meaning that 1/3 of his hits this season are bunt hits, which has to be the highest percentage in baseball. Carpenter has the two bunt singles and three homers. His only other hit was the single against the Nationals that he tried unsuccessfully to turn into a double. That’s such a weird log.
- Seth Elledge made his season debut and had a mixed outing. He allowed singles to the first two he faced, allowing Webb’s runners to score, but finally got out of the inning and then pitched a scoreless sixth. He’s not going to be a high leverage guy but they’ll probably find some uses for him.
- Let’s give the Hero to Tommy Edman, the only player with multiple hits in this game. Edman keeps plugging along in that leadoff spot and it’s remarkable to see.
Cards finish up with the Mets in an afternoon affair. They sit currently one game ahead of the Brewers, tied for the best record in the National League, and just 1/2 game behind the A’s for the best record in baseball. That’s a function of it being early, of course, and the fact that there are a lot of teams swimming around .500, but it’s a great thing to see nonetheless!