Bengaling the Opportunity

What have we said as we looked forward to the next two or so weeks of Cardinals baseball?  We’ve said that they have to beat these terrible teams that are standing between them and the San Francisco/Chicago end of the first half of the season.  We’ve pointed out how well the Cardinals have done against said teams.  We’ve pondered if they could get back into serious divisional contention if they pile up wins against easy opponents.

So of course they come out last night and get blown out by the 30-42 Detroit Tigers and lose a game on everyone (even the Pirates, though they have what seems to be a comfortable lead on them) in the division.  That’s not exactly a great first step toward a run of good baseball.

Ironically, not walking a guy might have wound up being a major part of that loss.  Johan Oviedo, who will get the Goat tag, bobbed and weaved his way out of trouble for the first three innings but the ceiling fell in on him in the fourth.  He got Miguel Cabrera to fly out but allowed a single to the delightfully named Akil Baddoo.  After wild pitching Baddoo to second, Oviedo got a comebacker off the bat of Nomar Mazara and had Baddoo dead to rights.  At least, until he overthrew Nolan Arenado, allowing a run to score and the runner to get to third.  I was listening in the car and it wasn’t until seeing the replay that it was clear how wildly Oviedo threw.  That ball landed closer to Lars Nootbaar in left than it did to Arenado.

Anyway, the traditional problems of control flared up and Oviedo walked the next two guys, then allowed a double to Jake Rogers, the ninth place hitter, on an 0-2 count.  The ninth place hitter of the Tigers, mind you.  I know, I know, he’s still a major league player and I get that, but he was hitting .225 after his big night last night, with this double and a triple that drove in a run later on.  You gotta get a guy like that.

Runners at second and third, one out, and I’m a little surprised Oviedo is still in at this point.  He runs the count to 3-2 on Robbie Grossman, then throws a pitch that, in all honesty, should have been ball four and probably would have been his last pitch of the night.  However, Cowboy Joe West was behind the plate and he decided to call Grossman out on strikes.

At the time, it seemed like a gift.  A second out instead of bases loaded, who doesn’t want that?  Unfortunately, that enamored Mike Shildt to leave in Oviedo to see if he could finish the inning.  He couldn’t.  Three pitches later Jonathan Schoop sent the ball over the wall, making it 6-0 and pretty much ending any chance of a Cardinal win.  Now, there’s no guarantee that bringing in Daniel Ponce de Leon at any point but especially with bases loaded one out would have been any better, and I’m not truly second guessing Shildt for leaving Oviedo out there.  It’s just one of those baseball things, where you might have gotten a better long-term result with a short-term setback.

Ponce de Leon wasn’t out there long, leaving with shoulder discomfort.  I would guess if he goes on the injured list Seth Elledge would get the call.  I don’t know if it was just time for Andrew Miller to have an off night or the lack of warmup hurt him, but the last two runs came on his watch, though one was credited to Ponce.  Except for the triple from Rogers things didn’t look terribly bad, so we’ll not assume that the bad Miller is back.

Going to give the Hero tag to Paul DeJong.  DeJong has struggled so much lately, to the point that we wondered if there was anything really worth waiting for on him or if there should be more of a time share option at short.  One game isn’t going to change all those opinions, but it was nice to see him walk twice and get a base hit.  He scored one of the two Cardinal runs and didn’t strike out, so that was probably the best game he’s had in quite some time.

Good to see Wade LeBlanc continue his scoreless streak as a Cardinal.  He, Jake Woodford, and Junior Fernandez combined to hold the Tigers scoreless for the last third of the game, which is nice, even though it was basically meaningless.

Today, the Cards have to hope John Gant isn’t going to continue to slip back to where the metrics say he should be, because getting swept by Detroit, even in a two game series, might actually be cause for panic.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that!

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