C70 At The Bat

Back To the Old Ways

Ah, that’s more like the team that we’ve seen all year.  Strong pitching and just enough offense to get by.

Of course, that means it was back to biting the nails for much of this game.  After getting out to early significant leads in two of the past three games, this time St. Louis was trailing 1-0 about halfway through and you started to wonder if they’d ever get anything going.  Patrick Corbin might have been a guy that bounced between good and bad starts, but he’d landed on good this time out and was getting a lot of popouts and less-than-solid contact.  That is, when he wasn’t striking folks out.  It was looking like that whole “lefty they’ve never seen before” theme was going to play out yet again.

Thankfully, Mark Reynolds remembered how much he liked hitting homers in Arizona and tied the ballgame up in the fifth, which gave the club a little breathing room and the fan base a little bit of relaxation.  Before that, I seriously was starting to think that it was going to be a 1-0 loss and there was going to be a lot of frustration involved there.  Tying it up was a big thing and a great contribution from Reynolds.

John Lackey did his part, though he had a lot of help from his fielders.  He gave up a home run (that may still not have landed) in the first to Paul Goldschmidt, but thankfully that came right after the first of three double plays turned behind him.  Lackey gave up some loud outs and also seven hits in his seven innings, but just that one run.  He got a bit better as it went on, retiring the last seven batters he faced.

The Hero of the night, though, had to be Kolten Wong.  Not only did he have some spectacular moves (I hate that MLB won’t let you embed highlights the day after a game) to help turn a couple of those double plays, his double in the seventh put the Cards ahead and he scored the insurance run when Matt Carpenter finally realized he could put the bat on the ball.  It’s fairly obvious the mental break time worked for Wong, which is good.  If he can be fired up down the stretch, that’d do a lot for keeping the Cardinals ahead of the rest of the division, something that has become increasingly tough to do.

Carpenter’s RBI single spared him from another turn as the Goat, so I’m going with Jhonny Peralta in this one.  Peralta went 0-4 and left four men on, though he did have some good swings.  He just missed some pitches or he could have had a big night.  Jason Heyward and Yadier Molina also had 0-fers, which meant the middle of the lineup was 0-12.  If you are looking for why there wasn’t a sustained offensive push last night, that’s probably it right there.  Which is funny, because before the game FSMW highlighted Heyward, Molina and Stephen Piscotty for their work over the last three games.  Piscotty only had one hit, though he came around to break the tie on Wong’s double, so it was a hit at the right time.

Trevor Rosenthal, who will be leaving the club when they go to San Francisco to be home for the birth of his second daughter, picked up his 40th save with only a walk to mar his frame.  Doesn’t it seem early to already have 40 saves?  I mean, I know that’s a function of the team already winning 81, but August and 40 saves don’t often go together in my mind.  Then again, he got his 40th save last year on August 31, so I guess it’s not that crazy.  We’ll see if he can beat the 45 he got last year.  He joins Lee Smith as the only two Cardinals to have 40 saves in different years, which is a nice accomplishment.  I know he never thought he’d be in the same sentence as Smith when he started his career, given that he thought he was going to be a starter, but I bet he’s perfectly fine with this and the contract he’ll likely receive in the future if he keeps this up.

Otherwise, there really wasn’t much to this game, but it was a good win.  It was needed since the Pirates beat up on the Marlins, though the Cubs finally cooled a bit and lost to the Giants.  That means that St. Louis stays 4.5 up on the Pirates and is now 7.5 up on the Cubs.  Everyone plays the same folks today, with Chicago looking like they get the short end of the matchup by sending Dan Haren against Madison Bumgarner this afternoon and Pittsburgh looking to dominate with Gerrit Cole going against Justin Nicolino.  Baseball’s a funny game and all that, but it would seem the Cardinals need to win tonight to keep that cushion where it is.

The brigade of healthy folks is about to begin.  We know about Matt Adams getting back into baseball shape and now Jon Jay will start a rehab assignment on Friday with Memphis, who will be in Reno this weekend.  I know to some extent the location for rehab assignments is determined by location and not by talent level, but starting Jay out at AAA seems to indicate they don’t think it’ll take long for him to get ready.  I would imagine he’d be one of the first ones activated when the rosters expand on Tuesday and hopefully bring a decent bench bat to the club.  There’s no way, I wouldn’t think, that’d he get many starts.  He might start the first game or two right after the callup to get him acclimated to the big leagues, though the club is playing Washington then so maybe not.  If he does, expect plenty of complaints from Twitter but realize there’s more of a reason than he’s one of Mike Matheny‘s guys.

Tonight sees Carlos Martinez going for the four-game sweep.  Given the fact that St. Louis has enough trouble finishing off three-game sweeps, if he’s able to do that it’ll be quite impressive.  (You have to go back to the end of June when the Cubs were in town to find the last three-game sweep, though the Cards did win both games of a series against the White Sox in July.)  Martinez hasn’t been as stellar lately as he was earlier in the year.  In his last five starts, he’s 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA.  Some of that might be a little bad luck–opponents do have a .402 BABIP over that span–but it could be worse as he’s allowed three unearned runs in that span as well.  The command is still there, so hopefully he’ll be able to baffle this Diamondbacks lineup tonight.  He’s been able to do that before.

David Peralta 5 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .200 .000 .200 0 0 0 0 0
Paul Goldschmidt 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Owings 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 1
Nick Ahmed 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Welington Castillo 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Ender Inciarte 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Yasmany Tomas 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
Chase Anderson 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Hill 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
A.J. Pollock 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 32 31 5 0 0 0 1 1 10 .161 .188 .161 .349 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/27/2015.

Rubby De La Rosa is up for the home team.  De La Rosa looks like their workhorse, as he’s gone six innings or more in all but one of his last seven starts.  He’s been solid of late as well with a 3-0 mark and a 2.88 ERA for the month of August.  In limited time (so, remember, not really anything to draw conclusions from) the Redbird hitters have fared well, but we’ll see if that continues now that De La Rosa seems to have progressed in his abilities.

Matt Carpenter 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Moss 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Lance Lynn 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 17 15 5 1 0 0 1 2 4 .333 .412 .400 .812 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/27/2015.

With a win tonight, the Cardinals guarantee themselves a winning record for 2015.  It’d be their eighth straight season above .500 and their 15th out of their last 16.  No wonder everyone else in baseball thinks we’re spoiled.  That as may be, but I’m perfectly content with it!


In the past three games, the Cardinals have allowed a total of seven runs.  That’s not news at all–the pitching staff is the real reason this team now has 80 wins.  However, in the past three games the Cardinals have scored 24 runs.  That, my friends, isn’t common at all.  In the eight games prior to this, they scored a total of 22.  Seeing this kind of offensive prowess can warm any fan’s heart.

It would be foolish to say that things have clicked, that going forward we are going to see less of those games where it feels like pulling teeth to score a single run.  There are plenty more games like that in the future of this team, most likely this weekend when they go into San Francisco (though the Cubs apparently had no such issues last night).  You have to factor in that the pitching staffs of San Diego and Arizona aren’t strong, plus the favorable hitting environment of Chase Field as well.  An increase in scoring was to be expected, even if not to this level.

That said, we’ve seen the Cards struggle against mediocre pitching as well.  The same San Diego staff that they scored 10 against on Sunday held them to three runs in the two prior games of that series.  It’s almost a meme now to see a pitcher with middling at best stats and expect them to look like Cy Young against the Redbirds.  Take Matt Cain for example.  Cain’s been a good pitcher, but he came into the game with the Cardinals boasting an ERA over 6.  So against St. Louis he allowed just two runs in six innings.  The two starts before that, he’d allowed five runs.  Last night, in his first start since, he allowed six runs to the Cubs.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, the Cards have been usually willing to give you a confidence boost.

So the last three nights are encouraging.  You look at this offense and there’s not much reason they can’t score on a regular basis.  There’s a weakness at first, sure, but pretty much everywhere else on the diamond there’s a quality hitter.  I’m not saying it’s the ’27 Yankees by any means, but it should be better than the 1906 White Sox, nicknamed the “Hitless Wonders”.  If the offense is truly starting to click, plus if those injured folks returning can make an impact, it’s possible this offense could heat up at just the right time.  Or, you know, it’s three games and it really doesn’t tell us anything.  Take your pick.

Last night, the Cardinals started early, plating four runs in the first off Robbie Ray.  (As an aside, I wrote the Bird’s Eye View for this series and looked at the pitching matchups, only to see them completely messed up from the get-go with the addition of Jhoulys Chacin.  Ray had originally been set to go last night and Randall Delgado, who wound up in relief in this one, to go Thursday.  My apologies to the readers, though I went with what ESPN said!)  When you can force the starter to throw 45 pitches in the first inning, you know it’s probably going to be your night.  Ray settled some, but couldn’t get much past the third, leaving two men on, both of whom scored via sacrifice fly.

It was good to see the Cards add on last night.  So often, a big first inning is then followed with absolutely nothing, allowing the other side to get back into things.  Instead, the Cards plated two in the fourth, two in the sixth, and one in the seventh and only the last run came via the longball.  (With the late start, I went to bed after the sixth.  Which is probably good, because if I’d seen Peter Bourjos go yard as he did the next inning, I’d have probably figured I was already dreaming!)  There was good situational hitting, there was capitalizing on things like a hit batter and catcher’s interference, it was just a good offensive night.  If you could bottle that and use it on a regular basis, there would be much less angst in Cardinal Nation.

We’re talking a lot about the offense because that’s what’s out of the ordinary.  The pitching, that was right in line with everything else we’ve seen this year.  Jaime Garcia continues to just roll along, allowing his only run after the club was already up 6-0.  Garcia went six innings and struck out six while allowing just four hits, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect this season.  Garcia has made 13 starts this year, three shy of equaling his total from the past two years.  While we are always going to hold our breath when it comes to his arm, it’s becoming more and more believable that he’ll finish out the season and can make an impact on the postseason stage.  Like I say, nothing is guaranteed, but the way he is pitching, we definitely would like to see him in October.

Seth Maness came in and threw two scoreless innings, which was nice to see given his recent struggles.  Again, the Diamondback lineup has a couple of strong points but isn’t that deadly overall, but it’s still good when you can put up zeros.

We need to name a Hero and a Goat, I guess.  The Hero is, as it has been a lot lately, Tommy Pham.  Three hits, including hustling to take the extra base on a throw to third while FOX Sports Midwest interviewed his twin sister.  When he hit his triple, I briefly thought we might see an inside-the-park homer.  He’s already got more hits since his return than he did in his first stint this season in about five fewer games.  It’s just a small sample, but there’s no doubt he’s been a welcome addition after the loss of Randal Grichuk.  Can this continue?  Will he be exposed as teams prepare for him more?  We’ll see.  Right now, though, he’s doing exactly what this club needs.

Goat is tough in games like this, as we’ve said before.  Can’t be a pitcher, given their success.  Every starter but one got a hit and that one, Matt Carpenter, scored two runs after reaching via walk and HBP.  The RBI were spread throughout the lineup as well.  I guess I’ll give it to Mark Reynolds, who went 1-4 but didn’t score or drive in a run.  I know, it’s not like he really was a negative influence on the game, but someone’s got to get the title.

Before we leave this one and move on to the next one, let’s take a moment to recognize that some rest apparently did Kolten Wong quite well.  Not only did he get a couple of hits, including a double, but he had some nice plays in the field.  It may be a narrative on the lines of Garcia’s mental state in road games from a few years ago, but it seems no one needs confidence in this game like Wong.  When he’s got it, he’s tearing up the place.  When he doesn’t, it’s an ugly thing.  Hey, Kolten, we believe in you!  You can do it!

John Lackey will take the mound tonight for the Cardinals, hoping not to be undone by defensive lapses like he was in San Diego and, to be fair, hoping to pitch a bit better as well.  Lackey’s August has been OK, though not as dominant as the rest of the season was for him.  The team is 1-3 in his four starts and he’s put up a 4.10 ERA this month.  Given his history and season, I don’t think we’d see him be the odd man out in the postseason rotation, but he might want to step it up a little to make sure.  Lackey’s not seen much of these hitters, so maybe that’ll give him an advantage.

Aaron Hill 30 27 6 1 0 1 5 2 4 .222 .300 .370 .670 0 0 0 1 1
Welington Castillo 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 3 3 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Total 36 33 7 1 0 1 7 2 8 .212 .278 .333 .611 0 0 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/26/2015.

Patrick Corbin is up in the Arizona rotation.  Corbin just made his season debut at the beginning of July after returning from Tommy John surgery.  He’s had the erratic results you might expect from a guy that is still working his way back.  For example, two starts ago he shut out the Braves over 6.2 innings.  Last time out?  Four runs in two innings against the Reds.  He’s gone seven once, he’s gone less than three twice.  The only person he’s faced that’s wearing the birds on the bat is Jason Heyward, who is 0-1 with a strikeout against him.

A left-hander the Cardinals haven’t seen before?  That’s a narrative all to itself.  Hopefully the Redbirds can flip the script tonight and keep showing this complete team concept we’ve seen lately.

Pittsburgh finally lost last night, putting them 4.5 behind the Cards.  Cubs won, as you might expect from the comments above, keeping them 6.5 out.  Tonight, Jeff Locke goes up against Chris Narveson of the Marlins and Kyle Hendricks faces off against Jake Peavy of the Giants.  That latter one is on ESPN if you want to flip between it and the Cards game to keep track of the opposition.  Let’s hope St. Louis adds to their lead!


Every year, every team (save those that are already out that way) has to make The West Coast Trip.  Usually 10 days or more in a strange time zone playing games when your body says you should be getting ready for bed.  It makes for a tough grind most of the time, no matter what the level of competition is.  As we’ve seen so far this season, level of competition doesn’t matter for the Cardinals.  They’ll play on whatever level their opponent is at, good or bad.  With Pittsburgh and, increasingly, Chicago breathing down their necks, each game is important.  So far, well, mixed results…..

Friday (9-3 loss at San Diego)

Hero: Tommy Pham.  Two for four with both a run and an RBI.  They came when the Cards were behind, but it got them within striking distance late in the game before the bullpen melted down.

Goat: John Lackey.  As I look through the play-by-play of that terrible fifth inning, there were errors made behind him, but Lackey had a number of opportunities to make that situation better than it was.  After the errors, a single, home run, walk, wild pitch, strikeout and single.  That’s not exactly what you want to see when you are looking to contain the damage.  It was a night not helped by his defense, but it wasn’t Lackey’s night either.

Notes: While the Cardinals weren’t likely to rally even the two runs they were down in the ninth, seeing Carlos Villanueva touched for two different two-run homers in one inning wasn’t a good feeling, especially when one was from former Cardinal farmhand Brett Wallace.  Villanueva’s been good most of the year, but this is the second outing in a row where he’s allowed a run.  Hopefully it’s just a temporary dropoff.

Jhonny Peralta had three hits in this one but no one around him could help out.  The two hitters in front of him went 0-8 and the one behind him 0-3 with a walk.  It’s what we talk about when we say the club can often get hits, they just can’t put them together in any fashion that equals a good number of runs.

Two hits, including a double, and no strikeouts for Mark Reynolds.  Perhaps he’s pushing for more regular playing time, though I think most of us would be content with him just playing semi-regularly if there were any other options at first base.  When Matt Holliday returns and Stephen Piscotty moves to first, that’ll probably be what happens.

Saturday (8-0 loss at San Diego)

Hero: If there can be one in a game like this, it’d have to again be Tommy Pham.  Three for four, made even more frustrating by the fact Carlos Martinez was hitting behind him and went 2-3.  When your eighth and ninth place hitters combine for five hits, you should really do something with that.  Sadly, the club only had eight hits overall, so a lot of their offense was concentrated on those two guys.

Goat: Matt Carpenter.  Carpenter is (maybe was after last night’s game) in the midst of an ugly streak.  After Sunday’s game, he was 0 for his last 20 with 10 strikeouts.  So 0-3 with two K in this one out of the leadoff spot was enough for a Goat tag.  Add in the fact that he got himself tossed arguing balls and strikes, forcing a supposed-to-be-my-day-off Kolten Wong into the game (since Carp was covering second for Wong in this one) was unacceptable as well.  Yes, it was a terrible pitch.  Yes, Carpenter should have been frustrated.  I believe I saw that Carp’s been rung up on more pitches out of the strike zone than anyone else in baseball.  It’s not good, but there are times you’ve got to contain yourself.  I think that was one of them.

Notes: Martinez didn’t have a great outing, though it was better than the line indicated as both of the runners he left on were let in by Seth Maness.  Until then, he’d limited the Padres to one run on five hits, which is pretty passable.  Perhaps the base running he had to do finally caught up with him, though he struck out in the top of the seventh for his final at bat.

This was the second time in four outings that Maness had come in and completely melted down, allowing three or more runs in his inning of work.  To be fair, in between those outings he came in with the bases loaded against the Giants and struck out the only batter he faced, so it’s not like he’s completely broken or anything.  Even though he’s not been terribly overworked of late, maybe a deeper bullpen in September will help him recover hsi normal form.  There are going to be a lot of options for the postseason bullpen.  It would be a surprise if Maness isn’t in there, but there’s no guarantees.

Shoutout to the Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons, who came in after Maness had lit the place on fire and managed the flames, finishing the game by retiring four batters, two via strikeout, while only allowing one hit.  Lyons was demoted after the game for Greg Garcia, who was needed if Wong was ever actually going to rest, but he’ll be back next week as the rosters expand.  Hopefully the larger bullpen won’t keep us from seeing #70 on the mound regularly!

Sunday (10-3 win at San Diego)

Hero: Stephen Piscotty.  When you have a better day than a guy that almost hit for the cycle, you had a good day.  Piscotty smashed two home runs and tossed in a triple to boot.  There was a lot of talk about Piscotty retooling his swing for power this year and we hadn’t seen a lot of that in the early going (though nobody was complaining about his regular offense).  In the seven games ending with this one, he had two triples and four homers (surprisingly enough, no doubles, though he had nine of them before this time period).  Piscotty’s given a nice jolt of offense to the club, one they don’t always take advantage of but one that, if he can sustain it, may help a lot when the injured Cardinals return.

Goat: Matt Carpenter.  The rest of the club is hitting (save Pham–it was another one of those games we’ve seen this year where big numbers are put up in spite of the first two hitters in the order going o-fer) so seeing Carp go 0-4 with three strikeouts is a pretty easy choice here.  He did drive in a run the one time he put the ball in play, so he had that going for him.

Notes: The Mobil On-The-Run folks must be thinking they’ve got it made in the shade this year, as reaching six runs to trigger the 50 cent drinks is an herculean task at times.  This was the first time the Cards had reached that level since the Saturday before against the Marlins and only the third time this month.  Go ahead and drink up, Cardinals.  You’ve earned it!

As noted, Jason Heyward had a single, double, triple and had a walk as well.  There was a lot of talk about him going for the cycle in his last at bat, but 1) if you need a home run or triple for the cycle, you probably aren’t getting it and 2) getting a home run in Petco Park off of Craig Kimbrel would seem to be way down there on the likely result chart, except that Piscotty then did it two batters later.  Still, Heyward continues to show why the Cardinals need to lock him up to a long-term deal.

Another two-hit game for Reynolds, who started his career in the West and perhaps taps into that power when he returns to the area.  It’s as good a reason as any other, right?

Monday (5-3 win at Arizona)

Hero: While the Post-Dispatch game story focused on Greg Garcia and his baserunning in the seventh, given his flubs in the field and the stress he put his pitcher through I can’t go in that direction.  We’ll go with Yadier Molina, who had two hits and two RBI, the latter of which gave the Cards a nice three-run cushion that probably helped those that were still up watching it feel better.  (I was not one of those number, knowing I needed to get up and write this post today.)

Goat: There’s no obvious selection here.  Everyone in the starting lineup got a hit and the pitching wasn’t bad at all.  It was a little concerning to see Trevor Rosenthal gave up a run in the ninth after being rested throughout the Padres series, but it looks like it wasn’t as cringe-inducing as we sometimes see.  I guess we’ll go with Jhonny Peralta, who didn’t drive in a run or score one, but I don’t feel great about it.

Notes: Lance Lynn wasn’t the ace-like Lynn we’d like to see, but he made some big pitches when he had to.  I turned the game off after the fifth and I thought I was going to be doing so in disgust after the Cards got the first two runners on in the top of the frame and didn’t score, then allowed the Diamondbacks to load up the bases (in part due to one of Garcia’s errors) with Paul Goldschmidt up.  Instead, Lynn got a liner to Carpenter who turned the double play and they escaped another jam.  Four double plays were turned by the Redbirds last night, meaning there were a lot of Arizona players on the basepaths, but they also earned a lot of money for Cardinals Care from the American Equity Mortgage folks.

Meanwhile, the Pirates and the Cubs just continue to win.  Pittsburgh’s won three in a row and eight of their last 10, while the Cubs are on a five game winning streak thanks to a Kris Bryant walkoff homer yesterday.  The Cards are 6-4 over their last 10 and that’s the weakling in the group.  You would be forgiven to wonder when the competition would lose again.  (Just for scoreboard watching, Pittsburgh is in Miami again tonight–Charlie Morton vs. Brad Hand–while the Cubs start their own West Coast run in San Francisco–Jake Arrieta vs. Matt Cain.)

At least the club may be finally getting healthy.  Last night on the broadcast, Mike Matheny was quoted as saying that Matt Adams could be up by September 1 when the rosters expand.  He’s going to start playing in some minor league games tonight and, as they say, he’s on the fast track.  (One of the few times fast and Adams are used in the same sentence.)  Jon Jay was taking some batting practice yesterday and the club says he’ll have a rehab assignment as well, which would have to be done in the next week given the fact that the minor league seasons end on Labor Day.  The other folks are a little bit farther off, though I raised my eyebrow when I saw that Matt Belisle plans to be on the roster in September.  Though in the same story it says that he’s seeking another medical opinion on his elbow and it’s a puzzling injury, so whether he can actually effectively pitch is still up for some debate.

Another late game this evening, though at least it’s 1/2 hour earlier than last night.  Jaime Garcia will face off against Robbie Ray.  We know how good Garcia’s been this season but that won’t be any surprise to the Arizona club.  In his career, Garcia is 4-0 in four starts against the D-Backs with a 2.78 ERA.  Half those starts have come in Chase Field and his ERA is an even-better 1.69 there.

Aaron Hill 13 11 3 0 0 0 0 2 2 .273 .385 .273 .657 0 0 0 0 0
Paul Goldschmidt 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 .000 .167 .000 .167 0 0 0 0 0
A.J. Pollock 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0 0
Nick Ahmed 3 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 .333 .333 1.333 1.667 0 0 0 0 1
Welington Castillo 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Ender Inciarte 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Yasmany Tomas 3 3 2 2 0 0 3 0 0 .667 .667 1.333 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 36 33 8 3 0 1 4 3 7 .242 .306 .424 .730 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/25/2015.

Ray, on the other hand, has never faced the Cardinals in his two years in the major leagues.  Ray has had a strong season for the Snakes, though his ERA has steadily crept up all season long.  He’s allowed at least three runs in his last four starts and hasn’t gone past the sixth inning in any of them.  Even though he’s a lefty, he doesn’t have a real noticeable platoon split, but I’d still expect Wong to get another day off.  Hopefully this break has helped clear his head and we’ll see him back out there Wednesday.

Rest up.  It’ll be another late night!


Heading West With a Win

Just enough.  Whenever they come around to make a documentary about the 2015 Cardinals season, that’s what it should be titled.  Just Enough.

We’ve pointed out before their record in one-run games and it only got better on Wednesday night, when Yadier Molina played the Hero and broke a 3-3 tie with his 100th career home run (coincidentally, it was also the team’s 100th of the season).  Trevor Rosenthal worked a smooth ninth with two strikeouts and everyone went home happy.  Just enough.

The sad thing is that just enough was all that we saw.  Matt Cain came in struggling and started off this game shaky as well, but the offense couldn’t get anything going.  (To be fair, they’d have had another run in the first had not Juan Perez not channeled Spider-Man on Stephen Piscotty‘s drive.)  This was a situation where the bats should have been able to click a little bit, but yet the offense still stayed mired in its malaise.  It took a dropped ball by the catcher in the seventh for the Cardinals to tie the game–if it’s Buster Posey there instead of Andrew Susac, it’s possible that the Cards would have again wasted two-on-and-nobody-out.  There’s just nothing after the cleanup hitter that gives folks hope that a rally can be sustained.

Interestingly enough, all the starters save Matt Carpenter, who drove in that seventh-inning run with a groundout, actually got a hit in this game, but they were too spread out to do any good.  It’s why the Cards are 16th in the majors in batting average but 22nd in runs–the hits may come, but they don’t come together.  It takes two hits, maybe three to score a run and that’s posing some problems these days.  These ain’t your 2013 St. Louis Cardinals.

It works because of the pitching, of course.  We’ve gone over that time and time again.  This game was no different, as Jaime Garcia looked devestating in the first few innings before faltering a bit at the end of his time in the game.  Early on, I thought that Garcia might be able to throw a no-hitter and he allowed just one in the first four innings.  Then the fifth inning came and while things didn’t fall apart, he did remind us how spoiled we’ve been.  One in the fifth (on a sacrifice fly by the pitcher), one in the sixth (three hits, though he struck out the last two with two on) and one in the seventh (that scored when Steve Cishek allowed his inherited runner to score).  Three runs in 6.1 innings is not a bad night by most standards.  That’s a quality start right there.  And yet we’ve come so used to shutouts and one run games that three runs seems like a stumble.

I’m really not sure who to pick for a Goat, since so many folks were pretty equally mediocre.  Like I say, most everyone got a hit, but just one (Piscotty should have had two and at least his one was a long ball).  I guess I’ll go ahead and give it to Steve Cishek because the run that he allowed put the Cards behind late and so often that would have been the death knell.  Really a tough call, though.

Mike Matheny said that he’s put Peter Bourjos in a tough spot.  Well, at least he recognizes it.  While his rationale makes some sense, I’m still not sure that I’d have gone about it the way he has.  The mantra around Bourjos is that he needs to play regularly to hit.  The problem is, how regular is regularly?  Can you really afford to let him play a couple of weeks in a row if he can’t hit until after that time?  Are we sure that he really can hit if he gets that time?  He had a strong season once, true, but there’s no guarantees that was anything more than a career year.

Still, Matheny’s strength is to be a leader of men.  I can’t imagine it helps Bourjos feel like part of a team when you immediately throw the guy from Memphis ahead of him or the guy that was traded for and can’t hit a lick.  It’s probably a guarantee that someone on a 25-man roster is going to get the short end of the stick–and, to be fair, he does play more than Pete Kozma, so he’s got that going for him–but it’s still got to be a tough pill to swallow for the guy.

Jordan Walden still says he doesn’t need surgery, but he’s still not ready to return and will be visiting with a doctor for the next steps in his rehab.  I continue to think that we’re going to find out in this offseason that he really does need surgery and we’ll miss out on him for part of next season as well.  Hopefully I’m wrong on this, but it seems like the rest and rehab bit aren’t working as well as folks would like.  We’ve gone backwards, in fact, since he made some appearances and it looked like he’d be back in St. Louis by mid-August.  Then he stopped throwing and we’re no closer to seeing him than we were before.  Again, I hope I’m just being pessimistic on this and he’ll be able to contribute in September and October, but I’m having a hard time believing that.

I saw on the FOX Midwest postgame on Wednesday that Matheny had moved past Joe Torre on the all-time Cardinal managerial wins list.  I’m not exactly sure what it says about either him, the teams he’s had, or the organization’s history, but that puts him ninth all time.  In less than four seasons.  107 more wins and he moves into sixth on the list.  Given he’ll probably get another 20 or so this year, it seems probable he’ll get that mark next year. It doesn’t seem out of the question that, sometime around 2018 if he’s still here (and do you really expect him not to be), he’ll be behind only Tony La Russa, Red Schoendienst and Whitey Herzog.  Do you think Matheny will ever been regarded as well as those guys are?  I don’t know.  It’s just interesting to see him have so much success so early.  Many would say that’s a function of good players and that’s true, but the others have had great players as well.

Cardinals start what could be a brutal 10-game road trip tonight.  It’s not so much the level of competition as the fact that you are out on the West Coast and doing so with a depleted roster.  You start in San Diego, which has always been a pitcher’s park, and end in San Francisco, another place where offense is not a large factor.  So if you wanted the bats to get going, you probably better hope they click during the four games in Arizona.  Otherwise we may see a lot more games where we’re hoping for just enough.

Mike’s done a great job rounding up info on the Padres series, so check that out if you’ve not already.  John Lackey and Andrew Cashner meet up tonight in a late game from Petco Park.  I’m surprised at Cashner’s rough numbers for this year, as I’ve always considered him a quality young starter.  As Mike notes, he shut down the Cardinals pretty well when he faced them earlier in the year, so it’s likely going to be another struggle to get runs this evening, especially if Jason Heyward still isn’t in the lineup.

Jason Heyward 7 6 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .333 .429 .333 .762 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 7 6 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .571 .500 1.071 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Tommy Pham 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Michael Wacha 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 31 28 6 0 0 0 0 3 4 .214 .290 .214 .505 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/21/2015.

Lackey, of course, is coming off a stellar outing against the Marlins where he allowed two runs in 8.1 innings.  He’s been strong enough this season that folks are talking about re-signing him at the end of this season.  I appreciate what Lackey’s done, but I’m not sure that is the best use of the Cardinals’ resources.  That’s a discussion for another time, though.

Melvin Upton 33 32 6 1 0 2 5 1 13 .188 .212 .406 .618 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Kemp 16 16 2 0 0 0 0 0 8 .125 .125 .125 .250 0 0 0 0 0
Justin Upton 9 6 1 1 0 0 0 3 4 .167 .444 .333 .778 0 0 0 0 0
Clint Barmes 7 7 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 .286 .286 .429 .714 0 0 0 0 0
Alexi Amarista 6 6 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .667 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Jedd Gyorko 3 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Derek Norris 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Yangervis Solarte 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Brett Wallace 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 83 78 17 5 0 2 6 5 29 .218 .265 .359 .624 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/21/2015.

A good bottom line there, though it’s heavily weighted by beating up on Melvin Upton, which isn’t necessarily a stunning achievement.  Hopefully he can continue his success against these hitters and get this road trip off to a great start!

1 comment


It’s amazing that so many people across the internet hate the Cardinals.  Given their performance of late, they are the most inoffensive bunch of players you’re likely to come across.

St. Louis has had, counting last night, 28 games where they’ve had six hits or less.  The fact that they are 14-14 in such games is a testament to how good the pitching has been.  Still, it’s a problem and it’s been getting worse–of those 28 games, 13 of them have come since the first of July.  That means fully 30% of the games they’ve played since June have been offensive struggles.  I know we’ve said that playing close, low-scoring games is good practice for the postseason, but you can’t win if you can’t score and, odds are, without some hits, you aren’t going to score.

That was the case last night.  When you get to face Ryan Vogelsong instead of Mike Leake, you really should take advantage and it looked early like the Cardinals would.  Stephen Piscotty singled with one out and Brandon Moss walked with two down, bringing up Yadier Molina.  Molina’s grounder didn’t quite get through the infield, though, and no runs would score.  That was the most potent inning the Cardinals would see all night long.  The only two batters to reach after that were Jhonny Peralta with a double in the fourth and Matt Carpenter with a walk in the ninth.  That’s it.  You look at the line and say, “Two hits? Two blankity-blank hits?” in the vein of Major League.

There was a lot of talk about the second run the Giants gave up, but the first one was all they really needed.  Lance Lynn gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning and, with one out, walked Buster Posey to load them up for Brandon Crawford, who always seems to come through.  I guess we should count ourselves lucky that it was a soft grounder instead of a bases-clearing double, which it easily could have been.  If it’d been a little harder, perhaps Carpenter could have started a double play, but all he could do was get the runner at first, allowing Gregor Blanco to score.

Given the scuffles in that inning and given the razor-thin margin of error a lineup that had Moss, Mark Reynolds, and Tommy Pham all playing at the same time, you’d think Mike Matheny would have been a little itchy with the bullpen hook.  After all, that’s why John Mozeliak strengthened it at the deadline, right?  Lynn was allowed to start the seventh and that made sense.  It’s one run, he’s around 85 pitches, he’s not coming up in the order soon, so everything there was good.

Lynn then has an 11 pitch AB before retiring Ryan Lollis.  Six more pitches and he strikes out Justin Maxwell.  So now he’s over 100 pitches.  Two outs in the inning, so nothing to worry about.  Then Madison Bumgarner, and it tells you something about the state of this Cardinals team that more people would want Bumgarner on the team for his stick than his arm, gets a pinch-hit single.  Six pitches later, he walks Blanco.

Two on, two out, your pitcher is well over 100 pitches (actually over 110) with the heart of the lineup coming up.  Would seem to be the place to go get him, right?  Ah, but you aren’t Matheny and you don’t have this deep and abiding desire to let your players go out on their own terms.  So, instead, Lynn walks Matt Duffy on six pitches (though I’ll be honest, I thought ball three was strike three) and finally gets pulled with the bases loaded.

I’m not absolving Randy Choate for his outing, because it’s bad when you are a LOOGY and you can’t get your guy, but it’s really bad when you plunk him.  Choate’s now faced 98 batters on the year and hit six of them, which seems like a high percentage. I mean, he’s only walked three!  33 of the 98 have reached base via hit, walk, or HBP, so maybe bringing him into a bases-loaded situation isn’t really ideal.  That said, there’s no room for a mistake in that situation, which means no matter who came it, it was going to be a tough thing (though Seth Maness came in and faced Posey in that situation after the HBP and was able to do it).

I guess I need to find a Hero and Goat in this one, huh?  I’ll give the Hero to Jhonny Peralta because he had the only extra-base hit and the Goat to Yadier Molina for leaving not only those two on in the first but Peralta in the fourth.  A hit from Molina in either spot might have changed the complexion of the game.

Of course, when the offense has to field a lineup without Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk and Jason Heyward, it’s not terribly surprising that there’s some offensive struggles.  What’s amazing is that even with all those injuries, Peter Bourjos still can’t get a start.  Matheny would rather run Moss out there in left than scoot Pham over there and put Bourjos in center.  Moss had one ball glance off his glove, giving Crawford an iffy double (really surprised it wasn’t ruled an error) though he did chase down a couple of flies well.  Still, you know it’s going to be a defensive struggle, as it were.  Why would you not want Bourjos and Pham covering ground?  I’m not saying I’m a Bourjos fan, because I think he’s been outplayed a lot of his time in St. Louis, but not playing him now is ridiculous.  Gotta feel for the guy and hopefully next year he’s somewhere they’ll actually use him.

At least it appears Heyward’s injury isn’t terribly serious.  While he probably won’t start tonight, he would seem to be available to pinch-hit and, with the off day tomorrow, he could be ready to go for the San Diego series.  So there is hopefully a bullet dodged.  This team really couldn’t handle him being out an extended period along with everyone else.

We’ll see if the offense can come to life with Matt Cain on the hill.  Cain’s dealt with injury and struggled this season, with a 2-3 record and an ERA over 6 in eight starts.  The Cardinals have always been a bugaboo for him in the past as well–he’s 2-5 with a 6.63 in 10 career starts against the Redbirds.  Put all that together and maybe the Cardinals can get seven hits tonight.  I don’t want to raise your expectations too high, though, because we know how these situations have worked out for them in the past.

Yadier Molina 25 22 9 1 0 0 1 1 1 .409 .440 .455 .895 0 1 0 1 1
Mark Reynolds 23 21 5 3 0 2 3 1 8 .238 .304 .667 .971 0 0 0 1 0
Brandon Moss 15 15 3 0 0 1 1 0 6 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 12 12 8 0 0 1 7 0 3 .667 .667 .917 1.583 0 0 0 0 0
Pete Kozma 10 10 4 0 0 0 1 0 2 .400 .400 .400 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Jason Heyward 7 6 1 1 0 0 0 1 2 .167 .286 .333 .619 0 0 0 0 1
Jhonny Peralta 6 6 1 1 0 0 2 0 3 .167 .167 .333 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Tony Cruz 3 3 1 1 0 0 2 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Villanueva 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jaime Garcia 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 106 100 32 7 0 4 17 3 28 .320 .349 .510 .859 0 1 0 2 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/19/2015.

At least the game should be close if the offense is quiet because Jaime Garcia is on the mound for St. Louis.  Garcia’s been stellar all year long and was just outs away from a shutout last time against Miami before leaving in the ninth inning.

Hunter Pence 24 22 5 1 1 1 2 2 5 .227 .292 .500 .792 0 0 1 0 0
Justin Maxwell 14 11 6 3 0 1 4 3 4 .545 .643 1.091 1.734 0 0 1 0 0
Buster Posey 9 9 3 1 0 0 1 0 2 .333 .333 .444 .778 0 0 0 0 0
Gregor Blanco 6 6 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Crawford 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Madison Bumgarner 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Cain 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Vogelsong 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 66 61 18 5 1 2 8 5 19 .295 .348 .508 .857 0 0 2 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/19/2015.

The Giants have hit him some in the past, but Garcia is probably as strong as we’ve seen him in his career.  I expect we’ll probably see another pitching duel again tonight, but hopefully with the right outcome!


The Giants in town.  Little offense.  Strong pitching.  A tight game decided late.  All you needed were some cooler temperatures and you’d swear we were watching yet another NLCS game between these two clubs.  Instead, it was an August game that didn’t have quite the same gravitas, but had significant import nonetheless.

There was some idea that this was a rematch or a meaningful game for Michael Wacha given that the last time he saw the Giants, they ended St. Louis’s season.  I think that was a bit overwrought, given that Wacha only pitched to four batters in the entire series.  Yes, it happened to be the last ones, but I doubt that he held such a personal animosity toward the organization.  That series didn’t hinge on Wacha.  All that said, he went out and pitched like he had a score to settle.  (Alternate take: he pitched pretty much like he always does.)  One run in seven innings with six strikeouts is a nice night at the office.  It makes you wonder what if he was healthy last October…..

For a while there, though, it looked like this offense was going to make him pay for him allowing a couple of hits in close succession.  Chris Heston, and I totally forgot until the broadcast last night that he was the one that threw the no-hitter earlier in the year, didn’t exactly have his best stuff, walking five to go along with four hits in 4.2 innings.  However, not terribly surprisingly given this squad, the Cardinals wouldn’t capitalize fully, scoring only one run and that one coming on a Yadier Molina home run (which was good to see, as we have pretty much written off Yadi as a singles hitter lately).  The biggest fail was in the fourth following that homer, when Heston wound up walking the bases loaded, only to see our Goat, Kolten Wong, strike out.  (To be fair, the last pitch in that sequence was a fairly nasty offering, but that doesn’t mean Wong should have gotten to that point.)

Wacha, as noted, really just had one spot of trouble.  Back to back singles opened the sixth, but Wacha almost got out of that when Wong worked some double play magic, tagging the runner going to second before throwing to first.  It looked like he might work his way out of things, but Brandon Crawford hit a deep drive and brought in the tying run.  I’ve always had a semi-irrational fear of Crawford up in big situations ever since he was so impossible to get out in the 2012 NLCS.  This year, it’s not irrational given the season he’s having.

With this offense, I was really afraid of a late inning mistake by the bullpen being the deciding factor.  Thankfully, the mistake came from the San Francisco infield instead.  Our Hero of the night is Stephen Piscotty, who got a triple with one out in the eighth as one of his two hits.  After an intentional walk to Brandon Moss (which, while quite understandable strategically, is somewhat surprising given his recent history) Mark Reynolds grounded into an almost tailor-made double play, except for the fact that Crawford couldn’t get a handle on it, then rushed his throw after tagging second.  Reynolds reaches, Piscotty scores, and that (after Reynolds gets greedy and is tossed out trying to steal) sends us to the ninth.

The box score shows that Trevor Rosenthal had a successful save outing.  It shows a pristine line marred only by a walk.  In actuality, if the ball carries a bit more last night, Rosie might have given up two homers.  Both Hunter Pence and pinch-hitter Buster Posey took Peter Bourjos, who had just come in for defensive purposes, back to the wall to make the catch of their fly balls.  Posey’s in particular would have sent the Cards to the bottom of the ninth trailing had it had a foot or two more on it.  It didn’t, though, and St. Louis puts up win 76, gaining a game on Pittsburgh in the process.

What might be more lasting out of last night’s game was the fact that Jason Heyward left it with some tightness in his hamstring.  With this coming on the heels of Randal Grichuk going on the disabled list (as noted in the press release published yesterday, Tommy Pham has rejoined the team and went 0-3 last night after coming in for Heyward), it seemed like the Cardinals were going to wind up running through anyone that could play outfield in the organization, though we’re still not sure that’d get Bourjos regular playing time.  The hope is that it’s not a serious issue and that the Cardinals and Heyward were playing it safe, but until they run tests today, we have no idea.  Reading the article, it sounds like they just knew they couldn’t afford to lose Heyward for any amount of time and wanted to get him out of there before he did any lasting damage.  That’s the hope, at least.

Grichuk’s issue is more serious, to the point where he won’t be back on the field until after rosters expand.  He’s got a strain and a sprain, which makes sense.  I mean, Grichuk’s made the most of his playing time, why not make the most of his injuries?  And, of course, this is a bit of a strange injury for an outfielder.  The Cardinals specialize in strange injuries–see Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter–and nothing can ever be normal for this team.  Hopefully the thought of John Mozeliak that Grichuk will be back by mid-September is accurate and he’ll have time to get back into a rhythm before the playoffs.  It would be even tougher for this offense to generate October runs without him in the lineup.

Mike Leake was supposed to go tonight for the Giants, but he’s continuing to deal with his injury and has been pushed back again, much to the consternation of some of the folks over at our friendly neighborhood Giants blog.  It’s got to be frustrating when you make a deadline deal for a guy and then he’s hurt too much to really contribute.  He’s pitched one game for them since the trade on July 30, which really wasn’t what San Francisco had in mind.  So instead of Leake, whom the Cardinals have had trouble with even this year when he was with the Reds, they’ll face Ryan Vogelsong.  Vogelsong is 8-8 with a 4.15 ERA but did well against St. Louis last year.  His last regular season start against them saw him allow two runs in seven innings, though his start in May in Busch was a little rougher (four runs, 6.2 innings).  The Cardinals got to him in the postseason, though, tagging him for four runs in three innings.

Yadier Molina 27 25 4 0 0 0 0 2 1 .160 .222 .160 .382 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 17 13 6 1 1 0 1 4 3 .462 .588 .692 1.281 0 0 0 0 1
Jason Heyward 13 11 4 1 0 1 1 2 0 .364 .462 .727 1.189 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 13 11 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 .182 .308 .182 .490 0 0 0 0 4
Pete Kozma 9 8 4 0 0 0 1 1 1 .500 .556 .500 1.056 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 5 4 2 1 0 1 1 1 2 .500 .600 1.500 2.100 0 0 0 0 0
Peter Bourjos 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 1
Brandon Moss 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Jaime Garcia 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Total 95 82 24 3 1 2 5 12 10 .293 .383 .427 .810 1 0 0 0 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/18/2015.

Lance Lynn tries to get the taste of failure out of his mouth, making his first start since not finishing the first inning against the Pirates.  You have to figure Lynn’s going to be pretty focused tonight and, when he’s on his game, Lynn is very tough to beat.  Unfortunately, the lasting image I have of Lynn against the Giants is him actually hitting second base with a throw in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS.  That’s tough to shake, you know?  Even though he gave up just two runs in 5.2 innings in his 2014 NLDS start against them, that’s what I remember.  (Though his only start against them in the 2014 regular season wasn’t encouraging either–seven runs, though only four earned, in 3.1 innings.)  Let’s hope the past stays the past and Lynn can keep the Giants off the bases tonight.

Hunter Pence 16 16 5 0 0 0 1 0 3 .313 .313 .313 .625 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Crawford 13 12 3 2 0 0 4 1 6 .250 .308 .417 .724 0 0 0 0 0
Buster Posey 13 13 4 0 0 1 4 0 5 .308 .308 .538 .846 0 0 0 0 0
Gregor Blanco 10 7 2 0 1 0 2 3 2 .286 .500 .571 1.071 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Belt 9 8 4 0 0 0 1 1 1 .500 .556 .500 1.056 0 0 0 0 0
Justin Maxwell 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Jake Peavy 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Madison Bumgarner 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 71 66 18 2 1 1 12 5 24 .273 .324 .379 .703 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/18/2015.

It may be in the 80s at game time (and a summer shower may be around) but the baseball’s likely going to make us feel like October yet again!


A Giant Conversation

In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten to know Craig and his community of posters over at THE San Francisco Giants Blog.  We had such a good time interacting during last year’s NLCS than I wanted to touch base with Craig as the two teams meet again tonight for the first time this season.  Craig shot me some questions (you can find them over here) and he was gracious enough to answer some of my own.

C70: Given the different divisions and time zones, I’ve not kept as close of an eye on the Giants as I should. A quick look at the stats seems to show a fairly balanced mix of hitting and pitching. So what’s the snapshot of this season so far? What seems to be the regular strengths and weaknesses?

Craig: I think we are all surprised by the offense this year, considering we lost Pablo, Pence was out for several weeks to start the year and Pagan has been horrible at the plate and at bat. And then you look at their hitting stats and they are at the top or near the top of the National League in several important categories. Doing that in a pitchers park has been almost unreal. The starting pitching has been underwhelming and that has taxed the bullpen to the breaking point. In fact, if we don’t get starters to go deeper into games (Bumgarner is the only guy I ever feel confident about going 6+) it could end up being the reason we fade in the standings.

C70: Even though it’s an odd year, the Giants sit 2.5 back of the division and 3.5 of the last wild card. Are folks optimistic that they’ll be able to cut either gap?

Craig: The Cubs beat down was an eye opener (first time they’ve swept us in 4 since, I think, 1977) and kind of dulled the shine of a potential wild card berth. The Dodgers have their problems and I think we all believe that the division is the most realistic goal for us this year. If we make it through this rough August stretch no more than 5 games back of LA we will have a good shot of chewing up games quickly on them in September.

C70: Tell me about this Chris Heston who starts tonight. It looks like he’s the new face in the rotation and that he’s done fairly well so far.

Craig: Heston came out of nowhere. Actually we have several players that were never ranked highly by any of the baseball prospect pundits (Duffy and Panik to name two more). Their success has made me question the validity of the people ranking prospects. Regardless, Heston is the real deal. Earlier in the year I compared him to John Burkett and I stand by that comparison today. His ball has a lot of downward movement, when he’s on you’ll see a lot of ground balls. But he can get the K’s too. I’m a little concerned with his workload and he’s a guy who could definitely start to fade like a lot of young players do at this time of year. But he is our #2 and he is critical to the success of our season…….

C70: Who’s been the big surprise this year? Who’s been the big disappointment?

Craig: Duffy and Heston have been the biggest surprise. Pagan has been impossible to watch. Cain has been the most disappointing because I really thought he was going to come back strong. But after getting chips taken out of his elbow he’s been able to extend his pitching arm for the first time in years and while that SOUNDS good it’s been a struggle for him to find a consistent motion. It’s like trying to pitch with someone else’s arm. His location has been abysmal and I’m wondering if Matt Cain had one way to pitch and if that one way is gone forever…..

C70: What are your expectations for this series?

Craig: I would be ecstatic if we could bank one for sure but don’t feel super confident about that. Of course, I didn’t think we’d sweep the Nats this weekend and we did that easy as pie. What exactly does “easy as pie” mean anyway? The cliche doesn’t seem to match up with the intended meaning.

My thanks to Craig for not only answering my questions, but tossing out a thought exercise to end the whole thing.  I mean, he’s right.  I don’t know that making a pie is all that easy.  It surely wouldn’t be if I were trying to make it.  And eating a pie, depending on the type, isn’t necessarily easy either as the filling could fall out and make a big mess.  Something to ponder this evening!  Again, I encourage you to head over to Craig’s blog and say hi.  They aren’t going to bite, I don’t think!


Just Keep Winning Series

Sorry for the long gap in posts, but it was a fairly unusual week around my house and, as such, I didn’t get in front of the computer much.  Sadly, I’ve kinda mastered these recap posts this season, so let’s dive in.

Wednesday (4-2 win vs. Pittsburgh)

Hero: Yadier Molina.  It took a mistimed dive, but Yadi wound up with the go-ahead triple and then scored on Stephen Piscotty‘s base hit right after.  He also doubled and stole a base, which meant he was all sorts of wonderful in this one.  He even caught Gregory Polanco stealing to make it an all-around great night.  How do you top that?

Goat: It was a rough night for Brandon Moss.  0-3 with three strikeouts is a terrible burden when you are trying oh-so-hard to make a good impression on a new organization.  The swing may come, but right now the Cards aren’t getting a whole lot out of that deal.

Notes: Not exactly a dominating start by Michael Wacha, but he limited the damage from the nine hits he allowed and put together a start that would be noteworthy—on any staff but the 2015 Cardinals.  Two runs in six innings on this team, though, is pretty ho-hum.  He did wind up with seven strikeouts, but Andrew McCutchen struck for a homer and a triple.  No shame there, though, given his talent.

Not a lot of offense in this one–the first two runs scored on a groundout by Jason Heyward, which was augmented by a throwing error by Neil Walker.  Still, all you have to do is score one more than the opponent, which is a little easier to do with this pitching staff.

Thursday (10-5 loss vs. Pittsburgh)

Hero:  Call me biased–it wouldn’t be the first time–but Tyler Lyons deserved this tag.  Not necessarily planning to pitch in this game, he came into a two-out, first-and-second situation….in the first inning, already down 6-0.  The first batter he saw was Walker, who smacked a single and drove in a run.  After that, only three more batters reached over the next 5.1 innings and two of those were hits by Pedro Alvarez, who–as we know–is a Sith Lord in training.  Lyons kept the Pirates off the board and that allowed for the offense to make a comeback.  While it wound up to be a futile one, the fact that the go-ahead run ever came to the plate is a testament to how well the Patron Pitcher did his job.

Goat: Lance Lynn.  There’s no doubting this one.  Lynn took 40 pitches to get two outs and was just strafed in this one.  (For comparison sake, I don’t think Lyons hit the 40-pitch mark until the fourth.)  He had nothing other than his fastball and the Pirates figured that out very, very quickly.  It’s really frustrating (though perhaps somewhat due to the large gap) that the one night the Cards hit Francisco Liriano, they are in such a hole it doesn’t really matter.  Lynn had some bad luck, true, but even if he’d escaped the first, I’m not sure the rest of the night would have gone any better for him.

Notes: The Cards did get five off of Liriano and Joakim Soria, but Tony Watson kept it from being worse.  Molina came up with the bases loaded and one out and the score 7-4, meaning a grand slam would have put them on top.  His sacrifice fly did cut the gap a bit, but that seemed to stop the momentum of the inning and Pittsburgh wriggled away.  Good nights for Jhonny Peralta (2-4, run, RBI), Heyward (2-3, BB), Molina (1-3, 3 RBI) and, save his throwing error in the first, Matt Carpenter (2-4, BB, 2 runs).  Typical Cardinals, they scored all their runs on nine hits, all singles.  It’d take a few days before the power really showed up.

Oh, and Seth Maness just got drilled in this one, allowing three in the ninth to make sure there was no chance at a late comeback (though it kept Mark Melancon from taking back the saves lead for another day or so).  We didn’t even have the usual “Maness has pitched too much lately” excuse as it’d been 3-4 days since he last got out there.  He did throw a scoreless inning in the Miami series, though, so right now we’ll just chalk it up to a bad day.

Friday (3-1 win vs. Miami)

Hero: You don’t really carve fish, but that’s pretty much what Jaime Garcia did in this one.  He took a shutout into the ninth inning before putting a couple of runners on and turning it over to Trevor Rosenthal.  Six hits, six strikeouts, the one run that did score on his mark was unearned after a Heyward error–you wouldn’t think someone with a sub-2 ERA could lower it very easily, but Garcia dropped his to 1.57.  Outstanding work all the way around.

Goat: A quiet night for a few folks, but we’ll give this one to Kolten Wong, who was batting second and went 0-4.  Molina and Heyward also had hitless nights as, well, you pretty much needed Garcia to be as dominant as he was to get a win here.

Notes: As he so often does, Carpenter crafted the offense in this one, getting two RBI in very different ways.  How often do you see someone bunt a runner home and then crack a home run in the same game?  It’s not an everyday occurrence.  Randal Grichuk and Mark Reynolds also had two hits, with both of them having a double as part of their portfolio.

Saturday (6-2 win vs. Miami)

Hero: John Lackey.  For the second straight night, a Cardinal starter tried for a complete game.  Lackey had been touched a little more than Garcia, but he still got one out in the ninth before a single sent Mike Matheny out there to bring in Steve Cishek.  It’s pretty interesting, in fact, that as great as this pitching staff has been this season, no starter has a complete game.  That’s partly a function of some young pitchers and no Adam Wainwright, but it’s still a little surprising.  Lackey allowed two runs (including a rare balked-in one) and actually mustered two hits of his own, which is quite impressive from the career American Leaguer.

Goat: Matt Carpenter.  He can’t be Superman every night, but it’s a touch more frustrating when the pitcher gets two hits and turns over the lineup and the leadoff guy can’t do anything with it.  0-4 in this one, leaving three on base.

Notes: Great night for Piscotty, who had three hits (two doubles) and scored two runs.  Reynolds finally hit one over the wall, becoming the first person not named Carpenter or Grichuk to hit a home run since Peralta did it on August 1.  (Carp had 5 and Grichuk 4 long balls in that span.)  Molina also had a couple of hits as the Cards got their biggest win since the 6-0 victory over Milwaukee eight days before.

Sunday (6-4 loss vs. Miami)

Hero: Jason Heyward.  Dan and I talked on the most recent Best Dans In Baseball about Heyward’s lack of power.  That went up Sunday morning.  Apparently Mr. Heyward didn’t care much for our discussion (though we did say he was valuable even without the home runs!) and went deep twice, the second time giving the team a 3-1 lead that, with Carlos Martinez on the mound, seemed pretty solid.  It was not to be, however.

Goat: Kolten Wong.  An 0-4 day is going to put you in the Goat discussion anytime, but when you make two errors, including a key one that opened some floodgates, you’ve pretty much got this award locked up.  As it was noted on Twitter, Wong’s played every day for about a month.  With Greg Garcia in Memphis, you wonder if Matheny might run out one of those Carpenter to second lineups during this upcoming series to give Wong a bit of a breather.

Notes: I’ve been waiting for Piscotty to break the seal and he finally got his first homer of his career in this one.  Unfortunately, he had an ugly strikeout late in the game with runners on so it wasn’t a perfect day by any means.  Carpenter had a couple of hits, because that’s pretty much what Carpenter does now.  It’s a surprise when none of them go for extra bases.

As for Martinez, he didn’t get a lot going his way and his ERA didn’t take a hit with four unearned runs, but allowing a bases-loaded triple isn’t a great way to battle back.  I didn’t get to see any of this game, so I don’t know if he was pitching well and it was a good bit of hitting by Derek Dietrich or Martinez got frustrated and tried to overthrow his way out of the jam, but you never want to see Martinez scuffle like that.  In his last four starts, he’s given up 16 runs (though only 10 of them were earned) and you start to wonder when fatigue will set in.  He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on as we get into September.

It’s telling that the Cardinals have gone 7-3 over their last 10 games, yet have lost a game on their lead to the Pirates and two on the lead to the Cubs.  The NL Central is a crazy place right now with three of the best NL teams all battling it out.  It’s amazing to think that if the Cards were immediately transplanted in almost any other division, they’d be up by double digits.  A five game lead is nice, but it’s not something that would be set in stone, especially since there are more games coming with Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Will there be folks coming in September to help?  We know that Matt Holliday hopefully will be there then, though there’s no real timetable.  The club continues to say that it’s impressed with how Matt Adams is coming along and those comments start allowing for speculation he’d be at least a bench bat once rosters expand at the beginning of next month.  And, as we’ve noted before, Wainwright continues to say he’ll be back this season, though it would seem at best as a reliever.  He’s been playing catch and would begin mound work in September.  If the Cards could get some spacing between themselves and the Pirates, they might try to run Waino out there a few times, see what he has.  Even so, putting him on a postseason roster would make for some very difficult decisions as there are already too many quality options for the spots that are going to be available.  So I don’t think we’ll see Wainwright in October, even if he cameos in September.

After Sunday’s game, the club announced Grichuk was going to get an MRI on his elbow, which forced him to leave the game early.  Hopefully this is just precautionary because, as noted above, he’s a huge part of the limited long ball attack for this club.  If he does have to go on the DL, Tommy Pham might get another chance to show that he belongs at the big league level, but as much as our friend Bob Netherton might relish that opportunity, I think I’m hoping Grichuk doesn’t provide it.

Also in that link is the fact that the tentative schedule is being worked on and it appears not only that Albert Pujols isn’t going to be coming back with the Angels next year, like folks had expected, but the Cards would start the season on the road for the fifth straight year.  Now, I know that the club tends to like to start away from home for financial reasons (it means more home dates in the summer when school is out, plus can help have more home games down the stretch) but it still seems wrong when one of the crown jewels of baseball is wearing the grays on Opening Day.  It’s not a huge thing, but I think the home opener is a little diminished when it’s not the season opener.  Then again, I’ve never been to Opening Day, so maybe I’m quite mistaken.

Cardinals and Giants get together for the first time this season starting tonight.  The last time we saw that club, Travis Ishikawa was taking Michael Wacha yard.  It’s quite a different Wacha that goes tonight versus that game, when he was making his first appearance in the playoffs.  Wacha’s scoreless streak was snapped by the Pirates, but he’s perfectly capable of extending whatever small one he had at the end of that game.  Wacha’s not seen the Giants a lot, but he’s done a pretty good job against them when he has faced them.

Hunter Pence 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Gregor Blanco 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .333 .000 .333 0 0 0 1 0
Ehire Adrianza 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Yusmeiro Petit 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Hector Sanchez 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Belt 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 14 12 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 .083 .214 .083 .298 0 0 0 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/16/2015.

San Francisco will counter with Chris Heston, a young righthander who has yet to face the Redbirds.  Heston is 11-7 on the year with a 3.38 ERA, nice numbers for a guy that seems to be flying under the radar.  (The West Coast will do that to a player.)  Last time out he limited the Astros to one run in 6.1 innings but wound up taking the loss anyway.  This might be an interesting challenge for the Cardinal lineup.

As always, if you want to see the series from the other side, be sure to check out our friends at THE San Francisco Giants Blog.  Craig and the gang know their stuff and were nothing less than welcoming to me whenever I’ve interacted with them, even last year in the NLCS.  Should be a fun series!


Doing Just Enough

The Cardinals have won 72 games and lost 40.  It’s not true that all of them have been decided by one run, it just feels that way.

Actually, only 45 of those games were one-run contests, but the way the pitching staff has gone and the way the offense has sputtered, you’d be forgiven for thinking there were more of them.  And last night’s wasn’t the 2-1, 1-0 type of game that we associate with this squad and them doing just enough to win, but it goes in the same category.

Before we get into the game proper, can we take a moment to say how this Pirates team seems directly constructed to take on the Cardinals?  We saw it last night, with Pedro Alvarez (the student) hitting a home run and Aramis Ramirez (the master) with an RBI single.  Just imagine what it’ll be like on Thursday when Francisco Liriano takes the mound as well.  It’s like the Avengers of Cardinal killers, so any game that the club can win with those folks involved is an added bonus.

When Josh (otherwise known as Prospect Preacher around these parts) texted me last night asking about the Hero of the game, I immediately went to Carlos Martinez.  I mean, he went eight innings, he held the line (though he did give up three runs, he didn’t allow the hole to get deeper) and he struck out eight batters.  It’s not a bad night at all, though amazingly it probably is one of the weaker pitching performances of recent vintage, which just tells you how crazy this pitching staff really is.

On further reflection, though, I think you have to go with Stephen Piscotty for the title.  Piscotty had his first three-hit night in the bigs, mixing a double in there, and drove in the go-ahead run in the big three-run fifth.  I know I’ve said before how impressive he’s been, not allowing the big leagues to fluster him or force him away from his game.  We’ve talked about him hitting in the second spot, which I still think is a good place for him behind the revitalized Matt Carpenter, but if Mike Matheny wants the rookie in a place of less pressure, he still needs to be up in the lineup.  It was good to see him move from eighth to seventh, but he probably could even move ahead of Yadier Molina and help the offense.

It was quite good to see an invigorated Trevor Rosenthal out in the ninth last night, striking out the side which included Alvarez.  Given how he struggled against the Pirates the last time we saw them, having a bit of a bounce back probably made him feel pretty good as well.  Of course, this time he went out there without his arm feeling like it was going to fall off, since he hadn’t pitched since Saturday.  That might make a bit of a difference, don’t you think?  Matheny is going to have to make sure he’s rested in October, though the off-days in the schedule can help that as well.

Jason Heyward had an eventful evening, going two for four, driving in two runs (one on a reviewed double play that got reversed in St. Louis’s favor) and having a triple go off his glove in the outfield.  It almost looked like he thought it was going to be a relatively easy catch but the ball didn’t land exactly where he thought it would, bouncing off the wall and letting Gregory Polanco get to third.  On the whole, though, I think Heyward’s contributions more than made up for that.

Gotta find a Goat for this one and I think we have to go with Randal Grichuk for that one.  0-4 with a strikeout, which was huge because it was with the bases loaded and only one out.  Molina couldn’t pick him up either, which made that look like a really big wasted opportunity when Alvarez went deep in the next frame.  Grichuk left six on overall–I guess even Superman is Clark Kent every once in a while.

All in all, it was a bit of an atypical win for the Cardinals last night.  It helped that they weren’t facing a dominating pitcher, as they kept getting chance after chance with Jeff Locke, but how often have we seen this team get down to a middling pitcher and not be able to muster anything?  So often, as Kevin Reynolds pointed out on Twitter last night, 3-1 feels like 6-1 with this squad.  To see them rally and win the game is a great feeling and hopefully something that they remember during tough situations down the stretch.

Problem is, if they get down 3-1 tonight they probably aren’t going to be able to do much as Gerrit Cole takes the mound for Pittsburgh.  You know, the Gerrit Cole that leads the league in wins, has an ERA that would look right at home in the Cardinals’ rotation, and strikes out a batter an inning while walking someone about as often as Pete Kozma gets praised on the Internet.  This is going to be a tough task for St. Louis, which made getting a win last night all the more important.  Now Pittsburgh, at best, can leave town four back instead of two back, which makes the race look a lot different.

Matt Carpenter 21 18 4 0 0 2 4 3 1 .222 .333 .556 .889 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 16 16 3 0 0 1 1 0 1 .188 .188 .375 .563 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 15 14 4 2 0 0 0 1 3 .286 .333 .429 .762 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 14 14 3 1 0 1 2 0 2 .214 .214 .500 .714 0 0 0 0 0
Jason Heyward 10 8 2 1 0 0 0 2 1 .250 .400 .375 .775 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 7 7 2 1 0 1 1 0 2 .286 .286 .857 1.143 0 0 0 0 0
Lance Lynn 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 .167 .167 .167 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Moss 6 6 2 0 0 1 2 0 1 .333 .333 .833 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Peter Bourjos 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .200 .200 .200 .400 0 0 0 0 0
Pete Kozma 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .200 .200 .200 .400 0 0 0 0 0
Randal Grichuk 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 108 102 23 5 0 6 10 6 19 .225 .269 .451 .719 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/12/2015.

Of course, it’s not like the Redbirds send out chopped liver to the mound tonight and many Bucco fans probably don’t have the fondest of memories of Michael Wacha either.  Wacha is riding a 14-inning scoreless streak and could tie Cole for the league lead in wins with a victory tonight.  Wacha’s looked a lot more Wacha-like the last couple of games and he’s had success against the Pirates in the past.  I know, so often we think that there’s going to be a pitching duel and more runs than expected are actually scored, but I think this one is going to be the nail biter we all expect.

Andrew McCutchen 16 15 5 1 0 0 0 1 3 .333 .375 .400 .775 0 0 0 0 0
Pedro Alvarez 15 12 1 0 0 1 2 3 4 .083 .267 .333 .600 0 0 0 0 1
Neil Walker 14 13 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 .154 .214 .154 .368 0 0 0 1 0
Starling Marte 11 11 3 0 0 0 1 0 2 .273 .273 .273 .545 0 0 0 0 0
Gregory Polanco 6 6 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .500 .833 0 0 0 0 0
Aramis Ramirez 5 3 1 0 0 1 2 1 1 .333 .600 1.333 1.933 0 0 0 1 0
Francisco Cervelli 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Jung Ho Kang 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Francisco Liriano 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Morse 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Stewart 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 1 0 0 0 0
Travis Ishikawa 1 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 1.000 1.000 4.000 5.000 0 0 0 0 0
Charlie Morton 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 84 76 19 3 0 3 9 5 15 .250 .313 .408 .721 1 0 0 2 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/12/2015.

Before we wrap up, let’s talk about the injury updates we got yesterday.  Some surprises, both good and bad, in that report.  I mean, none of us that aren’t Adam Wainwright expected Waino back this year, but I think many of us were a little startled to hear that Matt Adams is making progress and could be seen on the field again this season.  My guess is that he’ll just be a pinch-hitter in September, if that, and he probably won’t even get that far, but it’s nice to hear that he is making strides.

It’s also good to know they aren’t pushing Matt Holliday, because the last thing you need is for him to have another episode with the quad and not be available for October.  Of course, Piscotty’s play (and the fact there’s no real good place for him once Holliday returns) doesn’t hurt matters here.  As with many of these injuries, I expect we really won’t see them until rosters expand in three weeks.  That gives the team the flexibility to have them around and use them from time to time without really causing a burden on the squad.

What was disappointing, but perhaps not really out of the blue, was that Jordan Walden still doesn’t know when he’ll return.  I continue to believe he’ll eventually need surgery and I hope that it won’t be a situation where we miss him all of this season, then he has surgery in the offseason and he’s out for most of 2016.  Honestly, as much as I’d like to see The Super Closer Bullpen add him into the mix, I have trouble believing that even if he comes back he’ll be effective.  I’d rather see him get the surgery now and see if he’s ready early next season.

Another big game for the Cards tonight, but then again, it’s the time of year where many games are big games!

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Laying (Goose) Eggs

The old saying is, of course, you can’t win if you can’t score.  That works for both sides of the equation, though.  THEY can’t win if THEY can’t score either.  Given the Cardinal offense, it’s a good thing this pitching staff is as good as it is.  As our regular commenter says, this is one of the best run-prevention teams ever and, when they are on, it’s a beautiful thing.  This weekend in Milwaukee, for the most part, they were on.

Friday (6-0 win)

Hero: Randal Grichuk.  He only had one hit, but he capped off the one inning the club scored with a three-run homer, a blast that became important later when Lance Lynn had the bases loaded and two outs.

Goat: Jhonny Peralta.  0-4 with two strikeouts.  Mr. Peralta didn’t have the greatest of weekends in Wisconsin with the bat.

Notes: Lynn threw six scoreless innings, though he worked out of a few jams created when he walked four.  The pitching performance of note may have been Carlos Villanueva, who threw three perfect innings, striking out three in the process.  While the game wasn’t in doubt after Lynn left (thus keeping Villanueva from the Hero tag) it still was a great performance and it rested the others in the pen, which is never a bad side effect.

The Cardinal offense seems so often to be like a summer thunderstorm.  There will be nothing, one deluge in one inning, then nothing.  Six runs was a nice shower, though.  Two doubles by Matt Carpenter in this one and two hits by Jason Heyward and Yadier Molina as well.

Saturday (3-0 win)

Hero: Jaime Garcia.  Yes, almost every night you could put the starting pitcher in this spot, but there’s no doubt that Garcia earned it.  Four walks is a little high, but when you couple that with just two hits over seven scoreless innings, it’s a darn good night on the bump.

Goat: Molina, Peralta and Heyward all had identical lines (0-4, one left on).  We’ll assume Molina had a little something to do with Garcia’s outing and eliminate him.  So that we aren’t just picking on Peralta, Jason Heyward gets the nod.  Feel free to flip the coin and come up with your own personal result, though!

Notes: While Garcia earned the Hero tag, Stephen Piscotty could have easily garnered it, driving in two of the three runs with a couple of two-out hits.  It’s still fairly remarkable that, since he was hitting eighth, Milwaukee didn’t try to walk him or at least pitch around him in those situations.  Sure, he’s a rookie, but the pitcher is behind him.  Even in the seventh, when he drove in the third run, the Cardinals might have pinch-hit for Garcia, but then you get him out of the game.  Some interesting decisions by Craig Counsell there.

Sunday (5-4 loss)

Hero: Matt Carpenter.  His three-run blast to put the Cardinals on top would have won many a game.  Turning a lead over to the bullpen has been almost automatic of late.  Even though it wasn’t the game-winner, though, it was still a beautiful thing.  Since going back to the leadoff role to start the Colorado series, which is a nice and convenient 10 games, he’s hitting .375/.432/1.025 with five doubles and seven homers in 44 plate appearances.  (I assume he was at least a finalist for Player of the Week, even though Andrew McCutchen won it.)  It’s too simplistic to say that the move triggered all this, but it surely didn’t hurt.

Goat: Jonathan Broxton.  I wasn’t on Twitter or watching the game at this point, but apparently there was some controversy about removing Kevin Siegrist from this one.  Just looking at the play-by-play, I’m not really sure why Mike Matheny went that route.  I mean, yes, he has plenty of capable arms, Siegrist had pitched the night before, and it does seem that Siegrist either has it and dominates or doesn’t and gets blasted, so maybe I could work my way to pulling him, but then you look at Khris Davis against lefties versus righties and you scratch your head again.  Then you read this in the game writeup:

The righthanded-hitting Davis had done far worse against lefties this season, batting only .145 with a .309 slugging percentage. With more at-bat against righthanders, he’s been a .268 hitter with a .476 slugging percentage. Matheny sided with more personal numbers. Davis was one for one with a double against Siegrist.

He’d gone hitless in two tries against Broxton.


Look, I know I put the tables in these posts every day, showing what the hitters have done against the starters.  I do that mainly because it’s interesting to see, but as is always implied when it is not overtly stated, those are such small samples that you can’t make major decisions on them.  That said, those samples are huge compared to what Matheny used above, if that’s what he did.  Three total at-bats versus a season (actually, Davis’s entire career he’s hit lefties worse, though it’s more pronounced this season) worth of data.  That’s….there are no words.

One loss is not a huge thing, of course, especially when the team now sits at 71-40, but that’s just bad decision making.  Even if it’d had worked, it would have been bad decision making.  It’s like playing poker–you can call a raise when you are holding K-2 and occasionally you’ll get a full house to come out on the board, but more often than not you are going to be a lot poorer.

If nothing else, pay attention to the fact that Broxton struggled as a Brewer on a regular basis and perhaps not throw him in Miller Park, at least not when the game is on the line.  Goodness, I’m glad that I didn’t look into this until I started writing this post.  I’d have been irate for a much longer period of time.

Notes: John Lackey allowed a one-out homer to the eighth place hitter to snap the 37-inning scoreless streak, then allowed a two-out, two-run homer to Davis.  Lately, it seems Lackey has one bad inning and really clicks everywhere else.  The problem is that, with this squad, one bad inning can often doom you.  He was lucky to get bailed out by Carpenter’s homer.

Another two-hit day for Heyward, who drove in the other Cardinal run.  A nice birthday for him.   The Cardinals have indicated they’d like to talk whenever he wants to talk about a contract extension, but they aren’t pushing him on it.  It seems a good approach for Heyward, who appears fairly comfortable with the organization.  Is that a guarantee that he’ll return?  Not at all.  That said, he’s indicated that his decision may not be entirely about the money and, after coming up with your hometown team and seeing that go sour, he may like what he has in St. Louis and not be willing to risk that elsewhere.  We’ll see, I guess, but my feeling more and more is that Heyward will be a Cardinal next year and for years to come.

Big series with the Pirates starts tonight.  It’d been nice if Los Angeles had a bullpen and/or had been able to take a game or two this weekend from Pittsburgh, but that (coupled with a Cubs sweep of the Giants) is a good indication the power teams of the NL are in the Central.  In a short playoff series, anything could happen, but long haul, these teams are better.  So the Cards, even though they have the best record in baseball, only have a 5 game lead on the Bucs coming into this one.  A sweep by the Pirates and the lead is at 2.  Of course, a sweep by the Cards and it’s at 8 and we all feel much better.

Carlos Martinez and Jeff Locke will meet up tonight in the first game.  Martinez, of course, struggled the first time he faced Pittsburgh, giving up seven runs, but when he saw them in July he allowed nothing over 7.1 innings.  Let’s hope for more of the latter.  And here’s the table for informational purposes, NOT FOR DECISION MAKING!

Andrew McCutchen 16 13 4 2 0 1 2 3 4 .308 .438 .692 1.130 0 0 1 0 0
Pedro Alvarez 13 11 1 0 0 1 2 2 4 .091 .231 .364 .594 0 0 0 0 0
Neil Walker 13 13 4 0 1 2 4 0 3 .308 .308 .923 1.231 0 0 0 0 0
Gregory Polanco 10 7 5 2 0 0 1 3 1 .714 .800 1.000 1.800 0 0 0 0 0
Aramis Ramirez 10 10 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .200 .400 0 0 0 0 0
Starling Marte 9 7 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 .000 .222 .000 .222 0 0 0 1 0
Francisco Cervelli 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .200 .333 .200 .533 0 0 0 0 0
Jung Ho Kang 6 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .400 .500 .400 .900 0 0 0 1 0
Sean Rodriguez 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .333 .500 .333 .833 0 0 0 0 0
Travis Ishikawa 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jeff Locke 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Mike Morse 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Stewart 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 91 77 22 5 1 4 9 11 21 .286 .389 .532 .921 1 0 1 2 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/11/2015.

Locke has faced the Cards twice and they’ve been able to get to him a little bit each time.  He gave up three runs in 6.2 innings in May (up against Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons!) and then allowed four (but only one earned) in five innings up against Martinez in July.  All the runs scored in that one in one inning, so we may have to hope for another cloudburst tonight!

Jason Heyward 18 16 5 1 0 0 2 2 2 .313 .389 .375 .764 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 15 11 2 0 0 0 3 2 2 .182 .333 .182 .515 0 1 0 1 0
Yadier Molina 14 12 3 1 0 0 2 2 1 .250 .357 .333 .690 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 13 12 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 .000 .077 .000 .077 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 13 12 1 1 0 0 0 1 3 .083 .154 .167 .321 0 0 0 0 0
Peter Bourjos 9 7 3 0 0 0 1 1 1 .429 .556 .429 .984 0 0 0 1 0
Randal Grichuk 8 8 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 .375 .375 .500 .875 0 0 0 0 0
Pete Kozma 7 6 2 0 0 0 1 1 1 .333 .429 .333 .762 0 0 1 0 0
Tony Cruz 5 5 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Brandon Moss 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 3 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 .333 .333 1.333 1.667 0 0 0 0 0
Tyler Lyons 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Martinez 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Total 112 98 20 4 0 1 12 10 16 .204 .288 .276 .564 1 1 1 2 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/11/2015.

Should be a fun series.  Let’s hope it’s a successful one for the Cards!


Plus 30

30 games over .500.

That’s not an easy mark to manage, especially in August.  For reference, here’s how some of the more recent Cardinal teams stood after 108 games (which means just one-third of the season remains!)

2014: 57-51 (+6)
2013: 64-44 (+20)
2012: 59-49 (+10)
2011: 57-51 (+6)
2009: 58-50 (+8)
2006: 58-50 (+8)
2005: 68-40 (+28)
2004: 70-38 (+32)

So you have to really go back to that 2004 juggernaut to see a team that’s won like this team has.  And by “like” I mean in just sheer numbers, not in style.  That 2004 team was a dominant beast, what with the MV3 and the slugging and the good pitching to go along with it.  They were up 10.5 games on a Cubs team that at the time led the Wild Card race.  There wasn’t any doubts that this was the best team in baseball and, until they ran into a very hot Red Sox team in the World Series, they proved that.

This year’s team, what with it being so reliant on almost historic pitching (and winning a lot of close and low-scoring games), doesn’t feel like the dominant force that 2004 was.  In 10 years, will we look back and remember this team as a powerhouse, given the records?  I don’t know.  Living in the moment, though, it’s a team that worries you constantly instead of a team that lets you kick back and enjoy the ride.  They keep winning, though, and that’s what matters.

They did it again yesterday, riding Hero Michael Wacha for seven scoreless innings and getting key hits from Kolten Wong and, stunningly, Tony Cruz.  A team that has struggled in key situations at times got all three runs with a two-out base hit.  Just when you think you have this team pegged, they go and do some strange stuff.  Not that anyone is complaining, mind you.

It was a bit strange to see Wacha go out there for the seventh, though.  In the top of the inning, with rain falling and folks on Twitter talking about the field conditions deteriorating, Wacha’s spot led off.  Now, for sure, there were probably some tired arms in the pen given the extra-innings from the night before.  That said, was it worth risking Wacha slipping or getting hurt in that situation?  Again, I wasn’t watching the game so maybe the field wasn’t quite as bad as all that, but when people are wondering why there’s no rain delay, it’s not exactly the best time to be running out one of those young guns that you need.  You’d have to think that Carlos Villanueva probably could have handled it, since the inning he threw on Wednesday night was his first of August.  Obviously it turned out to be no big deal, but we continue to talk about saving innings here and there, that the bullpen was strengthened for such things, and we don’t see Mike Matheny take advantage of them.

Randal Grichuk gets to be our Goat for this one.  Pretty difficult to avoid the tag when you are 0-4 with three strikeouts.  And yes, Matheny double-switched him out of the game in the manner made famous by various Matt Holliday swaps.  Difference in this, of course, was that it was a three-run lead, not a tied or one-run affair, and it was unlikely that spot was going to come up again in the game anyway (as, in fact, it didn’t).

Other than that, it was a pretty unremarkable game.  It’s good to see Wacha back on his horse, now having thrown seven scoreless in back-to-back games.  His effectiveness apparently has the club rethinking their earlier ideas on his limits, which seems fine to me.  Even though Wacha is starting to get into uncharted innings territory, it’s not apparently straining him at all. Will they space him out in September?  I expect so, what with all the arms they can bring up.  The bullpen may add Tim Cooney, Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons (who is featured in a subscribers-only article on Baseball Prospectus today), Sam Tuivailala, Miguel Socolovich, Mitch Harris and, depending on health, Jordan Walden and Matt Belisle.  (We’ll see about Marco Gonzales, though he scuffled again last night.)  Lots of good arms that can go short or long, which would make it easy to occasionally push both Wacha and Carlos Martinez back a day here and there and get a spot start from one of the other arms.  As long as he still has something in the tank in October, right?  That’s really the major concern for Cardinal fans now.

With Pittsburgh not playing yesterday, the Cardinals have a six game lead with 54 to play.  That’s a lead that can shrink since the two teams still have nine games against each other, of course, but it’s a fairly comfortable lead anyway.  If the club can plug its way through August, hopefully the cooler weather and seeing the finish line will reinvigorate them somewhat and they can finish the season strong.

Milwaukee is the next team they need to plug their way through as the Redbirds spend the weekend in Miller Park.  Lance Lynn will try to rebound from his last iffy outing and he’s always seemed to do quite well against the Brewers, though he did get roughed up against them earlier in the season in their ballpark.  There are fewer weapons on the Brew Crew now–no Aramis Ramirez doing those Sith Lord things–so hopefully he’ll be able to just mow them down.

Jonathan Lucroy 31 26 8 2 0 0 0 5 7 .308 .419 .385 .804 0 0 0 0 3
Ryan Braun 28 28 7 0 0 1 4 0 7 .250 .250 .357 .607 0 0 0 0 2
Jean Segura 27 26 10 1 1 0 2 1 5 .385 .407 .500 .907 0 0 0 0 0
Scooter Gennett 22 18 7 2 0 0 1 4 3 .389 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Khris Davis 15 15 3 1 0 0 2 0 4 .200 .200 .267 .467 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Lind 13 11 2 0 0 1 2 2 2 .182 .308 .455 .762 0 0 0 0 0
Logan Schafer 12 11 5 2 0 0 1 1 1 .455 .500 .636 1.136 0 0 0 0 0
Elian Herrera 6 6 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 .333 .333 .500 .833 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Lohse 5 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 3 0 0 0 0
Martin Maldonado 5 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .500 .600 .500 1.100 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Garza 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Wily Peralta 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Hector Gomez 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Tyler Cravy 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Total 177 158 49 9 1 2 16 14 37 .310 .366 .418 .784 5 0 0 0 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/7/2015.

Actually, those number aren’t as good as I thought.  In his career, though, he’s 7-3 with a 2.53 ERA against Milwaukee, so he does seem to get the job done, even if some of the batters aren’t that fooled by him.

Tyler Cravy made his big league debut against the Cardinals and did a fine job, coming in on the short side of a 1-0 score (Lynn was on the upside).  He only had two more appearances (one start) after that, having spent time going back and forth from the minors.  Kyle Lohse got removed from the rotation, though, and Cravy takes his spot.  Cravy gave up just four hits in seven innings in that earlier game, with two of those hits coming in the second, a Grichuk double and a Mark Reynolds RBI single.  In other words, pretty much the offense we’ve been used to this year.

By the way, if you’ve wanted to listen to be expound on things, this has been the week for you to do it.  Sunday night, as always, I did Gateway To Baseball Heaven with Tara Wellman.  Tuesday, I put up the latest Conversations With C70.  Wednesday, it was me and Chris Greene (with guest Josh Gilliam) on UCB Radio.  And last night, Dan Buffa and I recorded Episode 9 of Best Dans in Baseball, which should be up today or tomorrow.  You have your options to hear me talk Cardinals, though I wouldn’t blame you for skipping them all.

Here’s to a fun and successful weekend!


Treading Water

Well, if nothing else, Cincinnati’s not been able to shut out the Cardinals this time.  A small comfort, to be sure.  The Cards have also not lost any ground to the Pirates, winning when they win, losing when they lose, and just continuing to click off games on the calendar.  Could be a whole lot worse.

Tuesday (3-2 loss)

Hero: Matt Carpenter.  Carp’s on a roll and, while Randal Grichuk and Jhonny Peralta both had two hits, Carpenter was the only one to make them count, driving in both runs with a home run in the fourth.  Unfortunately, that was all the Cards could muster.

Goat: Yadier Molina.  0-4 with four men left on, which really hurts in a one run game.  Yadi’s been a bit quiet of late with the bat, dropping 10 points of average in about a week.  Hopefully it’s not the season getting to him.

Notes: I listened to part of the first inning on the radio and was hopeful that John Lackey was going to get out of the jam he created by putting the first two runners on after he got the double play.  Even when Jay Bruce drove in the first run, I expected that would be it.  Instead, Lackey gave up a double, walk, and single and was suddenly down 3-0.  He settled in after that, of course, and put up five more scoreless innings and, especially in that ballpark, three runs should have been surmountable.  This offense, though…..  You don’t want to give them a hole to dig out of because their shovels seem to be pretty small.

Of course, Lackey didn’t help things when he bunted into a double play after Grichuk had led off the fifth with a single.  If that bunt gets down, maybe the Cards are able to manufacture a tying run.  Instead, everything is wiped clean and Carp couldn’t do anything with two outs.  Lackey can occasionally do something with the bat, but a lifetime in the American League probably hasn’t done him any favors in that category.

So often when watching games like this I think, well, maybe they can get to the closer in the ninth.  With Aroldis Chapman, I don’t even bother thinking that.  The Cards haven’t scored on him since 2011.  Now, granted, they’ve probably faced him a lot less than some folks since they have beaten the Reds quite regularly in that span and, as such, wouldn’t face Chapman in a save situation.  Still, when you see him whipping the ball up there at 102, it’s not surprising you just hope for a walk.  It’s relatively surprising that Mark Reynolds, who has been known to strike out, was the only one to get an out by a means other than K.

After this game, I saw this Tweet that really stood out:

To some degree that’s troubling. If they are playing like this against lesser competition, what will they do against teams in the playoffs?  That said, the pitching staff of the Cardinals should be able to limit folks in the offseason as well, so if they can muster 3-4 runs in October, they may be better off than many would think.  It’d give everyone in Cardinal Nation heart attacks, but it’s doable.  Still, not exactly what you want to rely on, I don’t think.

Wednesday (4-3 win in 13)

Hero: Matt Carpenter.  Yes, Grichuk won the game, but Carpenter tied it up and made sure that when Chapman came in, he couldn’t lock down the win.  That’s huge because, until Carp went yard, it looked like we were going to get a repeat of Tuesday night, with Chapman coming in and blowing everyone away.  We still did–Chapman struck out three of the four batters he faced–but at least the game continued this time.

Goat: Brandon Moss.  0-4 with three strikeouts.  Moss looked like he might come around after his first couple of games in St. Louis and he did have a hit in each of the three games before this one, but we still haven’t seen any extra-base pop from him.  Perhaps John Mabry is already working with him!

Notes: Not exactly the game we’ve come to expect from Carlos Martinez, though if Peralta gets Marlon Byrd out in the 3rd instead of making an error, he only allows one run and that’d been more like it.  Still, six hits and three walks in five innings isn’t quite Tsunami material and I didn’t get to see enough of the early part of the game to know what he looked like.  It’s not surprising that he might be hitting a bit of a wall right now and that’s exactly why the Cards went out to strengthen the bullpen, so Matheny wasn’t tempted to send him out for the sixth inning when he had 93 pitches under his belt.

The bullpen was outstanding in this one.  Jonathan Broxton struck out the side.  Carlos Villanueva struck out two of three (and, even with all these arms, why did he not go an extra frame?  Granted, Matheny didn’t know there’d be extras, but if you are going to use Villanueva, especially since he only gets in to a game like once a week, shouldn’t he go at least two innings?) and Kevin Siegrist took on a load, going 1.2 innings and striking out three.  Even though Seth Maness walked a couple in his two innings (both in the 12th, leading to a walk-DP-walk-GO inning), he got out of their without being terribly challenged.  There’s a reason why folks consider the ‘pen a strength these days.

Grichuk was very close to two homers on the night, getting an RBI double for the first run, then sending everyone home (eventually) with his long ball in the 13th.  He’s streaky, but when he’s hitting, nobody brings more thump than he does, I don’t think.  At least not regularly.

Lots of strikeouts by the hitters, though.  Chapman struck out the side, as noted, and then Jumbo Diaz (who wears number 70 for the Reds, but we’ll not start an obsessive watch on his career) struck out five in two innings.  Given Diaz’s season numbers, that really wasn’t what I was expecting.  He did dial it up into the mid-90s, but that should have been a breeze after Chapman being out there.  Whatever the case, the Redbirds couldn’t figure him out at all.  At least the bullpen kept it tied until they could get into some softer parts of the Cincinnati ‘pen.

Jordan Walden is going to be taken off his rehab assignment and try to get his arm strengthened up.  He’s still throwing OK, but it sounds like they want to work on his stamina and such without having that 30-day clock ticking.  That’s a little disturbing, even if the club isn’t calling it a setback, just because it seems like the “rest and rehab” option never works quite as well as folks hope it will.  Besides, I think we’ve all been wanting to see a healthy Walden join the Bullpen Avengers and see what he can do in that mix.  Can you imagine Steve Cishek in the sixth, Broxton in the seventh, Walden in the eighth and Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth for many games?  And that doesn’t even count Siegrist.  If you can get six innings out of the starters, you could almost have two sets of late-inning workers, Cishek/Walden and Broxton/Siegrist.  The only question is who would get dumped out of the pen to bring in Walden.  That’s five folks right there, plus Villanueva and Randy Choate.  That’s 12 with the five starters, but that doesn’t count Maness.  Do you drop Villanueva?  That wouldn’t work well, at least not now.  (And from a human aspect, how tough would it be to have Villanueva do good work all year long then have him not make the playoff roster?  It could happen, given there’s less need for him in October, but that’d suck for him.)  Maybe it’s a good thing Walden might not be ready until rosters expand in September!

Cardinals have the afternoon getaway game today as the game’s first pitch is right about noon Central.  Well, assuming the weather cooperates, which is always an issue when Michael Wacha takes the mound.  Right now, the tarp is on the field and there’s a strong chance of thunderstorms until well into the afternoon.  The only time the team returns to Cincinnati is September 10-13, which is already a four-game series in the last month of the season.  I’m pretty sure they’ll wait this one out as long as possible.

Wacha had better results last time out, throwing seven scoreless innings against the Rockies.  His first two starts of the season were against the Reds and he allowed one run in each of them, both times a solo home run (once Todd Frazier, once Joey Votto).  Even though it’s been a while since he’s seen them, hopefully he’ll be just as effective today.

Brandon Phillips 21 19 2 0 0 0 1 1 3 .105 .150 .105 .255 1 0 0 0 2
Todd Frazier 20 19 5 1 0 1 1 1 3 .263 .300 .474 .774 0 0 0 0 0
Jay Bruce 19 18 0 0 0 0 0 1 9 .000 .053 .000 .053 0 0 0 0 0
Billy Hamilton 19 18 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 .056 .105 .111 .216 0 0 0 0 0
Joey Votto 17 15 6 2 0 1 1 2 0 .400 .471 .733 1.204 0 0 0 0 0
Marlon Byrd 15 13 0 0 0 0 1 1 5 .000 .067 .000 .067 0 1 0 0 0
Brayan Pena 11 9 2 2 0 0 0 2 1 .222 .364 .444 .808 0 0 0 0 0
Skip Schumaker 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 126 115 16 6 0 2 4 9 23 .139 .200 .243 .443 1 1 0 0 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/6/2015.

St. Louis will have to try to hit against Michael Lorenzen.  Lorenzen has scuffled this year, posting a 3-6 record and a 4.80 ERA.  Of course, as we’ve seen, you can often throw out the statistics when it comes to this offense.  Lorenzen is also in the midst of a bad run of games, allowing four or more runs in each of his last three games and not finishing the sixth in any of them.  However, the Cardinals have never faced him, so you know how that goes.  At least he’s a righty!

Let’s hope the Cards put some runs up today and then head off to Milwaukee on a winning streak!




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