C70 At The Bat

The Cardinals were on a six game winning streak.  They’d just disposed of one of their divisional rivals.  They’d lost all of once at home in the month of June.  They were six games up on any major league team and nine games up on their closest divisional foe, the Pirates.  They’d won more than two-thirds of their games and were on pace for roughly 110 wins.  And the Chicago White Sox, the last place squad in the AL Central, were coming to visit.

The last couple of nights haven’t been much fun for Cardinal fans, but let’s look at them anyway.

Tuesday (2-1 loss in 11)

Hero: Randal Grichuk.  Without Grichuk’s jolt in the 4th inning, there’s a good chance this game ends in regulation and Chris Sale might have thrown a complete game.  Grichuk also had two other hits besides his home run, which meant he had three of the eight total hits the Redbirds had.  While we may be seeing peak Grichuk, it’s also possible he’ll develop a little more plate discipline as he matures and becomes a solid everyday player.  Either way, he’s hitting now and that’s what matters.

Goat: Jhonny Peralta.  0-5 with two strikeouts is not quite as bad as Xavier Scruggs‘s 0-5 with 3 K, but doing it right behind Grichuk in the lineup (and being a veteran rather than a guy that was in Memphis a week ago) makes that resonate a bit more.  Granted, no one could do much with Sale, but that’s a tough night to endure.

Notes: The idea was to make Sale work and then get into the White Sox bullpen.  While it didn’t play out the way that the Cards expected, they did have three innings to take a crack at a bullpen that wasn’t stellar and all they mustered were two hits and a walk.  Granted, those two hits did come in the last inning against David Robertson, giving a bit of hope, but they were with two outs and Scruggs grounded out to end that threat.

If it wasn’t for him getting a hit when many people weren’t, the Goat might have gone to Pete Kozma.  He had two plays in the infield that should have been made but weren’t, including a ball that, if he fields cleanly, he gets the lead runner Sale in the third, which might have kept the first White Sox run off the board.  He also was victimized by a ball that he was going to field until it hit the second base bag and bounced over his head, but we can’t fault him for that one.

Miguel Socolovich got the loss, giving up a home run to Tyler Flowers with two outs in the 11th.  Given the situation–an inexperience hurler in a high leverage situation after not pitching in over a week–that’s probably the best the club could hope for.  I half-thought that, given how often he has been saved and then wound up in situations like this, he’d have more high-leverage work than low-leverage, but actually he’s only had 12 high and medium leverage plate appearances vs. 34 low leverage ones.  However, this was the first hit he’d given up in the former category.  (Baseball-Reference counts this as medium leverage, which I guess was the case because the Cards had another at-bat?  Or maybe because no one was on?  I’d almost think extra innings are always high leverage, but then again they are higher on the road, so that makes some sense.)

It wasn’t great, but you kinda thought the winning streak would end when you face a guy like Sale, who continued his double-digit strikeout streak.  The real problem was last night.

Wednesday (7-1 loss)

Hero: Besides the grounds crew?  They had a difficult job all night long, putting the tarp on, pulling the tarp on, making sure the field was ready.  I’ve never seen rain delays that lasted less than 20 minutes, but we had them.  It was frustrating all the way around for the players, I imagine, and Twitter was alive with snarky comments, but none directed to the guys working the field.  Hats off to you, folks!

We’ll give the actual title to Jhonny Peralta.  When he drove in a run in the first (after a couple of those rain delays), it looked like things were back to normal.  (Great slide by Kolten Wong on that play, by the way.)  Peralta had another hit later in the night, but the club could only come up with seven total, four between Peralta and Jason Heyward.

Goat: I’ll admit it, I went to bed early in this one, given that first pitch wasn’t until 9 and it didn’t really get started until 10.  So it’s distressing to see an epic bullpen meltdown went on in the ninth last night, mitigated only by the fact that the Cards were down 2-1 already, so at least they didn’t cough up a lead.  Still, one run in the ninth is much more likely to be overcome than six, so I’m giving the Goat to Seth Maness, who apparently had nothing, giving up a single, home run, and double in the span of three batters.  Mike Matheny got him out of there before he could give up a triple and complete throwing for the cycle.

That said, his replacement was even wilder.  Randy Choate hit the two batters he faced, loading the bases.  Apparently waving the white flag, which given the use of the bullpen the night before and the limited offense in this one was completely understandable, Matheny then brings in Marcus Hatley to make his major league debut.  Suffice it to say, it didn’t quite go as planned, but it could have been worse.  Hatley came into a bases loaded situation and, save for the single he allowed to the first batter, got groundouts.  They just were run-scoring groundouts, but not much he could do about that.  No clue how he looked, of course, as I was well into dream world, a place where the Cardinals actually won the game.

Notes: 0-4 night for Matt Carpenter (plus he had an error in the ninth, not sure how that came about reading the play-by-play on the Cardinals official site) brings his average down to .275.  I’d say this is a little more than a slump, save the fact that his batting average and on-base average are almost identical to what he put up in a full season last year.  (His slugging percentage is still higher than that, however.)  Could this be the level that Carpenter should be at?  Do we keep 2013 as a standard for him when it was a significant outlier?  His last home run came on May 24 against the Royals.  His last multi-hit game was June 18, and that was after it being almost a given earlier in the year that he’d have two or more hits in a game.  In the 10 games he’s played since then (9 starts), he’s at .129/.325/.161.

Obviously, his numbers were better when he was leading off.  Should the Cards redo the lineup and get him back up there, or are those numbers just a reflection of a strong start, which would have been good no matter where he hit?  In other words, was it a function of where he hit when he was hitting .330 earlier this year or was he just going to hit .330 whether he was first or second or third?  I don’t know, but the Cards have to do something.  It’s difficult to have an automatic out in that part of the lineup, but that’s what Carpenter’s been for a while now.  Wong’s done well at leadoff, but not so well that I would have a major issue flipping the two.  We know that Matheny’s not one to tinker much, though, and one lineup shakeup per year might be his limit.

Mark Reynolds had a triple last night?  I am guessing an outfielder fell down on the wet grass.  Though if Matt Adams could lead the team in the category for a while last season, I guess anything is possible.

Peter Bourjos got a start last night.  Drew a walk and struck out three times.  The way to unseat Jon Jay is not to play like Jon Jay, Peter.  (And that’s unfair–Jay would have hit three ground balls to the middle infield.)

So after losing only seven times at Busch before this series, the Cards have lost two straight at home.  They look to stop that with the Padres coming into town.  The Padres are hovering around .500 but sit in fourth, eight games behind the Dodgers.  Their home and road records are about the same, so there’s no huge disadvantage for them coming into St. Louis.  It’s a series the Cardinals should win, but they should have at least split with the White Sox as well.

St. Louis has only lost three straight once this season and they’ll turn to Tim Cooney to avoid doing it again.  Cooney, who will be taking Jaime Garcia‘s spot this time through the rotation (I’d guess Hatley will wind up returning to Memphis.  At least he can call himself a major leaguer now!), had a bad outing against the Phillies his one and only major league start.  He’s had a solid season in AAA, however, and his last real start (he was pulled from his last start after two innings to be ready for this) he went six and allowed an earned run (though three unearned runs as well) against Nashville.

I’m thinking the bats are going to have to be working in this one and they’ll have to do it against Tyson Ross.  Ross is 5-7 with a 3.61 ERA and, at least in that last measure, has pitched better on the road than at Petco Park.  His last two starts have come against the Diamondbacks, who he’s limited to six hits and three runs in 15 innings.  He’s only allowed four runs or more twice this season, so this could be a good test for the Redbirds.  Like they need another one of those.

Matt Carpenter 8 4 2 1 0 0 0 4 0 .500 .750 .750 1.500 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 8 6 2 0 0 0 1 2 1 .333 .500 .333 .833 0 0 0 0 0
Jon Jay 7 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .429 .200 .629 0 0 0 2 0
Kolten Wong 7 5 1 0 0 0 2 1 1 .200 .286 .200 .486 0 1 0 0 1
Peter Bourjos 4 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Lance Lynn 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Jason Heyward 3 3 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 .667 .667 1.333 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .333 .000 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 46 35 11 1 1 0 5 8 5 .314 .457 .400 .857 0 1 0 2 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/2/2015.

They have had some success with him in the past.  We’ll see if that continues tonight!


All They Do Is Win

Four games.  Two opponents.  Two locations.  One result.  Let’s get to it.

Thursday (5-1 at Miami)

Hero: I honestly can’t believe I’m saying this, but Pete Kozma got his moment in the sun.  A late addition to the lineup when manager and player decided to give Jhonny Peralta a night off, most folks were screaming about not letting Greg Garcia get a shot.  Of course, that meant Kozma went 3-3, drew a walk, and scored two runs, one of them off a sacrifice fly to second base (OK, the second baseman ranged all the way to the outfield, but still, impressive).  Mike Matheny may know what he’s doing at times or he’s the luckiest manager that ever managed.

Goat: Another rough night for Matt Carpenter.  He did draw a walk, but otherwise was 0-4 with three strikeouts and six left on base.  The strikeouts seem high, but he’s struck out 22 times in June and struck out 27 in May, albeit in 13 more plate appearances.  Still, a .190 mark for the month isn’t quite what we are used to seeing out of Marp.

Notes: Lance Lynn came off the DL (sending Patron Pitcher Tyler Lyons to Memphis, where he struggled in his return but I believe is already set to rejoin the team for the doubleheader in Chicago) and pretty much picked up where he left off before the forearm cramping.  No runs in six innings with only two hits allowed.  He did walk four, but there’s a good chance that was a function of being a little rusty after a couple of weeks off.

Kolten Wong had two hits, which is something we have been able to say a lot lately, and drove in two runs–one with a double, one with a walk.  Randal Grichuk also had two hits in this one.  The offense wasn’t just overwhelming, but it was whelming enough to finish off sweeping a Miami team that got worse after St. Louis left when they lost Giancarlo Stanton for a few weeks.  There wasn’t anyone else in that lineup that really seemed to be a factor in these three games, so you have to wonder how they’ll get by in the near future.

Carlos Villanueva threw an inning in this one and got dinged for a two-out homer in the ninth that clanged off the foul pole.  He hadn’t pitched since June 19th, so it’s not surprising that Matheny got him some work, though this won’t be the only time we see Villanueva in this recap.

Friday (3-2 win in 10 vs. Chicago)

Hero: Greg Garcia.  It looked like the Cards were going to have a problem when they stepped up in competition.  Sure, they had blitzed their way through Philadelphia and Miami, but those are clubs that sit well under .500.  Playing a contender in the Cubs, St. Louis was down 2-1 as they played the top of the eighth.  John Lackey had done a superb job, Kevin Siegrist had thrown a scoreless inning, and it was time for the pinch-hitter.  Garcia had been hitting well since his callup, though in limited at-bats, but no one expected him to blast a game-tying circuit shot.  It was his first major league home run and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  When things are going your way, they are going your way.

Goat: The reason that this was a struggle was the fact that the lines for hitters 2-4 was almost identical, and not in a good way.  Lots of 0-4 there which makes it tough to pick an individual for this spot, but I’ll give it to Mark Reynolds.  His 0-fer included a strikeout and he left one more on base than Jason Heyward did.

Notes: As mentioned, another solid home game for Lackey, going seven innings and allowing just two runs.  He had to work out of trouble a bit–eight hits and three walks in that span–but he got the job done and then Garcia bailed him out.  The bullpen held the Cubs, with Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate, and Seth Maness holding the line until the offense could actually scratch together another run.

They did that thanks to Peter Bourjos.  His leadoff double in the tenth (he came in as part of a double switch with Maness in the top of the inning) put the winning rally in motion.  The Cubs, as expected with Joe Maddon, got a little unorthodox when they loaded the bases with one out, bringing in an outfielder to add to their infield.  It almost worked, but Mike Baxter‘s throw to the plate was high and Bourjos scored the winning run.  He paid for it as well, as David Ross‘s knee seemed to catch him upside the head, but he was eventually OK.  (I was following this one by GameDay and honestly could not figure out how they could win on a throwing error by an outfielder in that situation.  Thank goodness I found the video when I got home!)

Saturday (8-1 win vs. Chicago)

Hero: Xavier Scruggs.  Back-to-back games where last week’s Memphis callups made a huge impact.  Scruggs went 3-4, drove in two and scored two, mixing in a double in all that production.  I spent this game with the other Best Dan in Baseball watching Springfield beat the Arkansas Travelers twice and I told him (and I believe I mentioned it as part of Gateway with Tara on Sunday) that if Scruggs keeps doing this work, John Mozeliak really may not have to do anything at the trade deadline.  At the least, it gives him the option of not doing anything, which could be huge leverage when he talks to other GMs.  The trade chips aren’t so gaudy this time around, so he’ll have to do some significant bargaining if he wants to make a deal.  Scruggs producing can only help in that regard.

Goat: Every starter had a hit and the pitching staff was fine, so it’s tough to pick out a Goat.  I guess, because I really can’t find one that is very rational at all, we’ll go with Jhonny Peralta.  1-3, but he didn’t score a run or drive one in.  It’s weak, I know, but I’ve often said not all Goats (or Heroes) are created equal.

Notes: Michael Wacha scuffled a bit to begin this one, needing double plays in three straight innings to limit the Cubs to just one run.  After walking the pitcher to start the fifth, though, he retired the last six men he faced, two via strikeout.  It wasn’t vintage Wacha, but it was enough to get by, especially after the bats came alive.  Dan and I were surprised that Villanueva went the last three innings, especially when you have a guy out in the pen in Miguel Socolovich who hadn’t pitched until Sunday.  That could have really bitten Matheny on Sunday, as we’ll see.  Why Socolovich didn’t at least get the ninth is fairly inscrutable, but Matheny was still riding that Kozma three hit thing and so he gets a little grace on questioning strange decisions for a bit.

Two hits for Heyward, who continues to pound the ball, to go along with two walks.  Bourjos got a chance to start and went 1-3 and scored two runs.  Yadier Molina had an RBI double, which was good to see.  All in all, this was an enjoyable game and showed that, even though they were facing perhaps a lesser quality part of their pitching staff, the offense could show up against a plus-.500 team.

Sunday (5-1 win vs. Chicago)

Hero: Carlos Martinez.  He had to wait for an hour while no rain actually fell.  Then, after pitching two innings, he had to wait over an hour while tornadoes and such were circling the area.  And through all of that, Martinez was fairly dominant.  Six innings–which had less to do with pitch count and results than what it took to keep him warm during the second delay–and just two hits allowed.  If it hadn’t been for a wild pitch, letting Dexter Fowler move from second to third and thus being able to score on Anthony Rizzo‘s fly ball, Martinez could have easily kept the Cubs completely off the board.  The more we see of Martinez, the more I’m glad Mozeliak hung on to him.

Goat: Tough night for Randal Grichuk.  0-4 with three strikeouts.  It can be boom or bust with Grichuk.  He’s not exactly Reynolds, not quite yet, but in a few years without some adjustments he could be.  We’ll see if he can make those adjustments.

Notes: Doubles were the story of the night as Molina (twice, including a ball that looked like it might leave the park), Heyward, Wong, Peralta and Carpenter all did that and, very often, followed each other up doing it.  As Jason Hammel said after the game, “It’s hard to beat a team when you have guys trading places at second base all night long.”  We talk about the lack of home runs out of this team (still 25th in MLB and only ahead of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Atlanta in the NL) but enough doubles can help make up for that and they sit at the top of the NL leaderboard in that category (though 13 behind MLB leader Toronto).  That’s the way the offense worked so well in 2013 (plus the whole insane RISP bit) and there’s no reason it can’t be effective again.

The Cardinals reached 50 wins over the weekend and then continued onward.  They’ve won eight of nine and six in a row.  There are 87 more games in the season. Let’s just break down the possibilities.

To Get Need To Go WP
85 wins 34-53 .391
90 wins 39-48 .448
95 wins 44-43 .506
100 wins 49-38 .563
110 wins 59-28 .680
117 wins 66-21 .759

OK, so they aren’t going to set the major league record for wins this season, but triple digits wouldn’t be surprising at all. They’d only have to play at a rate 100 points less than they are right now! They are on a pace for 110 wins, which is just mindboggling. Things will slow down, of course. Unless they don’t.

Hopefully they rested well on their off day yesterday, because not only was it their last one in the first half of the season (they’ll play 14 games in 13 days starting tonight) but they have to face Chris Sale this evening as the White Sox come into Busch.  If you are completely baseball-myopic, focusing only on the Cardinals (a condition I often have as well), you may not realize that Sale is one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League.  However, I imagine most of you realize that and know exactly how tough tonight’s game will be for our favorite team.  Sale started off a little sluggish, but in his last seven games he has a 1.90 ERA and has struck out 85 (in 52 innings) and walked eight.  Eight!  Apparently the White Sox have no offense because he is 3-3 in that span.

Given that the Cards and White Sox haven’t matched up in a while (after seeing each other every year when interleague play started way back when), it’s not surprising the only folks with any experience against him have spent some time in the AL.

Jhonny Peralta 20 17 4 2 0 0 1 3 6 .235 .350 .353 .703 0 0 0 0 1
Mark Reynolds 15 15 3 0 0 1 6 0 5 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0 0
Peter Bourjos 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 .333 .500 .333 .833 0 0 0 0 0
Total 39 35 8 2 0 1 7 4 13 .229 .308 .371 .679 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/30/2015.

You wonder if a 1-3 will get Bourjos some time tonight.  Given that Sale is a lefty, I’d say it’s a strong possibility, especially given Bourjos’s play in limited time recently.  Interestingly enough, Sale’s splits differ against righties and lefties.  Lefties, if they can hit the ball, put it on the ground while righties put it in the air.  Lefties also walk more against Sale, though he allows them fewer hits.  All in all, you worry about another game like the one Corey Kluber had against the Cards.

Lynn goes for the Redbirds, taking Jaime Garcia’s spot in the rotation as Garcia’s groin injury still hasn’t cleared up.  (There would seem to be a reasonable chance Garcia would go on the disabled list backdated to Thursday, which would allow him to return during that Pittsburgh series next week.  Tim Cooney was pulled after two innings in his start on Sunday to be ready to come up if necessary.)  As we’ve seen, the stint on the DL didn’t seem to affect Lynn and there’s no reason to think he won’t have another great start tonight.

Adam LaRoche 12 10 2 0 0 1 1 2 2 .200 .333 .500 .833 0 0 0 0 1
Melky Cabrera 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 .200 .333 .200 .533 0 0 0 0 0
Geovany Soto 5 5 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 .400 .400 .600 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Emilio Bonifacio 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .250 .000 .250 0 0 0 0 0
Gordon Beckham 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Alexei Ramirez 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
J.B. Shuck 3 3 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
Total 36 32 7 1 0 1 3 4 11 .219 .306 .344 .649 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/30/2015.

He’s had good historical success against these guys as well (when they were with other organizations, mainly) and the White Sox sit next to last in the AL in batting average and last in the AL in home runs (they even have eight less than the Cards).  All signs point to a tight pitching duel tonight, which could go in the Cardinals’ favor as the White Sox have one of the worst bullpen ERAs in the majors.  Let’s hope the Cards can survive sale and win it late!


Powering Up In Miami

Giancarlo Stanton must feel like Mark McGwire did in 1998 and 1999*.

Time and time again, he provides the highlight of the night for the Marlins.  He’s the reason there were 18,492 folks in the ballpark last night instead of 492.  A rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation has him approaching 60 homers by the end of the season.  And yet, time and time again, he goes home on the down side of the final score.

*Please note I’m only talking about some surface similarities and not suggesting at all that Giancarlo is anything but all natural.

Last night was the same thing.  Stanton hit a laser off of Jaime Garcia in the second to straight-away center, then watched as his team did nothing around him.  Stanton had three hits, the Marlins had seven.  If there had been enough people there, you’d have probably seen them head for the exits in the ninth after he singled.  I’m sure the Marlins management was glad that he kept people around that long.

This isn’t a Marlins blog, though, and as much as we might empathize with the plight of Stanton (mitigated by the fact that he took $325 million to stay in the place), we have to be glad that our focus is on the Cardinals, who don’t resemble that 1998 or 1999 team at all.  I mean, they don’t have the power of McGwire in their lineup (though the club is up to 60 homers as a group and tied with the Padres for 21st in MLB, which is an improvement) but they are winning games like he used to hit long balls.

They powered up last night, with five of the six runs coming from two home runs.  Kolten Wong‘s home run in the third was huge, because not only did it take ultimate advantage of a rare Randal Grichuk walk, it answered Stanton’s home run quickly and let Garcia pitch with a lead for most of his time on the mound.

For a while there, it looked like Wong’s homer was going to be the only hit Mat Latos gave up, which would have been a cruel way to lose a game.  (Garcia would have been able to identify with the lack of support, though.)  Instead, Latos slipped in his last inning of work, allowing a flare hit to Jhonny Peralta and, improbably, a four-pitch walk to Mark Reynolds to bring up Jason Heyward.

As Heyward stepped into the box, I had a feeling he was going to get into one.  Tim McCarver called it as well on the broadcast, so perhaps everyone had that feeling.  Heyward has been so torrid lately–he had three homers and an OPS of 1.316 in the week of games leading up to this one–that it was no shock when he roped one out to right and broke the game wide open.  It was Heyward’s only hit of the night, but boy, was it big.  It’s exciting to see him going on a tear.

Either of those would have been fine selections for hero, but Jaime Garcia‘s work was, again, just outstanding.  Seems like every game he pitches, he gets the Hero tag, but that’s because he’s basically giving the other team nothing to work with.  Save for Stanton’s home run, which is no reflection on the pitcher or how he is going because Stanton hits them off everyone, he gave up just four other hits and walked a batter.  It was interesting that Mike Matheny let him hit in the eighth with 90 pitches under his belt and his typical medical history, but Garcia was going so strong that it’d been a shame not to see if he could have an efficient eighth and rest the bullpen for an inning (not that they really needed it).  If he’d not singled and then cramped up while scoring the final run (making the game serious), we would have found out.  Shouldn’t be anything that affects him going forward, but anytime Garcia leaves a game unexpectedly, folks get worried.

The Goat for last night has to fall on Jon Jay again.  The other two starters who didn’t get a hit, Grichuk and Reynolds, at least drew walks and scored on the home runs by Wong and Heyward.  Jay went 0-4, dropping his season average to .226.  He’s gotten 50 at bats in June over 20 games and is hitting .160 in that span, so it’s not like things are getting better.  He has almost as many strikeouts in June (11) as he did combined in April and May (13) in less than half the at-bats.  I know the theory is that he has to play to get his timing and get back into a groove, but what if the timing never comes?  Do you continue to run him out there?

I guess the key will be what they do when Matt Holliday returns.  Holliday is supposed to be evaluated when the Cards come home tomorrow and, while I don’t expect that he’ll be activated from the DL or anything, hopefully there will be a timetable (a short one) for him getting back in the lineup.  If Matheny continues to run Jay out there regularly in between Holliday and Heyward, there needs to be an intervention.  We’ve seen Grichuk play center perfectly capably and while he’s got his flaws as well, he does much more for this team that Jay does.  Right now, it’s Jay versus Peter Bourjos, which is like picking the tallest hobbit at times.  I still think Bourjos should be out there more–he’s got as much claim to the “timing” excuse as Jay does–but I’d concede that it might not make a lot of difference in results.

We’ll get a roster move today as Lance Lynn comes off the disabled list to pitch for the sweep in Miami.  That probably means saying goodbye to the Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons for a while, as I think they’ll want him to continue the starter routine in Memphis to be ready in case he’s needed in a situation like we saw this month again.  Lyons at least gets to return to Memphis with not only a couple of big league wins in his pocket but also that batting line against the Phillies.  There were a lot of good things about his time up here in St. Louis and I’m anxious to see him again in the bigs, though not at the expense of any of the current starters!

Lynn’s done pretty well against Miami in the past.  He’s even limited Stanton to one hit in 10 at bats.  That hit is, of course, a home run.

Dee Gordon 13 12 2 1 0 0 2 1 4 .167 .231 .250 .481 0 0 0 0 0
Giancarlo Stanton 11 10 1 0 0 1 2 1 6 .100 .182 .400 .582 0 0 0 0 0
Marcell Ozuna 9 8 1 0 1 0 0 1 2 .125 .222 .375 .597 0 0 0 0 0
Derek Dietrich 6 3 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 .333 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 1 0
Adeiny Hechavarria 6 6 3 0 0 0 2 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jeff Mathis 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Donovan Solano 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
Christian Yelich 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Dan Haren 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Tom Koehler 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
David Phelps 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jeff Baker 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Justin Bour 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Mat Latos 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 63 56 13 2 1 1 7 6 22 .232 .317 .357 .675 0 0 0 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/25/2015.

Dan Haren goes for the Marlins.  Of course, we all know the story of Haren, a former Cardinal who was traded away for Mark Mulder in one of the worst trades Walt Jocketty ever made.  At the time, everyone recoiled because we sent Daric Barton in the deal.  Haren was an acceptable loss for a guy like Mulder.  Assuming he’d been healthy, that might have been a deal that one day looked favorable for the Cards given Barton’s inability to become anything more than a replacement player.  Haren had some stellar years, though, and Mulder….well, he had that 10-inning scoreless game against Roger Clemens.  That really was about it, wasn’t it?

Jhonny Peralta 32 30 9 1 0 0 2 2 6 .300 .344 .333 .677 0 0 0 0 1
Yadier Molina 12 11 4 0 0 0 1 1 1 .364 .417 .364 .780 0 0 0 0 1
Mark Reynolds 11 10 2 1 0 1 1 1 4 .200 .273 .600 .873 0 0 1 0 0
Jason Heyward 9 8 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .125 .222 .125 .347 0 0 0 0 1
Matt Carpenter 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 .000 .167 .000 .167 0 0 0 0 0
Jon Jay 4 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .750 1.250 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0 0
Tony Cruz 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 1 0 0
Pete Kozma 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 81 73 21 4 0 1 4 8 16 .288 .358 .384 .742 0 0 2 0 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/25/2015.

Haren’s never been particularly tough on the old squad.  I mean, he’s had success, don’t get me wrong, but in line with his other success, not like Bud Norris levels of success, when you can’t figure out why this is happening.  I worry with that 1-2 Pete Kozma would be in the lineup, but hopefully the fact both Peralta and Wong hit him well and Matt Carpenter just had an off day will keep Kozma safely on the bench.

Cards extended their lead in the division to seven over Pittsburgh and 7.5 over Chicago last night.  Be nice to at least keep it that way by sweeping the Fish!


If you are going to have to deal with two hit-by-pitch in the same inning, it’s good to make it count.

After Sam Dyson plunked Carlos Martinez while he was trying to bunt and Randal Grichuk a batter later to load the bases, there were a lot of Cardinal fans wondering if St. Louis would make them pay.  When Jhonny Peralta struck out and Mark Reynolds ran the count 0-2, it really didn’t appear they would.  Credit to Reynolds, though–not only did he get the tiebreaking RBI, he did so by lining his hit off of Dyson’s shin, which was poetic justice.

That could have been enough to get Reynolds our Hero tag, but instead, I’m going with Xavier Scruggs.  Scruggs didn’t have the best defensive night, of course, but he did go three for four and had the biggest hit of the evening, a two-run double that tied the game up.  Scruggs also led off that decisive seventh inning with a single and his pinch-runner Pete Kozma scored the winning run.  While it’s likely Scruggs won’t be back in the lineup tonight (unless Mike Matheny wants to give Mark Reynolds a night off again), it’s good to see him have a little success in the big leagues and hopefully he’ll be able to channel that into some late-inning pinch-hit heroics.

We talked yesterday about Jason Heyward heating up and he continued to prove it last night.  Only the one hit, but it was a long one, a homer in the fourth that started the scoring.  As I said on Twitter, I like June Heyward better than April Heyward.  And I liked April Heyward just fine.

On the mound, it was another pretty strong outing for Carlos Martinez.  Yes, he gave up a home run that might not have landed yet to Giancarlo Stanton, but lower earth orbit is full of baseballs hit by Stanton.  Martinez isn’t exactly the only one in that club.  Other than that, the hits were a little on the high side (eight) but he gave up just three runs and went seven innings, including the last inning with that bruised shoulder.  In that inning he got two groundouts and finished with a strikeout (his last of nine) so odds are he’s going to be fine, though I imagine that shoulder has stiffed up a little today.  It’ll be something to watch Sunday when he pitches against the Cubs, but I don’t expect it’ll be an issue.

All in all, it was good to see the Cardinals be able to rally, especially since they were facing a pitcher they’d only seen in spring training.  It’s a team they should beat, sure, but that doesn’t always mean anything.  They needed the win since Pittsburgh and Chicago also took their games last night.  I know, it’s not vital that the Redbirds win when those two teams are, but it’s surely nice.  Right now the Pirates are six back and the Cubs 6.5, but we saw last week (and we know from Cardinal history!) just how quickly leads like that can get a little less comfortable.  Then again, I’m all for pennant races when they don’t involve the Cardinals.  In their situation, I’m perfectly happy with getting out to a 10-game lead and extending it from there.

Before we leave this, we do need to find a Goat.  I think it’s going to have to be Jhonny Peralta, who went 0-5 with two double plays and that aforementioned strikeout.  A rough night for the shortstop.  It’s actually pretty impressive the Cardinals were able to do anything offensively when the top three folks (Kolten Wong, Grichuk, Peralta) went a combined 0-9.  At least Wong and Grichuk each drew a walk.

Kevin Siegrist could have gotten the tag, though, had it not been for a timely stop of a fastball by the home plate umpire’s chest protector.  Siegrist got the first two outs, then a walk and a single put runners on the corners.  Yadier Molina set up off the plate, but Siegrist (and I believe this was intentional, not pitches that got away) went inside.  Even though I think he was expecting it, Molina couldn’t get to the pitch and it struck Adam Hamari in the chest, shaking him up a bit.  (You know that Hamari is probably a good umpire because I had to look up his name and I’ve still never heard it.  If Siegrist was going to stun an ump, most of us would rather Joe West or Angel Hernandez be back there.)  Kudos to Hamari for not only shaking it off eventually (I mean, the pitch knocked him flat on his back) but for not flinching when Molina and Siegrist ran the same setup two or three more times in the at-bat.  I’d have told Molina to get in front of me!

Matt Carpenter had a little back tightness and so Matheny figured a day after an off day was a good time to give him a break.  Given Carpenter’s season and his bout with exhaustion earlier, I don’t think anyone can blame the manager for such a tactic.  Carpenter actually took it in stride and used it as a rest day, which shows how he’s changing as a player.

Looks like the club is going to reevaluate Matt Holliday when they get home this weekend.  All reports seem to indicate he’s healing well, though I think it’d be a surprise if we saw him on the field after that evaluation.  Still, maybe he can return before the All-Star Break and give this team a little boost.  Have to wait and see.

Jaime Garcia looks to continue his stellar season (and hopes to get a little bit of offensive help) tonight as he takes on Miami.  Garcia has not allowed a run in his last two starts, though he only has one win to show for it.  He’s not seen a lot of this Marlins team but he’s shown smarts in dealing with them–he’s walked Stanton in two of the three plate appearances.

Jeff Baker 13 13 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 .308 .308 .308 .615 0 0 0 0 1
Mat Latos 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Giancarlo Stanton 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 .000 .667 .000 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Ichiro Suzuki 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 23 19 5 1 0 0 1 4 2 .263 .391 .316 .707 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/24/2015.

Mat Latos is on the hill for the Marlins.  The Cards have seen a lot of him from his days in Cincinnati and San Diego and that’s usually been a pretty good thing for them.

Jon Jay 34 30 11 2 0 0 1 2 6 .367 .424 .433 .858 1 0 0 1 0
Yadier Molina 31 31 12 3 0 1 5 0 5 .387 .387 .581 .968 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 15 14 4 1 0 0 1 1 3 .286 .333 .357 .690 0 0 0 0 0
Jason Heyward 14 14 5 2 0 0 2 0 2 .357 .357 .500 .857 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 11 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 .000 .091 .000 .091 0 0 0 0 0
Pete Kozma 10 9 1 0 0 0 0 1 3 .111 .200 .111 .311 0 0 1 0 0
Jaime Garcia 5 4 1 0 1 0 2 1 2 .250 .400 .750 1.150 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .333 .000 .333 0 0 0 0 1
Tyler Lyons 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Villanueva 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 127 117 34 8 1 1 11 7 27 .291 .336 .402 .738 2 0 1 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/24/2015.

Perhaps this is what gets Jon Jay on track?  Not like anything could really hurt at this point.  Latos is coming off a tough start against the Yankees where he allowed three runs in 5.2 innings.  Three of his last four starts have been kinda yucky, actually, and he’s only gone seven innings twice this season, so let’s hope the offense clicks and they can take the series tonight!

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I have, from time to time, taken on the task of cataloging and describing the various blogs around the Internet that focus on the St. Louis Cardinals.  I most recently did that last January and it already needs a severe reworking, which is pretty much the nature of blogging.  They come and go, though lately it seems more have been going than coming.

However, while the blogging arena may be declining in numbers (though not in quality, I don’t believe), it seems like podcasts about the Cardinals are growing at a large rate.  At one time it was basically just Redbirds of a Feather and UCB Radio.  While the former may be gone (I miss Freddie at times), there have been a large number of them to take its place.

I don’t claim to have found all the podcasts that relate to the Cardinals, nor am I a regular connoisseur of them.  I’ve tried to listen to at least part of a show of each of the below to give a general idea of what it’s like, but I don’t claim that it’s authoritative.  It’s just a guide to help you know what might be out there.

What you’ll notice about almost every show is that it’s not a solo effort.  I’ve done some UCB Radio episodes where I’ve had to talk for 30 minutes by my lonesome and that’s an exhausting premise.  Plus the addition of a co-host helps keep people on task and diligent in their recordings, I imagine.  My solo show, which features an interview but also has my own thoughts at the end, is sporadic in part because of that lack of accountability.

Also, every show on here would love to hear your feedback, whether positive or negative.  (Well, if it’s negative, at least couch it as constructive criticism, will ya?)  It’s a tough thing to broadcast to the winds of the Internet, so knowing someone is listening can make a huge difference.  Plus, rating podcasts on iTunes can help them get exposure and found by other folks of a like mind.  Consider writing a review and letting them (and those browsing) know what you like about it.  Drop them a Tweet and let them know you’ve subscribed.  Especially if you like the show, give occasional encouragement.  It’ll never go amiss and it might be what keeps them doing the show or doing it more regularly.

That being said, let’s take a look at the shows.  I’ll get mine, or at least ones that I’m tangentially related to, out of the way first.

The Best Dans In Baseball (iTunes link, Facebook page, Twitter):  We’ll start with the newest one.  Dan Buffa thought it’d be a fine idea if two guys named Dan (well, sorta) from Arkansas talked Cardinal baseball every week.  Two shows in and I can’t say he was wrong.  We usually record on Thursday nights and the show gets up sometime on Friday or Saturday.  They aren’t brief–put the two of us together and we can talk until the cows come home, get a nap, and go back out again–but they’ve been well received so far, I believe.  Usually about an hour to 1:15 in length.

Conversations With C70 (iTunes link): My personal baby, it’s the only place that I get to ramble without feeling like I’m putting my co-host to sleep.  The focal point of most episodes is a talk with another blogger, usually getting into their history and background before we talk about current baseball events.  Many times they are Cardinal bloggers, but sometimes they’ll be from another fan base, which makes for a little different perspective.  I wrap the show monologuing about the Redbirds, so there’s always at least some St. Louis chatter.  Typically the show runs a little over an hour, though it’s been known to go longer with the right guest.  This one is pretty irregular, as I usually have to find time in my calendar to do it, but I wish I could do it more often.  Bonus: its own, specially-commissioned theme song and my interview with Tyler Lyons.

Gateway To Baseball Heaven (iTunes link): Every Sunday night at 10 PM Central, two of the Best Fans In Baseball bring you all the news and analysis you need about the St. Louis Cardinals.  This show is on the Seamheads Podcasting Network over at BlogTalkRadio.  Bill Ivie and I started the show when SPN went live at the beginning of 2011 and my current co-host Tara Wellman took over late in the 2012 season and has been with me ever since.  We’re limited to basically 30 minutes, but it’s always a highlight of my week to talk with Tara and go over what has happened in the last week for the Cardinals.  It’s a lively and quick run through the week of #stlcards and we have a lot of fun doing it.  (Note, if you subscribe to this link, you’ll get all the SPN shows, not just ours.)

UCB Radio (iTunes link): While I used to have more of a hand in this one, we’ve got so many great folks involved that I just have to pop in from time to time to make sure they don’t forget about me.  Each week of the month has a different dedicated broadcast team.  To wit, we have Buffa and Doug Voliet (Week 1), Chris Mallonee and A.J. Blankenship (Week 2), Tara and Matt Whitener (Week 3), and Jon Doble and Kevin Reynolds (Week 4).  On those rare five-week months, I fill in with a guest host.  UCB Radio has been around almost as long as the UCB itself, as I believe it started in December of 2008.  Now, it’s a 30-minute show every Wednesday night at 10 PM Central as part of Ivie League Productions.  Like Gateway, it’s a great way to recap a week of Cardinal baseball and with the various hosts you are likely to get a lot of different points of view throughout the month on the big topics of the day.

And now that we’ve acknowledged those, here’s a few of the others that I know about.  I’m not saying this is the definitive work (unlike my blogging claim!) and if I miss anyone, I’d be more than happy to edit the post to add them.  I’m adding the iTunes link because I’m on the IOS environment, but you can probably find them in Google Play or on the related websites without much trouble.  I also contacted these and asked if they wanted to add a quote or blurb to their entry, so if they did, that info is in quotes below.

Baseball STL Podcast (iTunes link): J.J. Bailey from KMOV was doing this one solo (though interviewing folks) but now has been joined by Chris Hrabe from KMOX to fill out the podcasting team.  It actually ties into the Baseball STL app (iTunes, Google) and has the production values you’d expect from a couple of guys who are in the media business.  The shows runs 30-45 minutes and you can get a great look inside the organization from folks that are closer to the front lines than most of us are.  It’s an organized show with some great Cardinal talk.

In their words: “The BaseballStL podcast is a weekly discussion of all things Cardinal baseball hosted by me and occasionally KMOX’s Chris Hrabe. The show features guests ranging from prospects to coaches to Cardinals beat writers and broadcasters. Episodes are about 30 minutes and offer in-depth looks at everything from the minor league system to Major League moves.”

Cubs Cards Cast (iTunes link, Facebook page, Twitter): Dan Curry and John Pearman are political consultants, but with a wonderful twist for this show.  Dan’s a lifelong Cardinals fan who now finds himself in the Windy City, while John grew up with the Cubs but now calls under the Arch home.  So, not unexpectedly, there’s a lot of good-natured ribbing and trash talk as they break down what happened for both teams during the week and how they stand in relation to each other.  No doubt the weeks that see the Cards and Cubs get together are epic, though I haven’t gone back to listen to some of the old shows.

In their words: “Political consultants by day Dan Curry and John Pearman love baseball. Dan is a lifelong Cardinals’ fan living in the Chicago area and John is a lifelong Cubs’ living in St. Louis. They talk about baseball’s best rivalry every week in a new podcast.”

STL CardGals (iTunes link, Twitter): This is the one I’ve been listening to the most lately and one of the pods that inspired this post.  Sisters Laura and Holly recap each series and the various other news of the day as it relates to both the Cardinals and to certain former Redbirds.  That means they usually update the podcast twice a week and they run roughly 30 minutes or so.  It’s a really fun listen that goes by very quickly.

In their words: “A fan-perspective St. Louis Cardinals baseball podcast hosted by two sisters: your source for totally biased baseball.”

St. Louis Cardinals Podcasts (iTunes link): If you want plugged in, this will get you there.  It’s the closest thing to an “official” podcast, as it’s produced by MLB.com and features Dave Raymond as the host, usually talking with Jenifer Langosch, who has the Cardinals beat for MLB.com.  (Yeah, I know, I probably don’t have to tell you who Jenifer is, but we’ll cover all the bases as it were.)  These are pretty short little hits–around 10 minutes–and come out weekly, so you don’t get an in-depth dive but you do find out some of the issues of the day and Jenifer is always knowledgeable about what is going on with the club.

Talking About Birds (iTunes link, Twitter): Nate Heininger and Ben Simorka record their shows on Mondays and do a solid job going through the week that was and what may have arisen on and off the field.  Nate and Ben interact well with each other and the shows run from 1:15 to 1:30, but the time goes by quickly and it’s intelligent baseball talk.  I’ve only listened to one all the way through, but it’s definitely a show I’d recommend.

In their words: “We’re a couple of baseball nerds who started a podcast because we were tired of watered down mainstream media and, at the time, couldn’t find any good local podcasts. We focus on the St. Louis Cardinals because that’s our passion, but we genuinely love talking about baseball, so the conversations can vary. We release an episode every week (every Monday, sometimes Tuesday) and we try not to make fun of Al Hrabosky too much (impossible).”

Talking Redbirds (iTunes link, Twitter): This one hasn’t updated in a month or so, but it is still current enough that I wanted to add it in here, as the hosts may return to it at any time.  Matt and Brock have a very convivial interaction, bantering back and forth on the Cardinals and sometimes quite unrelated tangents.  Please note that this one does come with the “Explicit” tag on iTunes, pretty much for a healthy dose of language.  While that may not deter many of you, it is worth knowing.  (A similar situation was The Backup Catcher, hosted by Brian Vaughn of StanGraphs fame, when it was being updated.)  If that doesn’t bother you, you likely will enjoy hanging out with two friends talking baseball.

Viva El Birdos (iTunes link): It’s not a surprise that the biggest Cardinal blog on the Internet started a podcast.  What is surprising is that it took them so long!  The VEB podcast started in August of last season and has regularly updated since then, recording on Sundays with a release usually on Mondays.  Ben Humphrey is the constant here, with his low-key presence being augmented by a rotating cast of Viva writers, such as Heather Simon, Aaron Schafer, or our old friend Joe Schwarz.  If you read VEB, you know what you are getting here–an analytical view of what has been happening and what might happen going forward for the Cardinals.

Before we leave the topic, I do want to note that UCB member Eugene Tierney has his own podcast, where he mixes in baseball as well as other things like comics and the like.  If you like your podcast with a little more variety, you should check out The Nyrdcast.  Also, we pour one out (as I believe the phrase goes) for Best Podcast in Baseball, a delightful collaboration of Bernie Miklasz and Derrick Goold that ran last season and picked up briefly this spring before going dormant due to their schedules and other responsibilities.  It was the gold standard and it is truly missed.

There you have it.  Whether you want a short dose of info or are willing to settle in for the long haul, whether you want a sabermetric approach or just off-the-cuff talking, there’s a podcast for you out there.  So download some and start listening today!


Four games to talk about and they are all over the map, pretty much.  The only thing we didn’t have in these four games?  One of those close, low-scoring wins.  You know, the kind the Cardinals have had all year long.

Thursday (2-1 loss at Minnesota)

Hero: Matt Carpenter.  Two of the five hits.  After his 0-3 yesterday in Philly, he’s hitting .272 in his last 10 games, which is still not quite the level we expect from Carp, but much better than the .100 level that he was at.  Sounds like whatever tuneup he might have gone through is paying off.

Goat: Kevin Siegrist.  Holding a one-run lead in the eighth on the road isn’t easy, of course, but Siegrist got the first two outs and was facing Joe Mauer, a lefty that he should have been able to handle or at least keep in the park since Mauer only had two homers at that juncture.  It was three a couple of pitches later, tying the game and putting the Cards in a tough spot.  Interestingly, Siegrist has been much more effective on righties this year, with a K/BB ratio of 33/3 against right-handers and just 9/8 against lefties.  Lefties have almost a 1.000 OPS against him, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see more of Randy Choate getting the tough left-handers out and Siegrist staying in that setup role until Jordan Walden returns, then sliding to the seventh inning.

Notes: Jason Heyward looked to be the hero in this one, cracking a home run in the seventh that broke the scoreless tie and might have held up the way the Cardinal pitching staff usually goes.  Jaime Garcia had another stellar outing with limited run support, going six-plus and allowing just four hits and two walks.  He put a couple of runners on in the seventh, so the Cards went to Seth Maness, who did what Seth Maness does (though it took him a batter longer than expected).  Carlos Villanueva wound up finally taking the loss, allowing a two-out homer to Kennys Vargas, but when you get into that situation, you know a mistake ends the game.  It’s a tough situation to be in and a little more offense against Mike Pelfrey would have come in handy.  Pelfrey’s having a nice year, true, but he’s no Cy Young.  Then again, sometimes it’s tough to know who is an All-Star and who isn’t when you judge by how the Cardinals handle them.

Friday (12-4 win at Philadelphia)

Hero: Could it be anyone but Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons?  Well, yeah, there were some big offensive performances so I guess you could go with someone else, but it’s my blog and I’m going my own way.  When you just look at the pitching line, it wasn’t anything special.  Five innings, three runs, seven hits, one walk, five strikeouts.  However, take away the three-run homer from Ryan Howard, who destroys anyone in a Cardinal uniform, and it looks better.  (Yes, I know, you can’t do that, but you can toss that into mitigating circumstances.)  However, the Hero tag comes from mixing his hitting in as well.  Two hits, one walk, one RBI, three runs scored.  He accounted for more runs than he let in!  That’s gotta be Heroic.  Plus that first hit came with two outs, allowing Kolten Wong to come up and smash a two-run homer that made it 4-0 and just starting things going downhill for the Phillies.

Goat: You score 12 runs and have 16 hits plus a solid bullpen and it’s tough to come up with a Goat.  I guess we’ll give it to Tony Cruz, who came in to give Yadier Molina a rest when the game got out of hand and went 0-2, leaving three men on.  Again, as I’ve said before, not all Goats are created equal.

Notes: Molina hit his second homer of the season, continuing to revive hopes that his power might not be completely gone.  Yadi’s been on fire over his last nine games, hitting .412/.444/.647 with two doubles and the two homers.  Even if it’s short-lived, it’s good to see flashes of the old Yadi and hopefully we’ll see more of them as the season progresses.  Randal Grichuk had a good night, going three for five with a home run.  (It wasn’t as good as his Saturday, though, which we’ll get to in a second.)  Multiple hits from Heyward, including a double, and Greg Garcia, who was called up earlier in the day.  Xavier Scruggs also got into this one, which we thought would give Mark Reynolds a rest, but instead it just shifted him over to third as Carpenter took the breather.  Reynolds would have to wait until Saturday to see his innings-played streak come to a stop.

Saturday (10-1 win at Philadelphia)

Hero: Randal Grichuk.  A double and two home runs, three runs scored and four RBI.  That, my friends, is a good night.  Grichuk can be frustrating with his strikeouts, but when he gets the power bat going, he really can add some pop to this squad.  With Matt Holliday going down, he could easily have been exposed with two much playing time, but in the ten games before his 0-4 on Sunday, he was hitting .333 with an OPS of 1.111 with a double, two triples, and four homers.  He’s holding his own against this league, which is a great testament to him.

Goat: Peter Bourjos.  We clamor for Bourjos to get chances over Jon Jay, but when he does he goes 0-4 with two strikeouts.  One game doesn’t a season make nor should it be necessarily heavily weighted into decision-making, but you know that Bourjos needs to make an impact to have a chance to get Mike Matheny to write him in a bit more often.  That might be the last time Bourjos starts until next Saturday–he couldn’t get the start against a new lefty on Sunday, with Jay back out there in center–so it’s disappointing he couldn’t take some advantage.

Notes: John Lackey finally got a win on the road this season and in the process brought down that unsightly road ERA inflated by the Coors Field debacle.  Seven innings of one-run ball will often win you games in any park (unless you are Garcia) but it’s extremely nice to see in a hitter’s locale like Citizens Bank Park.  It’s nice to have a guy like Lackey as a fifth starter, when most teams would have him at least in the middle of their rotation.  Three hits for Jhonny Peralta as he drove in and scored a run.  Another three hits for Heyward, with a double and two RBI mixed into his line.  We also saw the return of Trevor Rosenthal, who apparently is actually OK after some rest.  That’s not always the case with Cardinal injuries–in fact, that’s rarely the case–and it was good to see him throw a scoreless inning, even if it wasn’t at all a save situation.

Sunday (9-2 loss to Philadelphia)

Hero: Jason Heyward.  Three for four (club only had seven hits, so he pretty much was the offense) with a home run in the ninth off of Jonathan Papelbon.  The homer didn’t mean anything, but it’s good to see Heyward swinging the bat better.

Goat: Michael Wacha.  It just wasn’t Wacha’s day yesterday as he didn’t have his best stuff and the Phillies made him pay.  Five runs in five innings is really un-Wachalike, though he did strike out seven.  In fact, as much as we worried about his low strikeout numbers earlier in the year, it might be a good thing when he doesn’t strike out as many.  Here are his top strikeout games this year, along with the number of runs he allowed.

Game Opponent K ER IP
6/9 Colorado 10 4 6.2
5/14 Cleveland 7 1 5
5/30 Los Angeles 7 4 5.2
6/21 Philadephia 7 5 5
5/23 Washington 6 1 7

So obviously when he’s getting the strikeouts, it’s not necessarily a good thing, which is a little strange.  I’m sure one of the sabermetric types over at Viva El Birdos could or has explained it, but typically more strikeouts has been a good thing.  It looks like we’d prefer Wacha to have in the 4-6 range, though, rather than fanning many folks he faces.

Notes: Maness may have given up the cheapest run possible, but it was an indication of what speed does.  It must have been what it was like against Vince Coleman back in the day.  Odubel Herrera beat out an infield hit, stole second, then scored when a dying quail landed with two outs.  He could not be stopped on the basepaths, though thankfully that wasn’t the deciding run or anything.  Matt Belisle, who has been so effective for the most part this season, wound up allowing a three-run home run but, again, this one was pretty much out of hand by time Wacha left, as there didn’t seem to be any offense left in the bats after 22 runs in two days.  Peralta did crack a homer earlier in the game to break up the shutout, but you have to give credit to Adam Morgan in his major league debut.  (His family was there, it was Father’s Day, just a good story all the way around if you aren’t on the other side.)

You’ll notice that Heyward’s name is all through these recaps.  After watching him scuffle for a while, he finally seems to have found his legs and is starting to hit at a rate comparable to what we expected when he was acquired.  In the month of June (and this doesn’t count his day on Sunday, as Baseball-Reference hasn’t updated yet and I don’t have time to try to do the math), he’s hitting .355/.369/.516.  He’s not walking much–just two all month–but he’s being aggressive at the plate and it’s paying off.  Which, when you look at it, tracks well with his career.  His OPS in April is .722, but that basically increases until he reaches an .872 mark in August.  It would seem that Heyward is a warm-weather hitter and the best is likely yet to come from him.  He’s already approaching what we saw out of him last season, a mark that we said at the time of the trade would be a nice upgrade for St. Louis given the dearth of offense out of the right field position in 2014.  Heyward’s well on his way to evening up this deal, even with Shelby Miller doing so well for Atlanta.

The rest was what Lance Lynn needed and he should be activated in time to start Thursday.  While he’s eligible before that, the club didn’t want to add another day into the rotation for Garcia and Carlos Martinez, who will benefit from today’s off day anyway.  Lyons may have made an impression, as the club isn’t ruling out keeping him up as a reliever, but given the roster moves they made this weekend, bringing up Scruggs and Garcia and sending out Mitch Harris, I don’t see them really adding another arm.  They could send down Miguel Socolovich and keep Lyons, but my feeling is they’ll want the Patron Pitcher to stay on a starter’s routine in case they need him again.  Lyons got two wins while Lynn was out, so he kept the seat warm well.

After today’s off day, Martinez will take on the Miami Marlins in that lime-green monstrosity they call a ballpark.  We know how dominant Martinez has been, but it’s mind-boggling to think that, besides those two bad starts, he’s had a 1.39 ERA for the season.  How amazing is that?  There’s a reason the Cardinals want to hang on to him and he’s proving it quickly.  The only Marlin that has seen him is Dee Gordon, who has done well against the Redbird hurler, going 4-9 with an RBI and a strikeout.

St. Louis will see another pitcher they’ve never seen before in Jose Urena, which will be back-to-back games with rookies and three of the four games with unknown hurlers.  Hopefully it’ll be more like Friday than Sunday against Urena, who is 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA in seven games this season.  He’s coming off pitching in Yankee Stadium, which has to be a high point for any young pitcher.  He limited the Yankees to two runs in six innings, though he walked four and only struck out one.  On the year, though, he doesn’t do much of either (13 K, 10 BB in 32.1 innings).  We’ll see what the Cards can do with him!


If the club is going to hack a database, I’d have guessed it was John Mabry looking for some hitting tips to pass on to this offense.  It definitely needs something.

Tuesday (3-2 win vs. Twins)

Hero: Mark Reynolds.  He only had one hit, but he made it count, driving in two runs that proved to be the difference in the game.  As you know, I keep expecting the regular playing time to start showing some holes in his game.  Perhaps more accurately, to reflect what we’ve seen in the past out of Reynolds, the low batting average and the high strikeouts.  While he still strikes out (though just one in this game), being out there every day hasn’t been a detriment so far.  And given how little anyone else is producing at the plate, that’s a good thing.

Goat: Jhonny Peralta.  Both he and Jason Heyward went 0-3 with a walk, but we’ll give it to Peralta because he was up higher in the lineup and left more on base.  That’s the problem–the Cards can seem to get folks on, just not all together.  You’ll see hits and walks scattered up and down the order, but the runs still aren’t coming with any sort of regularity.

Notes:  Kevin Siegrist locked down another save as Trevor Rosenthal was still unavailable, though apparently Rosie was good to go (or at least able to go) Wednesday night, so maybe this won’t be a long-term thing.  Even if it was, Siegrist has handled it fairly well.  He obviously has gone to the Jason Isringhausen School of Closing as well, putting the go-ahead run on in this one, but Rosenthal did that as well and seems to have been able to shake it this year.  If nothing else, Siegrist has shown that there’s no reason you can’t rest Rosenthal every once in a while, even with a save situation.

The bullpen on the whole was outstanding again, like they have been for a long time.  In the month of June, before they gave up a run last night with two outs in the eighth (after instant replay overturned the third out), they had a 0.29 ERA.  That’s insane.  It’s over a run better than anyone else’s bullpen and a huge, huge reason that this club is still playing around .667 ball.  The offense isn’t going to give you a lot to work with, so you don’t want to give any of it back.

Two hits and a walk out of Matt Carpenter, which may mean whatever funk he was in, it is finally dissipating.  Which is big, because this offense doesn’t go without him.  It’s questionable whether it goes with him, of course, but at least it’s a discussion then.

Wednesday (3-1 loss at Minnesota)

Hero: Jason Heyward.  Two hits and the only RBI.

Goat: Kolten Wong.  On June 5, Wong was hitting .314.  In the ten games since that time, he’s batting .158/.200/.342.  He does have some extra base hits in there, but overall he’s in a bit of a slide.  Last night continued it, going 0-4 including a big out in the eighth with two out and a runner on.

Notes: Almost went with Reynolds as the Goat given his miss of Carlos Martinez‘s pickoff that led directly to two runs.  It wasn’t the best throw from Martinez, but it was catchable, which is why Reynolds got the error.  Without that, we might have been in a 1-0 game in the eighth, which would have affected things a little bit.  Reynolds did get a hit and score the only run, though, so that got him off the Goat hook.

Martinez had another fine outing, running into a little trouble in the seventh and not being able to finish the inning but otherwise being solid.  Five hits and three walks, coupled with six strikeouts, should win you a lot of games.  Just not this one.

Randy Choate did his job, though, getting Joe Mauer after Martinez had loaded the bases and left the game.  Choate made it interesting, running the count to 2-0 before coming back with three strikes.  I give him enough grief for not getting folks out, though, so I’ve got to give him props (as the kids say) when he comes through.

Four runs is not a big deal in baseball.  Four runs is a pretty average offense, wouldn’t you say?  Yet the Cardinals have not hit that plateau since June 4, when they had back-to-back days of seven runs against Milwaukee and the Dodgers.  From June 5 to June 17, a span of 11 days, they are hitting .230/.289/.373.  That OBP is the real killer, as the occasional hits would be much more effective if folks were reaching base.  Instead, they’ve walked 27 times in 382 plate appearances.  That’s not particularly good.  It’s a testament to the pitching staff that the club has gone 7-4 in those games instead of 1-10, which could have easily happened.  They have scored 30 runs in those 11 games and have allowed 30, though 11 of those came in one game in Colorado.  Thank goodness for pitching!

Of course, like things such as the housing market and the dot-com fiasco, bubbles burst.  We’ve seen Cardinal teams in the past get by with stellar pitching for a good portion of the first half, only to run into trouble as the law of averages, warmer weather, and fatigue drive those ERAs up somewhat.  You are dancing on the edge of a knife here–it’d take basically a run a game more allowed and this nice gaudy record would shrivel up like a worm on a summer sidewalk.

Not that I have any solutions, of course, but it may be time for Mike Matheny to look at another lineup shakeup.  Of course, that time period we’re looking at almost exactly ties to the loss of Matt Holliday, so it may be less order and more personnel.  If Holliday is going to return in a short period of time, perhaps the pitching staff will hold out.  The problem is I’ve not seen any updates on Holliday in a while, so it would seem unlikely he’s going to be back in the lineup shortly after the DL stint is up.  It’s something John Mozeliak and Matheny will have to keep informed about to decide whether they can’t wait to go out and get another bat.

The hacking scandal is still in the press, of course, as the Cardinals issued a more strongly worded statement yesterday and talked a little bit to the media.  (It is interesting, as Kevin Reynolds pointed out on Twitter, that Mo talked to a national writer in Bob Nightengale over the local beat writer in Derrick Goold.  My guess is that they wanted to make sure it reached a wider audience and to look less like they were hiding something by talking to what might appear to be a more sympathetic ear.)  They are saying what we in the blogging and Twitter community have been saying, that it’s a low-level issue and not a systematic one.  Perhaps we believe that as fans of the organization, but there’s not even a shadow of proof yet that what they are saying isn’t accurate.  There’s no weasel terms in these statements and interviews.  They truly want to get it resolved and move on.

The problem, of course, is that they’ll never really be able to move on.  Even if they find the folks responsible and fire them publicly, prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and so on, folks are going to say that it’s a cover-up, that those are fall guys, that obviously folks knew.  It’s a catch-22 situation, and I’m not talking about when Matheny was a player.  Darned if they do, darned if they don’t.  You just have to hope that intelligent folks will see that it’s not the Cardinals that were hacking, but a couple of Cardinal employees.  That’s a significant difference.

People are lazy, though.  Even if they don’t believe there’s anything, it’s going to be a fallback joke for years to come.  Heck, I even have gone that way on occasion, though not seriously.  Once it enters the legacy, though, it’s hard to remove, whether fairly or not.  The Cardinals have been proactive, they’ve been cooperating with the investigation and working for a while to figure out who and how.  We’ll see if that helps mitigate the responses, though.  It would seem unlikely.

(I enjoyed Nightengale’s piece, but unless he has other information, I take issue with his line that “this isn’t a fraternity prank gone wrong”.  I’m not sure it’s not pretty close to that, though obviously with criminal and personal repercussions.  My feeling is that folks, perhaps not in their right mind, decided to try out some stuff and see if they could embarrass Jeff Luhnow.  It could be that they were as surprised as anyone when it worked.  Then again, we don’t have all the info so maybe it was more deliberate, but I wouldn’t rule out prank gone wrong just yet.  Again, that’s not to condone or mitigate what happened.  Pranks gone wrong have real consequences that have to be dealt with.)

St. Louis tries to move a little further away from the scandal and back into the win column with an afternoon game in Minnesota.  Which, if the weather’s nice, should be almost a perfect day for baseball, especially in lovely Target Field.  Jaime Garcia hopes that the offensive support he got last time carries over–for all the talk about low runs, at least they scored some last time, unlike most of his starts.  The only batter he’s seen before is Kurt Suzuki, who struck out in his only plate appearance against the Cardinal left-hander.  Hopefully Garcia can keep his strong season going and bring home a series split.

If he does, he’ll have to outduel Mike Pelfrey.  Pelfrey, a former New York Met, is having a strong season at 5-3, 3.18.  That ERA would be even better but the Rangers got to him for eight runs in less than four innings his last time out.  Heyward, for one, might be looking forward to the reunion.

Mark Reynolds 16 13 3 0 1 0 3 2 5 .231 .313 .385 .697 0 1 1 0 0
Jason Heyward 15 15 5 2 0 0 1 0 1 .333 .333 .467 .800 0 0 0 0 3
Yadier Molina 9 9 5 2 0 0 0 0 1 .556 .556 .778 1.333 0 0 0 0 1
Jhonny Peralta 8 7 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 .286 .375 .429 .804 0 0 0 0 1
Peter Bourjos 3 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jon Jay 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 54 50 15 5 1 0 5 3 7 .300 .333 .440 .773 0 1 1 0 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/18/2015.

Some good numbers there, but Pelfrey’s been better of late.  Let’s hope there’s an afternoon shower of runs for the Cardinals!


Of course, today’s story would break at a time where I really couldn’t get into discussing it.  And while we’ve had a chance to look at the humorous side of things (apparently a lot of folks needed that–that one post beats most all the weeks we’ve had over here when it comes to hits!), it really is a pretty serious situation.  I don’t know that I have any great insights or anything new to add, but I wanted to write about it anyway.

First off, let’s agree on one thing–it’s not HackGate.  Or CardGate or any sort of Gate.  The Watergate was an actual building, not a scandal that had to do with people selling water at inflated prices.  There are no gates involved here, so be more creative when you are talking about this controversy.  The Crimson Horror or something like that.  I even like the “Birdgazi” one that is floating around.  If you are going to attach it to a political scandal, at least make it one in my lifetime.

Now, let’s be clear.  This is a big deal and folks are going to be in trouble over it.  I completely expect some jail time to at least be sentenced, even if it’s minimal and perhaps suspended.  Once they find out who did this–and let’s be honest, they probably already know, they just can’t completely prove it yet–things are going to be pretty bad for those low-level folks that thought they’d try some of Jeff Luhnow’s old passwords.

And, to be fair, it’s more than that.  Luhnow himself could come and write down his password for me, but it wouldn’t do me any good.  I have no idea how to access their systems to even get to the point of putting in a password.  It sounds like Ground Control was basically Redbird Dog with an Astros skin, so maybe those that are in the know have a pretty good idea what the URL or whatnot is to get into their software.  Still, it’s not just pulling up GMail and continuing to try some of the ones Luhnow used in St. Louis.

It sounds like Luhnow left behind some disenfranchised folks in the Cardinal organization.  I remember that John Mozeliak got frustrated enough with Luhnow raiding the front office when he left for Houston (taking folks like Sig Megdal) that he finally drew the line and said nobody else could leave.  It sounds like Luhnow took the software with him as well, which was probably a sore point, even though he helped develop it.

If Luhnow is taking all this as he walks out the door, it could be speculated that he took a few other things, such as data files, that maybe he really didn’t have the rights to.  I can imagine this starting with a couple of Cardinal employees talking it over, convincing themselves that Luhnow had their scouting reports on Michael Wacha or some other guys being looked at and deciding to do something about it.  They get on the system, plug in some old passwords, and find themselves inside Ground Control.

Does that make it right?  Of course not.  Does it mitigate their punishment?  I don’t believe so.  But if Luhnow did take proprietary information from St. Louis, I don’t know how else the organization would be able to prove it.  Of course, the proper course of action would be to let it go, ask through the right channels if there was anything (though that’s likely not to get you a positive response) or see if you can find evidence to force the Astros’ hand.  Hacking their system really isn’t the best way for the latter, though.

Given all that, our hypothetical duo could have easily gotten away with most everything if they had just looked around, backed out of the system, and went on their way.  Where they goofed (more so than the initial break-in) was to post some info from their tour of the system on public forums.  No doubt they thought they were embarrassing Luhnow, no doubt they wanted to tweak him a bit and show the world what the Astros were thinking.  However, that brought things to everyone’s attention and once that happened, they weren’t getting away, especially since, here in our hypothetical, these aren’t hackers per se but folks with a little knowledge and a misguided focus.  Of course they weren’t going to hide their tracks.  They weren’t thinking anything of the sort, at least not to the level of the professional hackers.  Anyone with some experience would find them soon enough.

All that is moot to the point of any situation like this, the question that became famous with Watergate: “What did they know and when did they know it?”

If anyone in the upper management of the Cardinals knew about and/or directed such an attack, that person has to be gone.  Immediately.  I don’t care if it’s John Mozeliak or Bill DeWitt III or whomever, the club has to show that such behavior isn’t allowed, no matter how much good you’ve done for the squad or what your relationship is to the owner of the organization.  This goes at the very fabric of the trust fans have toward their organization plus the trust and relationships toward other clubs when it comes to trades and things of that nature.  You cut that out quickly and severely.

That being said, I do not believe that it went very high up the chain if anywhere beyond those that made the incursion.  “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18)  Look at the people they bring into this organization.  Look at the character that they make a key component of drafts and trades and free agency.  It would seem easier to compromise the principles and bring in an unrepentant cheater (I know, some of you will throw Jhonny Peralta up, but there are some extenuating circumstances in his situation and he served his time and hasn’t been a problem since) than to go to this level that is unprecedented (as far as we know) in professional sport.

Did the Cardinals derive a tactical advantage from this?  I don’t see how.  It’s not like they could use this information to steal a draft pick from the team that was drafting first.  It’s not like they really wanted to focus on the same free agents that would be interested in going to a last place team (especially a team that really was eschewing free agents).  Again, I don’t believe this goes beyond the “hackers”, so most of the organization had no clue that this was going on.  As such, there’s no way they could use the information because they didn’t know they had it.

If it is proven that there’s no systematic failure here, that there’s no culture of corruption, I don’t believe the club should be punished much, if at all.  Perhaps to show that you are responsible for everyone in your front office, whether team president or new intern, but beyond that, I don’t think it would deserve much of a response.  It’s not football–we are not vacating wins or postseason appearances.  Nothing here is why the Cards have been to four straight NLCS.  Maybe a fine, but that would seem to be it.

If that’s not the case, though, if the club knew well up the chain of command or had suggested this would be a good thing, then we’ll revisit and revise these thoughts.  That’s not a situation I want to contemplate, though, and I don’t believe I’ll have to do so.

Of course, this is just opening the floodgates for those that already think the Cardinals are too high-and-mighty, too sanctimonious, too irritating.  (By all this, of course, they mean too successful.)  So unless you can develop a think skin or can laugh about it, I’d stay off Twitter for a few days.  Even as the Cardinals won again today (we’ll talk about that tomorrow), it’s not an easy time to be a Cards fan.  Then again, few things worth their salt ever are.


You’ve probably heard by now about the allegations that employees of the Cardinals have been implicated in the hacking attack of the Houston Astros system.  We’ll talk more about this story in a more serious nature either later today or, more likely, in tomorrow’s post.  It sounds like it’s a couple of employees that tried on their own to see if some old Jeff Luhnow passwords still worked at his old place.  It’s not a good look, but it doesn’t sound like it’s a systematic issue or an organizational flaw.  We’ll see, I guess.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at ourselves a little bit.  (Everyone else is, right?  They aren’t listening to arguments right now anyway.)  So, from the home office in St. Louis,  Missouri, the Top Ten Reasons the St. Louis Cardinals “Hacked” the Houston Astros…….

#10: Luhnow made a great spinach and artichoke dip and they were looking for the recipe.

#9: Were trying to find the roster file to add Pete Kozma to it.

#8: Just wanted to see if Luhnow’s old password, “WaltJockettySucks”, still worked.

#7: Was hoping to find a social media plan for some tips.

#6: Checking to see if Houston ever found that ball Albert Pujols hit off of Brad Lidge.

#5: Thought it’d be funny to bump Colby Rasmus up the “Free Agents To Target” list.

#4: Wanted to change everyone’s wallpaper to this:


#3: Along with #4, all computers now boot up with the audio, “Go crazy, folks, go crazy!”

#2: Fredbird told Rosie Red he could get her Orbitz phone number.

And the number one reason the St. Louis Cardinals “hacked” the Houston Astros…….

#1: Thought they were voting for the Royals on the All-Star ballot.


It had been a long time, almost a year in fact, but an old friend returned to Busch Stadium last night.  The Yadi-bomb.*

*(I had planned to open the post with the highlight clip, but MLB doesn’t let you embed such things the day after.  Far be it for you to find the video anywhere but their site.)

Yadier Molina brought the bat last night and gets the Hero tag.  Three hits might have done it on its own, but when he went yard for the first time since June 27 of last year, that was the clincher.  Molina seemed to have the best approach at the plate that he’s had this season and perhaps the lack of power was due more to the lingering effects of the thumb surgery than age and wear.  Now, of course, it’s just one home run and for all we know it’s the only one he’s going to hit this season, but he looked more like the Molina of old last night.

It wasn’t just last night, either.  Since the beginning of the Colorado series, which means the last six games, Molina’s 8-22 with a double and a homer.  With all the losses this team has had, especially to the offense, getting Molina on track would be huge to continuing to be viable in games.

It was nice to see the paired home runs of Molina and Mark Reynolds.  There’s something extra exciting about back-to-back shots, especially for a team that can go a week without hitting two long balls.  That’s two in two days for Reynolds, who perhaps, instead of being exposed by playing all the time, is just getting better with the regular reps.  I’m still not sure that can hold up, but we’ll take it for now.

Another great outing for John Lackey in Busch Stadium, which is becoming old hat by now.  Two runs in eight innings, saving a bullpen that (apparently) was a little light last night.  (More on that in a bit.)  Lackey scattered just five hits, though two were doubles and one was a triple, which is why he wound up giving up the two runs late.  Five singles and he might have had a shutout.  For some reason, though, Lackey and Molina got into it a little bit in the dugout, which seems strange as good as the outing was.  It sounds like it might have been a little bit of a misunderstanding, as Lackey was griping at himself and Molina thought Lackey was griping at Molina, but you’d think Molina would be used to that having caught Chris Carpenter for a number of years.  No punches were thrown, thankfully, and the players say they are good, so we’ll assume that’s the case.

It’s a good thing Lackey was so strong, though, because besides the home runs, there wasn’t much going on with this offense.  Kolten Wong gets the Goat with an 0-4 day in the leadoff role, but Matt Carpenter continued his slide with an 0-3 night.  He struck out once, though he did also draw a walk.  I don’t know how you do it, but Carpenter really would seem to benefit from some rest.  Then again, he’s had two days off recently, with Thursday’s off day and Sunday’s rainout, so maybe that’s not the answer.  Something needs to be, though, because this offense isn’t going to ever catch if he’s scuffling.

Randal Grichuk had a Randal Grichuk night, getting two hits (including a triple that led to him scoring the first run) but striking out twice.  I think we’d take the strikeouts if it meant the hitting as well, though.  The Cardinals actually scattered nine hits around, including Jon Jay‘s bloop that drove in Grichuk.

We had anticipated seeing more of Peter Bourjos after Matt Holliday went down, but that doesn’t seem to be an opinion shared by Mike Matheny.  It’s not even that Jay, who is hitting .228 on the season, has been upping that average recently and that leads to his playing time.  He was hitting .129/.222/.290 in 36 June plate appearances before last night’s 1-3.  Couple that with the double hit early in the game that seemed catchable for other center fielders like Bourjos (who, I will admit, I’ve heard people state that they think Bourjos is being hesitant in the field lately, so maybe he wouldn’t have either) and you wonder just what Matheny is basing his selection of Jay on.  By the way, Bourjos is .200/.385/.500 in June, though in only 14 plate appearances.

When it rains it pours, of course, and that doesn’t just refer to the weather forecast for St. Louis over the next few days.  Kevin Siegrist got the save last night, which was a nice thing to see, but the reasoning wasn’t so much.  Trevor Rosenthal was unavailable with “tightness” and while Matheny and the coaching staff aren’t concerned, at least publicly, when your closer can’t go after a day off (and only throwing once in the last four days), that raises some red flags.  The only medical issue that’s gone the Cardinals way this year is Carpenter’s dehydration, but you could argue there could be some lingering effects of that going on right now, leading to the offensive struggles.  (Not sure there’s much of a link, but that doesn’t stop people from arguing on the Internet.)  We’ll see if Rosenthal can go today.  If he can’t, this might be yet another obstacle for this Redbird team to overcome.

That’s what they’ve done all season, though, and stand at 42-21.  When you are literally winning two out of every three games, it’s a good season.  They are six games ahead of the Pirates for the divisional lead, 5.5 games ahead of the Dodgers for the best record in the NL, and also 5.5 games ahead of KC for the best record in baseball.  To do all of this with the injuries they’ve accumulated is a remarkable thing.

That said, I do think the whole “imagine where Team X would be if they didn’t have their two top pitchers, their 3-4 hitters, their setup man, etc.” talking point is a bit overblown.  Dan McLaughlin and Ricky Horton had that as part of the broadcast last night, but I figure that many teams would be close to where they were at now with those losses for the same amount of time as the Cardinals have been without them.  Would the Pirates miss Andrew McCutchen?  Surely.  But if he’d only been out two weeks like Matt Holliday, the record probably wouldn’t be much different.  The only real difference maker would be losing their ace in April.  Many teams would have problems there.  Again, I don’t want to discount what the Cards have done because it has made it significantly harder on them (not that you can tell), but it’s not like they’ve been missing all these pieces since Day 1 and that should be factored in when trying to apply that to other squads.

Michael Wacha goes this afternoon, assuming the rain clouds will let him.  Given how Wacha seems to attract the rain even when there’s not a lot of it around, that could be problematic.  Wacha has been outstanding, of course, but he’s never faced the Twins.  (Not only the organization, but none of the players in the lineup.)  That could go in his favor, of course, and we hope that it will.  Wacha’s given up four runs twice in his last three starts, though one was at Colorado and the other against the Dodgers.  He lost both of those, though, so he’ll have to keep the runs down if he wants this minimal offense to get him a win.

Kyle Gibson has also never faced the Cardinals as a group, though Reynolds has two at-bats against him and has a stereotypical Reynolds line–two at-bats, one strikeout, one two-run homer.  The Cards did OK against Trevor May last night even though they’d never seen him, so perhaps that success can continue here.  In his last two starts, he gave up five runs (four earned) to Kansas City in six innings and five runs (all earned) to Milwaukee in seven.  Besides his first start of the season, those are his worst outings, so we’ll see if St. Louis continues the downward trend or if he bounces back to something more in line with the rest of his season.

Supposed to be an afternoon affair at Busch and it looks like they’ll get it in.  We’ll see if the Cards can get the sweep before heading to Target Field!



What a difference a few miles makes.

Two weeks ago, the Cardinals struggled in Kansas City, needing to win Sunday’s finale to salvage anything in the series.  This weekend, Sunday’s game could have given them a three-game sweep had the rains cooperated.  It was a sweep nonetheless and, given Kansas City’s position not only in the standings but in the All-Star voting, a fulfilling one at that.

Friday (4-0 win)

Hero: Jaime Garcia.  Figuring that he wasn’t going to get any run support, Garcia made sure that anything he did get would matter.  Eight innings of scoreless baseball, with just four hits allowed and, again, no walks, continuing his streak that started with his second outing.  It was a masterful performance and one that gets you excited about what Garcia can bring when he is healthy.  There’s still an inability to go all-in emotionally with Garcia, given his injury history, but the more outings he has like this, the harder that’s going to be.  Having him in the rotation, especially as the offense struggles, is a wonderful thing.

Goat: Somebody go find the real Matt Carpenter.  Another 0-4 with two strikeouts, which is just so unlike the Carpenter we are used to seeing.  I noted before that the STL Card Gals traced this downward spiral to Clayton Kershaw hitting him on the elbow.  Actually, it started before that.  Carp’s made six starts since then (counting Saturday’s game against KC) and is hitting .136/.208/.136 with nine strikeouts and two walks in 24 plate appearances.  The six game before and counting that Kershaw plunk: .188/.364/.250, four strikeouts, four walks, 22 plate appearances.  He’s hitting .203 in his last 18 games.  Whatever the issue is, Carp needs to figure it out.  He’s too vital to this offense for it to go on much longer.

Notes: While Carpenter may be struggling, Jhonny Peralta is picking up the slack.  Three for four in this game, though he didn’t drive in or score a run.  Over that same span where Carp’s hitting .203, Peralta’s hitting .364 with four home runs.  Maybe there’s some kind of conservation of offense law of nature we don’t know about.  Two hits for Randal Grichuk, who also scored twice, and Jon Jay drove in two.  Both of those guys got a triple, which is a pretty rare thing for any squad these days, really.  You don’t often see two triples in a game.

Saturday (3-2 win)

Hero: Mark Reynolds.  As tempting as it is to go with the Patron Pitcher here, when you break a tie with a home run and that stands up, you tend to get to be the Hero.  Reynolds had another hit and run to go along with the long ball, which makes him an easy choice.  It was good to see some power out of Reynolds, since that’s what the Cards signed him for.  I thought we’d see some exposure with Reynolds having played every inning of every game since Matt Adams went down, but so far during that span he’s hitting ..268/.349/.357.  Saturday’s homer was his first, though, and he does only have seven RBI in the 17 game span, but he’s not been a liability as I thought he might be with regular playing time.  That said, John Mozeliak should still be looking for someone to spell him, if only because he can’t play every single day.

Goat: We’ll go with Randal Grichuk, though Peralta was also in the running.  Peralta had one more hitless at-bat, but Grichuk left four men on during his 0-3 day, which could have been pretty big had Kansas City been able to do anything against the bullpen.

Notes: The Patron Pitcher Tyler Lyons returned due to Lance Lynn‘s forearm soreness and threw five nice innings against a really good team.  He could have gone six (at least looking at pitch count) if it hadn’t been for the rain delay.  He also got a hit of his own, which was good to see.  The home run bug got him, but he made sure they were solo shots and only gave up one other hit.  He only walked one batter as well while striking out six.  It was good enough to get him another start, this time in Philadelphia which is less forgiving to fly balls.  Hopefully the good pitching that we heard about in Memphis (where he was recently PCL Pitcher of the Week) will continue up here in the big leagues.

The bullpen did its normal outstanding job.  I think I heard on the radio that the collective ERA of the bullpen is under 1.00 for a span of time that I’m not sure of, but it probably runs out a while.  I can’t remember the last time a bullpen pitcher really got nicked–I think Carlos Villanueva gave up a couple in Colorado, but that was over a couple of innings as well.  Overall, though, we as fans can feel pretty confident when almost anyone comes into a close game that they are going to get the job done.  (Maybe not as much Mitch Harris, but he’s not likely to be in a high leverage situation.)  In this one Matt Belisle, Randy Choate, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal combined for four innings and allowed just one hit.  Strong bullpens are key for an October run and right now that’s exactly what the Cardinals have.

Sunday’s game was rained out and they’ll make it up probably on August 3.  It’d be a bit of a pain for the Royals, as it’s between series for them, but that seems more reasonable than the other off-date the teams have in common, July 23.  Cards would lose their travel day to Cincinnati, but that’s not a huge issue.

As noted above, Lynn went on the DL on Friday, retroactive to June 8, which means he can return June 24 and the Cards would only miss one more start from him.  That’s the optimistic view, of course, but it looks like it might be reasonable.  There doesn’t seem to be any structural damage and the rest should calm the inflammation down quite a bit.  We’ll know more in a few days, seeing if the Cardinals give him the OK to start getting ready for his start after Lyons makes his next one.

John Lackey gets to go against an American League team, just not the one he was expecting.  Pushed back because of yesterday’s rain, he’ll take on the Twins tonight in Busch Stadium.  Hopefully that home cooking continues to be with him.  This season, he’s 4-1 with a 1.73 under the Arch, even including the three runs in seven he allowed to the Brewers last time out.

Joe Mauer 35 34 11 0 0 2 4 1 8 .324 .343 .500 .843 0 0 1 0 1
Kurt Suzuki 35 33 6 2 1 1 3 0 6 .182 .200 .394 .594 0 1 0 1 0
Eduardo Nunez 15 12 4 3 0 0 0 3 2 .333 .467 .583 1.050 0 0 0 0 0
Brian Dozier 8 7 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .125 .000 .125 0 0 0 0 0
Trevor Plouffe 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0 0
Eduardo Escobar 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Total 101 94 23 6 1 3 7 5 20 .245 .287 .426 .713 0 1 1 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/15/2015.

Looks a little hit or miss with Lackey there, though to be fair Joe Mauer’s not what he used to be and not what he was when he was putting up a lot of those numbers against the Cardinal hurler.  Top prospect Byron Buxton made his debut yesterday and likely will get his first major league hit in St. Louis, which is a fine place for it.

Trevor May goes for the Twins.  He handled the Royals last time out, giving up just one run in six innings, and before that threw seven scoreless innings against the Red Sox, so he’s going better than the 4.16 ERA might indicate.  Nobody on the Cardinals has ever faced him, which could make for a long night if history holds.  Should be a fun one to watch!



As I get older, something that surprisingly seems to happen daily, it’s becoming harder and harder to drag my lazy rear out of bed and get these posts done before work.  Of course, after the first two games this week, who wanted to write about them?  I’ll work on doing better so these aren’t series recaps all the time.  If nothing else, we can hope that leads to better series than the one we just saw.

Monday (11-3 loss)

Hero: Mitch Harris.  Hey, the offense did little and anything they did do came after the game was already well out of hand.  Harris threw two scoreless, hitless innings in Colorado at a time when we’ve been wondering if he needs to go to Memphis.  Kudos to him.

Goat: John Lackey.  When you put the team down 5-0 after one, it’s bad.  Not undoable in Colorado (though with this offense, I wouldn’t want to test it) but bad.  Giving up another five three innings later?  Ouch.  Even in Coors, that’s unacceptable.

Notes: Between Lackey’s early meltdown (bad enough to give up Troy Tulowitzki‘s three-run bomb, but to give up two more runs AFTER that?  Yikes.) and the fact that Matt Holliday left in the second with his quad injury, this never was much fun.  Yes, Kolten Wong and Jon Jay went deep and Mark Reynolds got two hits, but the less said about this game the better.

Tuesday (4-3 loss)

Hero: Peter Bourjos.  Two for three and a late home run that, had Randy Choate been able to get his man out, would have tied the game.  Instead, it cut the gap and the Cards did try to rally, but were unsuccessful.  With Holliday out, Bourjos should be playing quite often in center field.  Should and will, though, are two different things.

Goat: I limit this to players, which is why Mike Matheny‘s not getting it here.  More on that in a bit.  Matt Carpenter has to get the tag here with an unfathomable four strikeouts.  Carpenter looked terrible in a lot of those at-bats and, if it wasn’t for a stronger day on Wednesday, would have some folks concerned.  I listened to the STL CardGals podcast yesterday while mowing and they tied it back to Carp getting plunked on the elbow by Clayton Kershaw.  Given the stats, you wonder if that didn’t bother him more.  Again, a good Wednesday means that we can hopefully put this behind us (especially when you mix in the off day in there), but we’ll have to see.

Notes: Michael Wacha was cruising along with his two run lead.  I walk into the laundry room to get some laundry out of the dryer, come back, and it’s 2-2 just that quickly.  He finished that inning up with 95 pitches.  The bottom of the lineup is coming up, so I can see letting Wacha start the inning, but a tie game in Colorado, with a tiring pitcher and the top of the lineup looming means that you should probably have a quick hook.

Wacha gets the first batter to strike out on four pitches, but he allows the pinch-hitter to get a single.  He’s at an even 100 pitches.  The top of the lineup is coming up.  It’s COLORADO.  The bullpen save for Harris and Carlos Villanueva are rested.  It might be time stop the bleeding.

Not so much.  Wacha gets Charlie Blackmon to line out for the second out.  103 pitches.  Up comes DJ LeMahieu.  LeMahieu had a terrific series against the Cardinals.  He was 2 for 3 already against Wacha, back when Wacha was fresher.  You’ve got to come take the ball here, don’t you?  I know you want to see if he can get through the inning, but you are really playing with fire here.

Matheny gets burned as LeMahieu doubles in the run.  Wacha intentionally walks Tulowitzki.  Finally he goes to Choate, but Choate doesn’t get it done against Carlos Gonzalez and that’s pretty much the ballgame.

I want to say, I do give Choate a hard time with the YOU HAVE ONE JOB.  It’s frustrating to see a guy come in, give up a hit, and leave.  That said, as someone noted on Twitter, we don’t expect everyone else to be perfect.  There are going to be times when the batter wins.  I guess I have less issue with a hit (though there’s still some, as Choate should succeed in this spot many more times than not if he wants to stay employed) than a walk.  A walk to a lefty batter by Choate should be unheard of and that is a complete failure on his part.

In their first two games in the hitter’s paradise that is Coors Field, the Cardinal offense mustered 12 hits total.  Not exactly the get-well tonic the bats needed.

Wednesday (4-2 win)

Hero: Carlos Martinez.  Save for a Coors Field homer, Martinez was outstanding.  6.1 innings, eight hits (which is a little high for him lately, but also factor in the environment) and four strikeouts to just one walk.  Martinez seems to either have low hits and high walks or vice versa, but he doesn’t put a ton of runners in total on.  Just outstanding what he’s been able to do this season as he has moved into the rotation.  Plus he got two hits, which means he gave a huge boost to this sputtering offense.

Goat: Peter Bourjos.  It was another tough one to hand out, but Bourjos was the only starter without a hit, though he did draw a walk.  If you have to go down to your eighth place hitter before you find a hitless day, it’s not a bad thing.

Notes: Matheny did a Matheny and double-switched out Jhonny Peralta in a one-run game.  I get that you’d probably like the defense, I get that you didn’t want to have to pinch-hit for Kevin Siegrist in the bottom of the seventh, I get that it makes more sense than you’d initially think, but still, losing a bat like that in a close game, especially where things can turn around so quickly, could have been huge.  It also would have meant Carpenter wouldn’t have seen anything else to hit as the pitcher’s spot was now behind him.  Fortunately Randal Grichuk hit a home run that gave some insurance and Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal struck out six of the eight batters they faced, so it didn’t matter who was out there.

All right, let’s tackle the injuries.  First off, Holliday.  On the DL, so he’s out for two weeks at least.  However, it’s a Grade 2 strain, not a Grade 3 tear like Matt Adams has.  So it seems like he probably won’t be out the rest of the season, which is a very nice thing indeed.  It could be, given the magical healing waters of the Mississippi around the Arch, that he’ll return in 15 days.  (How else do you explain Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina‘s quick returns, huh?)  He’s able to walk on it, so with the right healing and rehab he might not be missing long.

That’s the hope, at least, because otherwise this offense needs a bump.  The outfield while he’s out should be Jason Heyward, Bourjos, and Grichuk with Jon Jay providing occasional breathers, but that seems unlikely to happen.  I mean, the first game Holliday is out, Heyward is on the bench.  There’s no lineup out yet for this evening, but there’s also no reason to think Heyward will be sitting.  Guessing the lineups, though, is a fool’s errand at times.

John Mozeliak is likely looking for a bat, though more likely it’s one that can play first than the outfield.  After all, we do have four guys that are capable of playing (at different levels of success, of course) and hopefully there’s no need to add another to the mix.  He’s also possibly going to have to keep some powder dry because of the second injury.

Lance Lynn went back to St. Louis this week with forearm cramping, a report on which is scheduled to be out today.  Lynn is not guaranteed right now to take Saturday’s start against the Royals and if he’s out for any length of time, things get dicey.  After all, Marco Gonzales is still out, so you are back to relying on Tim Cooney and Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons and hoping the rest of the rotation can hold things together.  It’s a strategy that can work, for sure.  Even if Lynn was out a month, that might only be 5-6 starts.  Cooney and Lyons would be a downgrade, but not enough that the Cards are a given to lose all those starts.  There’s a cushion in the standings and it may have to be used.

If it’s longer than a month or if someone else in the rotation starts needing help, Mozeliak might have to use his few chips to get an arm in here instead of a bat.  I think that’s unlikely to be necessary–both of these guys could be back, but my guess is Lynn will be OK–but it’s starting to be a case of too many needs and not enough in the cupboard to fill them.  You gotta choose at times and hope that you choose right.

Cardinals host Kansas City tonight and, for once, Joe Strauss is making another fan base mad instead of the ones that pay his salary.  To be fair, it’s been a long-held assumption that Strauss doesn’t want to see anyone happy, but this seems to take it to another level.  The Royals have been terrible for as long as I can remember.  They had a good year last year and they are having a good year this year.  It would be a bit unreasonable to assume that their fan base is going to “act like they’ve been there before”. They are excited about what’s going on and they don’t know how long it is going to last.  It’s understandable they’d be vocal about their happiness.  As I told one Royals blogger on Twitter, perhaps one day they’ll get to the point where they can be as hated as Cardinal fans.  He was all right with that.

Jaime Garcia hopes to keep his run going–heck, he hopes to GET a run–when he takes on the Royals tonight.  Garcia has had three starts with zero runs scored while he’s in there, meaning he’s lost a number of hard-luck outings.  Last time he matched Clayton Kershaw basically pitch for pitch.  He shouldn’t need to do that tonight with Yordano Ventura going, but it wouldn’t hurt.

Alcides Escobar 18 15 4 0 1 0 1 3 0 .267 .389 .400 .789 0 0 1 0 0
Alex Gordon 9 9 4 1 0 1 5 0 1 .444 .444 .889 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Blanton 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Lorenzo Cain 7 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .143 .143 .143 .286 0 0 0 0 0
Eric Hosmer 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .333 .200 .533 0 0 0 1 0
Omar Infante 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Salvador Perez 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Jason Vargas 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Moustakas 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 1.000 1.500 0 0 0 0 0
Edinson Volquez 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 1 0 0 0 0
Total 60 55 12 2 1 1 6 3 8 .218 .271 .345 .617 1 0 1 1 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/12/2015.

Kinda hit or miss there.  Of course, that kinda happens in the small sample sizes.  It was Garcia’s game against them last year (five innings, six earned runs) that made folks start wondering if there was something wrong (besides cursing Matheny for leaving him out there through it all).  He had two good starts after that, so I don’t think we can blame the Royals for breaking Garcia, but it definitely didn’t help.

Ventura faced the Cards last weekend and took the loss in the Sunday game, giving up four runs in seven innings (on just five hits).  He’s been alternating good and bad starts lately, and since his last one was four runs in three innings against Texas, he could be in line to be dominant tonight.  Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Matt Carpenter 6 5 2 0 0 1 3 1 1 .400 .500 1.000 1.500 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .167 .167 .167 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Jhonny Peralta 6 6 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .167 .167 .167 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .200 .333 .200 .533 0 0 0 0 0
Peter Bourjos 5 4 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 .250 .400 .750 1.150 0 0 0 0 0
Randal Grichuk 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jon Jay 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
Pete Kozma 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .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
Total 41 38 9 0 1 1 5 3 7 .237 .293 .368 .661 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/12/2015.

As I write this, our producer John Nagel is uploading the first episode of Best Dans In Baseball to this site.  Dan Buffa and I kicked off what we hope will be a weekly look at the Cards with a conversation last night and I’d hope that sometime this weekend you’ll get a chance to listen and tell us what you think.  The Twitter account for the show is here and here’s the Facebook page.  Let us know what you think!

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