C70 At The Bat

It’s the fourth week of the Greatest Cardinal Moments Tournament (#BestCardsMoments on Twitter) and we’ll see the last matchups of the first round kick off.  Before we get to the first of the last for this site, let’s take a look at the current bracket.  (You can also find it here.)

We’ve got some good matchups for the second round, but we need to finish completing that field.  The winner of this matchup, as you can see, moves into the Round of 32 and faces off against Bruce Sutter‘s World Series winner.  Who the Hall of Fame closer has to face is up to you!

#5 Jim Edmonds makes a diving NLCS catch (2004)


#12 Vince Coleman and Willie McGee steal four bases on the same play (1985)

The 2004 NLCS may have been the greatest League Championship Series that no one ever saw.  With the Yankees and Red Sox sucking up TV oxygen, especially as the Red Sox completed the first and only rally from a 3-0 deficit, the Cardinals and Astros put on their own stellar show.  The series went back and forth and it took an extra-inning home run from Edmonds (a moment coming up in matchups tomorrow at The Intrepid STL) for the Cards to go to a Game 7.

Craig Biggio led off the game with a home run off of Jeff Suppan.  That’s the way the game stood in the top of the second.  Jeff Kent led off with a walk and, after an out by Morgan Ensberg, Jose Vizcaino singled to put two runners on.  With Roger Clemens on the mound for Houston, St. Louis could not afford to get much further behind.  It looked like they were in significant trouble when Brad Ausmus laced one into the gap.  However, center field, that was Jim Edmonds territory.

No matter how many times you watch it, it’s still outstanding.  Edmonds was shaded away from the play and had to make up so much distance.  It was such a lock to drop that, even with just one out, Kent was just past third when Edmonds caught the ball.  Both runners had to hurry back and reclaim their bases.  Buoyed by that (and, in fairness, it was the pitcher coming up), Suppan struck out Clemens, ending the threat.

The Cards did get down 2-0 but rallied and, in large part due to a Scott Rolen home run (that was on a matchup last week at The Intrepid), won the game and the series.  An epic game that might have more dramatic parts than any playoff game this side of Game 6.

Our other contender didn’t happen in the postseason, but it epitomized the entire Whiteyball motif.   There’s no way that I can really sum this up well, given that I didn’t start really watching baseball for another couple of years, but it is one of Cardinal historian Bob Netherton’s favorite plays.  Here’s the entire post he wrote about it, but I want to steal the description of the play from it:

Coleman slides into third base Lou Brock style, meaning a late and very hard slide.  He beats the throw but Cubs third baseman Ron Cey thinks he’s out and takes a couple of steps towards the shortstop, looking at the umpire.  Coleman overslides the base pretty badly.  When Cey realizes that Coleman is safe, but off the base, he starts moving to tag Coleman.  Coleman reacts quickly and breaks for home, getting into a rundown.   The idea here is that since Coleman is out, he can at least delay the play long enough for McGee to get to third base.  That would have worked fine, except the Cubs forgot to cycle in another defender behind catcher Jody Davis.  When Davis throws the ball back to Cey, there is nobody between Coleman and home plate.  Coleman scoots home on the play, scoring the first run of the game.  McGee never stopped running, so when Cey looked down all frustrated by their defensive blunder, McGee slides safely into third base behind him.

Now, perhaps you are having problems visualizing this.  Thankfully and coincidentally Twitter user ooraahh happened to tweet out a Youtube link to this play just this weekend.

So which is the best Cardinal moment? Defense or baserunning? Playoffs or a symbol of an era?  You get to choose!

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The Cardinals had a homestand against two of the top teams in the NL West, two teams that are playing in the playoffs if the season ended this week, much less today.  They went 5-2, showing again that they CAN play with anyone.  And what do they get for their troubles?  Really, not much of anything.  St. Louis was 4.5 games behind the Cubs and Milwaukee last Sunday, they are 4.5 games behind the Cubs this Sunday.  A Cubs team that, we probably should point out, has not only started to click but also from all reports will be adding Justin Wilson and Alex Avila today to shore up what holes they have.

As Three Dog Night once sang, “What does it matter, what does it matter?”

The problem, of course, is that today is the trade deadline and the front office doesn’t seem to want to sell on a team that, in some years, would be considered still in the hunt down less than five games.  Intelligent fans, the fans that follow this team as their lifeblood, understand where they stand.  They know that the odds of them passing up a resurgent Chicago are slim.  (Fangraphs today has them at around 7% for the division, 16% for the wild card.)  They’d understand moving Lance Lynn, trading a few other pieces, and retrenching for 2018.  It makes plenty of sense.

They aren’t the issue.  It’s the casual fans, the ones that come down to Busch Stadium while the team is contending but are more likely to find other things to do if they aren’t, that ownership is worried about.  They still want that 3.4 million to come through the gates.  They want the 40,000 a night to be in the stadium.  Which are legitimate concerns, don’t get me wrong.  This is a business and the model they have kinda relies on it.

That being said, Bill DeWitt III pointed out on Blogger Day that their season ticket base is 22,000, which is one of the largest in baseball.  If I’m a season ticket holder, I’m going to renew tickets because it’s baseball and I want to be there.  But OTHER season ticket holders might not be so kind.  They may look right now at a 2018 team that doesn’t inspire confidence.  Sure, the front office may SAY that they are going to be active in the winter, but they’ve also said they were going to be active at the trade deadline and, as such, that hasn’t been fulfilled.  Do you put your money down for next year, money that you might need or want to go somewhere else, on the bet that this winter is going to fix the problems?

For those folks, selling might push them away.  Buying, however, seems like a futile chasing after the wind.  It seems unlikely you can bring in that big bat or transformative presence today.  I’ve been wrong before and I’d love for this to be another one of those times, but it’d be a huge surprise if they could bring in a big bat that would work for this year and next at the least.  It’s not a pleasant place for this front office to be in, this zone of too good to be bad and too bad to be good.  But like Tara said both last week and this week on Gateway, just pick something.  Being frozen is not a good look and it’s more frustrating than any bad trade is likely to be.  I get that the front office plays the long game, but right now the franchise is not on the right track and keeping on keeping on is likely going to keep on seeing this team as a sub-.500 team for the foreseeable future.

Really didn’t plan on it taking all this long to get to the games.  I guess I should get to it, huh?

Friday (1-0 win)

Hero: Jedd Gyorko.  Three hits, including the Cardinals’ only extra-base hit, and drove in the only run of the game.  Gyorko’s been slumping of late, so it was good to see him have a strong game.

Goat: Yadier Molina.  0-4 with five left on base.  At least we know he wasn’t tired.

Notes: Michael Wacha continued to show that he’s back on his game, throwing six scoreless innings against a pretty solid lineup.  Wacha allowed only three hits while striking out five and did so in just under 100 pitches.  It was very good to see that the Chicago games wasn’t a harbinger, more a blip on the radar.

Knock on wood, but Seung-hwan Oh is starting to look like the closer we were used to last year.  It may well be because Mike Matheny is keeping him away from left-handers, but he’s not been charged with an earned run since July 14.  Since then (and this counts Sunday), he’s gone six innings, has one unearned run on the ledger, has eight strikeouts and is limiting batters to a .217 average.  I’m not saying give him the closer role or that I’m still not holding my breath if he comes into a one-run game, but if he’s close to last season’s dominance, pairing him with Trevor Rosenthal at the end of games makes this bullpen much more of a threat.

Speaking of Rosie, he earned his save in this one.  After Brett Cecil put two runners on in the eighth, Rosenthal came in and shut the door, striking out four and allowing nothing in two innings of work.  Good Rosie is a lot of fun to watch.

Saturday (7-1 loss)

Hero: Paul DeJong.  Just one hit, but it drove in a run in the first and let people dream about beating Zack Greinke for an inning or two.

Goat: Jedd Gyorko.  I mentioned he’d been slumping.  0-4 with three left on base.  It was either him or Molina, who went 0-3 with two strikeouts and three left on before Carson Kelly replaced him.

Notes: If Mike Leake could corral the home runs, he might be able to get back to an approximation of what he was earlier in the year.  He’s allowed 14 long balls this season, eight of which have come since the calendar turned to June.  He gave up two of them here in his five innings of work and while three runs total in five isn’t great, when you are up against Greinke you can’t afford to have a game like that.  Honestly, this is the sort of game we probably should expect from Leake going forward, with maybe another inning added on.

Kevin Siegrist had done well since his return from the DL, but he blew up in this one.  He got one out, gave up three hits, walked three, and was charged with four earned runs.  Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons had to come in and get him out of that jam.  His next outing will be interesting to see.  Otherwise, the bullpen did pretty well, but Matheny ran through a lot of them while the game was close.

Matt Carpenter with two hits, the only player wearing red with multiple knocks.  (I think the Diamondback were wearing gray and teal in this one, but their wardrobe is eclectic and I can’t be sure.)

Sunday (3-2 win)

Hero: Jose Martinez.  Given a rare start, Martinez delivered big time, cracking a two-run home run that tied the game then driving in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly.  I said on Twitter before his homer that this team needed something, because it felt like they were going through the motions, and Martinez provided it.

Goat: Harrison Bader.  Moving him up to the second spot didn’t really help, as he went 0-4 with two strikeouts.  The big league pitchers are getting him out with the offspeed stuff and, if the Cardinals don’t do something relating to an outfielder today, it seems like he might be sent back to Memphis to work on it when Stephen Piscotty comes off the DL tomorrow.

Notes: The consensus was that if Lance Lynn started yesterday, he was staying in St. Louis.  That may not be the case still–Sonny Gray and Yu Darvish haven’t moved yet and they’d probably go before Lynn–but Lynn obviously didn’t allow it to affect him.  His command wasn’t quite there–five walks, including three in the second–but he went six innings and allowed just two runs.  A solid start that kept his team in the game.  Why wouldn’t another team be interested in that?

A lot of the same names for the bullpen showed up in this one.  I’m not sure it’s a sanctioned game unless Matthew Bowman shows up in the box score.  Tyler Lyons went for the third time in four days.  Oh and Rosenthal finished it up.  With all the arms that went on Saturday, it makes sense, it just feels like this pen is going to need some help, whether from a deal or a callup.  Or they could get some rest with the starters going a little deeper, but we probably shouldn’t count on that.

No game for the Cardinals today, so if they don’t make a move we have a lot more time to stew over it.  St. Louis goes on the road to Milwaukee for what could be a real key matchup, though probably a little less so now that the Brewers are a couple of games out of first.  Carlos Martinez will go up against Jimmy Nelson in the first game.  Martinez is Martinez, as you know, and seems to be on track if you get him past the first.

vs. Batters Table
Ryan Braun 23 21 5 0 0 0 1 2 10 .238 .304 .238 .542 0 0 1 0 1
Jonathan Villar 21 20 6 1 0 0 0 1 6 .300 .333 .350 .683 0 0 0 0 0
Hernan Perez 15 14 3 0 0 0 0 1 4 .214 .267 .214 .481 0 0 0 0 1
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 13 10 3 0 0 0 1 3 4 .300 .462 .300 .762 0 0 0 0 1
Domingo Santana 12 11 3 0 0 0 0 0 4 .273 .333 .273 .606 0 0 0 1 1
Orlando Arcia 8 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .125 .125 .125 .250 0 0 0 0 0
Travis Shaw 6 6 3 0 0 1 3 0 0 .500 .500 1.000 1.500 0 0 0 0 0
Eric Thames 6 6 2 0 0 1 2 0 1 .333 .333 .833 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Jett Bandy 5 4 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 .250 .400 .250 .650 0 0 0 0 0
Zach Davies 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Manny Pina 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 1
Jimmy Nelson 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jesus Aguilar 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 119 110 29 1 0 2 8 8 35 .264 .319 .327 .647 0 0 1 1 5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/31/2017.

Nelson, on the other hand, has been hittable in the past but this season is looking pretty good.  He’s got a 3.38 mark on the year, but both times St. Louis has seen him in 2017 he’s allowed four runs in less than six innings.  Let’s hope that holds up, but he’s coming off seven innings of two-run ball against a potent Nationals team.

vs. Batters Table
Kolten Wong 28 24 8 2 1 1 5 4 7 .333 .429 .625 1.054 0 0 1 0 0
Matt Carpenter 24 21 10 2 0 2 8 3 3 .476 .542 .857 1.399 0 0 0 0 0
Randal Grichuk 14 13 3 1 0 0 1 1 4 .231 .286 .308 .593 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 14 11 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 .182 .286 .182 .468 0 1 0 0 1
Greg Garcia 13 10 4 0 0 0 1 2 0 .400 .538 .400 .938 0 0 0 1 0
Jedd Gyorko 9 9 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Tommy Pham 8 7 3 1 1 0 2 0 1 .429 .500 .857 1.357 0 0 0 1 0
Jose Martinez 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 .000 .333 .000 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Michael Wacha 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 .000 .667 .000 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Leake 2 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Martinez 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 1
Total 120 102 32 6 2 3 22 15 18 .314 .408 .500 .908 0 1 1 2 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/31/2017.

Will the roster look the same after 3 PM today?  We’ll have to wait and see.  If there’s a move, we’ll talk about it.  Come back anyway because the last matchups of the first round of the Greatest Cardinal Moment Tournament go up at 10 and 2!


A three game sweep of the Rockies, along with some slippage by the Brewers over that time, got a lot of fans fairly excited about this team and dreaming about the possibilities.  With the trade deadline coming up, folks thought if the club made this move or that move, the Cardinals could be right there in the race for a weaker NL Central.

For some, those dreams and hopes took a hit last night as the Diamondbacks came in and shut out the Cardinals.  The roller coaster dropped a bit, but we’ll have to wait and see how far down it goes.

Let’s also be clear–some people were hoping for a sweep of Arizona, but the odds of that were long to begin with.  Putting together seven game winning streaks is tough in baseball.  The Cardinals did it earlier in the year against Miami and Atlanta, but that’s a different story than doing it against two teams that are playoff contenders (and have better records than the Cards).  If St. Louis could win three of four in this series, they’d be in good shape and that’s still a possibility.  (Of course, they have to now beat Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke, and Taijuan Walker, so that’s its own sort of problem.)

However, there are people that are afraid that the Cards are going to be just good enough here at the end of July not to sell off anyone, especially Lance Lynn, but then not be good enough the rest of the way to actually compete, thus finding that sweet spot of “worst of both worlds”.  Which is still a very legitimate issue.  We’ll talk about this at length on Meet Me at Musial tonight, but you could make the argument that even though they are now 4.5 games out, which seems doable, that gap is really bigger than you think.  How the front office views will be the key on how they approach the next few days.

I guess we should get to the game, but there’s really not much to get to.  Folks started blasting Luke Weaver as not able to fill Lynn’s innings and perhaps there is something there, but if you go by last night you can see that he can go at least five and basically, save for that one inning where he lost his command, was very good.  He gave up a grand slam to J.D. Martinez, but that’s why Arizona traded for him.  He’s a big bat and that happens.  The walks before it were more of an issue.

On the whole, though, Weaver allowed five hits and two walks in his five innings, but he also struck out five.  While grand slams are crushing, especially when the offense isn’t getting any purchase against the opposing starter, it wasn’t like he was consistently beat around.  He lost his command for a bit and it cost him.  With a young guy, that’s going to happen.  Again, if Lynn were traded I’d be OK putting Weaver in his spot for the next two months, but there is a drop-off.  If you really think you can make a run, you have to factor that drop-off against whatever return you are going to get.

I’ll go ahead and give Luke Weaver the Goat, but the offense sure didn’t help him out any.  Randal Grichuk and Harrison Bader both contended for the title.  Grichuk went 0-4 and left five runners on base, which is big in a game that didn’t see but seven of them.  Bader struck out three times, including to end the sixth when there were runners on the corners.

Gotta have a Hero.  Let’s go with Paul DeJong, who didn’t hit any home runs last night, unfortunately, but did get two hits and a walk in his four plate appearances.  That’s really out of character for DeJong, who has been more of a grip-it-and-rip-it type, but if he could combine a little patience with his power, that’d be pretty impressive.

While it didn’t matter because Zack Godley was complete in control, the bullpen did a nice job of keeping the game where it was at in case the offense did decide to wake up.  Matthew Bowman (with his daily trip to the mound), John Brebbia, Kevin Siegrist, and Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons combined for four innings, three hits, and three strikeouts.  If the bullpen had been doing THAT since the All-Star Break, the Cards might be a couple wins closer.

They’ll try it again tonight when Ray and Michael Wacha face off.  Ray struggled last time out against Washington, allowing five runs (four earned) in five innings.  On the season, he’s been pretty sharp and made the All-Star team this year.  The Cardinals missed seeing Ray when they were in Arizona last month, so this limited data from the past may not be as relevant as it usually is (which is barely relevant at all).

vs. Batters Table
Matt Carpenter 6 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .250 .500 .250 .750 0 0 0 1 0
Yadier Molina 5 3 1 1 0 0 1 2 1 .333 .600 .667 1.267 0 0 0 0 0
Jedd Gyorko 4 4 1 0 0 1 2 0 1 .250 .250 1.000 1.250 0 0 0 0 0
Tommy Pham 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Randal Grichuk 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Leake 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 24 19 7 1 0 1 4 4 5 .368 .500 .579 1.079 0 0 0 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/28/2017.

Wacha has been on a roll of late, dropping his season ERA under 4 with five starts that saw him put up an ERA of 2.20.  That ERA would be even better had it not been for his last start, when he allowed five runs (two homers) to the Cubs in Wrigley.  Was that a blip?  Was that a factor of facing the Cubs in a small ballpark?  Honestly, the only real good team he’s faced over this stretch besides the Cubs was the Nationals and he was able to handle them pretty well, but you wonder.  He’ll have a chance to put any of those questions to rest tonight and probably will need to pitch well for the Cards to have much of a chance.

vs. Batters Table
Gregor Blanco 11 9 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .111 .182 .111 .293 0 1 0 1 0
Paul Goldschmidt 9 8 1 1 0 0 1 1 4 .125 .222 .250 .472 0 0 0 0 0
A.J. Pollock 7 4 2 0 0 1 3 3 1 .500 .714 1.250 1.964 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Owings 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 .200 .333 .200 .533 0 0 0 0 0
David Peralta 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .167 .000 .167 0 0 0 0 0
Jake Lamb 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0 1
Brandon Drury 3 3 2 1 0 1 1 0 0 .667 .667 2.000 2.667 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Herrmann 3 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 2 .333 .333 1.333 1.667 0 0 0 0 0
Jorge De La Rosa 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Rubby De La Rosa 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Daniel Descalso 2 2 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jeff Mathis 2 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 58 50 13 3 0 3 11 6 13 .260 .345 .500 .845 0 1 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/28/2017.

Still no trade rumors really touching the Cardinals.  Apparently the shift from John Mozeliak to Michael Girsch (and I know that’s not been completely done yet) hasn’t loosened any lips in the organization.  We’ll just have to wait and see if something happens or if Mo was wrong when he said they’d be active!


Again, it’s hard to know what kind of weight to put on anything this team does, but sweeping a team that currently is in the playoffs makes you sit up and take notice a little bit.  It doesn’t mean that all the problems on this Cardinals team are fixed, it doesn’t mean that a big run is coming, but it’s…something.  How much of something may remain to be seen.  Let’s take a look at the last couple of games.

Tuesday (3-2 win)

Hero: Harrison Bader.  The rookie got the callup that morning, was driven to St. Louis with his dad next to him, then got the start in center field.  He almost beat out a grounder his first time up, then doubled in the ninth, moved to third on a Greg Garcia bunt, then used his speed to come home on a barely-deep-enough fly ball by Jedd Gyorko.  (I’m still not sure if he’s safe if the catcher handles that throw cleanly.)  Bader brought a bit of excitement and energy to a club that has had a lot of stale moments this season.  We’ll see how long it lasts, but it was a great first outing for the young man.

Goat: Matthew Bowman.  Bowman has now appeared in 50 games, which leads the league.  I don’t know that you can factor that into the equation honestly, given that before his last two outings he had a total of seven scoreless innings in July.  However, his last two appearances he’s recorded no outs and been charged with a run each time.  This time, holding on to a 2-1 lead, he allowed a homer to Trevor Story that gave a no-decision to Lance Lynn in what might have been (though is increasingly looking like wasn’t) his last Cardinal start.  Bowman is still more trustworthy than most folks out there in the bullpen, but hopefully these two games are a blip, not a trend.

Notes: As mentioned, Lynn started and went six innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out six.  If Derrick Goold is right (and as John Mozeliak told us at Blogger Day, there are times when the local writers are way off), the club wants to keep Lynn because it would be tough to cover his innings and still contend.  The current situation of the Cardinals does make you think that it is possible they’ll be in the hunt most of the rest of the next two months, but that’s a tough gamble.  You could see the club fade almost immediately after the deadline and then you are stuck with just giving Lynn a qualifying offer and getting the draft pick.

Which, in fairness, might be better than the offers they are getting, I don’t know.  If there’s a substantive offer on the table for Lynn, though, I think they really have to take it.  Yes, they are now 3.5 out behind the Cubs and they’ve moved up to third place after last night’s saga, but they are still under .500 and the Cubs, like it or not, seem to be finally coming together and playing like the team that we expected them to be.  If the Cardinals could have finished off one of those games they eventually lost against Chicago, maybe that’s a different story, but they are 10-2 since the All-Star Break, shored up their biggest issue by getting Jose Quintana, and their August is filled with games against the Reds (7), Phillies (3), Blue Jays (3), Giants (3) and Braves (1, with three more to start September).  They do have the Nationals and six against the D-Backs, but on the whole, it’s a pretty easy month for them and even 3.5 games might be tough to overcome.

I know Adam Wainwright went to the DL and Luke Weaver is taking his place today, but Wainwright should be back at the end of the 10 days.  Weaver has done well.  I think you can cover Lynn’s innings with Weaver, Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons, and possibly even Jack Flaherty if you wanted to get extreme and probably still get 80% of what Lynn would give you.  Again, you don’t just give him away and if there aren’t offers out there you keep him and make that run, but if you could get anything of significant value, I think you make the move and worry about this year’s ramifications when they happen.

For the fact the Cards only got three runs, they did a fine job of putting runners on.  Every starter had at least one hit and Paul DeJong, Yadier Molina, and Kolten Wong all had two.  DeJong’s big hit was the two-run homer in the first that almost stood up the entire game.  DeJong has his flaws, of course, but it’s fun to see him bringing the thunder on a pretty regular basis.  No idea how long it’ll last, but we’ll enjoy the ride while it does.

If there were scouts watching Trevor Rosenthal–and at least the Nationals were supposed to be monitoring him–they saw the good and the bad of Rosie.  After Bowman allowed the homer and hit Ryan Hanigan with a pitch, Rosenthal came into the game and took care of business, helped out by the Rockies bunting the runner to second.  (Which, in fairness, isn’t a terrible thing that late in the game when one run can make the difference.)  Rosenthal came back out for the ninth with the game still tied and got the first two outs without issue before giving up back-to-back singles to Mark Reynolds and Carlos Gonzalez, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position.  Thankfully he got Story looking and wound up grabbing a win for his efforts.  All in all, it was a good performance….if anyone was watching.

The Cardinals grounded into two double plays and turned three.  It seemed like deuces were flying all night long.

Wednesday (10-5 win)

Hero: Tommy Pham.  There were a lot of great offensive performances, but we’ll go with the guy that was on base every time, except for his sacrifice fly.  Pham had two hits, two walks, drove in the one (the last tally of a five-run frame), and scored twice.  Hard to ask for more than that.  There are reports that the Cards are listening to offers on Pham and Randal Grichuk.  While I can completely understand the reasoning, with all the outfielders coming up and Pham probably at the highest trade value he’s ever been, I’m going to say one thing.

Trading Tommy Pham right now is the biggest white flag the Cardinals can wave.

Again, I get it.  I’m not saying that they shouldn’t trade Pham.  But unless he’s part of some huge package for a superstar that can inspire a team and a fan base (and there are long, long odds against that happening, maybe 3,720 to one), you are saying that this season is done when you take out the spark that has done so much this season.  If you trade Pham, you might as well trade Lynn and Rosenthal and start looking at 2018.  A Pham trade could say a lot of things, but it’d be really difficult to sell moving him as something that helps the 2017 squad.

Goat: Carlos Martinez.  It wasn’t that it was the worst game for Martinez.  First off, he drove in a run with a single and scored later in the frame.  He went six innings and got a win.  There have been worse outings, for sure.  That said, what a lot of people expect from an ace is a killer instinct, the shutdown mentality that says that there is a sweep to be had and we are going to go out there and get it.  Martinez has had certain games like that come up this year.  Whether it was to get a sweep or to maybe get the team back to .500 or some game of import, Martinez has had them and, probably as often as not, has tripped up in them.

Last night, he gave up a two-run homer in the first to Nolan Arenado.  OK, fine.  Arenado is an incredible player, the pitch wasn’t terrible (not great, but bottom of the zone instead of middle), and a lot of pitchers take time to settle in.  How often have you heard about an ace “you have to get him early or you won’t get him”?  So they got him early.

The problem was, at least for me, was after Paul DeJong again went yard (seriously, why does anyone throw him a strike) and erased that deficit, two innings later Martinez gives up two more.  And yes, he faced the top of the lineup, but he had runners on the corners with two outs for Geraldo Parra.  Parra’s good, but you’d like to think Martinez could have retired him or at the least kept him to a single.  Instead, Parra lines a double that brings both runners around.

Now, we know the Cardinals wound up scoring five the next inning and it wound up not mattering, but there have been just enough games this year where you would hope your ace would step up and he’s come out flat that it bothers folks.  I’m not saying Carlos Martinez isn’t good or isn’t the ace of the staff, because he is and he is, just that he still has some work to do before being one of the top tier starters in baseball.  When he gets that consistency, watch out.

Notes: It was Star Wars Night (as people who followed my timeline last night on Twitter probably got sick of hearing about) and not only did the Cardinals win–I think that’s a first for this in five years–nobody got hurt for the second year in a row.  I know that it probably won’t be enough to stop the “injuries happen on Star Wars Night” mantra and legend (and let’s also point out that while Shelby Miller did get hit on the wrist and removed from the first SWN, he didn’t go on the DL, so three of the five have been relatively fine), but I was glad to see it.

Harrison Bader went three for four, including an excuse-me double that just went over first base and stayed fair.  Given that Stephen Piscotty is supposed to be starting a rehab assignment tonight that will run the weekend, you have to think something is in the works for an outfielder.  Otherwise, this is going to be a pretty short stay for Bader, I think.  Jose Martinez could get waived to make room for Piscotty, but even then you still have to make room in the starting lineup.  Pham’s not going anywhere.  Do you rotate Piscotty and Randal Grichuk in that scenario?  I guess you could, but then what happens when Dexter Fowler returns?  I’m starting to get more and more convinced an outfielder is moved, even if it’s for a mid-level prospect.

Speaking of Grichuk, he had four hits last night but none of them were for extra bases.  If you ever thought that would happen, you might want to go play the lottery today.  Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina were the other players with a multi-hit game, with Carpenter adding a walk for good measure.

The bullpen was fairly good.  Brett Cecil allowed a couple of hits but no runs to come across and John Brebbia and Seung-hwan Oh were perfect in their frames.  You can get good stuff out of the bullpen.  There are talented folks out there.  The problem is you just can’t be sure what you are going to get when you pick up that phone.  A solid option at the end of games would be nice, but I’m not sure you can go out and get one of those on this market.

Mike Mayers came up from Memphis last night, then wasn’t used and will go back today to make room for Luke Weaver, who will face off against Zack Godley.  The only Diamondback Weaver has faced is old friend Daniel Descalso, who singled off of him in his only plate appearance.  Godley ran into the Cards a month ago and gave up just two hits and three walks in seven innings, but three of those came around to score and Wainwright was on his game, so Godley took the loss.  We’ll hopefully see a similar result tonight as the Cards again try for .500!


Bader to St. Louis

Reports are that Harrison Bader is being called up by the Cardinals. The guess here is Dexter Fowler will go on the DL and Chad Huffman will be waived off the 40-man.


I think my Gateway cohost Tara Wellman said it best after the game last night:

This season has had too many ups and downs, twists and turns for us to say that a win “is a turning point” or “gets them on track” or “when we look back, that’ll be the game that got them to the playoffs”.  The Cardinals are just as likely to take a loss this evening and put us right back where we started.

That said, it’s another point in a frustrating season.  The club loses two of three to Pittsburgh, who is at .500 now but was under it then.  They split a four-gamer with the Mets, who are under .500, and they lose two of three to a Chicago Cubs team that, while they moved into first in that series, still is less than five up on that break-even mark.  So when a team like Colorado comes into town, 16 games over .500 and a playoff team as of right now, you’d think that there’d be no chance.  Instead, the home team wins 8-2 and made the Rockies look more like pebbles.

Which is what I’ve said about this team.  They obviously CAN be good.  They are 3-4 against the Dodgers this year and those three wins are like 10% of LA’s season losses.  They are 3-3 against the Nationals.  They are 2-1 against the Diamondbacks and now 2-2 against the Rockies.  While those are all small sample sizes, it does seem to show that they can play with the big boys.  They just can’t play at that level consistently, which is the problem.

So while it may not mean anything, it may just be another marker on our way to a quiet October, it was still fun to see the team play last night.  (It was even fun to see the other side as well–my goodness Nolan Arenado is so great to watch fielding third base.)  There were some home runs, some great pitching, even a little humor.  What else could you ask for?

Given the Rockies’ propensity for scoring, even on the road, our Hero for the night is Mike Leake.  I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post (and by the way, thanks everyone for their thoughts and comments on that piece) that Leake had been alternating good and bad starts and hopefully we’d get a good one.  We surely did.  Leake went seven innings, allowed no runs, and struck out six.  It probably helped that he got an early lead, but he was on his game last night and he looked more like that Leake we saw earlier in the year.  Again, not likely a turning point or anything, but it was nice to see.

For the Goat, we’ll go with Zach Duke.  You definitely have the mitigating circumstances of coming back from Tommy John surgery and even though Duke tore through the minors, it’s probably not unexpected for him to hit a bump or two as he gets back to major league life.  Duke walked left-handed Tony Wolters before allowing a pinch-hit homer to Pat Valaika.  Charlie Blackmon, another lefty, followed that up with a single and Duke’s night was done.  The rest of the bullpen limited the damage, though Mike Matheny had to do his best Tony La Russa imitation and use a total of three pitchers that inning, and then Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons finished up the ninth in style, striking out the side.

The offense was sharp as well last night, scoring two runs in four separate innings.  Randal Grichuk homered for the fourth straight game, a two-run blast that made it 4-0.  Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez also homered, both solo shots.  Four batters (Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong, Paul DeJong and Pham) had two hits each.  When the offense gets moving and the pitching is fine, it’s a nice night at the ballpark.

Molina brought the fun at the end of the game, showing some of that lightheartedness we saw in the World Baseball Classic and the All-Star Game.  In the eighth, Molina hit a blast that got away from the outfielder.  Pretty much anyone else would have been standing on third, but Molina just had a double.  As he was running into second, Mark Reynolds (the former Cardinal) was trailing him and obviously teasing Molina, probably encouraging him to go to third.  Molina was laughing and playfully pushed Reynolds once he stopped at second.  Of course, then Yadi stole third, so who knows what he told Reynolds after the game!

Overall, it was a good night.  Nothing special.  Nothing defining.  Nothing that makes you get all inspired and fired up.  It was just a good night of baseball for the Cardinals.  Sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

Assuming no last minute maneuvering, Lance Lynn will make his start today at Busch.  When he did this last, before the All-Star Break, there was no guarantee he’d still be a Cardinal when they returned home.  Given that there is demand for him, though whether it is enough demand still remains to be seen, there’s a strong chance this is his last time in Cardinal red.  If it is, he should be roundly applauded as much as possible.  Lynn’s been a great performer for the Cardinals and someone that fans have come to appreciate in his time in St. Louis.  It’d be great if he went out with a win and some sardonic, dry comment in the post-game interview.

vs. Batters Table
Gerardo Parra 28 26 13 4 3 3 6 2 3 .500 .536 1.231 1.766 0 0 0 0 0
Ian Desmond 18 16 5 2 0 0 2 1 8 .313 .389 .438 .826 0 0 0 1 0
DJ LeMahieu 14 13 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 .077 .077 .077 .154 1 0 0 0 1
Alexi Amarista 11 9 1 0 0 0 2 1 2 .111 .182 .111 .293 0 1 0 0 0
Charlie Blackmon 11 10 5 1 1 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .800 1.300 1 0 0 0 0
Ryan Hanigan 10 9 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 .111 .100 .111 .211 0 1 0 0 0
Carlos Gonzalez 9 6 2 1 0 0 1 2 2 .333 .444 .500 .944 0 1 0 0 0
Nolan Arenado 7 6 1 0 0 1 2 1 0 .167 .286 .667 .952 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 7 6 2 1 0 0 0 1 3 .333 .429 .500 .929 0 0 0 0 0
German Marquez 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Rusin 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Tony Wolters 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 121 106 32 9 4 4 14 8 26 .302 .347 .575 .923 3 3 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/25/2017.

The Rockies will put their nominal ace on the mound tonight in Jon Gray.  Gray has dealt with injuries this year and has made only seven starts, putting up a 6.19 ERA.  Most of that came two starts ago, when the Mets scored eight off of him in two innings, raising his ERA from 3.75.  Last time out, he had a more reasonable six innings, four runs against the Padres.  Gray definitely could be one that could dominate the Cardinals and if he does, it shouldn’t be another “pitcher with high ERA has great game” type of thing.  Gray’s better than that.

vs. Batters Table
Jedd Gyorko 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Carpenter 3 3 2 2 0 0 3 0 0 .667 .667 1.333 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 1
Kolten Wong 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Randal Grichuk 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Michael Wacha 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 13 11 3 2 0 0 3 2 2 .273 .385 .455 .839 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/25/2017.

Could still use your votes in both Greatest Cardinal Moment matchups from yesterday!  Here’s Sutter vs. Whiten and here’s Alexander vs. Lawless.  Check them out and give your opinion!


We had a matchup of postseason glory versus legendary power this morning, so if you missed that, go check it out.  This afternoon, we look at two very different postseason moments that both have reverberated through time.

#7 Grover Cleveland Alexander strikes out Tony Lazzeri in the World Series (1926)


#10 Tom Lawless flips his bat in the World Series (1987)

As you know, this tournament has a bias toward the more current moments.  In part that’s because the current stretch of Cardinal baseball is some of the best that there has ever been and there are so many great moments.  However it’s also because these are moments we saw, moments that we could watch and internalize and replay in our minds for years and years.

That doesn’t mean that Cardinal history didn’t happen before 1996 or before 1982 or even before 1964.  There were lots of amazing moments and great events that happened before those dates, but they are hamstrung a bit by the fact that only the people alive then really could experience them and even that was often secondhand unless they happened to be at the ballpark.

Our first moment is a bit like that, but there’s been plenty of legend surrounding the whole thing.  Some folks want to believe it was the last out of the game, but it wasn’t.  That said, the concept “high-leverage” hadn’t come into the lexicon yet, but it certainly was in play here.

After years of misery and disappointment, the Cardinals were in their first World Series at the end of 1926, facing off against the New York Yankees.  While the Yanks didn’t necessarily have all the mystique that they have now, they were well on their way to accumulating it.  This was a team with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, after all.  A team that, the next season, would invoke the term “Murderer’s Row” for the first time.  There’s no doubt that the team from New York was the heavy favorite.

The Series was a back and forth affair with no team ever getting more than a one game lead.  A 10-2 victory by the Cardinals brought them into a decisive Game 7.  The winning pitcher of that game, Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander, went the distance and allowed just eight hits.

The game was in New York and Ruth provided the first bit of scoring when he put a ball into the seats in the third inning.  The Cardinals not only answered but went ahead in the fourth when Bob O’Ferrell hit a fly ball with the bases loaded that Bob Meusel muffed for an error and Tommy Thevenow singled in two runs.

It stayed 3-1 until the sixth, when the Yankees cut the lead in half.  It was still 3-2 in the seventh when starter Jesse Haines got into a bit of trouble.  A single, an intentional walk to Ruth, and another walk to Gehrig were bunched around a couple of outs.  However, the Yankees seemed to be set to take the lead when Tony Lazzeri was presented with that bases loaded, two out scenario.  1926 was the first year of what would be a Hall of Fame career for Lazzeri and he’d hit .275 with 18 homers, showing himself to be just another threat in this lineup.

Now, legend has it that Pete, not expecting to be used the next day, went out and had a few adult beverages after winning Game 6.  Alexander denied that happened, saying that player-manager Rogers Hornsby had told him he might be needed.  While the story of him coming into a huge game with a hangover is compelling, it really doesn’t seem that was the case.  It was a tense moment.  Here’s how an article on the SABR website details the at-bat:

With Combs on third, Meusel on second, and Gehrig on first Alexander started Lazzeri off as planned, a fastball high and inside for ball one. Working quickly and with no windup the wily veteran brought the next pitch, another fastball, down across the inside corner of the plate for a strike. He took a little off the third offering but delivered it close to the same spot as the previous pitch. This time Lazzeri swung hard lifting the ball deep down the left-field line. Hornsby at second watched, fearing the worst. The Yankees bench jumped on to the dugout steps as the ball climbed toward the left-field bleachers. All 38,093 in the stands leapt to their feet certain that the young slugger had knocked one out of the park. And then as it sped toward the fence the ball began to bend just a bit to the left. It returned to earth well beyond the fence but a few feet in foul territory — nothing more than a long second strike. On the mound Alexander, as calm as ever, ended the drama just as he had promised: a tantalizing curve low and outside. Lazzeri took the bait. He swung hard but completely missed the ball. The immediate Yankees threat was over but there were still two innings to play.

Alexander finished the game, which ended on another memorable moment that we saw over at Cardsblog last week.  The Cardinals were World Champions for the first of 11 (to date) times.

Our next moment didn’t lead to a World Series win but it was an October moment nonetheless.  The 1987 World Series between the Cardinals and the Twins was the first Series where the home team won every game.  Which meant that the Series stood 2-1 in favor of Minnesota (since the AL had home field advantage that season) when Game 4 at Busch rolled around.

The score stood 1-1 when the bottom of the fourth inning started.  Catcher Tony Pena started it off with a walk and moved to third on a single by Jose Oquendo.  That brought third baseman Tom Lawless to the plate.  Lawless was hitting eighth in the lineup and, let’s be fair, he’d earned that spot.  If Tony La Russa had been around, Lawless might have hit ninth.  He only had 29 at bats in ’87 and hit .080.  He had one career home run as he stood in that October night and that came in his rookie season of 1984.  So, of course, this happened.

Today, that would have had ESPN and talk radio going for at least a week. How dare a guy like that flip his bat so dramatically?  It’s an amazing part of Cardinal lore though and, to be fair, probably the only reason anyone remembers the name Tom Lawless.

The Cardinals scored three more times that inning to win the game 7-2.  Lawless hit another home run in 1988, but only had a total of 170 more at bats in the big leagues until his career was through in 1990.  That flip, though…

So, which World Series moment matters most?  The one you’ve heard about or the one you’ve seen?  The sizzle or the flash?  Vote below and remember that The Intrepid STL will have two more matchups tomorrow!


Here we are starting our third week of the Greatest Cardinal Moment Tournament.  I know I got into a very good discussion on Twitter (#BestCardsMoments if you want to hashtag) about our 8/9 matchup from last week and I hope that some of the other games have provoked similar thoughts and opinions.  Let’s see where the bracket stands now (here’s a link to pop it into a new tab):

Some good moments have moved on, some have gone home. Now let’s look at the first of our two matchups today.

#4 Bruce Sutter strikes out Gordon Thomas to end Series (1982)


#13 Mark Whiten hits four homers in a game (1993)

This is a generation fairly spoiled on Cardinal baseball.  Since 1996, the Cardinals have basically always been contenders.  Part of that is due to the format changes the games has brought upon–more divisions, wild card one then wild card two–but no matter the reasoning, fans have rarely had to go more than one season without the team being in the playoffs and even in those years they missed, they are probably in the hunt.

So imagine what it was like to go from losing the World Series in 1968 to finally reaching it again in 1982 without any postseason baseball.  No league championship series (which started in that time), no World Series, nothing but quiet Octobers for such a legendary squad.  When they did return to prominence, the city was fired up like it had not been in a long time.

Playing the Milwaukee Brewers, their now-divisional rivals, then AL powerhouse, the Cardinals got obliterated in Game 1, bounced back to grab a 2-1 lead after Game 3, fell behind 3-2 after Game 5, then smoked the Brewers 13-1 back in Busch Stadium in Game 6, setting up a winner-take-all final game.

The teams matched zeros for three innings before St. Louis scratched out a run in the bottom of the fourth.  Milwaukee quickly tied it in the fifth, then took the lead on a double-single-single-sacrifice fly combo that gave them two runs.  The Cardinals didn’t wait to respond, plating three in the bottom of the frame capped by George Hendrick‘s single to make it 4-3.  The Redbirds got two more in the eighth to make the score 6-3 going into the ninth.

Unlike what you’d see these days, closer Bruce Sutter game into the game in the eighth to keep the lead at one.  When he went back out for the ninth, it was almost a sure thing that he’d be bringing home a championship.  Sutter did not fool around, getting longtime Cardinal Ted Simmons and then Ben Oglivie to ground out.  That left one out remaining and Sutter took care of it in dramatic fashion.

A World Series winner indeed.  The Cardinals were back and yet again Champions of the World.

From the high of a World Series title, we drop to a lost season for our next highlight.  The Cardinals were struggling in 1993.  It was the era after Augie Busch and before the new ownership would come along.  It was a season that the front office actually did some selling, moving Lee Smith to the Yankees for a middling prospect (Rich Batchelor) at the waiver deadline.  There’s really not much to remember from that season.

Even in the dross of a lost year, though, some gold can be found.  In September, the Cards found themselves in Cincinnati.  The Reds also weren’t doing much that year, sitting under .500 when the doubleheader that day began and 20-plus games out of first.  So how do you make a game between two way-out-of-it teams in September interesting?

Bring the power.

Mark Whiten spent two years wearing the Birds on the Bat and, while he did hit 39 home runs over the two years, his time in St. Louis would have probably been considered nondescript, though some of that was due to the teams he was on.  On September 7, 1993, he made sure that his name would always be remembered in Cardinal lore, smashing four home runs in the evening game.

(How strange is it to hear Al Hrabosky as the color man even that far back? And paired up with Joe Buck!)

Not only did Whiten hit four homers on the night, becoming the only Cardinal ever to do that, but he also drove in 12 in this game and one in the opener, tying Stan Musial for most RBI in a double header.

Whiten’s name resurfaced recently, of course, as the 2017 club faced the Reds and saw Scooter Gennett smack four homers against them.  A mirror of history, it would seem.

So, which is the biggest Cardinal moment?  Vote below and come back later today for our other matchup!


If the series against the Cubs could have just stopped after the top of the eighth Saturday, I think folks would feel a whole lot better about this team.  It didn’t and they don’t.  In so many years a squad just 4.5 out at this point in July would have some hope, some optimism around it.  There are extenuating circumstances with this club, however, most notably the fact that they are four games under .500.  It’s hard to get excited about this team at all.  Would it be different if this organization had a different history, a different expectation level?  Would a town like San Diego be fired up, even with the flaws of this squad, if they could have them?  There’s no doubt that expectations play a huge role in what has become an ugly, disappointing summer.  I want to talk more about that, but first let’s look at the last two games.

Saturday (3-2 loss)

Hero: Adam Wainwright.  The linescore shows that he went 7.2 innings and allowed two runs, which is a great line in and of itself.  What it doesn’t show is just how amazing it was to see him put up zero after zero in the first seven frames, matching Jon Lester who was working on a perfect game until the last batter of the sixth inning when Wainwright himself ended it with a solid single.  Wainwright is never going to be a Cy Young candidate again and there’s no guarantee or even expectation that he won’t slip again this season, but right now he’s proving there still is something left in the tank and that running him out there still gives the Cardinals a solid chance to win.

Goat: I don’t know here, honestly.  I know a lot of people would give it to Matthew Bowman or Brett Cecil for their role in letting the lead slip away.  That said, they didn’t exactly get hit hard, even facing the meat of the order.  Heck, a slightly better throw from Tommy Pham or Yadi actually corralling it and we could have gone to the ninth ahead.  Broken bats and flares won that game (and helped the Cubs out Sunday night as well).  So do you blame a guy that made the pitches he wanted to and just got beat?

Actually, I think I will give the tag to Yadier Molina.  I don’t know that he could have done much on that throw, but it feels like in the past he’d have at least caught it and at least had a chance at a play.  Couple that with his 0-3, passed ball, two strikeouts, two left on day and I think he had the worst day, but he had a lot of competition.  He did reach base with a hit by pitch, though.

Notes: This game is probably lost because of all the bullpen issues from this season.  You never know with Mike Matheny and his loyalty to his starters, but if you have a good Trevor Rosenthal and Seung-hwan Oh in the bullpen, I’d like to think Wainwright never starts the eighth or at least is replaced after Jon Jay singled with one out.  With limited trust in his ‘pen, though, Matheny stuck with Wainwright, who almost got out of things but then allowed a double to Ben Zobrist, scoring Jay and putting the tying run on second for his reliever, Bowman.

Even with Rosenthal’s issues, there’s a strong argument he should have been out there sometime in the eighth.  There are not a lot of strikeout guys out there in the Cardinal bullpen and, with the tying run on second, you don’t want to risk contact if you can help it.  Bowman is a fine guy, but you don’t think of him as that strikeout artist.  He wasn’t and it cost them.

It’s interesting that Rosenthal didn’t come in Friday, even after they got the big lead, nor did they go to him Saturday.  He didn’t play last night either.  Matheny in the past has been big on “get them back on the horse” after a bad outing.  I guess the mental lapse of not covering first doesn’t count.  Again, there are good reasons for not using him Friday.  I could even understand somewhat not using him last night, given the game situations.  Not using him here in the eighth is a little less defensible.  Rosenthal’s been no lock–we could easily be having the same discussion if he had been used–but that’s probably still the best option.

The swings in this game were so dramatic that it made it so hard to swallow.  Lester has that perfect game almost through six.  He gets through seven with no runs.  He hits Yadi to lead off the eighth but then Luke Voit hits into a double play.  It feels like they are never going to break through.  Then Paul DeJong, with two strikes, goes yard and Randal Grichuk follows with a home run.  All of the sudden, with a display of power, the Cardinals are up 2-0.  You can dream about them being just a half game behind the Cubs and, if the Brewers could lose that evening, 2.5 out of first.  Maybe they really could make a run!

To go from that to a loss in basically ten minutes is a tough pill to swallow.  It’s a loss that could stick with you, if it wasn’t for the fact that with all these bullpen losses (20 on the year, it seems) they kinda run together.  As Tara pointed out on Gateway last night, if only five of those 20 losses were flipped, this is a first place team.  There’s still no obvious solution to this problem, however.

Sunday (5-3 loss)

Hero: Randal Grichuk.  As I said on Twitter last night, if the idea in bringing up Grichuk after such a short rehab assignment was to showcase him and raise his trade value, I think it worked.  Grichuk homered for his third straight game since returning and had another hit as well.

Goat: Michael Wacha.  It was a bad time to have the struggling Wacha return to the field.  Wacha actually started off strong, but ran into trouble in the third, negating Grichuk’s two-run homer, then immediately allowed the Cubs to tie up the game in the fourth after Paul DeJong had put the Cards back on top with a blast.  He was still out there in the sixth and gave up the two-run blast to Willson Contreras (who now has an OPS of 1.030 against St. Louis this season on the back of five homers, so yes, he IS always killing the Cards) that proved to be the deciding factor.  It wasn’t the worst we’ve seen Wacha–I mean, he went six instead of giving all this up in just two or three innings–but it wasn’t great either.

Notes: People have done a lot of comparing of DeJong and Grichuk.  Those comparisons are only going to get stronger if they keep hitting home runs in the same games.  I’m fine with that if they want to keep it up, by the way.

It’s been a little while since Cardinal baserunning played a role in a loss, but you could make some arguments it was an issue last night.  It started off in the very first inning, as Matt Carpenter reached on an error, then tried to score from first on a double by Jedd Gyorko.  I actually didn’t watch any of the game last night, working up the Greatest Cardinal Moment Tournament posts that will be coming your way later today, but I saw the clip and heard the comments.  We’ve not had any egregious outs at home since Mike Shildt took over from Chris Maloney, but this broke that streak.  Carpenter was out at home by a mile and wound up tweaking something as he contorted himself trying to slide.  Carpenter would actually come out of the game after playing the bottom of the first and we’ll see if it’s anything more than a day-to-day issue.

You also had, in the second, Wacha try to lay down a bunt with Kolten Wong at first base.  It’s a little early to be playing for one run there, but I also know it’s pretty standard place for a sacrifice.  I don’t think it’s like Matheny trying to bunt someone to second with nobody out or even moving the runner over with someone that’s not the pitcher.  Unfortunately, Wacha botched the bunt and it turned into a double play.  There’s no guarantee Luke Voit, who would have been coming up next with Carpenter out, would have been able to do anything but it’d have been nice to find out.

(By the way, someone on Twitter said the Cardinals improved because Voit replaced Carpenter.  Voit is one for his last twelve with a walk and four strikeouts.  This is just a representation of something I want to talk about at the end of this post, but it was patently untrue.)

In the fourth, Yadier Molina was caught stealing, right in front of what turned out to be DeJong’s solo homer.  I did see someone ponder whether that was a missed sign, that Yadi thought it was a hit-and-run, but putting on a play like that with a guy like DeJong (a big strikeout candidate) and Molina (slower than Christmas molasses) would be a terrible idea and I hope that Matheny didn’t actually do that.  I appreciate Yadi’s desire to try to “make something happen” but if that something requires speed, let’s leave it to someone else on the roster.  (I don’t know necessarily who, but just not Molina.)

Seung-hwan Oh made his second appearance in this series, striking out two in his inning of work, and Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons handled the eighth with no excitement.  Still, there’s no sense of certainty when many of these names are called into the game.  If the Cards could make one move at the deadline–and I’m not sure they’ll be able to–a solid ninth inning option would possibly be the best thing they could do.

The Cardinals go back to St. Louis most likely a quiet bunch.  A late night loss will do that, especially when this weekend started out so promisingly.  They sit 4.5 back, since Milwaukee also lost yesterday, but the Cubs are now tied with the Brewers for first place and, as has been the case for about a week now, Pittsburgh sits in the way between St. Louis and the top teams.  It’s not a good look, especially with Colorado and Arizona, who as of today would be the teams making up the wild card game, coming into Busch.

There’s no doubt that this season has taken its toll on the fanbase, which is why I want to write something that might not be all that popular with some people that I consider friends and good baseball people.  The good thing is that, this far down, it’s pretty unlikely anyone will actually see it.  When I wrote up the Frustration Level Index post, I actually addressed this in level Rasmus.

Warning signs: the level-headed or positive folks are the minority, social media is even more negative than normal, significant empty sections can be found at Busch Stadium.

And given how bad the Drew level is, I still think we are at Level Rasmus.  If they got 10 or so games out, we might slip to Drew, but Drew is more about apathy, I think, and there’s too much angst and bitterness right now to talk about apathy.

Benjamin Franklin said if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.  Which is probably the best description of dealing with social media, especially Twitter, that you can find.  While there are rational, engaging, and thought-provoking discussions on the medium, there’s also a lot of shoot-from-the-hip, go extreme, general negativity.  That’s what it’s known for, in certain circles, and it’s not surprising that you’ll deal with that in Cardinal fandom as well.

This Tweet from StlCardsCards–not one you usually look to for sanity, clarity, and guidance–is a good starting point for me to try to say a few things.

Let me be clear up front.  I am not saying that everyone needs to put on their red-colored glasses, that they need to say everything is hunky-dory when it isn’t, that they need to be leading a parade for this sub-.500 squad.  Critiques, laments, problem-solving, all of that is a perfectly legitimate approach to any season, whether it is successful or not.  What I feel like I see on Twitter (and it may be on Facebook and other mediums as well, but Twitter is the one that I deal with the most) is a couple of things: a negativity feed-back loop and the borrowing of trouble or situations.

If you are looking from the outside in, you might wonder how Carpenter, much beloved even back in the spring, could now be considered Public Enemy Number 1 (or 2, depending on if the person puts more blame on the manager) among a significant segment of the fanbase.  While Carpenter’s obviously played into it with baserunning errors and the like, it’s also because it feels like there’s a group (and the group continues to expand) that feed off of each other.  One person says Carpenter’s a problem, another agrees, which emboldens a third to go even farther.  Any good that Carpenter does is ignored or minimized, and everyone just plays off of each other until we get to the point where we think a rookie with 23 games under his belt is now a better option than a guy with an .827 OPS.

It’s not just Carpenter, of course.  More and more players are coming into this negative zone.  There’s a portion that have already turned on Dexter Fowler.  Many don’t care for Randal Grichuk–heck, I saw a Tweet that seemed to downgrade him and DeJong last night after they didn’t come through in the ninth, even though the whole reason the Cardinals had runs at all in the game was because of their bats.  What have you done for me lately, indeed.  (I’ll admit I might have misinterpreted the Tweet, but that’s surely how it appeared to me.)  And, of course, Mike Matheny has had this happening to him for years.  It’s like a black hole with these guys–if they do good, it gets sucked into the void and never seen again.

Again, there are legitimate complaints with these guys at times.  I don’t know why Fowler almost ran over Tommy Pham in Friday’s game, but he was fairly elasticized for that.  Calling his contract a loss already, though, seems to be a bit extreme.  There are some that have done that, though.  Some have done that with Stephen Piscotty and his extension.  Things are never going to get any better until the whole front office is cleared out.  No half measures!  Nobody can do anything right.

Well, unless you are Tommy Pham.  And that’s pretty fair!  Pham has worked hard, come through in big moments, and been a huge part of this team.  Yet I feel like if Grichuk or Fowler had made the exact same throw Pham did on Saturday, there’d been a whole lot more criticism of “Well, that throw HAS to be made” than there was for Pham (at least that I saw–there may have been some saying that and I missed it).  I get that Pham has built himself up a reservoir of good will, but that doesn’t mean his errors can’t be pointed out as well.

All of that is well and good, but I don’t think that’s what bothers me the most out of Cardinal fandom right now.  It’s not too surprising to see people down on players and for those sorts of people to congregate together and multiply that feeling.  What bothers me the most is that we are assuming facts not in evidence on these guys.  We assign them characteristics that may or may not be true and accept them as gospel.

Tara and I talked about this last week and Allen and I did as well, but the idea that any of these players are lazy and selfish is ridiculous to me.  Maybe they are, but you can’t prove that by what they are doing on the field.  You can’t prove that by where they hit in the lineup.  You can’t prove that by basically any other way than being in the clubhouse and nobody on Twitter has that access.  People see what they want to see, what will help confirm their already notable bias.  Matt Carpenter starts hitting better in the leadoff spot?  Such a diva.  Can’t do anything else.  Don’t factor in that Carpenter himself said that his swing was coming around before the move and he knew folks would associate that improvement with leading off.  (He said that the day the lineup changed, not after the fact.)  Mike Matheny didn’t smile after a Tommy Pham home run?  He hates Pham and really wishes he wouldn’t do as well.  Never mind the fact that Tony La Russa hardly ever cracked a smile on a Albert Pujols longball and I’d say TLR loved Albert like a son.  Or the fact that Pham’s homer changed the game calculus and Matheny would need to be thinking ahead.

We complain that Grichuk is going to come up and take Pham’s job.  We complained that there was no way Jedd Gyorko would keep his spot in the lineup when Jhonny Peralta returned because Peralta was one of Mike’s guys and he’s going to play.  We gripe that Magneuris Sierra keeps going back down to develop when he could be playing in the big leagues, ignoring that he has two errors and one other misplays in his limited time in the bigs.  It’s like we think we know something the front office is blind to.  Let me be blunt: we don’t.  There’s a reason they are getting paid to be in baseball and we are sitting around on a free Internet site.

I don’t think I’ve necessarily expressed my frustrations well here and if I’ve done so clumsily and inartfully enough that it’s caused hurt feelings, I apologize.  I’m just tired of seeing people that I like and I think know a lot about the game fall into this pit of misery and not do anything but continue to dig the hole.  I don’t know, honestly, why they keep watching and talking about it when it doesn’t seem to be giving them any joy at all.  Take some time off.  Watch the old DVDs of when the game was apparently more of what you wanted.  Pick it back up next season when the club is fresh and maybe some of the players causing you such grief are no longer here.

Otherwise, may I suggest looking for the positives in the situations and in the players you aren’t liking.  I am not saying that you have to change your mind, that you have to get on the Grichuk bandwagon or nominate Matheny for the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  Just be willing to cheer when they do something or at least not come down immediately (or even beforehand) when they do something wrong.  Take a breath and let’s see if we can take some of the darkness out of whatever critiques we throw the Cardinals way.  And, if you see me doing it, be sure to point it out to me so I can do the same!

It would be nice if we had a great game tonight to lift a lot of spirits, but for that to happen we have to hope that Mike Leake can handle the Rockies.  Leake is apparently feeling tired from his shingles bout last year.  I am not a medical person at all and I could maybe see how that would be an issue, but it’s strange that it’s come on now rather than at the beginning of the year, when he was so sharp and strong.  Maybe it’s sapped his strength and endurance and the longer the season has gone on, the less he’s been able to recover.  Whatever the case, the last few games have been pretty ugly.  Actually, looking at the game log, he’s been alternating good starts and bad, so maybe this will be a good one!

vs. Batters Table
Ian Desmond 28 26 9 2 0 0 4 2 4 .346 .393 .423 .816 0 0 0 0 0
Gerardo Parra 19 19 7 1 0 1 3 0 1 .368 .368 .579 .947 0 0 0 0 0
Mark Reynolds 19 17 6 2 0 1 2 2 5 .353 .421 .647 1.068 0 0 0 0 0
Alexi Amarista 14 12 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 .167 .214 .250 .464 0 1 0 0 0
Carlos Gonzalez 9 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .222 .222 .222 .444 0 0 0 0 3
DJ LeMahieu 7 7 3 1 0 0 2 0 0 .429 .429 .571 1.000 0 0 0 0 1
Nolan Arenado 5 5 3 0 0 2 4 0 1 .600 .600 1.800 2.400 0 0 0 0 0
Charlie Blackmon 5 4 1 0 0 1 2 1 0 .250 .400 1.000 1.400 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Rusin 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 107 100 33 7 0 5 18 6 13 .330 .364 .550 .914 0 1 0 0 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/24/2017.

Going against Leake is Antonio Senzatela.  You know, the guy that shut down the Cardinals for eight innings in Coors Field, allowing just five hits? It’s still easily his longest outing of the season.  Senzatela has actually been in the bullpen of late, but his last time out was a start against the Padres.  He went five innings, allowed four runs (one was unearned), and gave up four hits and three walks.  You’d like to think that maybe the club could get to him, maybe draw some walks.  We’ll see if the fact that the Cardinals saw him earlier this year will help them out at all.

vs. Batters Table
Matt Carpenter 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Dexter Fowler 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Greg Garcia 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Randal Grichuk 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 1
Jedd Gyorko 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Yadier Molina 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Tommy Pham 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 1
Carlos Martinez 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 25 25 5 1 0 0 0 0 3 .200 .200 .240 .440 0 0 0 0 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/24/2017.

As mentioned, the Greatest Cardinal Moment Tournament kicks off its third week this morning and afternoon with some interesting postseason moments and one powerful regular season one.  Be sure to check back and vote!


2017 has not been anybody’s idea of a great season.  While it’s not a wasteland, it probably should be worse than it is, given the team hasn’t been over .500 since early June.  When we look back on this one, nobody is going to list this as one of their favorite years to watch St. Louis Cardinals baseball.

No matter how bad it’s been, no matter how bad it gets–and I don’t really think I’m exaggerating–the eighth inning of Friday’s game in Wrigley will stand as a glorious, shining moment of happiness.  We can cling to that and bathe in its warmth for a long time to come.

Down 3-2, this is that eighth inning:

Matt Carpenter led off the frame with a double.  Which was big even by itself, because having the tying run on second with nobody out after challenging in the seventh to tie it up meant that the momentum hadn’t been completely spoiled.

Tommy Pham walked after being down 1-2 in the count.

Dexter Fowler walked to load the bases.  That was all for Carl Edwards Jr., who had a nice 0.0 mark in the innings pitched column but was about to have a few runs tacked on to his ERA anyway.

Jedd Gyorko had a great at-bat.  He got down 1-2 swinging at sliders and fastballs away, then laid off three such pitches to draw a walk and drive in the tying run.

Paul DeJong looked like he was going to end a good thing, getting down 0-2, but then he made contact for the first time since Carpenter, driving a ball just a foot or so away from being a grand slam.  Two runs score, runners are on second and third, and the Cardinals have a lead for the first time on the afternoon.

Kolten Wong walked on five pitches to reload the bases.

Randal Grichuk, who had homered earlier and seems to always have a good game when he returns from the minors, flared a single that drove in Gyorko and left the bases loaded.

–The Cubs had seen enough of Hector Rondon at this point, meaning they had back-to-back pitchers go multiple batters without getting an out.  That can’t happen very often at all.  Justin Grimm comes in (spurring a ton of Grimm jokes) and Carson Kelly takes his third pitch and somehow comes even closer to a slam than DeJong did without getting one.  Two more runs score, making the score 8-3.

Luke Voit pinch-hit for the pitcher and was the ninth man to bat in the inning.  He walked on five pitches, again loading the bases.

–Carpenter gets his second at-bat of the inning and singles, rotating the carousel.

–Pham comes up and singles over what looked like a middle infield that might have been in for the double play or something.  Two runs score there and Carpenter moves on to third.

All of that without anybody out.  Like a lot of things in baseball, when it ends it ends quickly.  Fowler sharply grounded to first where Anthony Rizzo made a good play, then saw Carpenter caught in no-man’s land and threw to third to get him there.  (While it seems it was another example of Carpenter’s baserunning, odds are he’d have been out at either base and given the way the inning was going, it’s not surprising he was stunned that Fowler actually got out.)  Gyorko walked again to put two on but DeJong struck out swinging to finally end the frame.

This also doesn’t talk about all the pitches that Willson Contreras had to snag that went high or balls that went to the bricks that he got to before someone could advance.  If it was all one pitcher doing this, perhaps it made sense, but nobody the Cubs brought in seemed to be comfortable or in control out there.  Which was so much fun to watch.

It would have been a fun inning no matter where it had happened, but to do it against the Cubs, who were coming off that 6-0 road trip feeling like world beaters, makes it even better.  When we nominated games for Game of the Year on the Cardinal Blogger Awards this season, my bet is this one will be on the list.

Before that big inning, it looked like this was going to be another one of those heartbreaking losses and, when combined with everything else, could have been a tell on which way the Cards were going to go here at the deadline.  Carlos Martinez started and allowed a two-run homer in the first, which against Jake Arrieta could have been a deal breaker.  Instead, Grichuk homered and Fowler doubled in a run and the Cardinals tied it back up.  Unfortunately, Rizzo broke that tie in the fifth and that’s where we were when the floodgates opened.

Martinez wound up with six innings and just two earned runs, though he allowed 10 base hits (and one unearned run) in his time out there.  Obviously you always want your ace to go seven scoreless or something like that, but once Martinez settled in he wound up being as effective as we are used to.  While there are a number of times this year that the Cardinals have blown a great outing from him and he’s not gotten a win, at least this time he didn’t wind up with a tough loss on his record.

So many options for the Hero, what with that inning and all, but I’ll go with Dexter Fowler.  He produced even outside of the eighth and had three hits and a walk overall.  For the Goat, I guess Kolten Wong, even though he walked twice.  He didn’t get any hits and didn’t drive in any runs, but I still feel bad for giving him this award.

The bullpen was pretty good here.  Zack Duke made his return from Tommy John surgery in what must be close to record time and got the first two outs of the seventh without incident, which makes you hope that the Cardinals finally really have a lefty specialist, because even with three lefties on the roster before him, they didn’t really have that guy.  Matthew Bowman finished up the seventh and then vultured a win.  Kevin Siegrist pitched a dominant eighth with two strikeouts, continuing to subvert expectations from his rehab, and then Seung-hwan Oh pitched the ninth.  Oh didn’t look great–he wound up giving up a run on two hits–but an error by Carpenter played into that.  Without the error, I think he might have gotten through unscathed.  Still, it seems very dicey to throw him in games that are close.  Thankfully this one wasn’t.

Some of the pregame comments seem to have been overlooked by the glow of that game, but after all the roster moves and the trade yesterday (which we talked about at the end of our last post so I don’t want to rehash them here), John Mozeliak addressed the media and basically called everyone out.  He said everyone–and by everyone, he even invoked Bill DeWitt Jr.’s name–is frustrated by the losing but more so the culture and attitude.  Some of the more biting comments:

“When you look at this group right now and talk about attitude and culture, you pointed to a game like yesterday. Is everybody OK with that?” Mozeliak said. “Are those kinds of mistakes just going to be like, eh? Then, it’s like, ‘Get your paycheck and go home.’ And to me, that’s a very scary place to be if that’s where the mindset is. Because it’s certainly not mine.

“Some of this has to fall on the responsibility of the player, right? I’m the last person to sit in front of you guys today and say that we have this figured out, because clearly we don’t. But I have been doing it long enough to know that accountability has to be across the board. I feel like I’m not going to make excuses for people or players. Everybody points the finger upstairs to try and find the solution or the move. Well, maybe 25 [players] need to look in the mirror.”

While Mo is being tough on the players, he’s also talked a lot about the culture.  Well, when you talk about culture I think you are indirectly targeting one major figure there.  Allen and I talked about this on Meet Me at Musial last night, but I think Mike Matheny‘s job is in more jeopardy than it ever was before.  I do not think he’ll be fired in-season–honestly, would that make the difference this year or cause needless confusion and anxiety?–but this offseason is going to be very interesting if the Cardinals don’t make some late run.  I don’t know that he has the confidence as much of those in charge.  I know that Bill DeWitt III had good things to say about Matheny at the blogger event and I expect that they still like and respect Mike in general, but they may think that it’s time for a different voice in that clubhouse.

We’ll see, of course, but there’s no doubt that two years out of the playoffs and a team that’s basically .500 isn’t going to sit well with Cardinal fans when they go making their ticket plans for 2018.  There have to be some changes and it’s possible the manager will be one of them.

With Milwaukee going on a downward spiral after the All-Star Break, the standings are staying tight.  It’s been a while, so let’s take a pictorial look at them.

Even with all their issues, the Cards sit 3.5 back.  They have three teams to jump, of course, but that’s a tantalizingly close race.  3.5 is how far the second place teams (New York and Tampa Bay) are behind Boston in the AL East.  The AL Central is closer with Cleveland, Kansas City, and Minnesota all within 1.5 games, but when you look across baseball, you have to say St. Louis is right in this mix.  (Where they’d be if they’d won a couple of those late inning losses is kinda tough to think about.)  Here’s the games left against the division:

Team Games Left In Busch On Road
Chicago 9 4 5
Milwaukee 8 3 5
Pittsburgh 10 3 7

The Cardinals would have to play better on the road (they are four games under .500 right now) but they have plenty of chances to make up ground directly with the teams in that mix.  In some aspects, you wish the Cardinals would have make their trade before this series with the Cubs, but even after this weekend there are 25 games between the two teams, many in September.  A strong acquisition could make a big difference there.

Will the Cards make the moves?  I don’t know.  Mo said that he expected activity at the deadline, but it does take both sides to come to an agreement.  I don’t think St. Louis is quite desperate enough to just throw money and prospects until someone agrees.  They still want a good deal (though I don’t believe they have to “win the trade” by any means).  We’ll see how today and tomorrow go and hopefully next week will be filled with deals.

Adam Wainwright tries to keep his recent success alive.  Over his last five starts, he has a 3.52 ERA and batters are hitting .238 against him.  That includes that game against the Marlins when he allowed six (but had a big cushion to work with).  Other than that game, he’s not allowed more than two earned runs in any of those starts.  The last time he saw the Cubs, he threw seven scoreless at them and pitched well against them the first week of the season as well, but both of those were at Busch.  This will be his first time in Wrigley this year and given some of his flyball tendencies….let’s hope the wind is blowing in.

vs. Batters Table
Anthony Rizzo 48 42 11 1 0 1 5 5 5 .262 .333 .357 .690 0 1 0 0 3
Jason Heyward 21 20 5 1 0 1 4 1 3 .250 .286 .450 .736 0 0 0 0 0
Javier Baez 14 13 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 .154 .154 .154 .308 1 0 0 0 0
Kris Bryant 13 12 2 2 0 0 2 1 1 .167 .231 .333 .564 0 0 0 0 0
Addison Russell 13 12 6 3 0 0 2 1 1 .500 .538 .750 1.288 0 0 0 0 0
Ben Zobrist 12 11 3 1 0 0 0 1 3 .273 .333 .364 .697 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Schwarber 9 7 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 .000 .222 .000 .222 0 0 0 0 0
Albert Almora 8 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Jake Arrieta 7 7 2 0 0 0 0 0 4 .286 .286 .286 .571 0 0 0 0 0
Willson Contreras 7 5 2 0 0 1 3 2 2 .400 .571 1.000 1.571 0 0 0 0 1
Tommy La Stella 5 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .600 .500 1.100 0 0 0 0 0
Jon Lester 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Ian Happ 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0 1
Jon Jay 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
John Lackey 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jose Quintana 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Total 172 155 38 9 0 3 17 15 31 .245 .310 .361 .671 1 1 0 0 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/22/2017.

On the flip side we have Jon Lester.  Lester has a 4.07 ERA on the season, which isn’t exactly what you’d expect from the Cubs’ ace (though, given their starting rotation, maybe it’s not as surprising as we think).  His last time out was one run over seven against the Braves, but his two starts before the break were pretty rough, including that 10 run (four earned) explosion in less than an inning against the Pirates.  Lester has faced the Cardinals three times this year and has two no-decisions and a loss to show for it, as well as a combined line of 16.2 innings, 19 hits, eight runs (seven earned), 20 strikeouts, nine walks, 3.78 ERA.  He’s definitely hittable, but whether the Cards will do it or not remains to be seen.

vs. Batters Table
Yadier Molina 43 39 13 3 0 1 5 3 6 .333 .372 .487 .859 0 1 0 0 1
Matt Carpenter 42 38 6 1 1 0 2 3 11 .158 .214 .237 .451 0 1 0 0 1
Randal Grichuk 15 15 1 0 0 0 0 0 10 .067 .067 .067 .133 0 0 0 0 0
Jedd Gyorko 15 13 3 0 0 1 1 2 6 .231 .333 .462 .795 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 14 13 2 1 0 0 1 1 3 .154 .214 .231 .445 0 0 0 0 0
Tommy Pham 13 10 4 0 0 2 3 3 2 .400 .538 1.000 1.538 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Martinez 12 11 2 1 0 0 1 0 5 .182 .182 .273 .455 1 0 0 0 0
Dexter Fowler 9 6 1 0 0 0 0 3 2 .167 .444 .167 .611 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Leake 7 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Greg Garcia 5 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .250 .000 .250 1 0 0 0 0
Jose Martinez 5 5 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 .400 .400 .400 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Paul DeJong 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Lance Lynn 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 188 167 35 6 1 4 15 16 55 .210 .276 .329 .605 3 2 0 0 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/22/2017.

This could be a pitching duel.  This could be a slugfest.  This could be any sort of game.  But if the Cardinals can win this one, maybe we dare to dream again.


You know, I was going to write after Wednesday’s game in New York.  Great title (“If You Can Make It There…It Probably Doesn’t Mean Much”) and some great games to talk about.  I didn’t and now, oh boy now momentum and excitement and optimism for this team has taken a complete 180.  The sound you heard the last two days?  Nails driving into a coffin.  I’m not saying that the Cardinals WON’T be a playoff team, but if you put down money on it you are a braver person than me.

The silver lining about waiting to write is that at least we do get those two good games to mix into the post and make it not all sour.  Let’s see what we can come up with.

Monday (6-3 win)

Hero: Tommy Pham.  By now, that sounds like a broken record, doesn’t it?  Pham went two for three with a home run (which capped the scoring and made the game serious) and three RBI. You know, just that normal Phamtastic night.

Goat: Magneuris Sierra.  His beginning-of-the-career hitting streak ended, though he still did reach on a fielder’s choice and wound up scoring a run.  He also made two errors on one play, turning Jose Reyes’s double into a Little League home run.

Notes: Do you get worried about the offense when it scores six, but they are all in one inning?  This looked like it was going to be a tight, low-scoring affair until the Cards broke it open in the sixth.  While it doesn’t matter on a game-by-game basis how the runs score–they all count the same–it would make some think that this was more on a tiring pitcher and some ineffective bullpen pieces than a successful attack.  Again, it’s one game, but coming on the heels of Friday where they scored in the first and didn’t score again, you wonder about it being stop-and-start.

Adam Wainwright is a big New York fan and he continued his resurgence by pitching a good game on the road.  He gave up a run in the fifth, then after getting the big lead, perhaps he got out of rhythm because he immediately came back and allowed two more in the sixth.  That said, his defense didn’t help him there–Sierra’s misplays were the cause of one of those runs and Dexter Fowler then dropped a ball right after, putting a runner on–and Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons got him out of the jam by getting the last batter.  (That was also the last time Lyons got into a game.  After going five times in the first eight games this month, he’s gone twice in the last in the last seven.)

The bullpen was solid here, which is something we won’t always be saying in this series.  Lyons, Matthew Bowman, Kevin Siegrist, and Brett Cecil combined for 3.1 innings, no runs, two hits, and a walk.  The Mets never really got a chance to threaten once these guys came in.  Siegrist was especially a revelation, striking out three of the four batters he faced.  Given his struggles during rehab, that was completely unexpected.  His outing on Wednesday was almost as good, so if this is more of the Siegrist we are going to see, it’s a welcome addition.

Paul DeJong again burned the Mets, hitting the two-run homer that put the Cards in the lead.  Yadier Molina had two hits and Wainwright got in on the fun, doubling in a run himself.  We had fun in this one.  Ah, the memories.

Tuesday (5-0 win)

Hero: Michael Wacha.  You can question the validity of letting a guy with a history of injury go out there and complete a game that costs him 120 pitches, but there’s no doubt it’s very good to see Wacha notch his first shutout.  The extra rest around the All-Star Game helped and, while there’s no indication yet this would happen, skipping or at least shortening his next start might be a good thing.  Still, Wacha looked like the Wacha we saw as he came up.  Three total hits, eight strikeouts.  Joe Schwarz wrote a nice piece of work (that’s an understatement) looking at Wacha and there’s reason to hope that he’ll be more in line with his historical norms.  That said, the cloud of injury hangs over everything he does.  Right now he’s healthy and we’ll be excited about that!

Goat: Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit (including Wacha, who also had a run and an RBI!) and the starting pitcher went nine scoreless.  You are going to have to nitpick to find a Goat here, but we are expert nitpickers.  Dexter Fowler had a hit, but he left six men on base and didn’t score nor drive in a run.  Does Fowler really work in the three spot?  There are times when I think yes, especially when you look at those 14 homers, but then there are nights like this and you wonder.  He’s 5-27 since the All-Star Break (.185) with three walks (OBP .267) and no extra-base hits.  I don’t know if it’s just a slump, it’s the foot, or what.  Then again, if lineup theory says actually your fifth-best guy hits third, maybe there’s no reason to juggle Fowler right now.

Notes: Matt Carpenter spent the night swinging at the first pitch and went 4-5 with a two doubles, a run, and an RBI.  That’s the kind of thing he can do every once in a while, when pitchers get lulled into him taking long at-bats.  Wouldn’t probably work for him as a regular strategy and, indeed, it was a one night only deal.

Other than that, for the fact the club had 12 hits, they were all spread out.  Nobody else had more than one.  Paul DeJong was the only one that had an extra-base hit besides Carp.  It really was just enough for Wacha to get the shutout.  Which is good!

Wednesday (7-3 loss)

Hero: Magneuris Sierra.  The only player besides Kolten Wong with more than one hit, Sierra went 2-3 and drove in two of the three runs.

Goat: Mike Leake.  Regression is….well, it’s language I don’t use, but it’s not good.  Bernie Miklasz wrote about it after this game and while Leake probably isn’t as bad as we’ve seen of late, he’s still not been good by any stretch of the imagination.  I went to eat dinner when it was 2-0 in the first.  When I was done 20-25 minutes later, it was 7-0.  Leake may have been spared by unearned runs a bit (only four were earned of his seven) but he still only threw two innings and allowed 10 hits, most of which were hit hard.

There’s nothing you can do, though.  He’s not a bullpen guy, I don’t think, and he’s not going anywhere.  He’s got to go out there every fifth day and we hope that the regression stops soon as we can see that average pitcher Leake probably is.

Notes: I will say it was nice, in some aspects, to see the Cardinals able to battle enough that Luke Voit came to the plate with a chance to tie the game if he could just hit a grand slam.  (Spoiler alert–he couldn’t.)  Other than that, there wasn’t much to say about this.  With the huge early gap the reserves came in early, to the point that when the game did start to tighten up, there were no bench options so Adam Wainwright pinch-hit (and walked) and Matt Bowman pinch-ran for him.  Still, it’s hard to fault Mike Matheny too much for that–it’s a stretch of 17 games in a row between the ASB and July 31st, the next off day.  Getting some of the starters a little rest in what looked like a blowout is completely fair.

The bullpen did great and we got to see John Brebbia and Sam Tuivailala for the first time in the second half.  Rob Rains tweeted that if Tui didn’t get into this game, why was he even here?  After today’s roster moves (which we’ll get to), apparently someone else asked the same question.

Thursday (3-2 loss)

Hero: Tommy Pham, yet again.  He drove in the tying run in the sixth, doubling in Matt Carpenter from first.  He hit a home run in the eighth that gave the Cardinals the lead.  If only he could pitch…..

Goat: It was going to be tough to be Brett Cecil here, but Trevor Rosenthal did it standing still.  Literally.

Cardinal fans get worked up about a lot of things, but not executing basic fundamentals is right at the top of the list.  If Rosenthal takes off when the ball is hit, he gets the runner at first and the game goes into extras.  Instead, Jose Reyes beats out a single, the runner on second–whom Rosenthal had walked to lead off the inning–scores, and it’s the third game lost by the bullpen since the All-Star Break.  Which, again let me remind you, was just seven games ago.  My suggestion to Tara on the special mid-week Gateway about getting Zach Britton seems smarter by the day.

Notes: Rosenthal gets the Goat, but Cecil didn’t fare any better.  Pham had just given the Cardinals the lead, then two Mets batters later it is gone on a home run by Wilber Flores.  Cecil had been pitching so well before the issue on Sunday.  A home run is going to happen at times, I guess, but it is just frustrating for the team to fight into a great position to win, only to see it go out in a hurry.  Then again, one mistake is better than being hit around for three-four hits or a walk or two mixed in.  That’s ineffective.

Greg Garcia got two hits.  That was one-third of the team’s total on the day.  You tell me if that’s an issue with the offense.

It was a great start by Lance Lynn in what still may have been his final time out with the Cardinals.  Six innings, three hits, one run, five strikeouts.  Are you telling me a contender couldn’t use that in the middle of their rotation?  Especially with his post-season experience?  No matter what the Cardinals do, I really think they should get something for Lynn from a team that wants to make a push.

The Cardinals have made some moves today in preparation for this weekend series in Chicago that, frankly, is a must win and a sweep would be ideal.  Let’s look at them in table form first.

In, Out, How
Carson Kelly, Eric Fryer, DFA
Randal Grichuk, Magneuris Sierra, demoted
Zack Duke, Sam Tuivailala, demoted

OK, in order:

Kelly for Fryer: Tara and I talked about this during Gateway as well, and basically we came to the agreement that Kelly has done all he can do in Memphis.  Even if he sits behind Molina a lot up here in the bigs, he’s learning from Yadi and it’s not hampering his development too much.  I do hope there’s some understand about a regular playing time for him.  Make him somebody’s personal catcher–maybe Luke Weaver if Lynn is dealt–so he can get in at least every fifth day.  Matheny also may want to try to use him as a pinch-hitter more often than you typically see the backup catcher used.

As you know if you read this blog much, I’ve never understood this huge hoopla for Fryer’s return anyway.  I mean, he seems like a nice guy and yes, he did well in St. Louis last year, but that really felt more like a fluke and his time in Pittsburgh seemed to prove it.  Fryer was never going to be much more than what we’ve seen in the long line of backup catchers, I don’t think.  Kelly, he could be different.

Grichuk for Sierra: This one kinda surprised me, even more so when you see Grichuk in the starting lineup today.  I know, I know, everyone on Twitter has this insane fear that Grichuk is coming for the outfield spot and nobody is going to be able to stop Matheny from putting him out there (usually at Pham’s expense).  I still think it’s overblown–we’ve seen Grichuk on the bench more of late and there’s no denying what Pham has done has made an impact–but moves like this makes it harder to completely dismiss it.

Grichuk had one game in his rehab assignment.  One.  The only reason I can really even stretch to explain this is that they are trying to prove that Grichuk is healthy and can play because he’s in some sort of trade talk discussions.  I mean, if you believe that Miami has scouted Austin Gomber and Dakota Hudson for a specific deadline-deal reason, maybe Grichuk goes back in that deal as well.  I don’t know, but rushing Grichuk when you have Pham, Fowler, and Sierra seems like there should be more to the story.

As for Sierra, he’s still living on the infield hits to some degree.  It does send him down when he had a pretty good game in recent memory, so he continues to know that he can be successful in the bigs, but there’s still things to work on.  We know we’ll see Sierra in September and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is before that depending on the trade deadline and the health of Stephen Piscotty.  You can rationalize this move, but just barely.

Duke for Tuivailala: We’ve seen that, for whatever reason, Tui’s not getting a whole lot of playing time up here and, even with that, Matheny still won’t let go of 13 pitchers.  If you are going to get anything out of Duke, though, you have to send down someone and Tui’s the most logical one to go down.  This also would seem to play into the trade deadline talks, because like we discussed on Talking About Birds when I guested on Monday, the Cardinals now have four lefthanders in the pen, and that’s just not normal (and somewhat overkill).  Given that the Patron Pitcher hasn’t been used a lot as it is since the break, I have a bad feeling #70 might not be in use after the calendar flips.  At least not by the same person.

If the Cardinals could have won just two of the three late-inning meltdown games, they’d be 2.5 games out behind a Brewers team that has stumbled as some expected since the break.  Instead, they sit in fourth place, a game and a half behind the Pirates and 4.5 behind the Brewers, with the Cubs poised to take over the top spot with a good weekend.

The positive thing, if you want to look at it like this, is the Cubs have won six in a row against weaker competition.  Winning streaks (Los Angeles notwithstanding) don’t often get much longer than that.  If the Cardinals could actually take two of three this weekend, that new found confidence by the Cubs might get questioned a bit, much like what happened when St. Louis went 7-0 against Miami and Atlanta, then fell on their faces against good teams.  Let’s see if we can make that happen, shall we?

If nothing else, the Cards are in good position to draw first blood as Carlos Martinez goes this afternoon in Wrigley, matched up against a Jake Arrieta that has been better of late but has struggled on the season.  Martinez seems to be back to form after a great outing against Pittsburgh and two superb innings against the American League.

vs. Batters Table
Anthony Rizzo 36 30 8 1 1 3 7 5 4 .267 .361 .667 1.028 0 1 1 0 1
Kris Bryant 27 22 3 0 0 0 0 4 11 .136 .296 .136 .433 0 0 0 1 0
Addison Russell 24 23 6 1 0 0 2 1 2 .261 .292 .304 .596 0 0 0 0 0
Jason Heyward 20 20 7 1 0 0 2 0 4 .350 .350 .400 .750 0 0 0 0 1
Javier Baez 18 18 4 1 0 0 0 0 4 .222 .222 .278 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Ben Zobrist 18 16 5 1 0 0 2 2 3 .313 .389 .375 .764 0 0 0 0 1
Tommy La Stella 17 14 3 1 0 0 1 3 3 .214 .353 .286 .639 0 0 0 0 0
Jon Lester 16 16 4 1 0 0 2 0 4 .250 .250 .313 .563 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Schwarber 13 11 2 1 0 0 0 2 4 .182 .308 .273 .580 0 0 0 0 0
Willson Contreras 6 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 4 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Ian Happ 4 3 1 0 0 1 2 1 1 .333 .500 1.333 1.833 0 0 0 0 0
Albert Almora 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jake Arrieta 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 204 184 46 9 1 4 18 18 46 .250 .319 .375 .694 0 1 1 1 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/21/2017.

He’ll need to be on his game because Arrieta is always tough on the Cardinals, it feels like.  That said, St. Louis did put four runs on him in six innings the last time they saw him.  That’d be great to see again.

vs. Batters Table
Matt Carpenter 39 32 2 0 0 1 2 7 9 .063 .231 .156 .387 0 0 0 0 0
Kolten Wong 37 35 8 1 0 0 0 1 9 .229 .270 .257 .527 0 0 0 1 1
Yadier Molina 34 32 6 0 0 1 2 1 11 .188 .235 .281 .517 0 0 0 1 1
Jedd Gyorko 11 11 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 .273 .273 .273 .545 0 0 0 0 0
Tommy Pham 9 8 2 0 0 0 1 1 2 .250 .333 .250 .583 0 0 0 0 0
Greg Garcia 7 5 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 .200 .429 .200 .629 0 0 0 0 0
Michael Wacha 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 6 5 1 1 0 0 0 1 2 .200 .333 .400 .733 0 0 0 0 0
Dexter Fowler 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Eric Fryer 3 3 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
Lance Lynn 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Magneuris Sierra 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Tyler Lyons 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Carlos Martinez 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Leake 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Total 166 151 28 2 0 2 6 13 46 .185 .259 .238 .497 0 0 0 2 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/21/2017.

I know this is long, but while I was typing it the Cardinals made a deal, sending Marco Gonzales to Seattle for outfield prospect Tyler O’Neill.  Here’s an article from the Seattle blog Lookout Landing talking about how the Mariners shouldn’t deal O’Neill, who apparently was their second-best prospect according to MLB.com.  That being said, he’s an outfielder.  My feeling is that John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch are beefing up a trade package with this one.  I mean, seriously, he sounds great but he also sounds ready for the bigs maybe next year.  With the backlog of outfielders already, where does he go?

Unless, of course, Mo/Girsch are dealing one or two of the current outfielders and O’Neill will get a shot that way.  I don’t know, it seems strange but it’s a nice addition in a vacuum, it appears.  Something to mull over before Allen and I do Meet Me at Musial tonight!

1 comment

We kicked off the second week of the Greatest Cardinal Moment Tournament this morning, so if you missed out on that one, be sure to check it out for a great battle of huge postseason home runs.  This afternoon, we’re going with a pivotal postseason at bat against a legendary regular season moment.

#6 Matt Carpenter battles Clayton Kershaw in NLCS (2013)


#11 Glenn Brummer steals home (1982)

Technology is a great thing.  Even though my 20th high school reunion was going on, watching the current football squad as part of the festivities, I could continue to refresh my phone as the Cardinals and the Dodgers matched up in Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS.  Kershaw was what he is now, one of if not the best pitcher in the game.  It was before all those ideas that St. Louis could beat him in the playoffs.  Indeed, this game is when it all started.

You can read a good description of the whole at bat over here, as Joe Schwarz recapped it the next February.  With one out in the third, Carpenter came to the plate, apparently determined that no pitches were going to get past him.

Games can turn on small things.  I kept refreshing my phone, trying to figure out when this at bat would end.  Carpenter kept battling and battling, the pitch count kept growing and growing, and finally Kershaw made his mistake.

That opened the floodgates.  Whether Kershaw was a bit worn or everyone wearing red was just so fired up or they’d been able to see some of everything the Dodger ace had, the hits just kept coming in that inning and the Cardinals wound up with four runs.  While it was still early, that seemed to be the knockout blow that Los Angeles never recovered from.  St. Louis would win 9-0 and move on to face the Red Sox in the World Series.

While that at bat was amazing and dramatic, it was right in line with the player that Matt Carpenter was.  That’s not the case with this other highlight, one that can just be summed up in three words.

Brummer Stole Home.

It was August 22, 1982.  The Cardinals were 70-52 and playing a Giants team that was sitting right around .500.  Even with their success, the Cards were just a couple of games up in the NL East (which is what happens when there are only two divisions).  The Cardinals got out to an early 3-0 lead, but future Cardinal Jack Clark drove in two with a double off of Joaquin Andujar, then Darrell Evans tied it up and, after a pitching change, Milt May gave the Giants the 4-3 lead.

The ’82 team wasn’t a quitting team though, and they put together a Whiteyball run in the bottom of the ninth to tie it up.  David Green was hit by a pitch, stole second, went to third on a Tom Herr groundout, and scored on a Ken Oberkfell double.

The score stayed 4-4 until the 12th.  Gary Lavelle got George Hendrick to fly out but then Brummer singled and so did Willie McGee.  After a foulout by Julio Gonzalez, Ozzie Smith singled to load the bases.  With two outs, David Greene was up, but Brummer, with a lefty on the mound, got another idea.

For some reason, I can’t embed the video of this amazing moment, complete with call from Mike Shannon, so you’ll have to check it out here to see it in all its glory.  It was a full 20% of the career stolen bases of Brummer, but it made him a legend in St. Louis for all time.

So it’s your turn.  Cast your vote below!




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