We’ve been spoiled. We really have.
Most of the time, rookie pitchers don’t come up and act like they’ve been in the league for 10 years. They falter, they need time to adjust to the level of competition. They are more flawed hero than Superman.
Not so for much of this season for the Cardinals, however. Shelby Miller has an ERA under 2.00. Tyler Lyons has two wins and pitched fairly well in his loss. Seth Maness is a double-play machine. Trevor Rosenthal, who probably just slides into this category, has been a dominant late inning force. Carlos Martinez, for the most part, got the job done before returning to Memphis. Even John Gast was solid, with his one real bad inning coming when he was up 10-0.
Michael Wacha‘s first start indicated that he’d be more of the same. Another pitcher to just come in and own the league from the get-go. So it was a bit of a shock last night to see that Superman found some kryptonite.
I missed all of Wacha’s outing since I was at my son’s little league game, but you wonder if a little lack of concentration played into his problems. The pitcher gets a two-out RBI hit. The eighth-place hitter hits a three-run homer. Of course, even eighth-place hitters in the bigs are better than the players he was facing last year in college.
Wacha’s start, of course, tells us basically nothing save that he had a bad night. Every pitcher has an off night–ask Adam Wainwright about facing the Mets usually or Matt Cain about facing the Cardinals–so that’s possible the only thing that was working here. We’ll get at least another start from him to see if there’s any cause for concern.
It was a strange game because the starting pitcher gets the Goat tag and, if I awarded it to a group, the bullpen would get the Hero one. Seth Maness came in with two on and two out in the fifth and got A.J. Pollock to strike out. After that, the bullpen gave up a total of three hits before Victor Marte came into the game in the 14th. I’ll freely admit that I turned it off after 13, given that it was ridiculously late (I’ll be feeling that all day long) and that Marte was coming in. It was a foregone conclusion that the Cards weren’t likely to pull this one out in that situation.
I’m going to give the Hero to David Freese for his four-hit game, the first of his career (and, to be fair, that ball that Willie Bloomquist got his glove on I’d have ruled an error), but there were a number of guys that helped out in this one. Allen Craig and Shane Robinson going deep. Yadier Molina driving in a key two-out run. Carlos Beltran stealing third (though apparently there was some question on this one?) and also driving in the tying run. The offense didn’t lie down and quit, especially against a young pitcher they’d not seen before. You have to like that.
Still, there were a number of missed opportunities, especially late. First and second and one out in the seventh, after just tying the game and forcing a pitching change, and Matt Holliday and Craig harmlessly fly out. Two on, two out in the ninth and Craig grounds out. Runner on second in the 11th and Beltran pops out on the infield and Holliday strikes out (and destroys his bat afterwards). Two on, two out in the twelfth for Pete Kozma, who Ks. Runners on the corners with two out in the thirteenth, but Craig again can’t come through. For a guy that excels at coming through with two outs, Craig had an off night.
And give some kudos (and some ice) to Matt Carpenter, who set a Cardinal record by being hit three times in the same game. Carpenter had only been hit four time total in his career, so it wasn’t a stance issue or anything like that. Just a weird evening, because it was pretty obvious they weren’t throwing at him intentionally. That will, however, leave a mark.
As you can read in the Prospect Preacher’s farm report, Jake Westbrook had a fairly nice outing for Springfield last night. Westbrook allowed only one run in 3.2 innings for the club and felt good afterwards. I would expect at least one more rehab outing, with another one coming depending on those results and how the rookie pitchers are looking in St. Louis.
Last night’s game obviously has major repercussions for today’s contest, as it was scheduled to be Joe Kelly to start this one. Kelly should still be the starter, given that he wasn’t used in last night’s marathon, but the expectation is and has been that he wouldn’t be able to go deep into the game since he’s not been built up to be a starter. He could go 65-70 pitches, but that might not even get you to the fifth. All of those bullpen arms that were going to be used tonight got used last night, though, which may create a problem. The club may make a roster move, though their options that are on the 40-man roster are limited, especially since Michael Blazek isn’t eligible to return yet barring an injury. Keep an eye on Twitter to see what move the club may wind up making.
Kelly will get his first start tonight and it won’t be the first time he’s faced the D-Backs. Here’s what he’s done before:
Middling results, really. Probably needs to be real careful with Martin Prado, but on the whole nothing that seems to indicate he’ll get beat around the yard.
Arizona will send out Wade Miley. After being a Rookie of the Year candidate last year, Miley has struggled a bit this season, putting up a 3-5, 5.01 mark. His last two starts he gave up seven earned runs each, though it was in seven innings against the Cubs and just 3.2 innings at home versus the Padres. Add those to a six-run, five-inning stint against the Braves four starts ago and, well, it’s not been a good run for the youngster.
Similar to Kelly, the Cardinals have had middling success against him. Nobody has taken him out of the yard, but the St. Louis attack this year is more hit after hit after hit rather than the longball.
Might be a high scoring game today!