In the fourth inning, Matt Carpenter came up with the bases loaded and the Cards already up 3-0. He drove a pitch to right-center that a diving Justin Maxwell was unable to come up with, clearing the bases with a triple.
With that one swing, the Cardinals scored as many runs as they had in their last two games against the Rangers combined.
Welcome to Houston.
It was a great chance for a frustrated offense to take it out on someone and the hitters more than obliged. Thirteen runs and fifteen hits usually make it a fun night at the old ballpark and this was no exception. Jon Jay gets the Goat because, somehow out of all of that, he was unable to get a hit, though he did score a run and get an RBI when he walked with the bases loaded in that extensive fourth.
With all of these offensive numbers to sort through, who gets the Hero tag? Yadier Molina went two for four with a run and an RBI, which would work most evenings. Carlos Beltran also went two for four, but one of his hits was a home run driving in two. That’d play often as well.
However, there is no doubt the tag has to go to Allen Craig. In a night full of offense, he provided more than his fair share. Craig had four hits, three RBI, two runs scored and included in that was a monster home run that needed no help from the Crawford Boxes, unlike Beltran and David Freese, who seemed to benefit from the short, quirky left field attraction.
Getting three home runs in one evening is as likely this season than the Redbirds putting up seven runs in an inning. They’ve done both seven times, which is just crazy. Again, they only hit one home run in the Rangers series, showing that Houston was written on the prescription pad for whatever physician was consulted by the offense.
Though it was strange to see the team strike out 14 times on the night. St. Louis has struck out 13 times twice this season, but never 14. For as inept as things were this weekend, they only put up 15 Ks for that entire series. Many watching (and the players afterwards) attributed a lot of that to the umpire’s zone, which would do it. Just imagine how bad last night would have been for the ‘Stros if the Cards had put the ball in play a little more!
There was a little more to the game however than just hits, walks, big flies and strikeouts. St. Louis had to pitch the ball as well and Jake Westbrook, for the most part, did that just fine. Westbrook threw five no-hit innings before having a sixth inning to forget. It’s not surprising that former Cardinal farmhand Brett Wallace was called up before this series, as he has an .812 OPS against the club (counting last night, when he tripled in two runs in that sixth). He has higher OPS against some other teams, but not in nearly as many at-bats.
Still, Westbrook could afford to give up a few runs when staked to a 9-0 lead, so you can’t get too excited about that, and I guess if you are going to lose a no-hitter, best to do it early on and on a no-doubt moonshot to remove any doubt. Seriously, I wasn’t sure if Matt Dominguez‘s shot was going to stay in the building.
Edward Mujica struggled a bit last night, but some of that was likely the different situation he found himself in. Coming into a game with a nine run lead and not having pitched in a while, it’s probably hard to get yourself in the right mindset. Good to see Michael Blazek come in and tamp out the smoldering fire.
Joe Strauss has spent some time in Memphis, writing yesterday about Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong and today about Carlos Martinez. Written with the usual snide remarks toward fans that are intrigued by these players, they are still interesting articles if you can engage your Strauss filter. Taveras went back on the disabled list yesterday due to the ankle injury he suffered on Sunday night. Beyond the physical, Strauss states that maturity factors are keeping him from St. Louis. That well might be, though I contend that any clubhouse with Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday in it will rein in attitude. Not saying that he needs to be in St. Louis now, but just that Strauss’s approach rubbed me the wrong way. My Strauss filter wasn’t working.
The treatment of Martinez seemed much more favorable. It seems fairly obvious that, should the need arise, he’s the next one to come up and take his place in the rotation. It would also seem reasonable to assume next year’s rotation will have Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha and Martinez, with Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn heading it up. Just reading that is amazing.
Speaking of Wainwright, he came out with a formal apology to Mike Matheny yesterday for slightly criticizing the manager after Sunday night’s game. Not that the manager demanded it or even expected it, but Wainwright is the kind of guy that would let that eat at him for a while. I completely get that as I am a bit similar in that regard. It speaks volumes about Waino that he not only sought out Matheny to talk about it but that he did so publicly as well so as to make sure everyone knew there was no friction in the clubhouse.
Cards only get one more with the Astros this week. I apparently read the schedule wrong Monday, as Lucas Harrell went last night instead of Eric Bedard. My thanks to Mr. McClure for giving you the proper table for that one. As for their work against Bedard, I’ll commend to your reading the last post so as to not repeat myself more than I usually do.
St. Louis goes with Lance Lynn in this one. Lynn is trying for his 11th win and everything is in his favor for him to get it.
Wallace has seen him the most and Lynn’s actually one Cardinal pitcher he’s not been able to solve. If Lynn is able to keep this up this evening, should be another fun night down in Texas!