After ten pitches from Jake Westbrook last night, the Cards trailed 4-0. If the Redbirds had wanted to get off on the right foot during this high-stakes series, that didn’t seem to be the way to go about it. In fact, all it proved is that they had two left feet.
Westbrook, who gets the Goat for that early hole, did manage to stabilize himself, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and not allowing any more runs to cross the plate in his five innings of work. That said, given the fact that the Pirates scored more in ten pitches than the Cardinals scored all weekend long in Atlanta, the damage was done.
Francisco Liriano looked as sharp as Westbrook wasn’t, going seven innings, allowing just four hits and striking out eight. The Cards did get an opportunity against him in his last frame, putting two on and bringing the tying run to the plate. Instead of going for it right there and bringing in Matt Adams to pinch hit, Pete Kozma flew out to end the threat. I guess Mike Matheny was holding Adams in case Kozma got on, but it’s still an interesting call.
I guess if they’d tied it up or even gotten closer, Matheny would have managed his bullpen differently. Instead, after getting a solid inning out of Marc Rzepczynski, he went back to the Scrabble well for another frame and got burned. A walk, single and groundout later, Fernando Salas got the call. At least for this evening, that was gasoline on the fire. Five runs would score while Salas was in there, allowing both of his inherited runners to cross the plate as well as three of his own and, if you had any delusions of a comeback, they were crushed pretty quickly.
I’d say the Cardinals made it interesting in the ninth, but it’s tough to make an 8-run game interesting. They did score a run and had bases loaded with Adams up, but he struck out and Daniel Descalso flew out and the Cards had well and truly walked the plank.
There’s really only two choices for the Hero tag in this one. Matt Holliday went 2-4, but he also hit into a double play in the sixth after St. Louis had plated one and were looking for some sort of spark. So I’m going to go with Tony Cruz, whose pinch-hit triple and run scored was easily the highlight of the Cardinals’ night.
You put that one in the books and move on, but still note that the Cards have scored five runs in four games. The Fox Sports Midwest guys were pointing out that Allen Craig looks as bad as he ever has. Carlos Beltran did get a hit last night, but has looked pretty raggedy since the break and should get one of today’s games off. There are going to be times like this during a season, you just hate to see it when the team is facing their closest competition.
There’s still nothing much new on the trade front. Apparently the Phillies have said they’d listen on Cliff Lee, but their version of listening is “let us take the top of your minor league system for the privilege of paying Lee a ton of money.” That’s not how these deals are going to work–if a team is going to have to pay the full contract, Philadelphia just isn’t likely to get Prospect #1 and Prospect #2 in a system.
The seller’s market mentality seems to be going around. Supposedly the White Sox are asking the moon for Jake Peavy as well, going so far as to say they would like to build around him going forward. You could do that with Jake Peavy about 7 years ago. Now, if you “build around him”, well, it’s kinda like this.
So it doesn’t look like there’s relief coming from the trade market. Which is OK, because the Cards have plenty of internal options. Would you like to see a postseason rotation of Adam Wainwright, Lee, and Shelby Miller? Of course you would. I’d also like to see the Cardinals play a series at the ball field down the road from me, but if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak.
Speaking of Waino, he’s got a pretty neat charity thing going, signing up people for a fantasy football league with the proceeds going to non-profits. As you know, I’m not a big football person, but for those that are (and can afford the rather sizable entry fee) that sounds like an incredible opportunity. I hope he’s able to spread that across the league like he envisions!
With the loss last night, the lead is just 1/2 game in the NL Central for St. Louis. The good thing is that they get two chances today to keep that lead.
In Game 1, Lance Lynn gets the ball. Lynn threw a stellar game last time out against the Phillies, giving hope that maybe he’s turned the corner from his mid-season slide. He’s significantly struggled on the road this year, posting a 5.59 ERA in 10 games, so that doesn’t exactly make you sit comfortably. He’s worse in day games than night games as well, putting up a 4.74 mark in three games under the sun. He’s faced Pittsburgh twice this year and was dominant at Busch, but gave up four in five innings in PNC back in April.
Some mixed results in there. For the most part, though, the table makes you feel better about this game than the splits do.
A.J. Burnett will go for Pittsburgh in Game 1. The Cards rocked Burnett once last year, but weren’t able to do much against him in two starts this season. He shut out St. Louis over seven innings in his home park back in April, which we would hope would not be repeated this afternoon. By ERA, he’s better in home games and day games, so the scales tilt his way in this matchup.
Given the numbers, if Beltran is sitting out one game, it’s likely to be the nightcap. He’s been able to hit Burnett in the past and has faced him enough for that to be fairly meaningful.
In Game 2, Tyler Lyons, the Patron Pitcher of this blog, dons his number 70 again and takes the mound. Lyons has never faced Pittsburgh, but was on a roll in Memphis and hopefully brings that momentum with him to the big leagues. He’ll be countered with TBD from the Bucs. You never know what you are going to get with TBD. He’s tough to pick up and sometimes he just looks like a different player.
It looks like it might be a tough night for the hitters yet again, so let’s hope the pitchers bring their A game. St. Louis really needs to at least split this set!