“Dear diary, today I was pompous and my sister was crazy. [flips page] Today we were kidnapped by hill folk never to be seen again. It was the best day ever.”–Jayne
With apologies to Mr. Cobb, whom I would never want to get on the bad side, yesterday might have been one of the best days ever for the Cardinals, at least for this season. Not only did they win, but everything else went their way as well.
Let’s talk about the Cardinal game first, because that’s what we most care about even if it didn’t happen first in chronological order. We knew that it would be impossible for Shelby Miller to top what Michael Wacha did on Tuesday night. Well, not impossible, but even though Miller had an almost-perfect game earlier in the season, it seemed unlikely that he was going to throw a no-hitter Wednesday afternoon. The perfect game was gone after one batter and the no-hitter didn’t survive the first either.
After that, though, it was pretty much all Miller. He went a batter into the seventh and was just at 90 pitches, so I’d have probably left him out there since he had a three-run lead. He only struck out three (which is likely why his pitch count was where it was) but allowed just four hits and that one run he gave up in the first. A nice, clean game that gives you a lot of confidence about Miller being in any postseason rotation, especially when he pitches at home. His splits aren’t Jaime Garcia-esque yet, but there is a notable difference in his results in Busch and away from it. Not counting yesterday, his home ERA was 1.77, his road ERA 4.57.
You wonder if Mike Matheny not only wanted to win the game but to demoralize the rest of the NL Central. Because when he took out Miller, that started the parade of four more rookie pitchers, who combined for three innings, one hit, and three strikeouts. Trevor Rosenthal got a save for the second straight day, which would seem to give him the “closer” title, though I expect Matheny may still use Kevin Siegrist at times if there are lefties to end a game. (Speaking of, someone remind Matheny that Siegrist can get righties out as well. As nice as it was to see Carlos Martinez pitch, there was no reason Siegrist couldn’t have done the whole inning.)
It’s a tossup, but I think instead of Miller I’m going to give the Hero tag to Matt Adams. Adams scored two runs, had two hits, and his home run in the seventh seemed to put the nail in the coffin as far as the Nats were concerned. Before that, a bloop and a blast and we’re all tied up. With Adams backing that bullpen, there wasn’t much concern that the game was going to get out of hand.
As befitting a game started by Jordan Zimmermann, there wasn’t just a whole lot of hitting going on. Jon Jay had two hits, Yadier Molina had a key single that drove in two runs, and Daniel Descalso had a hit and scored a run. That was about it from an offensive standpoint, but with Miller and the relievers, that was all that was needed.
Before this game finished, we had our result from Cincinnati:
I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.–Mal
The Reds, at home against Daisuke Matsuzaka, were unable to get a run. Does that seem right to you? They lost only the tenth 1-0 game in Great American Ball Park history. They had a few chances, including runners on second and third and two out in the eighth, but couldn’t capitalize.
With the Reds loss and the Cardinals win, that eliminated Cincinnati from winning the division. Their best hope now is to win this weekend’s series and be able to host the wild-card game.
After St. Louis had their victory, all eyes turned to the Pirate game.
We gotta go to the crappy town where I’m a hero!–Wash
That town is Chicago and that hero is Darnell McDonald, whose three-run blast off of Francisco Liriano turned out to be all the Cubs needed. The Cubs did their best to give this one away–if you haven’t seen Starlin Castro completely whiff on a soft liner to him, allowing Pedro Alvarez to go all the way around to third, check it out–but Pittsburgh wouldn’t take it (Alvarez got doubled off of third).
So the Cards had one challenger drop by the wayside and, with Pittsburgh losing, clinched at worst a tie with the other. The Redbirds aren’t going to be the wild-card team without a tiebreaker game being played. Odds are it doesn’t come to that, as one win this weekend or one Pirate loss in Cincinnati and St. Louis is the NL Central Divisional Champion for the first time since 2009.
That was the afternoon baseball and the results were all that Cardinal Nation could desire. However, could we get a little greedy? Could we have some dessert in the evening?
“See, morbid and creepifying, I’ve got no problem with, long as she does it quiet-like.”–Mal
Thanks to old friend Kyle Lohse, the Braves did go down quiet-like, as he threw a complete-game two-hitter in just 89 pitches. For all the folks that still wanted the Cardinals to sign Lohse in the offseason, if they had, he wouldn’t have been able to help them last night. It all works out for the best, see?
Four out of five of the teams in the general race with St. Louis lost last night. Could they complete the set?
“Yeah, and if wishes were horses we’d all be eating steak.”–Jayne
Get out your knives and your steak sauce. The Dodgers, who granted were less of a threat to overtake the Cardinals in the seeding race, made that just nigh impossible last night, losing to their rival Giants 6-4. So what do our modified standings look like now?
St. Louis —–
Los Angeles 2.5
You can drop Cincinnati off because they can’t catch the Redbirds. That’s a darn good day right there. For a day that doesn’t involve a World Series title or anything dramatic, that might be the best day you can have.
Braves and Dodgers play today to eliminate that half-game bit. Braves will be seeing the Phillies and sending out David Hale, a rookie with just one game under his belt, against Tyler Cloyd, a rookie who has been getting shelled lately. Braves might tie up the Cards then, which is like putting them ahead of the Redbirds since they own the tiebreaker against the two teams.
Dodgers and Giants have their last meeting of the year, with Edinson Volquez going against Tim Lincecum. In theory, it could be Lincecum’s last start as a Giant, which is hard to believe. Pitching matchup favors the Giants, but it’s not likely to be a great duel either way.
Off day for the Redbirds today, then they host the Cubs for the final series of the year. St. Louis has struggled with the baby bears this year, but even though they owe them for yesterday’s win, hopefully they won’t try to pay off the debt. Lance Lynn, who is back on the upswing after the past few starts, goes for the home team. Lynn gave up three runs in just under seven innings last time he faced the Cubs in August and got beat up against them in Wrigley back in July. Hopefully the good Lynn is still available and that won’t happen again.
Overall some pretty good numbers for Lynn against the Cubbies. There’s no one that stands out as a “must avoid” when looking through the table.
Glancing through there you can see that Lynn and Travis Wood have matched up before. Wood will be going for the Cubs in this one and has been having a solid year as well as baffling the Cardinals from time to time. They got to him last time, scoring four runs in 5.1 innings, and looking at the results of the games this season he’s pitched against St. Louis, it’s not been as bad as I remembered.
These numbers don’t bear out the thought that Wood should be feared either. Lots of high averages and a good number of home runs. That doesn’t mean Wood won’t shut them down on Friday night, just that there’s less reason to believe that’ll be the case than I initially expected.
And with that, I’ll wrap today’s post as I’m running out of time before work. Tomorrow, stay tuned for the September project of the United Cardinal Bloggers, the Top 7 Cardinal Prospects. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go rewrite “The Hero of Canton” to honor the men we call Matt.