When you go to Milwaukee to play baseball around the ides of April, it’s not a surprise that you could be thankful that Miller Park has a retractable roof. You’d expect a strong chance of rain and would hate for it to interfere with the game. Last night, the roof was closed, but to keep the snow out. Winter is like that last guest at your party that doesn’t get the hint when you start taking out the trash and cleaning up around them. Go home, winter!
However, with a closed roof, the Brewers couldn’t blame the elements for their frozen offensive performance. A team that came in red-hot with nine straight wins ran into a block of ice in the form of Lance Lynn.
I saw the first half of the game last night before heading out with friends to see Captain America 2. (Side note: I’m not as young as I used to be, I can’t sleep in until noon like some of them and if the quality of this blog post is not up to the already-low standards we keep around here, it’s possible it’s because some of it was written with my eyes closed. That said, I quite enjoyed the movie and look forward to seeing its ramifications on Agents of SHIELD.) In this game, Lynn was our Cap, the Hero that saved the day.
That’s part of the frustrating bit with Lynn. Just when we are about ready to completely write him off and request the door not hit him on the way out, he throws a game like this that reminds us of what he can do with his abilities. There were few chances that the Brewers had of denting Cap’s shield in this one, the strongest likely being runners at second and third with two out, but Matt Garza struck out to end that threat. Strikeouts were pretty prevalent last night, as Lynn racked up 11 of them.
Of course, if Lynn was Captain America, Jon Jay was the Falcon, the guy that came in to support the hero and give him what he needed to succeed. Jay’s three-run home run in the sixth was a huge shot in the arm for this team and it gave Lynn and the bullpen the needed breathing room to make this anti-climatic. Jay’s homer also alleviated concerns over the fact the Cards made two big outs on the bases in that inning. Baserunning is something that is supposed to be improved every year, and yet every year we see questionable decisions on the basepaths.
Big nights also out of Jhonny Peralta and Matt Adams. Peralta hit his third home run as the Cardinal shortstop, which is already closing in on the most home runs at that position since Edgar Renteria. (David Eckstein had a surprising eight in 2005, while Rafael Furcal had seven after coming over from the Dodgers in 2011. Peralta’s three would beat the seasons of most everyone else.) He also had a single, bringing his average up to .150. The bat seems to be thawing.
Adams’s bat hasn’t been cold since he picked it up this season, seeming to wield it like Mjolnir against the shift. Adams stroked three hits last night and they weren’t cheap ones (well, maybe the first one was) either. He’s starting to put some of his power behind the swings instead of just focusing on beating the shift. He’s probably not going to hit .360 all season long, but it’s nice to see while it’s there.
We’ve got to have a Goat, of course, and since we limit it to players (and therefore can’t give it to Bob Davidson for tossing out Matt Carpenter at all, much less because he questioned a terrible pitch, though Davidson would probably like the attention), I’ll go with Kolten Wong, who went 0-4. Rough day for the rookie, but that’s all it seems to be. It’s nice to see 0-4 as an aberration, not as a continuing cause for worry.
All right, the yawns are getting to me so let’s look at today’s matchup. Marco Estrada had a pretty good season last year and is off to a strong start in 2014. The last time he faced the Cardinals, he went 6.2 innings and allowed just two hits and a run. Suffice it to say, that’s pretty good.
Even with that game, though, the Cards have been all right against him in his career. That said, he was pretty shaky in his first couple of years and has gotten better, so these numbers might not be indicative of what we’ll see tonight. Though it should be noted that the last time St. Louis faced him in his home park, he allowed four runs in six innings.
In that game, as will be the case tonight, he was opposed by Shelby Miller. Miller has struggled early this season and his propensity for the long ball, which goes all the way back to the beginning of spring, could be a hindrance against a powerful team like Milwaukee in a park that doesn’t exactly hold the ball in.
Yet so far, Miller hasn’t had too much trouble with the Brewers. Granted, at least one start he didn’t have to face Ryan Braun, who will be in the lineup tonight, and he’s not figured out Aramis Ramirez at all, but the latter is a fairly common occurrence among Cardinal pitchers. If he can keep people off base in front of Ramirez, he might have a shot.
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Winning the series is big any time of year. Hopefully the Cards can take care of that tonight!