What A Difference A Win Makes

Yesterday, as you may have noted (and thanks to all that responded to the post), I was a bit worked up.  Today, I’m much more calm and relaxed.  That’s what happens when the Cardinals win and Mike Matheny doesn’t do anything infuriating in the process.

I thought Matheny might find a way to get Jon Jay into the game last night, given his history against Mike Minor.  Nope.  He did tinker a bit–Randal Grichuk played in the place of Allen Craig–but nothing that was to the level of aggravation that I was dealing with yesterday.  It’s all good when the offense shows up and Adam Wainwright is on the hill, right?  Hard to be too disturbed after a game like that.

It was a little interesting that he sat Craig, though, given that the few people that Craig has hit this year have been lefties.  His OPS against lefties–obviously, in a much smaller sample, but not just one or two–is .937 this year, compared to .482 against righties.  That said, Matheny commented that Craig was “not right” and wanted him to have the two day break that today’s off day would provide.  It’s tough to argue that right now and if Matheny thinks a couple of days off will help Craig get on track, then that’s a defensible move.  And I feel much better when the manager is making defensible moves.  It doesn’t shake my world view as much.

One person that won’t be sitting Friday and hopefully not for a while is Peter Bourjos.  After his two-hit game Monday, he went out yesterday and collected three more, including his first home run, to help the Cards take down the Braves 7-1.  You have to be a little cautious about this spurt of offense, since five of his other eight hits on the year came in back-to-back games against the Reds, after which he hit .214 in his next four outings, but it’s good to see that not only did Bourjos bump his average to over .200 for the year, but Matheny said we’d see more of him for a while.  It’ll be good to test the claims of his ardent supporters that regular playing time is what he needs to get the bat going.  I sincerely hope that they are right, because he does help the defense so much.

So normally Bourjos would have gotten his second Hero in three days, but when Adam Wainwright pitches AND hits, you really can’t go away from him.  Eight innings of one-run ball is pretty solid, obviously, but going two-for-four and scoring a pair of runs to help your own cause is the cherry on top.  Of course, Wainwright is now hitting .400 on the season and has made it a mission to get the Silver Slugger Award this season, so there may be more of these games in the future.

We’d like to see more of these offensive games in the future as well.  Besides Bourjos, Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday both had three hits and between them scored two runs and had four RBI.  When this lineup is most effective, it’s when the bottom of the order gets on and turns it over for the big guys at the top.  It’s harder to pitch to those guys with runners on the basepaths, which leads to some big innings.  Bourjos and Wainwright did that last night and Carpenter and Holliday took advantage.

It really was feast or famine for the hitters, though.  Randal Grichuk, Mark Ellis and our Goat Yadier Molina all went hitless on the night–it’s pretty tough to put up 13 hits as a team when a third of your lineup doesn’t contribute to the total.  Molina did drive in a run with a double play, but obviously that doesn’t count in the RBI column.  Does count on the scoreboard, though, which is all that matters.

Molina has been scuffling a bit, with back-to-back hitless games and a .154 average for May.  It’s possible he needs a little downtime, which today will help provide.  I’d also think we’ll see Tony Cruz catch Lance Lynn on Saturday, giving Molina two off days out of three and hopefully recharging his batteries.

Another day, more talk about bringing up Oscar Taveras.  Bernie Miklasz again lays out all the arguments for him to come up, though he does point out that Taveras’s offensive numbers are not quite as good as they look on the surface when you start factoring in the offensive climate that is AAA.  Taveras was the DH in yesterday’s game, going one for five with a double and two RBI.  If Bourjos does start hitting, that will probably keep Taveras down for a while, because the defensive issue is huge.  Also, if Bourjos keeps it up and locks down center, that means either Craig or Matt Adams needs to get a little concerned about their long-term security in St. Louis.

All in all, it’s a nice day for an off day.  You’ve got a win to savor, you don’t have infuriating comments to stew on, everything is set up for just a great day for Cardinal fans.

Which is good, because then Friday they have to go into Pittsburgh and face Francisco Liriano, and we know what that usually means.  Granted, the Cards did beat him earlier in the season and Liriano hasn’t been nearly as good this year overall (0-3, 4.54 ERA, last time out allowed four runs in 3.2 innings versus the Blue Jays) but there’s still got to be an aura there.

Jhonny Peralta 47 40 13 1 0 2 6 7 13 .325 .426 .500 .926 0 0 1 0 0
Matt Carpenter 19 17 3 1 0 0 1 1 6 .176 .263 .235 .498 0 0 0 1 0
Matt Holliday 19 17 5 1 0 0 1 1 0 .294 .368 .353 .721 0 0 0 1 2
Peter Bourjos 17 15 5 2 0 0 3 1 3 .333 .353 .467 .820 0 1 0 0 0
Mark Ellis 16 14 8 2 0 1 4 2 4 .571 .625 .929 1.554 0 0 0 0 0
Allen Craig 14 12 1 0 0 0 1 1 6 .083 .143 .083 .226 0 1 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 13 13 2 0 0 1 1 0 3 .154 .154 .385 .538 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Adams 7 7 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 .429 .429 .429 .857 0 0 0 0 0
Jon Jay 5 5 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .400 .400 .400 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Tony Cruz 4 4 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .750 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Shelby Miller 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Tyler Lyons 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 165 147 43 7 1 4 18 14 39 .293 .358 .435 .793 0 2 1 2 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/8/2014.

It’s interesting that some of the new guys have the best numbers against him, though they got to face a struggling Liriano in the American League for the most part.  Those aren’t encouraging numbers for Craig to return to form, though I guess if he gets a couple of hits against a pitcher that’s done a number on him, perhaps that’ll give him a lot of confidence.  He’s got to get those hits, though, and that could be the tough part.

Of course, if St. Louis could get intimidated by facing Liriano, the Pirates can’t be all that enthused to see Michael Wacha‘s name on the lineup card.  They’ve not seen him a lot, but they’ve not liked what they’ve seen.

Andrew McCutchen 7 6 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .167 .286 .167 .452 0 0 0 0 0
Neil Walker 7 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Pedro Alvarez 6 6 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 .167 .167 .667 .833 0 0 0 0 0
Jordy Mercer 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .500 .750 0 0 0 0 0
Starling Marte 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Clint Barmes 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Charlie Morton 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Tony Sanchez 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 30 29 3 1 0 1 1 1 9 .103 .133 .241 .375 0 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/8/2014.

Wacha has missed both series against the Bucs this year, so this will be the first time they’ve seen him since Game 4 of the NLDS.  He was pretty good that day, if you remember.

Milwaukee’s slipped a little bit and now the Cardinals are four games back, with the Brewers hosting the Yankees this weekend.  It could be a good time for the Redbirds to make up some ground.  Let’s hope so!

  • mrlyngreen May 8, 2014, 7:19 am

    Still a doubter about Bourjos I see. :>). I get it, he is not a known quantity to you or most other Cardinals fans. This difference can be clearly seen in the the difference in the attitude about Bourjos as opposed to Craig, who has struggled as much, if not more, than Bourjos. Bourjos get a string of hits in a few games and the attitude is “I’m still skeptical”. Craig gets a similar run of hits and the attitude is, “He’s back!”. I have the same reaction to Craig, because I know him. But I also know Bourjos’ history and that is the difference between you and me.

    I don’t mean this as a criticism of you or any other doubter. It’s a natural reaction. I have had similar feelings about players I don’t know. I can’t guarantee you anything about Bourjos. I just know he can hit, just like I know Craig can hit. Whether either of them does in the future is not something I can predict. I do know that Matheny has to play Bourjos more than two or three days and then sit him for 3 or 4 in a row. That is not going to work. I also know he is not going to hit in every game even if he does play regularly; but none of our current guys do either on a regular basis.

    I wait to see how Matheny responds with playing time for Bourjos. I have an unfortunate hunch that Bourjos is not going to get the kind of playing time he needs. I think Matheny has too strong of an attachment to Jay.

    • Cardinal70 May 8, 2014, 9:37 am

      Being that Matheny said that we’d probably be seeing more of Bourjos, I think he’s made an impression. He’ll definitely start against Liriano on Friday, which will give him three starts in four days. Wandy Rodriguez is scheduled for Sunday–he’ll probably get the nod over Grichuk there as well. Given that, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see Jay against Volquez on Saturday, but I wouldn’t rule out him starting all weekend.

      I know that you’ve watched him and I’ll defer to your experience with him, but given our unfamiliarity, his spotty history (yes, I know, there are reasons for that, but it’s still a factor) and the wrist surgery, it does make people cautious. Cautiously optimistic, but cautious nonetheless. Besides, some of us have to be skeptical to counteract you and Ben! 😀

      I’m glad that Bourjos has been able to make such an impact in the last couple of games. That may buy him the time he wasn’t going to get otherwise. A couple more starts like this, even with just some good at bats, and Grichuk might be back on his way to Memphis.

      • mrlyngreen May 8, 2014, 11:48 am

        You forgot Bob is a huge Bourjos fan too. He just doesn’t talk about it as much.

        If you know any Angels fans, you should ask them what they think. I only know one, the friend that got me started watching Bourjos, but when the trade was made I saw some comments from Angels fans who were not particularly happy at losing Bourjos. Some of course weren’t happy at getting Freese, so that accounts for some of the dismay I imagine.

        Jon Jay is only hitting .235 against Volquez with 5 Ks. It will be interesting to see what Matheny’s reasoning is for starting him on Saturday if he does. Probably something like “Jay doesn’t have great numbers, but Bourjos doesn’t have any, so that was the deciding factor” Or something equally illogical.

        MLB At Bat has Charlie Morton as the Sunday starter. Where did you see it was Wandy? Jon Jay has good numbers against Wandy but has better ones against Morton (but then, who doesn’t?). I assumed Sunday would be the game Jay gets. The illogic of using all these matchup numbers is that Bourjos needs to see all these pitchers he’s never seen before, Jay doesn’t. Bourjos never saw Minor before last night and look what happened. I have never been a big fan of the matchup strategy because of the small sample sizes. I realize, however, that Jay has to play sometime, so it might as well be against a pitcher he has good numbers against. That’s why I think Sunday would be Matheny’s best bet to get Jay in.

        • Cardinal70 May 8, 2014, 12:41 pm

          Of course, I should have remembered Bob. I knew that.

          I checked ESPN’s schedule and it showed Rodriguez. He pitched Tuesday for Altoona, though not necessarily very well, which would put him on pace to be activated for that day. He may well have another minor league stint and Morton would go instead.

          I’d think Bourjos may well start all of these games, especially if Rodriguez goes. Hopefully he’ll continue to prove he needs to be out there.

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