There are times where Mike Matheny proves that he just might know a thing or two about managing the Cardinals.
When I saw that Shane Robinson was in the starting lineup yesterday, I was less than enthused. Robinson’s a nice player and all, but he’s never done much at the major league level even though he was just destroying Memphis when he was called up. Given the fact that a lefty was on the mound, the lineup juggle made sense, but I just didn’t figure that it’d pan out.
Robinson wound up with three hits, two crucial RBI, a run scored, and his first Hero tag of the year. His two-out double in the sixth inning put the Cardinals on the path to their second late-game winning rally in as many nights, something that we’d not seen a lot out of these Cardinals the first six weeks or so of the season.
I didn’t give a lot of credence to the idea that the Redbirds coming home and playing a nice long set in St. Louis would make that much of a difference to their outlook. Instead, the Redbirds went 7-2 on the first half of the home binge and look and feel like an entirely different team than they were when they arrived at Busch.
Last night, you felt a little bit better about the idea that, if Lance Lynn could hold the line, the Cards would rally for him. Lynn didn’t get the level of run support he’s used to and, indeed, wasn’t able to pick up a win, but after allowing two runs in the first, he allowed nothing else, even working out of a first-and-third, nobody out jam in the top of the fourth. I Tweeted out yesterday that Lynn allows runs in just one inning 48% of the time, a number that crept up yesterday. (I’ll probably put out a table of some of the other assorted things I found in the research for The Lynning post sometime soon.)
For the fact that they were going up against a left-hander, St. Louis did put up some reasonable offense. Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta led the way with two hits each, which meant seven of the nine base knocks were concentrated between them and Robinson. However, the Redbirds also drew five walks, which helped keep base runners on with regularity.
Matheny also took a shot in the bottom of the sixth that could have been a disaster, but worked out without incident. With Robinson sitting at second, the Diamondbacks intentionally passed Mark Ellis to get to Lynn. Matheny decided to pinch-hit there, which I have no problems with. So often we’ve seen Matheny give up on a scoring opportunity because he wants to let the pitcher go longer, only to see that pitcher wind up struggling in the next inning anyway. Lynn could have pitched the seventh–he was only at 89 pitches and hadn’t been struggling–but Matheny called on Jon Jay. Again, have no problem with that, even though Jay hit a weak grounder to first and wasted the opportunity.
The only issue was the fact that the bullpen had been a little shaky lately, so could they keep the game tied or protect a lead if the Cards got it? Thankfully, we saw Matheny go with Pat Neshek for two innings. Neshek has been a rock out there in the pen for the most part, and it was nice to see him pick up the win in this situation as well. That bridged the gap to Trevor Rosenthal, who actually didn’t need the insurance run they picked up in the eighth, but Cardinal fans were glad to have it. It was good Rosenthal night–three up, three down, one strikeout–and maybe the couple of days rest did him good, since he’s thrown back-to-back perfect innings.
Finding a Goat in this one is a little more difficult, but only because no one in the starting lineup didn’t at least draw a walk. Both Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina went 0-3 with a walk, but since Holliday scored a run, I’ll reluctantly give it to Yadi. I’ve definitely seen worse games, though.
Over at the official site of the Cardinals, Jenifer Langosch gives some injury updates. Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons might be ready to return shortly, though whether there will be room for him on the big league roster is quite questionable. Lyons could serve as that long reliever the Cards don’t have need but is nice to have when they do fairly easily, but I’m not sure who they would displace from the roster to get him there, unless they wanted to send Carlos Martinez down to Memphis to get right and the Redbirds are saying a change in Baby Pedro’s routine might be all he needs. So Lyons might have to go to Memphis and await an opportunity.
Joe Kelly, on the other hand, is still having some issues with the hamstring even if he’s having no problems with the facial hair. He’s throwing, but he still feels some tightness and doesn’t know when he might return. He says it keeps getting better, but you figure by this point Kelly’s going to have to do at least a little rehab work in Memphis before returning to the club. Which probably means that even if Lyons does beat him back, Kelly will force #70 down to the Delta before too long. Barring a trade, it seems pretty likely Lyons will be a Memphis Redbird for a good portion of the summer.
Oscar Taveras watch: The Cardinal top prospect has been lighting it up of late and is now hitting .322/.368/.520 with six homers and 35 RBI. Listening to Bernie Miklasz on his podcast, he continues to argue that you can platoon Craig and Matt Adams at first and let Taveras have the outfield, which does have some credence. However, given that Craig would get the short end of that platoon, that Craig just signed a long-term deal, and that Craig, though struggling against them this year, has an .800 OPS against right handers in his career, I just don’t see that being as realistic of an option as Bernie lays it out to be. Can the rotation thing work? Sure and it might soon, as we might see Taveras in time for the stretch of American League games. I just don’t know how reasonable it’s going to wind up, especially if Taveras hits like we think he will and starts being a major force in this lineup. Something to watch for, I guess.
Cardinals take a quick jaunt over to Cincinnati for three games before resuming their home schedule. Shelby Miller, who had a very nice game last time out, looks to keep that kind of momentum going against the Reds. He gave up three runs in six innings against them earlier in the season, which was more of a death sentence then than it is now.
Homer Bailey is up in the Reds rotation. The Reds had thought Bailey had finally turned that corner and paid him as such, but instead he’s got an ERA over 5 this year and gave up six runs in less than four innings against the Phillies last time out. The Cards have done well against him both this year and his career, so he’s probably not all that enthused about tonight’s affair.
Hopefully the recent good play can go with them on the road instead of being completely bottled up in Busch!