The St. Louis Cardinals seem determined to hit every point on the spectrum. Just a little over a week since they were shut out in back-to-back games, they’ve now put together three straight shutouts. It’s a good thing, too, because last night they needed every scoreless frame.
Even though Jake Odorizzi has been traded twice and has a 2-7 record, there’s a reason why teams still try to get him. Last night’s outing was the longest he’s thrown all year, but otherwise it resembled other starts of his. He’s a good young pitcher and he’s likely to be around as the Rays try to forget this nightmare season and move forward.
That said, three hits? Three lousy hits? (Cue Bob Uecker.) It’s a darn good thing that Matt Holliday made one of those go over the yard, otherwise the two teams might still be playing. We saw that stirring of offense against the Blue Jays and thought perhaps it was a sign of things to come, yet it gets damped down again even as they still use the DH. (Though it is interesting to note that this is the third straight game with a home run, which might well be a high for this season.)
I know that Adam Wainwright doesn’t usually need much more than a run, but I’m pretty sure he’d have taken the extra cushion if you asked him. Wainwright admitted after the game that he didn’t have his best stuff, so it’s a good thing Tampa Bay is struggling so much offensively as well. Otherwise last night could have been just another chapter in the book How To Frustrate A Fan Base: The 2014 St. Louis Cardinals.
Both of those guys could have been a Hero, but if Sam Freeman doesn’t come in and do what he did, we’re not talking about either one of them. Freeman followed a little shakiness by Pat Neshek (and you have to give Mike Matheny credit for not only moving quickly but also not automatically going to Randy Choate in that situation) by getting two outs with two on and turning the game over to Trevor Rosenthal, who made it a bit interesting but eventually held the line.
Freeman has done some very good work in his time in St. Louis, so much so that it would seem pretty inconceivable for him to return to Memphis when Joe Kelly gets healed up. Which will make for some interesting decisions when Kelly is ready, because there’s nobody out there that is an automatic move to replace Kelly. I guess you could cut or trade Choate, but when he’s been used against just lefties, he’s not been that bad. You could send Carlos Martinez to Memphis to stretch out to be a starter, but odds are you only do that if you are planning to deal one of them. Kelly’s return isn’t imminent and baseball does have a way of working out these issues, but it’s going to be an interesting call, I think.
Many options for the Goat when there are so many hitless evenings, but as our typical custom, that leadoff role gets the tiebreaker. That means Matt Carpenter gets tagged with it for his 0-4, K night. It’s been a tough stretch for Oscar Taveras as well, whose average has dipped below .200 even though he’s had a few well-hit balls. Hopefully he’ll be able to make the adjustments soon and we can see what everyone was talking about.
Matt Adams can return Friday, which means that there are some decisions to be made on the offensive side of things as well. I think it’s fairly apparent, despite Jenifer Langosch’s discussion, that Randal Grichuk will be returning to Memphis. It’s the right decision, at least–Grichuk still needs some developmental time and, his home run this weekend notwithstanding, isn’t helping the team a lot. Of course, as noted Taveras isn’t doing much either, but John Mozeliak has said he doesn’t want to bounce Taveras back and forth. I think if they didn’t plan for him to stay, they probably wouldn’t have called him up.
So then what are we going to see once Adams is activated? Will they still play Taveras every day in right, forcing Adams and Craig to split time at first? Will there be the three for two rotation thing going, where each day one of those guys will sit? It’ll help the bench, there’s no doubt about it, but we have seen that a lot of options don’t always work in Mike Matheny‘s favor. I would think Taveras is going to get some priority, but it may depend on how the rest of the offense is looking on just how often he’s out there.
There’s still one day of American League ball to go before any decisions have to be made. The Rays have gone 26 innings without scoring, which makes sending Wainwright and then Michael Wacha against them almost unfair. Wacha has alternated between shutout outings and three-run outings his last four starts, so if that pattern keeps up, Tampa Bay’s streak will continue. The only player on the Rays that’s seen him before is David DeJesus, who went 0-2 with a walk against Wacha last year when he was on the Cubs.
The Cards, however, are very familiar with Rays pitcher Eric Bedard. Bedard, who has mainly been in the American League in his career (I still remember when Seattle traded Adam Jones and others for him), spent a year in Pittsburgh back in 2012. The most memorable thing about Bedard might be his extremely slow pace. Expect plenty of comments about that from the broadcast booth tonight, though given that the Dan McLaughlin/Tim McCarver pairing brings the broadcast level up a notch, perhaps not as many as normal.
Bedard hasn’t fooled many of the Cardinal hitters in the past, either. He beat them as a member of the Astros last year, going six innings and giving up three runs. He was 1-3 against the Redbirds with the Pirates with a 5.91 ERA. If the offense gets only three hits tonight, I may throw something.
Enjoy tonight’s game. Another off day tomorrow before we return to Busch and to real, non-DH baseball!