There’s no figuring this team out.
The quicker we come to and stay with this conclusion, the better. We’ll be a happier, better adjusted fan base. Because as soon as we think the Cards have “turned a corner” they slip back into their old ways. As soon as we throw up our hands and wonder how they could ever make the playoffs, they run off a winning streak. If consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, there’s nothing but adults here.
We’ve got four games to cover with Heroes and Goats. Let’s get to it.
Friday (5-1 loss to Philadelphia)
Hero: Matt Holliday. 2-4 with the lone RBI. Could have gone with Yadier Molina, who also had two hits, just (obviously) no RBI.
Goat: Matt Adams. 0-4 with an error, though at least the error didn’t lead to any runs.
Notes: Probably most outings like this I’d have given the Goat to Jaime Garcia, but there were a couple of reasons I didn’t. One, he did strike out seven in his five innings of work. He allowed seven hits, but one of them was the big blow to Marlon Byrd. All in all, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a disaster of a start. The main reason I didn’t, though, is because it would seem he was likely pitching hurt, given his current status on the disabled list, so it’s hard to know how much that impacted his results.
Cardinal offense was stagnant again, even against a guy in A.J. Burnett that they’d beaten around before. Seven hits, but four of them were from Holliday and Molina. Burnett threw 111 pitches in the complete game, but I think about 30-35 of those seemed to come in the last couple of innings, because he was cruising before that.
Saturday (4-1 win over Philadelphia)
Hero: Adam Wainwright. If it had been anyone but the ace on the mound, it seems likely the losing streak would have reached four games. Wainwright wouldn’t let that happen, though, allowing only a third-inning tally. Of course, it almost meant a no-decision rather than a win, but the offense showed up late and got him a victory.
Goat: Peter Bourjos. Bourjos with the rare start and didn’t help his case, going 0-4 with two strikeouts. The argument for Bourjos has always been he needs regular appearances to get his bat going, which makes him a tough player to carry on the squad right now, as he isn’t likely to do much pinch-hitting but isn’t going to be able to unseat Jon Jay anytime soon. It’s a conundrum.
Notes: It’s a rare game this day and age, I think, that you see both starters get into the eighth. Cole Hamels walked Matt Carpenter to lead off the eighth and Holliday drove him in with a double. Without that walk, who knows how things would have turned out. Hamels did the same for the Cards’ first run, walking Molina to lead off the frame only to see him come around to score. That was the difference in the game–even walking those guys with one out might have changed some outcomes. Those walks were killer especially since the Cards mustered only five hits, but made them count.
Sunday (5-3 win over Philadelphia)
Hero: Jhonny Peralta. The offense got going a bit on Sunday and so there were a number of folks to choose from. Peralta did the most by a hair, going 2-3 with two RBI and a walk.
Goat: Matt Holliday. The only starter without a hit, which is surprising given the way this team has been going. To be fair, he didn’t leave anyone on base, which is a little surprising.
Notes: The real Hero in all of this was the Cardinal organization, which treated the bloggers like honored guests for this one. Again, we’ll get into that in a separate post sometime this week, but it was a great day and a lot of fun to actually be at the ballpark.
Mark Ellis, who we are going to see a lot of as Kolten Wong was put on the DL before this game, made the most out of his new starting time by bunting in the go-ahead run in the four-run fourth and making his one hit count in the sixth to drive in an insurance tally. I don’t think any of us expect to see that on a regular basis from Ellis, but these two weeks (or however Wong is out) are big for Ellis, as John Mozeliak indicated to us his window on this team could be closing if he doesn’t produce.
Carlos Martinez pitched a pretty good game and, as we found out after the game, it won’t be his last start. Martinez gave up three in the second, which I honestly thought might have doomed us to another loss on UCB Weekend (they lost last year for the first time when the bloggers were in attendance) given the state of the offense.
That said, that whole inning started with Ryan Howard being un-Ryan-Howard-y. I had just pointed out to my son the shift they had put on for Howard with the note that he “almost never hits it toward third”. So Howard, of course, puts a little dribbler past the third base bag that a non-shifting team would have gotten. That put a runner on and then Martinez had some command issues, which happen. Three runs isn’t great, but Martinez limited it to one inning and, on the whole, gave up only three hits and a walk, striking out five. Thank goodness for pitching depth.
Monday (8-0 win in Colorado)
Hero: Matt Adams. Sure, Lance Lynn threw eight scoreless innings in a place where ERAs go to die, but Adams hit two home runs on a team that needed both of those long balls to move out of last place in baseball in that category. Adams also had a single that plated two runs, meaning that he made the game serious on his own. Big Fill In The Blank has been outstanding this season and it makes the whole roster thing a bit more difficult for Mozeliak. I mean, someone of Adams, Allen Craig and Oscar Taveras has to go, right? If everyone needs full time play, and since Adams is now third in the NL in the batting race and has the second-most homers on the team I think he should play as much as possible, then someone has to play elsewhere. There’s a reason Mo makes the big bucks.
Goat: Finding a Goat in an 8-0 game isn’t usually the easiest thing in the world, but actually in this one there were two options. I’m going with Allen Craig, because his 0-4 came with two strikeouts and two left on. Could have been Molina (also 0-4). Jay and Ellis both went 0-3, but wound up scoring a run anyway. In fact, the Cards only got six hits, which belies what we see on the scoreboard. The fact that they were issued five walks by Rockies pitchers helped quite a bit.
Notes: Lynn was quite impressive in the hostile environment last night, giving up just three hits and retiring Troy Tulowitzki four times, including with two on and two out in the sixth, before Adams gave him a little more cushion with his second homer. Since we looked at Lynn’s propensity for the big inning, it seems like it’s become a moot point–he’s had one bad start (the blowup against the Giants) and even counting that game he’s got a 2.37 ERA in that span. Lynn seems to be coming into his own, though most skeptics are going to need to see something from him in the second half of the season to fully invest.
All right, that catches us up with the games. Now to the non-game news.
First off, Wong to the DL, as mentioned above, was a bit of a surprise, but the shoulder continuing to hurt explains that terrible slump he was in. It seemed to come out of left field since we hadn’t heard anything more about it recently, but apparently it never really healed up after he wrecked it a month or so ago. Since he hurt his shoulder against the Royals, he’s hit .067/.067/.133, so it’s obviously been a factor. Hopefully it won’t take much longer than the two weeks, though you never know with injuries, as this team proves time and time again.
It was a bit surprising that the Cards called up Shane Robinson to replace an infielder going down instead of someone like Greg Garcia. Garcia’s not hitting just a ton down there in Memphis but you’d have thought they’d wanted to have more than just Daniel Descalso able to play the infield, especially since there are a number of outfielders already. That said, they probably knew that they were going to have to make the moves on Sunday and Monday that they did, so hindsight being what it is, it probably wasn’t as strange as it first looked.
Mozeliak didn’t tip off the bloggers Sunday that there was news to be had and I guess we didn’t ask the right questions, because we were all stunned after the game to hear about Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha being disabled. I did note after his next-to-last start that I was worried something was physically wrong with him, but his game against the Mets seemed to alleviate those concerns a bit. Instead, Wacha hits the DL for the first time in his career and with an injury that’s at least somewhat concerning. From what I gather, it’s not an injury that’s seen much in baseball (flashbacks to Kyle Lohse here, as he also had a fairly unique one when he was a Cardinal). Brandon McCarthy‘s name keeps coming up, but we’ll have to see if that’s a reasonable analogy or not when Wacha returns.
Garcia, well, nobody’s stunned with that one. I mean, the timing maybe–being that he threw right before the big weekend, I hadn’t really thought much about his last start but looking at it now, you can see why there could be some concern, plus apparently he was giving off some body language after the start that had people thinking he might be hurting again. Basically, for the next year and a half, you write Garcia off and expect nothing from him. If he gets healthy, gives you some good starts, great. But you know it’s not going to last and you can’t make him a pillar of your rotation. You always have to have someone ready to go for him.
The Cards made some temporary moves, but as I indicated in yesterday’s trade speculation about David Price, we’ll see Marco Gonzales make his major league debut in Colorado on Wednesday. With Joe Kelly going out on a rehab assignment Friday, Gonzales may just make one start (there’s an off day coming up that could mean Kelly gets two minor league starts before the big club needs a fifth starter again), which really gets you wondering why the organization is going this route.
I mean, for a spot start, they are going to have to move Keith Butler to the 60-day DL to free up a spot on the 40-man. That’s not a big deal, though if they need to add someone else later on, that takes away the easiest option. You are going to start using up his option years, assuming he doesn’t stay with the big league club all year, a reasonable thing to assume. It seems like jumping through hoops when you have folks like Tyler Lyons already on the 40-man and available. I’m not saying that Lyons would be a dominant factor or am I saying that because he’s the Patron Pitcher of the Blog (at least not much), but it’s one start. Seems to me you stick Lyons out there, have the bullpen ready to go, and see if you can’t get by. While the Rockies are a good hitting team at home, they aren’t a good team overall and it well might be even the Cardinal bats could hit in Coors–they did some last night.
Gonzales is from the Denver area and it’ll be a great experience for him. I don’t fault the move and I’m excited to see what he can do, but I’m just really confused about why Mo would go to these lengths. It’s an interesting move and if there’s one thing we know about the GM, he doesn’t make hasty decisions.
Cards try to win the series tonight behind Shelby Miller. Miller scuffled a bit in his last start against the Phillies, but has been doing better of late. The problem is, Miller’s major weakness is the home run ball–and now he’s pitching in Coors Field. Oh, this should go well.
Obviously, this table is going to change a bit tonight, since I don’t think we’ll be talking about a Miller no-hitter tomorrow morning. However, that’s a nice chart to look at–he’s struck out Tulowitzki all three times?–and gives a little confidence about tonight. Still, the odds of him putting up another zero in the runs column seems a bit remote.
That doesn’t mean the Cards are doomed, though. They’ll be facing Jorge De La Rosa, who sports a 4.75 ERA on the year. In his last outing, he gave up seven runs in 3.1 innings to the Dodgers. What makes that even worse was that he did it in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium instead of his own park. He’s actually got a 3.58 ERA in home starts this year, so maybe he’s adjusted to the field.
Nice to see Holliday and Molina have hit him well in some small but not tiny samples. He is a left-hander, but since Adams went yard on a lefty last night he hopefully will get a chance to prove himself again tonight. I can’t see why he wouldn’t and, honestly, if he doesn’t it’d be managerial malpractice.
Thanks for sticking around and reading all of this. Sorry for the length but at least we are all caught up now, at least until the next hullabaloo!