It’s nice to know that, no matter how frustrating this team gets, how demoralizing some of their play is, they still have the capacity for exciting flourishes that can get you all warm and fuzzy again.
There was only one way anyone besides Adam Wainwright could get the Hero for last night’s game. After all, Wainwright might not have been his top form self, but he was very darn good, working out of whatever jams he might have gotten himself into. The Pirates continued to probe his defenses, only to run into a wall when it came time for a decisive strike. Wainwright’s pitch count crept up and he reached 102 at the end of the sixth. Not a stellar night in efficiency, but with no runs on the board, it was just another notch in his “I should start the All-Star Game” argument.
Many pitchers would have been done then. Adam Wainwright is not many pitchers.
That’s the sign of a true ace and a true competitor. He didn’t say, though he could have so easily, “Hey, I’ve done my part. It’s time for y’all to figure it out.” Instead, he went back out there for the seventh and again worked out of trouble to keep it scoreless. Because that’s what aces do. As I said on Twitter, there are times where this team isn’t worthy of the greatness that is Waino.
Matt Adams goes by many things, Big Country, Big City, Big Mayo (which is why this site calls him Big Fill-In-The-Blank, so as to not choose sides) but what you can also call him lately is the Cardinal offense. He’s been the bright spot in an otherwise dull lineup, especially since his return from the disabled list. Adams kept the game from going extras and made a winner out of Pat Neshek, who pitched a scoreless top of the ninth.
Even if it wasn’t for the home run, Adams had a shot at being the offensive player of the game. Mainly because there was absolutely none to choose from other than him. Adams doubled in the first inning. Until Jon Jay singled to lead off the top of the eighth, that was the only thing standing between the Cardinals and a no-hitter possibility. One [lousy] hit.*
*You can’t say [lousy] in this space!
Don’t worry, nobody’s reading anyway.
I mean, sure, Matt Carpenter walked three times, which is a nice thing to see out of the leadoff hitter, but that’s not exactly what you want to point to as your key offensive performance. Plus Carp was erased on one of those walks via the Matt Holliday double play. Holliday was 0-4 and left three men on besides that big twin killing, which means he gets the Goat for this one.
There were plenty of other options for Goat, of course. Even though Jay got the only non-Adams hit of the night, his strange baserunning meant that an Oscar Taveras fly ball, which might have been the hardest ball hit by a Cardinal to that point in the game, turned into a double play when he was doubled off of second. Kolten Wong muffed an easy grounder in the top of the eighth, though that not only forced the Pirates to remove Charlie Morton, but also gave Sam Freeman the chance for a dramatic moment, striking out impressive rookie Gregory Polanco with the bases loaded to keep the game tied.
All in all, it was an exciting game because Adams went yard in the ninth. Had they lost the game, it would have been another source of anguish for a fanbase that has had plenty of it recently. Thank goodness for Big Fill-In-The-Blank.
As you saw on this site yesterday, the Cards demoted Marco Gonzales to Memphis and brought up Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons. Of course, we are quite excited to see #70 take the hill yet again. However, it won’t be the start that some believed it would be when the move was announced. It seems Joe Kelly is doing better than anticipated and he will make the start Friday to kick off the series in Milwaukee.
While Kelly did well in his last rehab outing, this is a change of thinking for the club, who weren’t going to be bringing him back until after the All-Star Game just a day or so ago. I’m guessing that John Mozeliak is feeling the urgency to not waste these opportunities and didn’t want to risk sending out either the not-quite-ready rookie in Gonzales or a guy in Lyons that hasn’t been all that effective in Memphis lately. Right now, you’ve got to take your best shot and that seems to be Kelly, though the bullpen will be vital in that game as well.
It is good news to see that Kelly will be returning. The news isn’t quite as positive about Michael Wacha, however. Wacha is still not ready to get back to throwing, though the shoulder is doing some healing. He’ll rest for another couple of weeks, then they’ll see where he’s at. It would seem that an early August return is about the best the club can hope for with Wacha, with later than that a possibility as well. How that informs Mozeliak’s moves around the trade deadline remains to be seen.
St. Louis now sits four games behind the Brewers and a half-game ahead of the Pirates. Too early for scoreboard watching? I don’t think so. This team can’t afford to get too much farther back, so it’s key to know where they are in relation to the other clubs. Tonight, the Cards try to widen the gap between them and Pittsburgh and lean on Carlos Martinez to do so. Martinez is coming off what might be his best start yet, one run in five innings against the Giants. The Pirates haven’t seen El Gallo much yet, thankfully.
Tiny samples, but he’s been able to handle Pedro Alvarez, which is nice. There aren’t many that can retire that Cardinal killer, so if Martinez can keep that run going, his chances of winning tonight increase dramatically.
Of course, the Cards do have to score to win, and Vance Worley is going to do his best to make sure that doesn’t happen. Worley is having a very fine year, going 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA. Granted, he’s only made four starts this season, but that’s a nice run. His last time out, he allowed three runs in seven innings to the Diamondbacks, though all of those came in the sixth after he carried a no-hitter into that frame.
His brief history against the Redbirds leans heavily in their favor, so we’ll see if his current run or his historical trend takes precedence tonight. No home runs against the righty, but then again, that’s no surprise with this crew.
Let’s hope tonight doesn’t need to be saved by a walkoff winner, shall we?