As Yogi Berra said, it’s deja vu all over again. Speaking for Cardinal fans, that’s perfectly fine with us.
Kolten Wong gave the Cards their second straight walkoff victory, popping a home run that looked a lot like Matt Adams‘s from the night before. While the route wasn’t the same–this wasn’t a scoreless game by any means–the results were, which means the Redbirds have a bit of momentum (which is usually dangerous to this team’s health) and are actually making up ground against the Brewers.
It’s good to see Wong come through here. You know that there are going to be rumors about his job, whether someone will be acquired to take his spot or he’ll be part of a deal out of town. I know I’d rather see Wong develop in St. Louis and I think John Mozeliak takes that view as well, but there are limited places where you can upgrade this offense and second is one of those spots. Hopefully Wong continues to hit now that his shoulder is healed up and makes that a bit of a moot point for Mo.
Wong would have likely gotten the Hero tag even without the drama, as he had a two-run double earlier in the game that put the Cards on top early. Two hits and three RBI? That’s a pretty solid game by any standards.
What was just as impressive was the fact that this team actually put together a rally, which doesn’t happen all that much. After two-run homers by Pedro Alvarez (of course) and Andrew McCutchen (no surprise), St. Louis tied the game up with a two-run double by Matt Holliday. So often, putting runners on for this team is just a prelude to disappointment, but last night hitters came through. If–a HUGE if–this is a sign of things to come, the second half of the season might be much more entertaining. That said, we’ve seen this team try to turn corners before with limited success at sustaining it.
Interestingly enough, the Cardinals tallied 11 hits but absolutely no walks. Were they intentionally trying to be more aggressive at the plate? It seems to have paid off if so. It might just be that the Pittsburgh pitchers were around the plate enough that they saw good pitches to hit, but it’s worth noting anyway.
Carlos Martinez didn’t get the win–Trevor Rosenthal did, another sign that it’s not necessarily what you do in this world, but where you are when good things happen–but he pitched fairly well. He got touched for the pair of two-run homers, which wasn’t great, but he was able to go six innings for the first time since becoming a starter and danced around most of his 10 baserunners. It wasn’t the dominating outing that many feel Martinez is capable of, but it kept the team in the game and that’s all you really can ask of him right now, I think.
Even though he had a stellar pickoff of Neil Walker at third base, showing that he has no fear whatsoever, Yadier Molina has to get the Goat for last night’s outing. The only starter without a hit, Molina also left three on and grounded into a double play. Still, his pickoff of Walker could have been the difference in the game, so it’s a tough Goat to give out.
Nice to see Oscar Taveras get a couple of hits as well and get that average back to where a 2 is the first digit. Of course, most folks want to talk about his strikeout in his last at-bat, but not because of anything he did. It’s a tough thing for a rookie when you can take a pitch well up and well in and have it called a strike. Hopefully that doesn’t get into his head and he keeps the plate discipline he’s known for. I expect that he will, but that was a tough thing to see in a tie game late.
While this weekend is going to be big for St. Louis, as they now sit just three games behind the Brewers and, if everything breaks right, could be sitting in first at the All-Star Break, it’s also going to be big for Jaime Garcia. Friday, Garcia has the surgery to try to fix the thoracic outlet syndrome that is keeping him from pitching. Hopefully it goes well and Garcia will be able to rehab and return to the Cards next year. There are success stories out there, to be sure, but we know what we saw out of Chris Carpenter when he battled this, so all fingers are crossed. Garcia obviously will be out the rest of the year, but the Cards knew that would be the case no matter what the treatment was.
Of course, we are getting to that time of year when rumors start flying every which way. The strong rumor on Tuesday was that the Cardinals were getting close to trading for Red Sox hurler Jake Peavy. Eventually, that was rebutted by Derrick Goold, who wrote that the Cards were looking more for offense than pitching. Peavy has struggled and, with Dave Duncan not around to fix him, would seem a strange target for the Cardinals. Right now you have a rotation of Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly (assuming he comes off the DL on Friday as expected) and tonight’s starter, Lance Lynn. Does Peavy upgrade any spot there? I know Miller has struggled some, but I have to believe he’s better than Peavy. Plus that doesn’t even include Michael Wacha. Granted, Wacha might not return to the rotation until mid-August, but when he does, he’ll need a spot.
The only reason I could see a deal for Peavy is if Mo had another deal lined up that was going to take from that pitching surplus. Which would be completely possible, of course, depending on what kind of bat he was going to go after. Again, there are a lot of fixed points in time in this roster that really can’t be adjusted, so what Mo will do is still quite cloudy. I’m sure he’ll come up with something, however.
As noted, Lynn goes tonight, trying to win the series and keep the momentum building. Save for that game he got lit up by the Dodgers, Lynn has pitched some really good baseball lately and there’s little reason to believe that he won’t be able to continue that good work this evening.
Well, maybe there is one reason. Like many Cardinal pitchers, Lynn has struggled to figure out Alvarez. That could cause a disruption the best laid plans tonight if he doesn’t work out a way to get him out.
Cardinals will face Brandon Cumpton, who has split time between AAA and the majors this season. Cumpton has a 4.61 ERA, but that’s inflated by the 10 runs he gave up to the Dodgers in 3.2 innings at the end of May. Lately, he’s been pitching well and is coming off of a seven-inning, two-run outing against the Mets. Before that, he shut out the Cubs for seven innings.
I didn’t remember it, but apparently St. Louis has faced Cumpton before. Nothing much stands out (save Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons going one for two against him) and we’ll see if they can overcome that small sample to put up some runs tonight.
It’s Star Wars Night at the ballpark and it’ll be on ESPN as well, so apparently they are going to make a big deal out of it. (I normally would watch FSMidwest, even with the national feed, but if they are going to have some stuff from Star Wars Rebels mixed in there, I’ve gotta check it out.) To get you all set for that, I have an epic (in length, at least) Star Wars/Cardinals mashup post coming at noon today. Please come back and check that out!