Someone somewhere once said that you can’t win them all. The Cardinals gave it a good run, but they found out the old maxim isn’t yet outdated. Let’s take a look at what happened in PNC Park this weekend.
Friday (8-5 win)
Hero: Kolten Wong. Three hits, including a three-run seventh inning blast that gave the Cards a good bit of breathing room, some of which they actually needed. You could say Wong is on a tear–through Sunday, he’s on an eight-game hitting streak where he’s hitting just .517/.548/.897 with three of his four home runs. We’ve seen before that Wong can go in spurts, but this is extreme. Hopefully he doesn’t go just as cold when he levels off.
Goat: Pete Kozma. 0-4 with two strikeouts and four left on base. True, he wouldn’t have been in there if it wasn’t for Matt Carpenter having to stay in St. Louis with fatigue, but he was and it was a tough night for him. He even made an error to complete the package.
Notes: Another good start by Michael Wacha, but another one where he didn’t do much in the way of striking batters out. He only punched out one and only went six innings, allowing three runs (though only two were earned). Obviously that’s not bad, but we’ve come to expect more out of Wacha. Still, if this is one of his off games, we’d take that pretty quickly and try not to be concerned.
Peter Bourjos has started to compete for that center field job like some of our number always thought he would. Two doubles in this one and he scored twice, though he did strike out three times. He’s played in all ten games in May, starting five of them, and has posted a .391/.444/.609 line. That’s playing over his head, of course, but it’s good to see him taking advantage of opportunities and giving the Cardinals another weapon on the basepaths, plus making it easier to justify his defense in the lineup. With Jon Jay bruising his thumb on Saturday, Bourjos may have more opportunities for playing time in the short-term as well.
Matt Holliday seems to have been struggling a bit lately, but he still can make an impact. He crushed a three-run homer for his only hit of the night to break a 1-1 tie and give the Cardinals the upper hand, one they didn’t ever fully relinquish.
Saturday (7-5 loss)
Hero: Jason Heyward. It was a bit of a tossup between him and Jhonny Peralta, but I went with Heyward because of his two doubles. We’ve seen Heyward hit well since the lineup change–his line now stands at .349/.440/.395 after Sunday’s game since moving down–but we’ve not seen him hit much for power. Strike that, we’ve not seen him hit for any power, as these two doubles are the only extra-base hits he’s had since the turnover. The hits are good, though, and the power hopefully will come as he continues to get comfortable in that role. With folks like Jay, Bourjos, Wong and Carpenter, the top of the lineup is taken care of, so he can just sit back and try to drive folks in.
Goat: Carlos Martinez. Seven runs in 5.1 innings is tough to swallow. Yes, Seth Maness came in and allowed the last two to score, but he came into a bases-loaded, one-out situation. Mr. Double Play could have gotten out of the jam (in theory, not with the pitch he threw to Jordy Mercer that almost left the park) but it’s not surprising in that scenario that some runs scored. Martinez struck out seven, but he walked four. After a rough second, it looked like he got back under control, only to fall apart again in the sixth.
Notes: It was strange to see the Cards lose this kind of game. (Then again, since they lost almost 25% of their entire season total this weekend, it’s strange to see them lose any game.) We’ve seen a lot of them rallying lately, coming back to take a lead and then just locking it down. They did the former, but they couldn’t do the latter. You can’t say the bullpen struggled here–save for Maness allowing that big double as soon as he came in, the ‘pen only allowed one other runner–but you still felt that 5-3 would stand up, so when it didn’t, it was a bit stunning.
Tough game for Matt Adams, who went 0-4 and left four men on base. The offense came to life for one inning, but couldn’t get across the plate in the others. Most embarrassingly, a second-and-third-with-no-out became three outs in one swing, as Yadier Molina hit into the first 4-5-4 triple play in baseball history. Not exactly the history Molina is used to making. Perhaps we should have known that not getting a run there boded ill for the game, though it was after that the big inning occurred and it seemed like St. Louis was going to do it again.
Sunday (4-3 loss)
Hero: Kolten Wong. Just one hit, but it was a big two-run homer that briefly tied the game up. Given Wong’s story with his mom, how she passed from cancer in December, it was a meaningful thing for him to have a home run on Mother’s Day, using the pink bats that you see on the holiday.
Goat: Jhonny Peralta. 0-4 plus a double play in the eighth inning which hurt the comeback chances.
Notes: Two more hits from Heyward in this one, but he’d have liked one of them to come in the ninth, when he had two runners on and only one out. Instead, he struck out, and Kozma then flew out to end the game. It would have been pretty huge had Heyward come through right there.
Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons took the start and did a better job this time around. He faced one batter in the sixth, allowing a double to Andrew McCutchen before leaving. Matt Belisle eventually allowed that run to score, so Lyons ended the day with five innings, three runs, two earned. Of course, the unearned run came off of his own error, a one-out grounder by Starling Marte that should have been an out but instead put Marte on third. He almost pitched out of that problem, striking out Corey Hart, but Mercer (who only had two hits this weekend, but they both counted), singled to drive him in.
Otherwise, Lyons looked pretty good, striking out five and only walking one. He also only threw 84 pitches, which was a far sight better than the 100 he threw in less than five innings in his first outing. With the news this weekend from the rehab starts, with Marco Gonzales struggling in his 2.1 and Jaime Garcia not faring a lot better in 2.2, Lyons is probably going to get at least one more start, maybe two, as those two continue to work their way back. While some may not be as enamored with that idea as I am, I think the Cards could do worse and there aren’t a whole lot of options. You could try Tim Cooney again but I think Lyons would really have to implode for that to happen. And I like Carlos Villanueva where he is, an option on any day and able to take extras if necessary or come in for a starter that doesn’t have it.
The biggest issue of the weekend, of course, was Carpenter not being in Pittsburgh due to extreme fatigue. While perhaps not a surprise, given Carpenter’s work ethic and the fact that there’d been a lot of days in a row, I expressed concern last night on Gateway that it’s not good to see this before the heat of the summer sets in. Now, it’s true July and August see more off days, but there’s still a stretch from July 24-August 2 that’s all in St. Louis and temps are likely to be around 100 for each of them. What happens then? Will Carpenter be able to adjust his routine so this doesn’t happen again? Is it just fatigue or is there some sort of underlying cause to the problem? It’s probably nothing we’ll ever have to worry about again but it’s worth thinking about now. Hopefully it’s just a blip on the radar and it doesn’t become a full-blown concern. Carpenter should be back tomorrow for the Cleveland series and we’ll see if the rest helped out.
Cards have a stretch of (ugh) interleague play this week, heading to Cleveland before hosting Detroit. Lance Lynn will be the first St. Louis pitcher up, trying to shake off back-to-back rough outings since he became the de facto ace of the staff. The Indians aren’t going to know much about Lynn, as only a couple of their number have seen him.
Carlos Carrasco goes for the Tribe. Carrasco is 4-2 with a 4.71 ERA on the year and has scuffled lately, though he’s coming off a seven-inning start against the Royals in which he only allowed three runs. He’s a pretty new face for the Redbirds as well, though the ones that have seen him would like to see him again.
Enjoy the off day. There’s no doubt the Cardinals will!