Welcome to St. Louis, Jason Heyward.
Heyward has had a few moments before (though not a lot), but none bigger than a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth. It’s like he took a moment during the game to read Mr. Buffa’s latest and thought, hey, I can do that. He may have also had in mind trying to do something to make up for that error he made in the sixth that gave the Diamondbacks the lead. Whatever the case, it was nice to get a glimpse of what John Mozeliak was trying to do when he sent Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins (both of whom are off to very good starts in the Atlanta organization) for Heyward and the now-injured Jordan Walden.
Heyward is going to be a focus of attention all year long, given the trade and the fact that he will be a free agent that the Cardinals may want to retain at the end of the season. Right now, the attention hasn’t turned sour, though it’s on the edge, but it could easily do so with the emergence of Randal Grichuk and the potential of Stephen Piscotty. I’d like to see the Cards extend Heyward, but I’d like to see him approach the player we thought he was going to be back in January.
While we’ll give Heyward the Hero tag for tying the game up, Peter Bourjos should get some credit for helping win it, even if it was tangling up the catcher’s legs with a slide. When Jhonny Peralta topped that ball to the third base side, it looked like a sure double play. Nine times out of 10 it would have been, but Bourjos’s slide caught catcher Jordan Pacheco almost flat-footed, which tumbled him over and made his throw sail over the first baseman’s head, allowing Matt Carpenter to score.
It was a wild finish but one that might say that this team is one of the rare ones. They are now 31-16. They’ve extended their lead on the Cubs to 5.5 games (Pittsburgh, which may the more dangerous threat this season, sits a game farther back). They now have the best record in baseball by 1.5 games. All of this after playing 36 games in 37 days. This team is special, though how special still remains to be seen.
Gotta find a Goat in this one and it’s tough to do, given that every starter save Carpenter (who walked twice) got a hit and the bullpen was outstanding. Lance Lynn didn’t have a bad game at all either, scuffling at the end (with that assist from the error by Hayward). We’ll go ahead and give it to Peralta, who left four on base with his 1-5 night and would have been viewed a bit differently had that ball been able to be caught by Paul Goldschmidt.
As we say, Lynn didn’t seem to have any ill effects from that back cramping he had last time. His command wasn’t all there, as he walked four, but he struck out five. He reached 100 pitches in the sixth, which wasn’t his most efficient outing, but the walks probably didn’t help there and Mike Matheny might have sent him out for the seventh had his spot in the order not come up in the bottom of the sixth. All in all, not his best work, but he did his job well enough.
Kolten Wong led off the game with a home run, likely the first time he’s done that, and continues to prove that the leadoff role is one that he’s perfectly fine with. It’s been quite interesting having him followed by Carpenter and then the heart of the order and I imagine that will be the regular configuration for the rest of the year, even after the return of Jon Jay.
Matt Holliday singled in the fifth last night (part of a frustrating wasted scoring opportunity that we’d be talking a lot more about right now had it not been for the ninth inning heroics) to extend his on-base streak to start a season to 43, passing Albert Pujols. (I don’t imagine that Pujols called to congratulate, though maybe he sent a text–or, more likely, Holliday sent one to tweak his friend.) As Matheny said, when you can do something–really anything–that hasn’t been done in Cardinal history before, that’s saying something. That streak also is a National League record as well and hopefully Holliday can push it out a little farther before he’s done.
Speaking of out a little farther, that’s Matt Adams‘s return date. The initial hope was, of course, that it wasn’t a big deal and he’d be back quickly, but now it looks like he well might miss the season with a quad tear. For some reason, the Cards called up Ed Easley to replace Adams on the roster, but with Jay returning tomorrow he may have only been here for the frequent flier miles. That said, someone’s got to play first base. I don’t think any of us are terribly excited about Mark Reynolds playing on a regular basis. Reynolds has done fine off the bench and he’s a valuable part of this team, but it would seem more judicious to use him in smaller doses. He might get pretty exposed playing every day. Unfortunately, Xavier Scruggs isn’t doing much in Memphis, otherwise that’d be the obvious call.
Some Philly blogs are, of course, promoting the idea of Ryan Howard to St. Louis. Howard’s interminable contract does end soon, but it’s the end of next season, not this one. Howard has rebounded this season and the Phillies well might pay a lot and not ask for much in return, but I can’t see the Cards doing that for a year and a half. With Adams back for ’16, Howard would be pretty redundant and he might be the most expensive pinch-hitter in history. (Jon Doble addresses this as well in his first-base discussion.)
I like Howard, always have, and the idea of bringing a St. Louisian back into the fold is quite appealing. I just don’t see how the extra year of the contract (plus, as Jon points out, the ’17 buyout) work for the Redbirds. The budget is there and the current need is there, but he doesn’t fit for next season and the Cards aren’t a team that’d cut him and eat the salary, no matter how much of that is on Philadelphia’s plate.
Now, could the team go out and get a guy that would be a free agent at the end of the year? That I would believe. A guy like Justin Morneau might be available if you could get past the injury history. For a team that until recently looked pretty stable, there’s now a hole that could be filled via trade. We’ll see how quickly or in what manner Mo wants to fill it.
A well-deserved day off for the Cardinals today before hosting the Dodgers tomorrow night. Mike Bolsinger will go for Los Angeles and is having himself quite a season, going 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA. Last time out, he allowed one hit in eight innings against the Padres. He’s a fellow Razorback alumni, so I hope he does well, just not well enough to win. He’s actually faced a couple of these Redbirds before.
John Lackey will take the hill for the Cards, coming off that rain-shortened loss to Kansas City. As we say most every time, his stats are better at Busch than away from it, but Lackey’s been pitching well of late and we can only hope that continues.
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Lackey’s held his own against the team in blue and there’s no reason to think this will be anything but a well-pitched game on both sides. Just hope the Cards come out on top!