Ah, that’s more like the team that we’ve seen all year. Strong pitching and just enough offense to get by.
Of course, that means it was back to biting the nails for much of this game. After getting out to early significant leads in two of the past three games, this time St. Louis was trailing 1-0 about halfway through and you started to wonder if they’d ever get anything going. Patrick Corbin might have been a guy that bounced between good and bad starts, but he’d landed on good this time out and was getting a lot of popouts and less-than-solid contact. That is, when he wasn’t striking folks out. It was looking like that whole “lefty they’ve never seen before” theme was going to play out yet again.
Thankfully, Mark Reynolds remembered how much he liked hitting homers in Arizona and tied the ballgame up in the fifth, which gave the club a little breathing room and the fan base a little bit of relaxation. Before that, I seriously was starting to think that it was going to be a 1-0 loss and there was going to be a lot of frustration involved there. Tying it up was a big thing and a great contribution from Reynolds.
John Lackey did his part, though he had a lot of help from his fielders. He gave up a home run (that may still not have landed) in the first to Paul Goldschmidt, but thankfully that came right after the first of three double plays turned behind him. Lackey gave up some loud outs and also seven hits in his seven innings, but just that one run. He got a bit better as it went on, retiring the last seven batters he faced.
The Hero of the night, though, had to be Kolten Wong. Not only did he have some spectacular moves (I hate that MLB won’t let you embed highlights the day after a game) to help turn a couple of those double plays, his double in the seventh put the Cards ahead and he scored the insurance run when Matt Carpenter finally realized he could put the bat on the ball. It’s fairly obvious the mental break time worked for Wong, which is good. If he can be fired up down the stretch, that’d do a lot for keeping the Cardinals ahead of the rest of the division, something that has become increasingly tough to do.
Carpenter’s RBI single spared him from another turn as the Goat, so I’m going with Jhonny Peralta in this one. Peralta went 0-4 and left four men on, though he did have some good swings. He just missed some pitches or he could have had a big night. Jason Heyward and Yadier Molina also had 0-fers, which meant the middle of the lineup was 0-12. If you are looking for why there wasn’t a sustained offensive push last night, that’s probably it right there. Which is funny, because before the game FSMW highlighted Heyward, Molina and Stephen Piscotty for their work over the last three games. Piscotty only had one hit, though he came around to break the tie on Wong’s double, so it was a hit at the right time.
Trevor Rosenthal, who will be leaving the club when they go to San Francisco to be home for the birth of his second daughter, picked up his 40th save with only a walk to mar his frame. Doesn’t it seem early to already have 40 saves? I mean, I know that’s a function of the team already winning 81, but August and 40 saves don’t often go together in my mind. Then again, he got his 40th save last year on August 31, so I guess it’s not that crazy. We’ll see if he can beat the 45 he got last year. He joins Lee Smith as the only two Cardinals to have 40 saves in different years, which is a nice accomplishment. I know he never thought he’d be in the same sentence as Smith when he started his career, given that he thought he was going to be a starter, but I bet he’s perfectly fine with this and the contract he’ll likely receive in the future if he keeps this up.
Otherwise, there really wasn’t much to this game, but it was a good win. It was needed since the Pirates beat up on the Marlins, though the Cubs finally cooled a bit and lost to the Giants. That means that St. Louis stays 4.5 up on the Pirates and is now 7.5 up on the Cubs. Everyone plays the same folks today, with Chicago looking like they get the short end of the matchup by sending Dan Haren against Madison Bumgarner this afternoon and Pittsburgh looking to dominate with Gerrit Cole going against Justin Nicolino. Baseball’s a funny game and all that, but it would seem the Cardinals need to win tonight to keep that cushion where it is.
The brigade of healthy folks is about to begin. We know about Matt Adams getting back into baseball shape and now Jon Jay will start a rehab assignment on Friday with Memphis, who will be in Reno this weekend. I know to some extent the location for rehab assignments is determined by location and not by talent level, but starting Jay out at AAA seems to indicate they don’t think it’ll take long for him to get ready. I would imagine he’d be one of the first ones activated when the rosters expand on Tuesday and hopefully bring a decent bench bat to the club. There’s no way, I wouldn’t think, that’d he get many starts. He might start the first game or two right after the callup to get him acclimated to the big leagues, though the club is playing Washington then so maybe not. If he does, expect plenty of complaints from Twitter but realize there’s more of a reason than he’s one of Mike Matheny‘s guys.
Tonight sees Carlos Martinez going for the four-game sweep. Given the fact that St. Louis has enough trouble finishing off three-game sweeps, if he’s able to do that it’ll be quite impressive. (You have to go back to the end of June when the Cubs were in town to find the last three-game sweep, though the Cards did win both games of a series against the White Sox in July.) Martinez hasn’t been as stellar lately as he was earlier in the year. In his last five starts, he’s 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA. Some of that might be a little bad luck–opponents do have a .402 BABIP over that span–but it could be worse as he’s allowed three unearned runs in that span as well. The command is still there, so hopefully he’ll be able to baffle this Diamondbacks lineup tonight. He’s been able to do that before.
Rubby De La Rosa is up for the home team. De La Rosa looks like their workhorse, as he’s gone six innings or more in all but one of his last seven starts. He’s been solid of late as well with a 3-0 mark and a 2.88 ERA for the month of August. In limited time (so, remember, not really anything to draw conclusions from) the Redbird hitters have fared well, but we’ll see if that continues now that De La Rosa seems to have progressed in his abilities.
With a win tonight, the Cardinals guarantee themselves a winning record for 2015. It’d be their eighth straight season above .500 and their 15th out of their last 16. No wonder everyone else in baseball thinks we’re spoiled. That as may be, but I’m perfectly content with it!