Man, good thing Carlos Martinez got his hair cut, huh?
OK, no reasonable person actually believes that there was a connection between Martinez’s silver extensions and his rough play as of late. People may joke about it but nobody honestly thinks that is the difference. (Though Martinez may have bought into that a bit, saying when he cut his hair that he “needed a win”.) It was good to see the old Carlos back on the mound on Tuesday night, even if that had nothing to do with his looks.
Martinez had movement on his pitches and dominated the Brewers over 7.1 innings, allowing one unearned run, allowing just four hits, and striking out four. The strikeouts were low, but that’s fine as some of his high strikeout outings haven’t been all that successful this year. Otherwise, he was in control all night long and had a couple of chances to end the seventh (when he gave up his only run) without any damage. This was the Martinez we want to see, a pitcher attacking the clones–um, hitters, where did THAT come from–with efficiency and great stuff. There’s no doubt Martinez is our Hero of the night.
While Martinez was clearly the biggest reason the Cardinals won, Kolten Wong, while no Sith, got some revenge on his play from the night before. It was great to see Mike Matheny stand up and publicly encourage Wong after his rough outing on Monday night. I think in the past Matheny wouldn’t have done that and also Wong would have internalized it, wanted to play an overwhelming game to make up for it, and just made things worse. Instead, Wong said he came out to just play his game and went 2-3 and drove in what proved to be the winning run while playing strong defense. There are some that still aren’t sold on Wong, that think he should be benched or traded. He’s got a better average and OPS than Matt Carpenter, supposedly the team’s best hitter. He’s got five errors, true, but he’s still a pretty reliable glove out there. What are you going to do without him there? Move Jedd Gyorko over to second? That’s possible, I guess, but I don’t know that Gyorko’s glove is in Wong’s class. Then what do you do about third? It seems silly right now not to recognize that Wong is a positive asset for the club where he is, but opinions differ, I guess.
Our Goat for the night has to be Aledmys Diaz. If you are a superstitious sort, you might think that it’s a sophomore jinx, but it seems more likely that the Empire–ugh, again?–the league is striking back. Plus, as many including Viva El Birdos have noted, his walk rate, which was so great last year, has gone out the window this season. Diaz seems to be swinging at almost anything and while he’s putting the bat on a lot of balls, he’s not making good contact on them. In this one, Diaz went 0-4 with a strikeout and two left on base. The Cardinals really need for his forceful concentration to awaken and for him to be more disciplined at the plate.
You could say Carpenter is a phantom menace at times for this club. He went 2-4 in this one, which is great of course, but he botched a grounder to him at first which helped lead to Martinez’s unearned run, an inning that could have decided the game had not Martinez worked out of the jam. His three errors at first tie him with Mitch Moreland and Anthony Rizzo for third in the league (Jose Abreu and Ryan Zimmerman have four) but that’s not counting errors that were assigned to other folks or plays that he should have made. There’s no place else that Carpenter is going to be smooth in the infield so first is probably the only spot for him, but it feels like misplays at first are magnified at times.
It was a rogue one coming into get the save in this one, as Trevor Rosenthal did the honors with Seung-hwan Oh having thrown almost two innings the night before. Rosenthal again looked sharp, striking out two of the three batters he faced. For the most part, Rosenthal has looked pretty good this year and if Oh continues to be a little shaky, you’d like to think we’d see the return of the Jedi–er, closer–with Rosie locking down more ninth innings. Oh’s still not been anything like Rosie was last year, though, so I wouldn’t expect that change to happen anytime soon. It would be nice if Matheny would alternate or do things like this more often instead of running Oh out there three days in a row. You have at least two people that can handle the ninth. There’s no need to wear either of them out.
Every game brings a new hope and after a rainout last night, the Cards hope to continue winning when Adam Wainwright goes up against Chase Anderson. Wainwright had a memorable start against the Brewers a couple of weeks ago, though that was more notable due to what he did with his bat rather than his pitching (which was fine). We’ll see if Wainwright has made adjustments and can have a game like his last one, when he pitched into the seventh.
The Cards saw Anderson in that series in Milwaukee as well. He’s got a sub-2 ERA for his career against St. Louis and gave up just one unearned run against them last time. However, the Braves touched him for four runs in his worst outing of the season in his last start, so maybe the Cardinals can tap into that.
It’s not Star Wars Night at the ballpark–that won’t come until July–but it is May the Fourth. If you want to spend your Star Wars Day looking at mashups of the Cardinals and a galaxy far, far away, I think I can help you out on that. You’ll find a lot of them here, plus of course you’ll want to reread Luke Skyweaver, which starts here. Hopefully the Force will be with the Cardinals tonight!