After a 14-inning marathon on Sunday, the Cardinals needed one thing desperately and another thing that would be great. They needed a solid start and a good bit of offense to make sure the game wasn’t too close.
Carlos Martinez provided both.
El Gallo, as he is known at times, seems to have gotten back on track on the mound. Save for the red-hot Marcell Ozuna, who blasted two home runs, Martinez pretty much held the Marlins in check over his six innings, striking out seven while walking just two. Ozuna’s power surge didn’t hurt either as the club was up 7-0 by time he got into his first pitch. I have a feeling that Martinez might have been a little more careful with him had it been a one run game or something.
That’s back-to-back starts that we’ve seen more of what we expect out of Martinez, that ace that took over the team last year. You could argue, as many people have in regards to the Cardinals’ improved record, that he’s seeing lesser competition, but even lesser competition was beating up on him in April. I mean, it’s one thing to lose to the Yankees (though not necessarily in the way he did it!) but letting the Reds and Brewers put up five or more runs against you? That shouldn’t happen. It looks like Martinez has made whatever adjustments he needed to make and is easing a lot of worries. I think we probably need to see one more solid outing, which next time will be against Sunday against the Cubs, before we start again assuming every time out is going to be fine.
What we probably won’t see again is the offensive surge that Martinez provided last night. In the second, with the bases loaded, he roped one into left field–not at all what the Marlins were expecting–and drove them all in. In the fourth, he singled in Magneuris Sierra and then scored when Matt Carpenter tripled him and Kolten Wong in. Even when he didn’t get a hit, he contributed. With runners on second and third and one out in the fifth, Martinez grounded to short but Dee Gordon‘s throw to the plate got past J.T. Realmuto and both runners scored. Martinez isn’t known for his offensive exploits (though he did fine with the bat last year) but this is just another case against the DH. There’s just something about seeing a pitcher come through, isn’t there? It’s a wonderful thing.
I also should give credit to the contact play because I rip on it all the time. Those runs that came in on Martinez’s groundout wouldn’t have happened without that. That said, 98% of the time that would have resulted in Aledmys Diaz being nailed at the plate instead of a missed catch, meaning two outs and runners on the corners–one of them being your pitcher–instead of runners on second and third, both fairly speedy guys. Again, it worked, but it just seems like such a low probability of success.
For the fact that the Cardinals put up nine runs, there weren’t just a whole lot of stellar offensive nights. The big blows were Martinez’s double and Carpenter’s triple. Only Sierra and Martinez had two hits. To be fair, the club walked five times and received some help from the Miami defense, especially in the fifth, when it seemed every play was a misplay. (That inning may have been worse than anything I’ve seen from the Cardinals this year, and that’s saying something.)
When you go looking for a Goat, though, you’ve got to go with Randal Grichuk in this one. Grichuk went 0-5, didn’t walk, and left five on. He did have a deep fly ball in the third that came within a couple of feet of going out, but he hit it to dead center and Christian Yelich was able to get under it. He had a number of fly balls last night, which hopefully will turn into long balls pretty soon.
Martinez went six, as noted, and Miguel Socolovich did a fine job of resting the rest of the bullpen, only allowing two hits, including a home run to Giancarlo Stanton, in his three innings of work. The quirk in the rule, which allows you to assign one to a pitcher that throws three innings to end a game, means he picked up his first major league save. Soco just continues to be a pitcher that you can rely on for the most part. I know his ERA is high, but that’s two bad innings against the Yankees and the Reds. Other than that, he’s been really productive and I’m pretty sure has earned his place on the team no matter what sort of roster juggling needs to be done as players start getting healthy.
Speaking of players getting healthy, Dexter Fowler didn’t play again last night. He’s getting treatment for the shoulder and says it is getting better, but he also didn’t give much of an idea when he’d be back out there. Mike Matheny is hopeful that it’ll be tomorrow, but if it’s not, it’s a bit disappointing that the club has played short all this time when they could have disabled him. That’d have been really helpful in Sunday’s game, having that extra bat, though you can’t expect those kind of games to show up. With the shorter DL, I thought we might get away from this nagging-injury-keeps-a-guy-out-for-a-week stuff. Again, hopefully Fowler is back tonight and it’s a fairly moot point.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a report on either Stephen Piscotty or Jose Martinez. Piscotty should be eligible to come off the DL Sunday against the Cubs, Martinez Tuesday against the Red Sox. With the possible addition of Jhonny Peralta, there are many different moves that John Mozeliak is going to have to come up with. There was a lot of talk about Peralta joining the team in Miami at one time, but that didn’t happen yesterday and there’s no indication right now that it’s going to happen today. Peralta is 2-8 with four strikeouts in his rehab stint at Palm Beach. Four strikeouts at that level would seem to indicate the rust isn’t completely off, but we’ve seen players return after similar results so I’m not going to pretend Peralta couldn’t be back today or tomorrow.
I will say that if that happens it probably means the end of Jonathan Broxton‘s time in St. Louis. As Rick Hummel said on a radio interview yesterday, there are four off days in the next two weeks. There’s not a huge need for 13 pitchers, especially since the starters, save perhaps Adam Wainwright, are regularly going deep into games. Peralta can’t replace Sierra or Pham, since the outfield is still a need with the injuries. All that points to Peralta taking the place of a pitcher. At one time, Allen and I thought that pitcher would be Kevin Siegrist, with his results seeming to indicate he might be hurting, but he’s done better of late. It just feels like Broxton is the odd man out here, but so far he’s hung on through other seemingly impossible situations. We’ll have to wait and see.
Cards look to win their eighth straight on the road, but will probably need more out of Wainwright than what he’s been doing this season to get it. Waino will go against Dan Straily tonight and has done OK against most of these guys in the past. However, this Wainwright isn’t anything like those past additions, so we’ll cross our fingers and hope for a return to form.
Straily, on the other hand, is coming off a rough outing against the Rays where he gave up four runs in five innings. That said, he’s done a pretty solid job against the Redbirds in some limited exposure, though.
It feels unlike that the Cardinals are going to win this one by five runs. Baseball is strange, of course, but this might be a battle for them this evening.