“Saw Gerrera used to say one fighter with a sharp stick and nothing left to lose can take the day. They have no idea we’re coming. They’ve no reason to expect us. If we can make it to the ground, we’ll take the next chance. And the next. On and on until we win or the chances are spent.”–Jyn Erso, Rogue One
It’s fairly well accepted that the Cardinals need 90 wins to get into the playoffs. Best case, they aim for 90 and the actual number is a little short of that, but it won’t be much if it is. Ninety wins means, as we’ve said, a 40-22 run from last night until the end of the season. You can’t focus on that, though. You take the chance before you and fight for that one. Once you’ve won it, you look to the next.
Going into last night, the Cardinals had to play at a .645 clip the rest of the season to get to that magical number. Now it’s .639. It’s a big number but every win is a step closer, every game an opportunity to bank a W and make the rest of the season that much easier.
The Indians must be tired of seeing Adam Wainwright, because he seems to rise to the occasion so often against them. Last year, it was the complete game on his birthday after two bullpen-depleting games. Earlier this year, he stopped a six-game losing streak by holding Cleveland to two runs. They always seem to get two runs off of him, but no more.
They did so last night and, for the longest time, it looked like his mistake to Jose Ramirez was going to be the difference in the game. Wainwright might have a sharp stick, but it’s not his fastball. He tried to sneak that past Ramirez on a 3-1 count (after dropping in a beaut of a curve on 3-0) and Ramirez wasn’t born yesterday. An inning after Harrison Bader had continued his hot hitting and given the Cardinals a lead, it was gone.
Wainwright didn’t break again. Indeed, he hardly bent after that moment. One hit and two walks after that no-out, fourth inning blast. Watching Wainwright work as he does just a month before he turns 40 is remarkable. We continue to talk about it being a young man’s game and that velocity is so important, but knowing how to pitch can do a lot for you as well. Wainwright’s one of the old school and hopefully some of that rubs off on people like Jack Flaherty and Matthew Liberatore (when he arrives) so that it can be carried to another generation.
Wainwright’s work might normally get him the Hero tag and it definitely was in consideration, but when you pull your team from trailing to ahead in one swing late in a ballgame, that’s probably going to win out. Paul DeJong has been much more of a threat in the last month. Since the team meeting against the Pirates, when Tommy Edman talked about them changing their approach, DeJong is hitting .329 with a 1.019 OPS with six home runs, including the two-run shot last night. I’m not really sure why DeJong was hitting ninth last night, unless the idea was that he’s been getting on base enough that he’d be on for the top of the lineup. Bader was in consideration for that spot because of that reason, plus his speed would have allowed for other options. DeJong doesn’t have that speed, of course. I’d have rather seen him batting fifth rather than Yadier Molina, but it obviously worked out as DeJong was in the right place at the right time.
On the whole, the offense was a little quiet except for Bader. Bader hasn’t been quiet in a while, now hitting .367 since his return from the injured list. Bader got things started with a screaming line drive that cleared the wall and gave the Cards a 1-0 lead, then followed it up with a couple of doubles, eventually scoring a second run when Dylan Carlson walked with the bases loaded in the ninth. To see Bader being able to couple remarkable offense with his already exceptional defense is an exciting thing to see. While he’s eventually going to cool off some, this hot streak has been a lot of fun to watch!
Gotta find us a Goat. It looked for a bit to be Tommy Edman, who tried to stretch a double into a triple but did so after hesitating around second base, taking off again when the ball was not caught cleanly by the cutoff man and was out by three steps. It looked like if Edman had thought three to start with, he might have made it, but after his hesitation he needed to stay put. That was in the seventh with the Cards down one and when Matt Carpenter singled, it looked like a prime opportunity was wasted. Instead, DeJong homered and Edman’s baserunning proved not as problematic as expected.
So we’ll give the Goat to Tyler O’Neill. He and Yadier Molina both went 0-4, which doesn’t help the offense when your 4-5 hitters do that, but O’Neill struck out twice to Molina’s zero, so that’ll snap that tie.
The Cardinals took this chance. They’ll try to take the next with Kwang Hyun Kim on the mound this afternoon. After that, they’ll just keep taking it one at a time. They aren’t all must wins. They are all kinda need to wins!