Busch Stadium might not be hosting a concert this summer but that doesn’t mean that artists aren’t playing their greatest hits on the St. Louis diamond.
Tuesday night, it was the band member that broke off and went his own way for a solo career coming back home and doing a rendition of his top hit “Memorable Moments.” Wednesday night, the duo that kept the band together jammed on a remix of “What Year Is It?”
I’m not Derrick Goold so I can’t stretch the analogy all the way through this post but the only thing the last couple of nights needed was the reunion of the 2011 team which goes on next weekend. Having those guys in the stands while their former bandmates broke out the hits would have definitely been a wonderful sight.
Albert Pujols smashed a home run in his first at bat on Tuesday, which is going to somewhat overshadow the fact that he’s not gotten a hit since in two games. With Kwang Hyun Kim not starting today as originally expected, there’s a good chance Pujols will just get a pinch-hit moment today in what, as the broadcast has pointed out, could be his last time to take an at bat in Busch Stadium. Pujols, who has gotten heavier than I realized (perhaps the red jerseys the Angels wore in 2019 made that less obvious than the Dodger grey), has shown that he can still be effective in the right situations. After all, he’s hitting .302 with 13 home runs against left handers this season. We have heard time and time again that the Cardinals need to add effectiveness against lefties, so I still say that if he was willing to be a part-time DH with an occasional start at first and be a pinch-hit option, there is room for him in St. Louis even if they are trying to contend next season.
Signing him would not be entirely trying to get the band back together, though that obviously would be a large part. I know there’s going to be a portion of the fan base that would see a Pujols signing as “they aren’t trying” or “they are just selling nostalgia” and I get that, but I don’t think that has to be the case. Now, if he was the only significant move in the winter, then yes, that’s a problem. However, if they are able to buff up the offense and add depth to the pitching, signing Pujols could be a really nice cherry on top.
My good friend Allen Medlock postulated on a Meet Me at Musial a couple of weeks ago that signing Pujols could overshadow the farewell tour for Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright. As Allen pointed out, Molina may already overshadow Waino, but adding a big guy like that in for what could be his last season, especially when he’s chasing #700, will draw a lot of attention. That’s a fair point but seeing how Molina and Pujols have interacted the last couple of nights, I don’t think there’s anything Molina would like better than to have his two brothers (the ones not named Bengie and Jose) with him on the final lap. I would doubt Wainwright’s relationship with Pujols is the same, but I imagine they are good friends as well. Besides, there’s never been a three-player farewell tour in the big leagues that I know of. If they all announced this winter that this was their last season, each stop along the way could be quite interesting.
Speaking of the other legends, they teamed up for an excellent game last night to finally stop the losing streak, though even then the ninth got dicey. As a baseball fan would, I really got a little worried when Dan McLaughlin kept talking about the complete game records, like this would be the first time since X a player over 40 has a complete game, etc. It always seems when there’s a lot of focus on something, it winds up coming undone. Of course, in this case it was more the fact that this 40-year-old had to face the top of a very dangerous Dodgers lineup for the fourth time. The fourth time through hasn’t been a huge problem for him this season–2-18 with a homer before last night’s game–but the Dodgers are such a good team that running a starter out there to see Trea Turner, Max Muncy, and Mookie Betts is probably asking a bit too much. (Though, to be fair, the inning started with an infield hit and, after an out, a ball off the end of Betts’s bat that dropped in for a single. They didn’t hit him hard.) If it had been anyone but Adam Wainwright, Giovanny Gallegos would have started that inning.
As for Molina, he seems to always step it up in a Wainwright start anyway and last night was no exception. Yadi smashed a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Cardinals the lead that they (after some insurance) wouldn’t relinquish. He added in another hit later on as well. It’d take a little work, but I’d like to know what his offensive production is in when his good friend is on the mound versus the other games.
Unfortunately, even as the Cardinals were winning last night, San Diego was as well. (The Reds lost on a walkoff and the Phillies dropped a game, so it wasn’t all bad.) That means St. Louis is still 3 1/2 games out of the wild card with the Reds and Phillies ahead of them and the Mets just a game behind. There are only 24 more games left, so anytime you cut a day off the calendar without progress just means you are that much closer to a postseason-less October. The fact that the Cards get the Reds this weekend and the Padres next does help but it’s going to take a lot more consistent winning than we’ve seen basically all year.
First, though, there is one more game with Los Angeles as the Cardinals go for the split this afternoon. Jake Woodford is going to start instead of Kim, who apparently isn’t entirely happy with the decision or the communication around it. Wow, we’ve never heard of communication issues before, have we? That said, given the lack of innings from Kim lately, you can understand why they went for Woodford. Now, starting Woodford against the Dodgers has a potential for disaster, but he looked good against the Brewers so it makes sense they’ll give him a shot. I do worry they are reading a lot into one relief appearance but I also think he probably gives the Cardinals a better chance to win. We’ll find out!
Tuesday (7-2 loss)
Hero: Tyler O’Neill. Three hits with two doubles. This was the second three-hit outing that O’Neill has had in three starts. He’s hitting .360 in August with two home runs and that was before Wednesday night’s game. O’Neill has proven that he’s got staying power, the ability to adjust in the big leagues, and if you are looking for a team MVP, he’s in the conversation.
Goat: Tommy Edman. 0-5 and left two men on base. It’s funny, in all of these discussion about resting players, with Nolan Arenado missing Monday, Paul Goldschmidt missing here, and Dylan Carlson out Wednesday, there doesn’t seem to be any desire to rest Edman. Granted, until this game he was on a six game hitting streak and was batting .305 since the beginning of August, but counting Wednesday he’s played in 136 of 138 games. That’s one more than Goldschmidt and two more than Arenado. Of course, saying that means he’ll probably sit Thursday. Just hopefully that doesn’t mean a Matt Carpenter start at second.
Notes: Carpenter got his second start in as many games, the first time he’d done that since June 27-28. He went 0-8 with four strikeouts, extending his hitless run to 0-26 with 11 strikeouts. If and when the Cardinals fall out of it, Carpenter will probably get a start or two just to thank him for his 10 years, but baseball-wise it’s really hard not to think he’s completely done….J.A. Happ was all right, I guess, with four runs allowed in five innings. Much closer to the Happ from before the trade than after it, though when you put this start with the last disaster you start to worry that he’s used up all his tricks….Alex Reyes was the first reliever out there and struck out two batters, but allowed a home run on an 0-2 pitch so he still has some things to work out. He did throw 13 of his 18 pitches for strikes, but walks (save in Pittsburgh) haven’t really been his problem of late….Kwang Hyun Kim came in and got the last out of the eighth before pitching the ninth. Deuces were wild for him as he allowed two hits (one a homer) and two runs but struck out two.
Wednesday (5-4 win)
Hero: Man, which old guy do you go with. I’m going to say Yadier Molina here, given how that ninth inning played out for Adam Wainwright. His two-run homer turned out to be very big and allowed Waino to pitch deeper into the game than he might have with a smaller lead.
Goat: Harrison Bader. 0-3 and left five men on base. That almost turned out to be costly.
Notes: When Wainwright allowed the runners in the ninth, I was really afraid things had taken a turn. Giovanny Gallegos did a good job of limiting the damage, giving up a sac fly and then getting a 3-2 strikeout. Obviously Gallegos is the closer, no matter what Mike Shildt says about matchups. I think many might have turned to Luis Garcia there but it worked out fine….Tyler O’Neill’s insurance homer in the eighth turned out to be the difference….Wainwright almost had him a homer as well, hitting it to the wall in deep center. That would have been incredible….two hits for Edmundo Sosa in this one as well, meaning he’s hitting .364 for the month of September.