There’s been a lot of good moments this year, even if the overall product has been perhaps more meh than you’d like, One of the consistent joys of 2022, though, has been watching the old masters continue to ply their craft. It’s not the same as in years past, because age gets to everyone and it hits professional athletes earlier than accountants, but it brings more excitement and import when those guys reach back in time and bring out something that looks very much like their historical A game.
There are tiers to age, of course. You’ve got Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, and Albert Pujols who are in their own category, then you have the experienced yet still somewhat youthful guys like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, then you have the next generation, your Juan Yepez, your Brendan Donovan, your Nolan Gorman. All of these are bringing something to the table and it is a lot of fun to watch.
Last night, you got some of everything. You had Adam Wainwright looking like the legendary Uncle Charlie, going seven scoreless innings. You had Paul Goldschmidt continuing his ridiculous June, driving in the first run on a double, his 23rd extra base hit of the month which set a new Cardinal record. You had Nolan Arenado getting two hits. You had Lars Nootbaar throwing a strike to home in the 10th, preserving the tie. You had Tommy Edman stealing third in the bottom of that frame. And you had Albert Pujols driving in two runs, including the game winner, with sacrifice flies while also posting a single.
All’s well that ends well, perhaps, but watching Giovanny Gallegos give up another lead via home run is extremely hard on the nerves. It feels like Gallegos has been a step down from his automatic nature of the last year or so, but he’s only been charged with three runs that didn’t come against the Mets all season, which includes last night. That was only the second homer that he’s allowed, the first being the walkoff against the Mets. He’s only allowed one of the three inherited runners he’s had this year to score, though that one was on Monday. Gallegos might not work fast or being as confidence-inspiring as he has been in the past, but he’s nowhere near Jason Isringhausen/Alex Reyes territory as a Cardinal closer.
That said, there does seem to be a bit of a shift in Gallegos’s usage. He came into the game in the sixth on Monday and then the eighth last night, even though it was unlikely he could go two innings. It looked like the plan might have been Genesis Cabrera in the ninth had Gallegos kept it at 2-0, which was an interesting look. Oli Marmol has shown not to be completely tied to things in the past. I would imagine he thought that the game was in the eighth and the ninth might be anti-climatic, though Cabrera has been known to make things climatic. Instead, with the game tied, Marmol went to Ryan Helsley, who had been believed to be unavailable and, in fact, was working his first back-to-back day this season, showing that Marmol will adjust on the fly (and that he really wanted last night’s game).
It’s a good thing the series is won because it’s hard to know who will be available out of the pen today, especially with a five game set in Chicago looming. Gallegos and Helsley are definitely out and you aren’t using T.J. McFarland in any sort of close situation. Drew VerHagen got the win last night, thanks to Lars Nootbaar’s remarkable throw, working as a head shot to take out the zombie runner. It would seem likely we’d see him again today given he only threw 15 pitches. The fact that there are a lot of arms unavailable behind Dakota Hudson, though, doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence. Perhaps the bats could score early and often to make us feel better?
Three games out and they have won eight of their last 11. Tyler O’Neill will be going out on a rehab assignment soon. Dylan Carlson is improving and could be back soon. If the Cardinals can figure out the pitching staff–Jack Flaherty threw to hitters, but still is probably a post-All Star Break returnee–this team could wind up being something special. Whether it’s with the old guys, the young guys, or the guys in between!
Thursday (4-3 loss vs. Milwaukee)
Hero: Paul Goldschmidt, like it’s been pretty much every May game. Two hits, including a home run late that gave the Cardinals life, and two runs scored.
Goat: Brendan Donovan. 0-4 with a strikeout, one of the few without a hit.
Notes: Not exactly a classic Adam Wainwright game, since he allowed 10 hits and four runs (three earned) in five innings. It feels like there are more games lately that Wainwright is just a bit off and when he’s so reliant on being perfect, just a bit off becomes a problem….Tommy Edman went 3-5 and scored a run, continuing his strong run that has him currently at a 123 OPS+, the best of his career….Edmundo Sosa went 0-2 and made an error, then gave way to Nolan Gorman who went 0-2 with two strikeouts….big kudos to Andre Pallante, who went three scoreless innings and allowed just two hits. That saved the bullpen plus kept the Cards close….the club walked six times as opposed to four strikeouts.
Friday (4-2 win vs. Milwaukee)
Hero: Paul Goldschmidt. Seriously, I look for others but Goldy’s two-run bomb in the third gave the Cards a lead that they held on to the rest of the way.
Goat: Kodi Whitley. Whitley had a good first frame, but then gave up a single and a homer in the ninth. Thankfully the Cards had a four run lead but that’s not what you want to see from your relievers. This made three straight games (two before his demotion to Memphis) that he’d allowed at least one run and we’ve not seen him since then, though he’ll likely be in the mix today.
Notes: Dakota Hudson didn’t allow a run, but he also didn’t make it through the fifth. Four walks and five hits in 4.2 innings isn’t usually a recipe for goose eggs but he got two double plays and some key outs. That said, loading the bases with two outs in the fifth forced Oli Marmol to go to the bullpen and Drew VerHagen got the big out….two hits and a run scored for Harrison Bader….a RBI triple for Edmundo Sosa gave the Cards the cushion they wound up needing…good work by Genesis Cabrera, who threw two scoreless innings and struck out two in the process.
Saturday (8-3 win vs. Milwaukee)
Hero: Nolan Gorman. The game is about adjustments and after Gorman had a terrible week, he apparently made some. Four hits, including his first major league home run, three runs scored, and four RBI. That’s a heck of a day!
Goat: Nolan Arenado. 0-4 with three left on base. May was the complete opposite of April for Arenado, as he put up a .196/.270/.373 line. Since Arenado got to St. Louis, it’s like he and Paul Goldschmidt pass back and forth the baton of great power but they can’t both have it at the same time.
Notes: Matthew Liberatore got the start and, with his good friend backing him, took home his first major league win with five scoreless innings….unsurprisingly the only real blemish on the day was T.J. McFarland pitching the ninth and allowing two runs before getting the third out, the fourth time in May he’s allowed multiple runs….three hits, a run, four RBI, and a homer from Goldschmidt, so the usual….Corey Dickerson went 0-3 and is likely very nervously tracking the health of Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson.
Sunday (8-0 loss vs. Milwaukee)
Hero: Juan Yepez. One of only four Cardinals with a hit, his was the only one that went for extra bases.
Goat: Miles Mikolas. Definitely the wrong day to throw a clunker, what with Corbin Burnes on the other side. A clunker he threw, though, allowing nine hits and six runs in 5.2 innings. I guess he was about due, given how good he’s been this year.
Notes: Only fair to note that T.J. McFarland threw 1.2 scoreless innings, the only Cardinal hurler that wasn’t tagged as Nick Wittgren allowed two runs after McFarland left….Paul Goldschmidt kept his hitting and on-base streak going with a single to lead off the ninth.
Monday (6-3 win vs. San Diego)
Hero: Nolan Gorman. Another breakout game, with three hits including a home run.
Goat: Nolan Arenado. 0-4, four left on. It’s like Arenado also can’t be good when the other Nolan is!
Notes: Another home run by Paul Goldschmidt….two hits and a RBI by Tommy Edman….Patron Pitcher of the Blog Packy Naughton did a fine job in his limited bullpen start, facing nine batters and allowing just two hits, though Andre Pallante allowed one of those to come around to score….Ryan Helsley’s scoreless start to the season came to an end as he allowed a run in 1.1 innings.
Tuesday (3-2 win in 10 vs. San Diego)
Hero: Adam Wainwright. You could go with Lars Nootbaar because of his throw, Tommy Edman because of his steal, or Albert Pujols because of his sac fly, but Wainwright was the biggest factor in the decision. Seven scoreless, truly masterful innings. It was beautiful to behold and terrible that he didn’t get rewarded with a win. And 10 strikeouts! 10!
Goat: Giovanny Gallegos. Allowing a game-tying home run, especially after just taking over for Wainwright, will get you listed here.
Notes: Most of that is discussed above, but it was good to see Nolan Arenado get a couple of hits and hopefully start working his way out of his slump.