Who knew that the stellar play by Alcides Escobar on Wednesday night's game won a game for the Royals on Thursday?
With Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal off-limits due to their recent usage (and, in Rosenthal's case, warming up even when he wasn't used), Mitchell Boggs got the call last night with a one-run game in the ninth inning. If Escobar doesn't make that diving stop, most likely Michael Blazek pitches the ninth yesterday, perhaps making Mujica available for this one. Maybe not--both pitchers were warming at the same time--but knowing that Michael Wacha was three outs from a well-deserved win, he might have used the big guns to secure it.
However, that's a case of parallel universe baseball. In this one, the regulars weren't available and Boggs came in. While Boggs had done OK in Memphis, he'd struggled after his return. Then again, there wasn't anyone else down there that immediately inspired more confidence, so Mike Matheny didn't seem to have many options.
Boggs had a large part of the fan base against him due to his early struggles. After last night, giving up a home run to blow the win for an already-beloved Wacha? That portion grew significantly. When you realize just how limited the Royals power has been, that they'd only stroked two home runs in like 15 games, both by Miguel Tejada, it stings even more.
That said, the behavior of some of the on-line fan base last night was shameful. Boggs's wife Lele is on Twitter and had some extremely hateful and detestable things directed her way as her husband's surrogate. That's ridiculous and unacceptable. We don't like the results, we can argue whether Boggs should have been in or if he should be on the roster, but there's no doubt that he is trying to get outs as hard as he can. Adding on to that, the worth of a person is not determined by whether they succeed on the baseball field. Did hitting that home run make Jeff Francoeur a better person? Sure, it made Royal fans happier with him, but would he have been a different person if he struck out? Of course not. The anonymity of the Internet has allowed a lot of people to spout off when they wouldn't in person. And if you would say such terrible things to Boggs or his wife in person, you really need to reevaluate your life.
Before we leave the bullpen, can anyone tell me why Victor Marte stayed up when Wacha was activated instead of Blazek? Blazek, who didn't get any major league time, just a little bullpen warmup, might have done just as badly last night. Then again, he might have done better, as we've seen with a lot of these rookie arms. With Marte, we know what we are going to get, and it's not going to be pretty. I thought Marte was up just as an insurance policy in case there was one of those games where all the bullpen guys got used. Blazek could have filled that role and likely filled it much better. There has to be an injury to get him back on the roster before 10 days are up, but I can't imagine Marte is up past that, even if Mike Matheny tends to really enjoy running him out there.
While I'm giving Boggs the Goat because, well, it's tough not to given the situation, strong consideration has to be given to Matt Holliday. First inning, runner on second with one out, Holliday is obviously trying to go the other way and lines out to second. OK, understand the idea, just didn't work out. Second time up, bases loaded with one out. Wacha's on third after getting a hit in his first at-bat, but had been held up by Jose Oquendo after Carlos Beltran's hit. It was reasonable of Oquendo, not wanting the young gun to risk a play at the plate, but it became a big play when Holliday hit a little tapper back to the mound, allowing Jeremy Guthrie to go home and get the force there. Third time up, two outs and two on, he hits a grounder to second, ending the inning. A hit in just one of those times and we are probably talking about the Cardinals sweeping all their meetings against Kansas City this morning.
So what went right? Michael Wacha went right. With all the hype going into this game, I was sure that there was going to be a letdown in his performance, that he'd give up a few runs, maybe allow that elusive home run that the Royals had been looking for, things like that. Instead, Wacha gets a hit before he gives one up (shades of Shelby Miller in his first start last year) and retires the first 13 batters he faced. After a "rough patch" in the fifth, where he allowed the double to break up the perfecto and a single that snapped the shutout, he threw two more perfect innings. He struck out six in his time out and generally did everything people were expecting. The biggest test might not be his next start, at home against the Diamondbacks, but if I'm reading the schedule right, he'd get the final game of the Reds series in Cincinnati, which oh-by-the-way would be ESPN's Sunday Night game. One start at a time, though.
Kudos also to Joe Kelly, who came into a bases-loaded, no-out situation after the extensive rain delay and got three outs without allowing a run. Even though Kelly has struggled, you wonder if the results of the game would have been different had he come in instead of Boggs. No telling.
Offensively, Matt Carpenter and Beltran both had two hits but the rest of the offense couldn't quite get into gear. So often they'd put together a two-out rally, but never be able to bring it to fruition. Allen Craig and David Freese drove in runs in the first with two outs, but other than that, there just wasn't anything to get excited about as Guthrie got back on track.
Speaking of getting back on track, Jake Westbrookthrew a bullpen yesterday and felt good enough to start talking about rehab starts. He could go out as early of Tuesday of next week and start his rehab clock ticking. While the youngsters are obviously holding their own, getting a little veteran leadership back in the rotation wouldn't be a bad thing, especially since those innings are going to start piling up on young arms quickly.
After being out late last night/this morning (that rain delay really came at the wrong time), the Cards host the defending champs this evening. St. Louis won two of three out in San Francisco at the beginning of the season, including a 14-3 pounding in the final game of the series. That game was started by Matt Cain, who will go tonight for the Giants. Cain has had his struggles with the Redbirds in the past.
Holliday has struggled and you probably won't see Daniel Descalso in this one, but otherwise Cain hasn't fooled a lot of St. Louis hitters. Here's hoping he's not learned any new tricks. It's been a rough season so far for him anyway, with a 5.00 ERA even going into this one. His last two outings at home have been fairly good (though he only went five innings in his last one) but away from AT&T Park, it's been a different story.
The Cards send one of the youngsters to the mound to deal with the champs. Well, that doesn't narrow things down, I know, and honestly Shelby Miller feels like a grizzled vet compared to people like Wacha and Tyler Lyons. Miller gave up just two runs in 5.1 innings back in that April series and, in limited action, has done OK against the G-men.
Miller pitched well against the Giants in the NLCS last year as well, so he's got a bit of familiarity with them.
It's possible I'll post this weekend--as you know, Saturday posts aren't unheard of from me, though they aren't regular--but if not, this is the last post before everything changes. Be sure to check here Monday to see what I mean, but I promise you, reading C70 At The Bat will never be the same!
"Never give up, never surrender" was the catchphrase of Captain Quincy Taggart of the fictional show (and real movie) Galaxy Quest. Since it was set in the future, it's obvious Taggart grew up a Cardinals fan.
We've not seen a lot of dramatic comebacks this season--being up early and having pitching that keep the opposition's scoring low will tend to do that--but obviously we know the postseason history of the club. Last night's comeback didn't have the drama or the high stakes of 2011 or 2012, but it was a nice thing to see nonetheless.
With the Reds finally losing a game, it looked like the Cards were going to squander an opportunity when they were down 3-1 in the eighth inning. These are the Cardinals, though (and, on the flip side, these were the Royals they were playing). They got into the Royals bullpen and made some hay, capped off by a key two-out hit by Daniel Descalso. The Cards really should have gotten more, but this happened. I don't care that it was a Royal making the play, that was incredible. As I said on Twitter, if Ozzie Smith saw that play, he's suing for copyright infringement. It's been a long time since that much range and that kind of athleticism has been shown at that position in Busch. That's not a slam on Pete Kozma or anything like that--Kozma makes some nice plays and does well with what he gets to--but a real tip of the cap to Alcides Escobar.
While Descalso got player of the game and his hit was huge, I'm going with Carlos Beltran for my Hero of the game. Not only did Beltran's home run start the scoring in the eighth, giving the team a jolt, but his sliding catch at the end of the seventh inning saved at least one run, possibly two, and kept the bullpen out of the game.
Some great stuff again by Yadier Molina. Not only did he go 3-4, bringing his average up to .355 (putting him second behind Milwaukee shortstop Jean Segura, who pumped up his numbers with a six-hit performance on Tuesday), but he made an outstanding play in the field, grabbing a ball just as it was rolling foul and throwing out the runner, plus was coaching on the basepaths, telling Allen Craig to get a bigger lead, something that was key when David Freese singled and Craig was able to score the tying run by a step or two. I fully expect one day they are going to mike Yadi up and he's going to do the Fox Sports Midwest commentary while he's playing the game. He and Dan McLaughlin would make a great team, wouldn't they?
Craig also had a good night, going three for four. Freese had his RBI hit plus drew two walks, though he hit into a double play in the second after Craig and Molina had reached with no outs, snuffing out a rally. On the downside, Jon Jay was 0-3 but got an intentional walk, which means Pete Kozma is our Goat. Kozma went 0-4 and struck out looking on three pitches with the bases loaded in the eighth, something that was overlooked when Descalso got his big hit right afterwards.
On the pitching side of the ledger, Lance Lynn had a solid game. It wasn't one of his best, but it was easily good enough to win most nights. He gave up eight hits, but it was the one to his opposite number Luis Mendoza that was probably the most painful. After allowing a leadoff triple, Lynn had stranded the runner at third with two outs before not bearing down on the American League pitcher, who made him pay with a solid single over second base. If the Cards had lost on that run, it would have really been a tough thing to swallow.
Seth Maness struggled a bit, allowing a run in two-thirds of an inning, but darned if he didn't just about vulture another win. Only the fact that Mike Matheny went to Randy Choate to get the left-hander out to finish the eighth separated Maness from yet another win. Instead, Choate got his first decision in over 100 times out. Edward Mujica continues to prove that, yes, closing is fine with him, getting three outs in five pitches and putting up his 17th save.
Pitching update: Chris Carpenter threw about 20 pitches and felt good. The comeback isn't over, just might be a little slower than we'd hoped. I think I saw something about the All-Star Break recently? That'd be a good way to ease up on some of these rookies' work load. Jake Westbrook is going to throw a long session today and after that, there may be decisions on where and when he goes for a rehab assignment. Fernando Salas, however, still hasn't thrown since getting a cortisone shot, so we may not see him for a while. Which, if people like Westbrook return, won't be a big deal as there will be a lot of options for the bullpen.
So another series won (well, not lost) and the Giants coming to town, it could be easy to overlook today's last game with the Royals. Or it would be if it wasn't for the fact that Michael Wacha was making his major league debut. If it's up to him, he won't be seeing Memphis again, Odds are, though, it won't be up to him as the Cards still want to limit what he's doing and get him conditioned well. If Westbrook is close to returning, that might be all the time Wacha gets. Still, there's a lot of excitement about today's game and it should be fun to see what he has.
The Royals try to end their losing streak with Jeremy Guthrie on the hill. Guthrie's pitched pretty well for Kansas City, with an ERA just a shade under 4.00 and five wins to his credit. However, unlike Mendoza, he's been in a slump lately. Over his last three outings, he's allowed 17 earned runs in 19.1 innings. Not exactly the trend you want to see if you are wearing the blue.
In the past, he's done all right against these Cardinal hitters, though he's not seen them too much. Matt Holliday could continue his hot week (as predicted by Tara on Gateway last weekend) as he's got a favorable matchup.
It's Wacha time in St. Louis tonight. Here's hoping he gets off on the right foot!
(Proud parent alert: I missed all but the first inning of this one due to the boy's Little League game, which had much more drama than the Cards/Royals. Down 5-0, they rally to 5-3 before giving up another run. In the last inning before time would expire, one of the bottom of the lineup types--the ones that have trouble making contact, you know what I mean--beats out a hit, allowing the lineup to turn over.
Five batters later, there's two outs and a 6-6 game when my son comes up, takes three terrible hacks then hits a ball that the third baseman can't come up with. Run scores and they tack on another, which is good because the other team comes back to make it 8-7 with a runner on second and two outs. The game ends on a grounder the second baseman bobbles, but they throw the runner out when he tries to slide into first. No one feels worse about that than Skip Schumaker.)
The professionals weren't quite as dramatic, with Tyler Lyons just running through the Royals lineup (save Billy Butler) like he was a 10-year veteran. They keep saying that you don't want three rookies in your pitching rotation, but if the rookies are going to keep pitching games like this, I'm fine with it, personally.
Lyons gets the Hero tag again for his seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball, but there are some kudos due to the offense as well. I pointed out yesterday that Ervin Santana was susceptible to the long ball and it took all of two batters to figure that out as Carlos Beltran did what Yadier Molina did the day before, give the Cards a quick 2-0 lead. The Cardinals tacked on two more in the sixth when Matt Carpenter, who had an outstanding day at the plate, and Matt Holliday both left the yard.
Sadly, Matt Adams was not able to join them and winds up with our Goat again. The bottom of the lineup was pretty paltry last night, with 5 through 9 going 1-18. Adams stalled what could have been a huge inning in the first. After Beltran's home run, Holliday singled and Allen Craig walked, giving the Cards two on with two outs. Adams then grounded into a double play and Santana was able to strike out David Freese to get out of the inning. Since Lyons pitched so well those extra runs weren't needed, but they easily could have been.
Off the field, the Cards got some decent news on a couple of pitchers. First, John Gast just has a lat strain, so something that may take a while to heal but nothing structurally wrong. That's good to know, because the Cardinals don't get a discount on how many pitchers they send to Dr. Andrews. Secondly, there's now hope that Jake Westbrook could get out on a rehab assignment in the next week or so, which might help the club be able to alleviate a lot of these innings by the youngsters.
Speaking of youngsters, Carlos Martinezmade his first start in Memphis last night. Three innings, two hits, four strikeouts, no runs. Not bad for a guy that's been in the bullpen most of the year. Three or four more like that and he might be in the St. Louis rotation if there's a need.
Also in Memphis, Oscar Taveras finally went on the disabled list with that ankle injury. It just never has completely healed and getting some rest should help him get better, plus they can stop playing shorthanded in Memphis. Thankfully, the Cards aren't running through outfielders like they are pitchers!
Lynn's only faced the Royals once before, when he gave up six runs in 5.1 innings in Kansas City last June. The expectation is that he won't do that again. Not that it's completely out of the realm of possibility, but Lynn has looked much sharper this year and is coming off of six quick shutout innings in his last start.
Cardinals have to solve Luis Mendoza. Mendoza's been around longer than I thought, so a few of the Cardinal hitters have seen him before.
The Cardinals lost as many pitchers as they did games over this long holiday weekend. That seems to be about par for the course the season; no matter how many obstacles get thrown in their way, the Cards just throw in another piece to the puzzle and keep plowing along.
With a lefty on the mound, especially a lefty of no major import, you could have been forgiven if you thought things weren't lined up just great for St. Louis. After all, their struggles against those of the left-handed persuasion are legendary. While they'd beaten Chris Capuano in the past, there was no guarantee they'd do so again.
Instead, the Cards scored early, scored late, and didn't allow the Dodgers to score at all. Which seems to be a great way to make sure that left-handed storyline doesn't pop back up, doesn't it?
It was a tough battle for the Hero tag. Allen Craig made a strong push for it, going 2-4 with a home run and three RBI, but David Freese also got two hits, a home run, and three RBI, plus tossed in a walk as well. Freese does look to be getting healthy at the plate, now hitting people that aren't in Milwaukee Brewer outfits.
Those two did the bulk of the damage--Yadier Molina drove in the other run on a sacrifice fly--but that was more than enough for Lance Lynn. Lynn only went six innings, but that was more a function of the score than anything else. He allowed only two hits and struck out nine in his time out there and the bullpen allowed all of one hit in their three innings of work. Even Mitchell Boggs had a nice outing (one inning, nothing but a strikeout) which would have more encouraging had the next night not happened.
The Goat tag winds up on Matt Holliday, who went 0-4 with no runs or RBI, though he did draw a walk in the contest.
If we were giving out Hero tags for the entire game, not just what the Cardinals did, there's no doubt former Card Nick Punto would have gotten it. With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, Pete Kozma roped one down the third base line, but Punto makes an incredible diving stab of it. While Kozma was able to beat it out for an infield single and an RBI, that only tied the game and Matt Adams then popped up to end the threat. The Dodgers immediately came back to take the lead, something they wouldn't relinquish.
We don't let the other team have Heroes on this page, however, so we'll give the tag to Yadier Molina. Yadi had three of the team's seven hits and both scored and drove in a run. Otherwise, there wasn't any offensive standout as the other hits were scattered throughout the lineup.
While there weren't any offensive choices besides Yadi, there has to be some consideration given to the bullpen on the whole. John Gast started this game but left after just one inning plus with shoulder tightness, something that necessitated a trip to the disabled list after the game. That meant the bullpen had a lot of innings to absorb and, for the most part, they did OK. Joe Kelly gave up two runs in three innings but struck out six. Carlos Martinez looked sharp in his inning. Seth Maness got the loss when he gave up the run in the bottom of the sixth to the Dodgers. Randy Choate will probably need some serious down time after pitching a complete inning on back-to-back days.
Then there was Mitchell Boggs. I'm not giving him the Goat because the Cards were already down in the game, but when you are a pitcher trying to work your way back into the manager's confidence, coming into a game where you are down 4-3 and giving up two hits, two walks and a run is probably not the best way to go about it. Granted, one of those was intentional and he did get Skip Schumaker to hit into a double play, but that really isn't what you want to see out of the guy that used to be a closer.
Since we aren't giving the Goat to Boggs, we'll give it to Carlos Beltran, who went 0-4 with no walks (but also no strikeouts, if that means anything.)
I'll admit it, when the Cards got down immediately 2-0 to Clayton Kershaw on Sunday, I thought the "win the series" streak was history. I mean, it's one thing to beat up on a Capuano, but this was Clayton Kershaw, one of the few people in major league baseball with an ERA less than what Shelby Miller brought into this game. A guy that is always in the Cy Young conversation. Two runs is huge to a guy like that, right?
Apparently, not always. The Cards scored three runs of Kershaw in the second, tagged him for another in the seventh, and held on for a 5-3 win, keeping the streak of not losing a series since UCB Weekend going.
And why did they win? Well, a good bit had to do with Miller staying strong, though his three runs in 5.1 innings did push his ERA over 2 for the season. Miller struck out seven, but wasn't able to be efficient enough to get deeper into the game, throwing 105 pitches in that span. Miller has talked about trying to do more with less, but so far that lesson hasn't been learned. Since his near-perfect outing, he's not made it through the sixth after doing that four of six times before that game.
It also helped that Maness did what Maness does, getting a double play ball to end the sixth. I missed portions of this game, being at a couple of different Memorial Day get-togethers, but reading through the play-by-play it's interesting to see that, in the seventh, Mike Matheny pulled Maness after he intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez after a Carl Crawford double to set up a potential double play. I mean, Maness could do that in his sleep, right?
Whatever the reasoning, Trevor Rosenthal came in, upped the level of difficulty by hitting Andre Ethier to load the bases, then struck out the next two guys, basically Rosenthal doing what Rosenthal does.
The biggest reason they won, though, is because Pete Kozma had himself a game. He went 4-4, which is impressive enough for a guy that we expected to be an offensive liability all season long, but got a rare chance to relive history. In the second, he came up with the bases loaded, just like they were on Saturday. Just like on Saturday, he pulled the ball down the third base line. This time, though, Juan Uribe was playing third instead of Punto and the ball bounded past him, clearing the bases. Add to the offensive exploits a flawless game in the field and you've got one of the most obvious Heroes of the season.
Which was good, because only Matt Carpenter wound up with more than one hit in the lineup. He fashioned two, plus a walk, but never scored a run because the 2-3-4 hitters (save when Matt Adams pinch-hit in that spot and got an RBI single in the ninth) went 0-13. Jon Jay gets the Goat for striking out three times in his 0-4 day.
You look at the schedule and you see James Shields versus Adam Wainwright and you figure, "This is going to be good." This is also why they put the game on the field instead of a computer simulation or Strat-O-Matic game, because just because it looks good doesn't mean it is going to be good.
Wainwright went eight innings, but you'd have never have guessed that from early in the game. He allowed the three runs in the first three innings, but then did a lot of "bending but not breaking", often seeing Royal blue on the bases when he got out of jams. You'd say they were jams of his own causing, but the Royals were like the Israelites out there, because there was a whole lot of dying quail for them to feast on. I don't know if perhaps, being owned by Wal-Mart chair David Glass they got some cheaper bats on sale or what, but Kansas City broke a huge number of them, and so often that meant a little dying pop fly that'd land right in front of an onrushing Cardinal outfielder or over the head of a Cardinal infielder trying to make a play. Luckily, a lot of these came with two outs, so Waino had some options to get out of trouble.
While Wainwright wasn't necessarily his sharpest, Yadier Molina sure was. Batting up in the second slot for the first time that I can remember, Molina hit a two-run homer his first time up, doubled in a run the second time, hit a sacrifice fly the third time, and drew two walks (the last intentional). Yadi came to play (though, to be fair, he comes to play every day).
Molina's heroics overshadowed some big offensive days by others as well. Craig went 3-5 with an RBI, Carpenter went 2-4 with a walk, a run and an RBI, and Daniel Descalso, who has nothing personal against Ryan Jackson but likes him better in Memphis, turned in a wonderful 3-3, one walk, two runs line. Is Dirty Dan turning the corner and going to start producing offensively? It'd be nice to have a little more of an offensive threat coming off the bench, so let's hope so.
Tough day for Matt Adams, though. Slipped into the DH slot for the first time this year (the Cards were one of the few teams that hadn't hit interleague play yet), Adams went 0-5 with three strikeouts, though he did smash a drive to the warning track before it fell into the centerfielder's glove.
It seems like this team has been dealing with pitching all year long. From Chris Carpenter in spring training to Gast this weekend, it's like putting together an airplane while it's in the air. Parts continue to fly in from various locations like Tony Stark's armor. It's what you expect from a struggling team, not a team that leads major league baseball.
When Gast went down, the first move was to promote Michael Blazek from Springfield. Blazek, however, is a reliever that was there mainly to shore up the pen after they had to absorb seven innings on Saturday. The same theory applied to Monday's move, which was to send Carlos Martinez to Memphis so he could get stretched back out and be an option for the starting rotation. Victor Marte came back up in that move, though it would seem likely that's not going to last long. (At least, we can hope.)
With all of these moves, there still was a need for a starter on Thursday. That's been determined now as The Prospect, Michael Wacha, has gotten the call. He was dominant in the spring and he's got some nice numbers in Memphis (though some would point out his peripherals aren't quite in line with the wins and the ERA), but you know John Mozeliak is just cringing having to make this call. They really wanted Wacha to spend a significant time in Memphis and there's still a chance of that, as Wacha may only be up for a couple of starts. Still, when you've tried everyone else, sometimes you have to get into that insurance policy.
The reason Wacha might not be up terribly long (besides the general ideas of inning workload and development) is that Jake Westbrookcancelled his appointment with Dr. James Andrews due to his elbow feeling better. Does this mean that Westbrook will be returning soon? The jury is still out on that. Like he said, he can always reschedule and, given the Cardinal injury bug this year, that wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility. We'll see how things develop during the week, but if he could get back on track to return in a few weeks, that would be a nice boost to a team relying on three rookies in the rotation and some more in the bullpen.
Cards go for the sweep of the Royals in Kansas City tonight when Tyler Lyons, Patron Pitcher for this blog, gets his second major league start. We'll see how much the league has adjusted or how much throwing in San Diego's pitcher's park helped him out. Hopefully we'll get something approximating a repeat.
KC will send out Ervin Santana to try to avert that. Santana has been OK in the early going, though he did give up five runs in just shy of eight innings to the Angels last time out. Not a lot of experience for this team versus Santana either.
Memo to Mike Matheny: this does not mean that Ty Wigginton should be your DH or first baseman tonight. Small sample size, Mike, small sample size. By the way, Santana may have only allowed 23 runs in his nine starts, but he's allowed 10 long balls. We might get to see a little power show tonight at The K!
Yesterday was filled with so much negative pitching news off the field, it was great to get some good news on it. That's exactly what the Cardinals got in another late night (for us) in San Diego, as Tyler Lyons made his debut and stated his case for staying around a while.
First off, even before he took the mound, he became the Patron Pitcher for this blog.
I'll admit, after I got done hosting UCB Radio Hour with Kevin Reynolds last night, I turned on the game and was fascinated to see that big 70 out there on the field. The number has only been worn twice in Cardinal history, the other time when little-known Miguel Mejia donned it in Tony LaRussa's first season under the Arch. Mejia played in 45 games, got 23 plate appearances, and hit .087. Something tells me we can easily say that Lyons is the best player in Cardinal history ever to wear 70 and all it took was one game.
Lyons, who probably didn't get a lot of say in his number but likely would have been the Hero just for wearing it, went out and earned the title as well, giving up just a solo home run to Jedd Gyorko in the seventh. Gave up four hits, struck out four, and did it all in 81 pitches. Unlike his other rookie counterpart (no, not that one, the other one), he didn't tire in the sixth and let the Padres have some life. Whether he'll be able to do that when teams are more patient with him, we don't know, but for a major league debut it's tough to do much better.
Of course, it helped that the Cards gave him a nice cushion so he didn't have to get nervous. Lyons came to bat in the top of the first, which means that your day is off to a rousing start. Burch Smith probably pitched his way back to the minors after giving up four runs in an inning-plus of work, allowing five hits and three walks in that span. The Cards tacked on another later in the game but were quieted by Tim Stauffer, so I'm glad the Padres didn't start him last night.
Offensively, you give kudos to Yadier Molina, who snapped out of his brief slump by going four-for-five (though he did get caught stealing once), to Matt Carpenter (2-3, two walks in the leadoff role), Carlos Beltran (3-5) and Matt Holliday (2-5, RBI, though he struck out with the bases loaded in the sixth and hit into a double play in the second, driving in the fourth run).
While Edward Mujica did give up two runs in his first non-save appearance in a while, I think I'll go with Jon Jay as our Goat. Both he and Pete Kozma went 0-fer, but Jay did have an extra at-bat and struck out an extra time. Rough night for both those guys after being so hot for the last few days.
There was a lot of skepticism when the team put Salas on the DL, thinking this was just a made-up injury to get Lyons on the 25-man roster. However, that doesn't seem to track. Both Salas and Kelly had options, so it's not like their hands were tied there. The team has shown they have no compunction about sending people down (see Salas last year, Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski this season), and, with starters dropping like the Cubs' playoff chances, it was easily justifiable to send Kelly down to get stretched out, thus solving the problem. So there's no real reason to fake an injury here, so it would seem Salas is going to have some examinations to go through.
If Salas is out for an extended period of time--and if it's the shoulder, that can be pretty tricky--that won't necessarily affect things too much in St. Louis. Salas hasn't been quite as bad as he gets the blame for, but it's true he's not a high-leverage pitcher in the Cardinal bullpen now. They could do a number of things with that position and it wouldn't likely have a significant impact on the team. (In other words, this is not the place for Michael Wacha to come up.)
Westbrook is a bit more problematic. With him out for at least another couple of starts and perhaps more, it would seem that Lyons and John Gast are going to be starters for the time being. That means that, besides Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn is the grizzled veteran of the rotation, what with about a season and a half of major league time and just one-plus season in the rotation. You can win with young pitching--look at the Braves of the '90s or the A's with Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito--but that's really young pitching. There become a lot of questions when you have that many youngsters running around. Do you try to limit their innings? Can they be consistent? What's it going to be like the second time around the league?
Then there's Garcia. We knew in the winter that surgery was a possibility and many of us thought that he should have gone through with it then. That said, he put together six weeks of pretty good pitching (well, five maybe, since his last two starts--when he admits he was feeling pain--were pretty shaky) and helped the Cardinals get to where they are today. Would things be different if Garcia had done the surgery and been out for the year? Would they have made a move for another veteran to go in the rotation? I don't think so. Odds are that if Garcia had been out from the beginning of spring training, we'd possibly have seen Trevor Rosenthal stretched out to be a starter, but that means right now there'd be no eighth inning guy. Would the bullpen have been even a bigger mess with Rosenthal out?
The team is hopeful Garcia will be ready by spring training next year. That seems pretty optimistic to me, especially the track record the Cards have with injuries. Even if he returns, you have to wonder about the command and the health that we'll see going forward with Garcia. Johan Santana may be the biggest name with shoulder problems and, barring that no-hitter, hasn't really been the same since his first surgery and is now out with a second. The idea that we'll see the Jaime Garcia that we've been intrigued with the last few years seems more farfetched than I'd like.
All of this likely means that John Mozeliak will be hunting around the pitching market as we get closer to the trade deadline. I don't think he wants to expose Wacha too much if he doesn't have to and he's going to want to limit innings by Gast and Lyons and Shelby Miller. If there is a Westbrook-like veteran who isn't going to cost much and is a free agent at the end of the year out there, I think Mo would take a look at that, even if it does look like Chris Carpenter can make a return to the rotation. Problem is, there's not a lot of those kind of guys out there.
Cardinals get a nice day off in sunny California after having bussed from San Diego up to Chavez Ravine to take on Vin Scully and the Dodgers. OK, they don't "take on" Vin, but you know everybody that has the option will be listening to him call the action this weekend. If you have the option and don't take it, shame on you! Scully will start the series talking about the exploits of Lance Lynn, who has faced the Dodgers before.
Lynn's had success in limited action against the boys in blue, though he had a little trouble with Adrian Gonzalez the only time he's faced the first baseman.
The Dodgers counter with Chris Capuano. St. Louis faced Capuano a number of times when he was with the Brewers, and not only is he still in the league, he's doing fairly well save a couple of rough starts.
I don't think Capuano is all that excited about seeing those red (or blue, who knows) caps tonight. Molina's had a bit of trouble with him, but on the whole, it's a matchup that works well for the Cardinals. At least until first pitch!
As my closing note, I want to say happy birthday to my own red-topped offspring, as my daughter turns six today. I was going to wake her up with the following the morning, but she got up before I could. She's serious now!
There's no doubt that Dirty Dan is the Hero of last night's affair. His double in the fifth broke a 1-1 tie but his home run with the bases loaded in the eighth put the exclamation point on the 10-2 rout. Descalso had three hits, three runs and five RBI--a month's worth of production packed into nine innings, the main reason the Cardinals won their first game in San Diego since 2011. Descalso was so good at the plate that we'll forgive his sixth error in the field, though that is a concern for a guy that's supposed to be able to be used as a defensive replacement.
Of course, 10 runs is all well and good but it doesn't help if the pitching doesn't keep the opponent down. Wainwright did just that, limiting San Diego to one run over seven and a third, giving up four hits while striking out six. You know, pretty much vintage Wainwright. He left at exactly 100 pitches and Carlos Martinez got an extended chance to show what he could do. Martinez gave up a run on three hits and a walk, but got some good experience out of the deal.
Interestingly, Martinez isn't going to be the pitcher sent down for today's starter to get on the 25-man roster. There was some thought--and I would agree with the reasoning--that he might get sent down to continue developing in the rotation, getting his starting innings in Memphis rather than sitting around the Cardinal bullpen. Instead, it looks like either Joe Kelly or Fernando Salas will be going down and, if it's between those two, my bet is on Kelly. Salas has struggled at times but has been effective at other times. Kelly has sat a lot and, with his starter background, could fill that role in Memphis if they need him to do so.
They did have to make a 40-man move to get Tyler Lyons on the roster and they placed Eduardo Sanchez on waivers, where he was quickly snatched up by the Cubs. Sanchez had some great moments back in '11 with the club, but his command hasn't been there since his injury (and, to be fair, it wasn't necessarily a strong point before) and he'd fallen way down on the depth chart of relievers. Jon Doble points out he was out of options and had to be on the big league club in 2014, which wasn't likely to happen.
10 runs and 13 hits means that it is usually tough to find a Goat, as most everyone has contributed. But while I'm sure that he was his normal effective self behind the plate, Yadier Molina went 0-4 at it, the only regular not to get a hit. That's usually going to get you the Goat label and it does again here.
Pete Kozma had two hits, raising his average up to .271. You can have fun with arbitrary endpoints, of course, but over his last 10 games--which would probably coincide with the talk of bringing Ryan Jackson up--he's hitting .345 with four walks and only five strikeouts. Could be he's just running into a spate of good luck and there's no doubt the pitching staffs that he has been facing aren't as strong as some others the team has seen, but it's good to see him being productive. He continues to do a lot more than I ever thought we'd see out of him this year.
Short on time so let's get to the pitching matchups, which will be brought to you without tables because these guys, well, let's just say big league experience isn't their forte. Lyons comes up after having a higher ERA in Memphis, but his supporting numbers indicate he's pitched better than that. He gets to play in a nice pitcher's park today against a struggling team, so it's not a bad place for a MLB debut.
When I looked and saw the Padres were starting "B. Smith", well, I immediately thought of Bud Smith. I still remember watching the end of his no-hitter against the Padres back in 2001. That was the last no-hitter for the Cards and possibly the last highlight of his career. But no, this is Burch Smith, who is making his second big-league start (and third appearance), a worldly veteran compared to Lyons. Saying that Smith has been rocky is like saying sci-fi fans get upset when you tinker with their shows. He gave up six earned runs in one inning of relief against the Rays, then five in 5.1 innings in a start against Washington. He does have that "Cardinals have never seen him" thing going for him, but he's not a lefty and is not that much of a soft tosser. On paper, the Cards should get to him. They don't play them on paper, though.
Another late game in California, followed by an off-day. Let's hope the Cards can take yet another series!
That's probably a bit unfair to say--and I did watch a few innings before the late hour and the storm knocking out DirecTV did me in--but it'd have been tough to watch another good pitching performance spoiled by the bullpen. Not saying that Shelby Miller was all that and a bag of chips, but he did put his offensively-challenged team in a position to win. Unfortunately, he was just not very direct about doing it.
Miller threw 107 pitches in 5.2 innings, which is the reason Mike Matheny had to turn to Fernando Salas earlier in the game than he'd probably wanted to. He walked three, which is an acceptable number, but threw a few more balls than was optimal. If he's at even 90 pitches at that time, Matheny leaves him in to finish the inning and perhaps the game turns out differently.
Salas gets the Goat because, even though he came into a tough situation, he should have been able to get out of it. Two were on, but two were out as well. Instead, he gives up a run-scoring single, a walk, and hits a man to force in another run. The Cards go from up one to down one while he's in and while his ERA doesn't get touched, it's still got to be on him this time.
Even though his throw apparently led to runners advancing in the sixth on the RBI single by Chris Denorfia, I'll give the Hero tag to Jon Jay, who was the only batter to get multiple hits against the Padre pitching staff last night. Not only that, he got half the team's total hits as well. I know San Diego has a strong bullpen and that Jason Marquis had been having a strong season, plus Petco is a pitcher's park even with the modifications, but that seems a little extreme to me. Just four hits? Of course, they did put together five walks, though two of those were to Pete Kozma, likely pitching around him to get to the pitcher's slot.
This is the sixth time the Cards have lost the opening game of a series, but (save for that two game series in Chicago) the first time they've done it in May. We've gotten used to the team going for the series win in the second game instead of having to rally to do it by winning two in a row.
This is also the second time I've talked about Matheny possibly starting Ty Wigginton due to his numbers against a pitcher, only to see him turn around and do it. However, Wiggy wasn't the first choice last night, but David Freese wound up being scratched because of a scratch. The cut he received on Sunday puffed up some and the trainers recommended pulling him as a precaution. We should see him back in the lineup tonight and find out if he's out of his slump or he just needs the Brewers on the other side of the field. On the positive side, some of the Padres jerseys do bear a resemblance to the Milwaukee ones.....
Wainwright's done well against the Padres too, which is even more encouraging. Nobody has taken him deep (which hopefully won't be an issue tonight either in the spacious ballpark) and only Yonder Alonso is hitting over .300 against him.
Cards get to try to solve Edinson Volquez. Volquez was on the other side of Wainwright's first shutout after returning from Tommy John surgery last year, but then won later in the year when Wainwright gave up five runs in an inning in San Diego. Strange how these two always seem to match up, isn't it?
The Cardinals have done OK against Volquez dating all the way back to his Cincinnati days, but it seems to be hit or miss. Some night they own him, some nights it is the other way around. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday look like they'll be excited about tonight, though.
There are some significant changes coming to this blog in the next couple of weeks. Thankfully by then the Cards will be off of the West Coast. Another late one tonight!
The Cards have now played the Brewers 10 times this season. They wish they could play them 100 more.
After winning two of three against the Milwaukee squad, St. Louis has now won eight of 10 against them this season. David Freese loves to hit against the Brewers--even when he can't hit against anyone else--and pretty much everything has worked well in those games where the two teams get together.
Let's take a look at this weekend's games, then talk about what happened away from the field, as that might have more relevance to the rest of the season.
Even though Freese finally got into the home run column in grand fashion, giving the Cards a 5-0 lead, the Hero wasn't so clearly defined. If Freese had added another hit to that mix, I think I'd have gone with him and maybe I should anyway--after all, the Cardinals needed all of those runs. Matt Carpenter, though, had three hits in the leadoff role and scored two runs, which isn't a bad night either. Then again, Allen Craig went 3-3 plus added in a walk for a perfect night at the plate.
All are good choices, but I think I'm going to go with Matt Holliday. Not only did Holliday have a couple of hits, but he scored a run and drove in two, giving the most well-rounded performance on a night when there were a lot of offensive performances to choose from.
If I was one that chose more nebulous concepts for the tags, the bullpen in general might have gotten the nod. Coming into a one-run game in the sixth, Seth Maness, Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica combined for 3.2 innings, two hits, no runs, no walks, and three strikeouts. In a game that became as tight as they come, those relief outings were huge.
Even tempered by the idea that he was hurting (something we'll discuss after the recaps), the Goat has to go to Jaime Garcia. Aramis Ramirez has been a Cardinal killer for a long time, but to serve up two three-run home runs to him is tough to swallow, and that's not because the crud has hit me and my throat is hurting this morning. Especially when you factor in that he was hurting badly through it but not letting anyone know. That's what we saw out of him in the NLDS last year (though someone--I think Bernie Miklasz--pointed out that it'd have been tough for him to walk past Chris Carpenter and all he represented then and ask out of a playoff game) and it doesn't help the team. It's understandable to want to grit it out when you are up 7-0, but when the game gets a little closer you have to say something.
Tough night for Carlos Beltran as well, who went 0-5 and struck out twice. Thankfully the offensive slack was picked up by others.
You hate to lay this one on Daniel Descalso. Sure, it'd have been nice if he could have gotten the winning hit in the ninth. It'd have been good if he could have laid off of pitches out of the zone. That said, he's a pinch hitter (and not necessarily the one you wanted up there, but there wasn't a lot of option by that time) coming off the bench cold with two outs. There were a lot of ways that could have ended badly and the odds of it working out were slim, really.
So I'm going to go with Joe Kelly on this one, even though part of me doesn't want to do that as well. Going into extra innings means it is always dicey, but it was Kelly's first inning of work and he's the one that created the jam. He faced some tough hitters in that inning, there's no doubt of that, but he didn't get enough of them out. This was the first time Kelly had given up runs in five outings, though, so he's gotten more reliable. He just didn't have it on Saturday.
Of course, Lance Lynn could have gotten into that conversation as well. After throwing 124 pitches in his last outing, he likely didn't quite have the reserves he has had before, only making it through the fifth and giving up eight hits and four runs in that span. Throw in two walks and it's pretty impressive he only gave up four runs. Hopefully with that early exit, he'll be more rested up for his next start. He'll have an extra day of rest as well with the off-day Thursday and be playing in a pitcher's park, so you'd expect his next time out against the Dodgers will go much better.
It was another one of those games that we've seen numerous times out of the Cardinals, whether this year or in years past where they score all of their runs in one inning. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. This time, it did, though not without some drama along the way.
If Maness had gotten out of a bases-loaded jam that wasn't of his own making, I'd have probably have considered him as yesterday's Hero. However, not really the spirit of the thing to award for something that could have gone horribly wrong, even if he did work his way out of it with some key pitching. No, I'm going to go with Jon Jay for the title, as he got two hits, scored a run and drove in another. Freese and Craig also had two hits on a day where the offense was just good enough but nothing spectacular.
Some kudos have to go to John Gast as well, picking up his second major league win in part because Mike Matheny didn't try to ride him too long. When he put a couple of runners on in the sixth--the same inning he struggled against the Mets in his first outing--Matheny yanked him and while Maness allowed those inherited runners to score, the Cards still had the lead. Gast hasn't shown yet that he can get past that wall of the sixth (or hitters are starting to adjust to him the third time around) but hopefully he'll be able to make the adjustments needed to start going a little deeper.
I guess I'll invoke my "leadoff man tiebreaker" rule and give the Goat to Matt Carpenter, since he had an 0-4 day at the dish yesterday. Weren't many that didn't get a least one knock, so he'll have to wear that tag.
Some drama as well yesterday, as Kyle Lohse (who very well may have been getting frustrated by continually getting beat by rookie Cardinal pitchers, thereby justifying them not resigning him) started complaining about Gast pulling back on his bunt and looking to swing. (I didn't get to see it, being at my daughter's sixth birthday party. And yes, we played this.) Perhaps this is some of those inside baseball unwritten rules, but I've never heard any complaints like this that I can remember. Again, from the outside looking in it looked like Lohse was irritated and frustrated and took it out on that situation, but maybe that's a bigger baseball breach than we are aware of.
The big news from this weekend was, of course, that Garcia was going on the disabled list with the surgery that he didn't have in the offseason a strong possibility now. It seemed like the Cardinals had finally won an injury gamble, but apparently not so much. Shoulder issues are so dicey as well--look at what's gone on with Johan Santana since he's had his--and you wonder what Garcia you'll get whenever he does return. When John Mozeliak is saying stuff like, "All indications are this is not good," it's not good. The only other time I remember Mo being so negative before all the tests were in was Adam Wainwright in the spring of 2011. We all know how that turned out.
Does that mean that Chris Carpenter, who might start making rehab starts next month and already was planned to be stretched out in the minors, could return to the rotation instead of the bullpen when he's ready? Tara and I talked about this last night on Gateway to Baseball Heaven and she's concerned about the workload of a starter on Carpenter, that he might make a couple of starts then go down for the count. That's a valid concern and that might be enough for the Cards to continue tapping their pitching depth to replace the innings lost by injuries.
That said, I wonder if bullpen usage might not be even more damaging to Carpenter. Sure, he's not out there for five or more innings like he would be as a starter, but he might be used more than once every five days in the pen, he's got to get ready on a shorter time frame, he's got to come in and be dominant from the get-go instead of easing his way into the game as you can with a longer stint. I've still never been sold that Carpenter's stuff and talents would translate as well to the 'pen as some think, so if he could return to the rotation, I think that'd be my preference. Of course, any idea that the number 29 is going to be back on the mound at all is probably a bit premature, but that's never stopped bloggers from speculating before!
Look, we all want to see Wacha. However, Mo was quite emphatic on the point (and it's a talking point that's been picked up at Fox Sports Midwest as well, I see) that this time last year Wacha was pitching in college. He's still not adjusted to a five-day schedule yet. Sure, he's dominating in Memphis right now, but let's see if that continues into June or July. He definitely doesn't work as a stopgap replacement--Bernie acknowledges this in his post--but I don't think we'll see him until August or September at best this year. There's no doubt that Wacha is close to his ceiling and Mo has agreed that he could probably pitch successfully in the big leagues right now, but there are a lot of other factors including keeping him healthy and getting him into regular condition.
Besides, it would seem likely (as likely as it gets with Cardinal injuries, at least) that Jake Westbrook will be back soon, meaning this could be a fairly moot point as Lyons might only get one or two starts. Of course, it is a Cardinal injury, so you never can be too sure.
Put a guy that has an ERA under 1.50 in Petco Park against a Padres offense that has been middle of the pack (though, interestingly, the Padres have more home runs than the Cardinals--then again, only the Dodgers and Marlins don't) and what do you get? We'll find out tonight when Shelby Miller takes the mound in San Diego. Miller hasn't faced these hitters much before, obviously, so I don't know that the sample tells us even as little as it usually does.
Some good numbers, but the most that anyone has seen him is two at bats, which really tells you little to nothing.
Old Home Week continues when the Redbirds face Jason Marquis tonight. Obviously it's been a while since Marquis was a Cardinal and he doesn't invoke the same general good feelings that Lohse does--mainly because people were ready for Marquis to leave St. Louis well before he actually did--but he was part of the deal that brought us Wainwright, so we have to appreciate him for that much, at least. His career table is interesting:
While we've seen tables before where the pitcher has only faced a couple of hitters, I don't know that I've seen a table like that where everyone on it has faced the pitcher more than 10 times. It's always a little disconcerting when Ty Wigginton has good numbers, because you know Matheny is going to be tempted to start him, but I think that we'll avoid that bullet tonight.
Late games this week on the West Coast, so get your nap in this afternoon or after work so you can be ready!
sinister (adj): singularly evil or productive of evil; also, of, relating to, or situated to the left or on the left side of something; also, of ill omen by reason of being on the left.
That's a long way to say that lefties are pretty much evil when the Cardinals have to face them, and yesterday was no exception. The Cards did hit three doubles off of Jonathan Niese, but nothing ever really came of them. Either because of the pitching, the lineup, or the day game, the Cards seemed fairly listless yesterday, an attitude that carried over to the field as they made two errors, one of which lead to a run.
If Adam Wainwright is cursed against the Mets due to his legendary appearance against them in the 2006 playoffs, I think we as Cardinal fans can handle that. That moment--and the World Series title that came because the Cards weren't eliminated--is worth Waino struggling a couple of times a year, isn't it? It's not like the Redbirds are going to run into the Mets in the playoffs again for quite some time.
Whatever the reason, Wainwright's nemesis got to him again. After taking a no-hitter into the eighth in his last start, Wainwright only went six innings this time, giving up six hits and four runs (one that was unearned). He did strike out eight and only had two bad innings, but when New York got going he couldn't stop them. Daniel Murphy played a huge role in that, doubling in the first run and scoring later, then doubling to lead off the sixth and scoring after that.
The bullpen was OK, though not as dominant as we've seen. Remember when I suggested Mike Matheny should have left in Randy Choate to face Rick Ankiel yesterday? That might not have worked out the way we expected, since Choate allowed a double to Ankiel in this one. Choate gave up two hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning, which is about as dangerous an inning as you can have without giving up a run. Fernando Salas was not so lucky, getting touched for a run in the eighth, and Joe Kelly finished it up with a scoreless inning only blemished by a two-out hit and a fielder's choice where nobody was out.
When you looked at yesterday's lineup, you thought something like this could happen. After all, Shane Robinson (who gets the Goat for an 0-3 day plus an outfield error) and Ty Wigginton (as I guessed he might) were both in the lineup. Given them and David Freese's struggles, there's a third of the lineup that didn't look to be productive and, indeed, none of them had a hit on Thursday. It's tough to get things going when there are significant holes in the lineup, like an engine that just won't catch.
Hero goes to Carlos Beltran, who beat up on his former team with three hits and drove in one of the two Cardinal runs, but even he had issues fielding yesterday, making one of his errors that allowed the runner to take another base. Still, when the whole team just had eight hits, you go with the guy that had 37.5% of them.
So the Cards can't finish off the four game sweep--which isn't terribly surprising, because that's tough to do--but at least they get to stay home and see if they can't take out a little frustration on a Milwaukee team that they've won six of seven from so far this season and are sitting in the cellar of the NL Central.
Jaime Garcia gets the ball for St. Louis. Garcia threw eight innings of one-run ball against the Brewers last time, which is reflected in these career numbers.
If only he can keep the threat that is Yuniesky Betancourt contained, Garcia's done pretty well against the Brew Crew. Ryan Braun's gone deep twice, but that's not a terrible number in 40 plate appearances.
Cardinals get to face Wily Peralta. They feasted on him last time, getting six runs in one inning (he pitched 4.1). Which is where all of the career numbers come from, as that was the only time they've seen him.
The Cardinals have won with dominant starting pitching. They've done that quite a lot this season, actually. They've won with some big thumpers, though not quite as often. When a team is winning this regularly, they've got to mix it up some, make sure they don't get bored clicking off win after win. So last night, they let the Mets rally then won the game on a wild pitch. Freshened things up a bit, you know.
The Hero of the evening goes to Daniel Descalso. On a night where nobody really stood out and nobody had multiple hits, Descalso had one of the six hits but, more importantly, drew a two-out walk in the seventh. Pete Kozma singled and Descalso, knowing that Rick Ankiel was out there but also knowing he was deep in the outfield, took the extra base.
Descalso--and everyone in the park--knew that that was a gamble. I mean, Ankiel's outfield work is a highlightreel of great throws. Cardinal fans, however, are not likely to soon forget these in Colorado, which proved that Ankiel may play deep, but there's no such thing as too deep.
As Descalso himself said, with Ankiel out there, "you better get there". He did and was in position to break the tie when Scott Rice threw a wild pitch. Cards scored again in the ninth and won 4-2.
Mike Matheny made a couple of interesting decisions last night, though that's nothing new for the Cardinal skipper. Shelby Miller struck out David Wright on a 96 mph fastball in the sixth, but Matheny came out and made the call for Randy Choate instead of letting Miller finish the inning. That, I have no problem with. Miller labored a bit more last night, was at 95 pitches and was coming off some high pitch count games. Let Choate face the lefty, no problem.
Choate got his guy, then got the first out in the seventh. Matheny then pulls him for Seth Maness, who wound up as the Goat, instead of letting Choate face one righty then another lefty in Ankiel. Granted, Choate doesn't run out that long in a game--two batters might have been his limit--but even though righthanders can get to Choate some, the benefit of letting a lefty face Ankiel might have counterbalanced that.
Still, Ankiel is struggling and Maness should have been able to get him out. Instead, after he gave up a groundball hit to his first batter, Ankiel launched a tying home run to remove Miller from the decision. Maness wound up tallying his third win when the Cards rallied in the bottom of the inning, but that doesn't get him off the hook when it comes to the Goat. That said, you knew that the young guys were going to hit a rough spot or two, so it's not like anyone is clamoring for Maness's head or anything.
Second questionable decision again didn't cost the Cardinals--how often do we say that? Matheny must be a time traveler who can see five minutes into the future or something--but it wasn't something I'd have done. After Kozma's hit, there were runners on the corners and Matheny sent Matt Adams up to pinch-hit. That makes plenty of sense, as the big guy is still hitting in the .500 neighborhood and with the pop to double in Kozma from first. Sure, great idea.
However, the Mets then make the pitching change, taking out Shaun Marcum (who really befuddled the Cards last night) and bringing in Rice. Does Matheny leave Adams in now that he's been announced, even though there's a left-hander on the mound? Of course not. He pinch hits Ty Wigginton for Adams, which is a bit like me filling in at St. Louis Perfectos. The old guy may have some hits in the past, but the young gun is going to give you the better quality at bat. Adams hasn't had a lot of exposure to lefties in the big leagues, and has struggled in the exposure that he's had, but I'd still take him over Wigginton there. Even if you want to burn Adams like that, it seems like someone else would have been the better idea. Yadier Molina was sitting there and pinch-hit in the eighth--why not when the game was on the line? Granted, this is what they got Wigginton for, but we've seen that hasn't really worked out so far this season.
And then Rice throws a wild pitch in the midst of walking Wigginton and it's all an academic exercise. Sometimes you'd just rather be lucky than good.
Chris Carpenterthrew a shorter bullpen session than he had been yesterday, but that's because he's going to do a simulated game in a couple of days. He'll do another one of those a few days later and, by time the Cards return from their road trip at the end of the month, they should have an idea of what's going to happen with him. While the idea had been to send him to extended spring training, if he's feeling good enough they may go ahead and start the rehab clock, which means that if all goes well Carp could be up in the bigs before the All-Star Break. Still think there needs to be a lot of caution on all of this and expectations should be tempered, but it looks more and more likely that Carpenter has another act in his big league career.
An afternoon affair at Busch as the Cardinals go for the sweep. When you are going for a sweep, it's a great luxury to have your ace on the hill for it. Adam Wainwright tries to follow up his no-hitter try with another stellar outing. The Mets don't have much to encourage them either.
A couple of people have had success against him in a small sample and Waino struggled with the Mets last year, getting beat up on the other side of Johan Santana's no-hitter and giving up five runs to them in September. It would be surprising to see him struggle like that today, as I expect he'll be focused in on trying to beat them in retaliation.
Mets can't send out their ace Matt Harvey, so they counter with Jonathon Niese. Niese has, like most Mets starters, been ineffective this season, posting a 2-4 record and an ERA just under six. His last outing, he allowed eight runs in 4.1 innings to the Pirates and the game before that, seven runs in four innings to the Braves. He has had some good starts this year, but he's not trending in the right direction.
These numbers don't inspire confidence either. Nobody has taken him out of the yard, but there are some good averages. With three games in hand, does Matheny get crazy and start Wigginton based on these samples? I'd like to say no, but.....
Enjoy the afternoon. I'll be writing up The Bird's Eye View today, so if you've not signed up, you might want to!