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!
What does it tell you that I still remember when punching out the ballot was the only way to vote for All-Stars? I remember getting to do it on vacation to St. Louis once and it was a real thrill. Occasionally you'd see ballots in displays, but since that usually went with Budweiser and this is a dry county, not so often. Now, you can show your support in any number of social media outlets and the Cardinals are going to use every one to try to send the Cards to New York.
FANS ENCOURAGED TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO CAMPAIGN FOR CARDINALS
Fans Asked to 'Gram the Ballot Box with Instagram Photos & #VinetheVote with Twitter Videos
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (May 29, 2013) - The St. Louis Cardinals have taken to social media to encourage fans to actively campaign to send their favorite Cardinals to the 2013 All-Star Game in New York.
"While the All-Star Game is a celebration of the best players in the game, All-Star campaigning is a chance to showcase who has the best and most passionate fans in the game, " said Ron Watermon, Director of Public Relations and Civic Affairs for the Cardinals. "We hope our fans channel their passion and creativity to champion All-Star balloting, celebrate our great players and most importantly have some fun along the way."
The Cardinals have launched an Instagram-based promotion called 'gram the ballot box that enables fans to have their photo shown on the Busch Stadium scoreboard when their favorite player comes to the plate. The Cardinals will use the fan's photo in place of the player to demonstrate that the fan went to bat for the player with their All-Star vote provided that the fan follows the team on Instagram (@cardinals) and the photo is posted with the appropriate hashtags (#VoteSTL and the designated All-Star campaign hashtag for their favorite Cardinals players on the All-Star ballot).
The campaign hashtags for each Cardinal on the 2013 All-Star ballot are #AllStarAllen for Allen Craig, #CarpenterSkills for Matt Carpenter, #FreesePlease for David Freese, #PickPete for Pete Kozma, #YadiYadiYadi for Yadier Molina, #SavedbytheBeltran for Carlos Beltran, #HollidayIn for Matt Holliday, and #SayJay for Jon Jay.
The Cardinals are also encouraging fans to take to twitter to post short campaign videos in support of their favorite players. Fans that participate in #VinetheVote, named for Twitter's free mobile video application, may have their creative work shared with the Cardinals (@cardinals) nearly 300,000 twitter followers. The Cardinals will re-tweet select fan videos posted to twitter, which may be created with the Vine app or any other application, so long as the fan follows the team on twitter and posts the video to twitter with the hashtags #VoteSTL and #VinetheVote. Fans can learn more about the campaign and vote up to 35 times at cardinals.com/vote. Online voting ends July 4, 2013, at 11:59 p.m. ET, while in-stadium voting at Busch Stadium continues through June 6th.
(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!
There will be a post covering this weekend, but an unexpected errand and a power outage kept me from finishing it, so it'll be a little later on. (Which is good, since now we know Michael Wacha will pitch on Thursday.) Until then, though, you might want to start making your plans for next Tuesday as Social Media Night returns to Busch!
CARDINALS ANNOUNCE DETAILS FOR 2013 SOCIAL MEDIA NIGHT
Event includes pre-game program with players, a fan designed T-Shirt & Fan Twitter Takeover
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (May 28, 2013) - The St. Louis Cardinals announced that Social Media Night in the Budweiser Bowtie Bar at Busch Stadium June 4th will focus on fan engagement, including giving fans the opportunity to take over the team's twitter account (@Cardinals) for the game.
"Like radio in the early days of baseball, social media enables fans to follow the team, but with a modern twist that allows them to also be the voice of the Cardinals," said Ron Watermon, Director of Public Relations. "We thought it would be fun to let fans in our 'Twitter booth' to help us call the game."
The Cardinals will allow fans to tweet the play-by-play and story of the game during Social Media Night by selectively re-tweeting fans that include the hashtag #STLFanTakeover in their tweets.
Fans who buy a special ticket to the Social Media Night event at Busch Stadium will receive access to a pre-game Q&A program featuring Cardinal players who are active on social media. All fans may submit their questions for the players prior to the event via the Cardinals Facebook page (facebook.com/cardinals) and Twitter (@Cardinals, #CardsSocial).
Social Media Night is a great chance for fans of all ages to interact with their favorite "tweeting Birds" face to face, as well as engage with other fans and team officials. In keeping with the fan engagement theme, the team ran a social media contest on Tumblr to have fans design and select the t-shirt that will be given out as part of Social Media Night. For $25, fans receive a Left Field Porch Ticket for the 7:15 p.m. game between the Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks, access to the pre-game program featuring Cardinal players, the fan designed t-shirt, the chance to win autographed prizes and more. Tickets are still available at cardinals.com/socialmedianight. Social Media Night is presented by Budweiser.
Social Media Night at Busch Stadium is one of several unique personalized theme ticket promotions planned for the 2013 season. Theme tickets are customized promotions that allow a select number of fans to celebrate a common interest while enjoying access to a unique promotional item and/or an exclusive pregame event. Fans can learn more about Cardinals theme nights at cardinals.com/theme.
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!
I am probably not the first to come up with this idea, but I don't think I've seen it anywhere else. I think this would be an incredible way to honor a player that was more in tune with the fabric of his city than any other. There's never been any doubt that Stan was one of the greatest to ever play and one of the greatest off the field as well. This combination needs to be recognized in perpetuity. Because the generation that saw Musial play regularly is getting older, and there will come a time when the generation that just knew Musial as a legend, a red jacket on Opening Day, will pass as well. Musial deserves to be immortalized so that generations to come will stop and realize just who he was and what he meant to this city and this organization.
Of course, besides the stance and perhaps the harmonica, nothing is more tied to Stan than his number. I don't think it's a coincidence that when the marketing campaign for Mobil On The Run came along, they selected six to be their serious number. Six is embedded into the organization because of The Man that wore it last and best.
Which means that June 6--6/6, of course--is the perfect day to have a perpetual Stan Musial Day. Like the Jackie Robinson tribute comes around every April 15 and we honor him for what he did in breaking the color barrier in baseball, so should June 6 come to be the day everyone stops and remembers that left-handed swing or the humble man who fashioned it. (I'm not saying that everyone on the team should wear 6 as their jersey that day, don't get me wrong. Let's leave the number on the wall where it belongs.)
What would this entail? I envision that every year, the Cardinals would wear a jersey from Stan's career. Maybe they go with the 1942 version one year to celebrate that World Series team, maybe they'd go with 1963 one year to honor his retirement. I think they could mix it up--there are, after all, 23 different years to choose from.
There should be a Stan Musial giveaway of some sort. The Cards are doing that already this year, with a poster giveaway against the Diamondbacks. Maybe one year it's a pennant, one year it's a baseball card, one year they bring back the harmonicas. Something that ties to Stan in some way.
Normally, the first pitch should be thrown out by a member of Stan's family. Child, grandchild, great-grandchild, someone who has the Musial blood in their veins. However, if the club was to start this in 2013, being that the Musial family has already thrown out first pitches this season, I would suggest that Stan's long-time teammate and friend Red Schoendienst get the honors. He might not have been physically related to the Musials, but I expect he was considered family anyway.
If the team is at home, a portion of the proceeds of the game should be dedicated to a charity that either Stan personally supported or one that would seem to fit his spirit. For instance, there's a Stan Musial Scholarship Fund, which would work, or Covenant House Missouri, where people were directed in lieu of flowers at his passing. If the team is away, a fixed amount should be donated instead.
Which brings me to my last suggestion. I believe the Cardinals should petition Major League Baseball to instruct the schedule makers to always have the Cards in St. Louis on June 6. It's not an unheard of request--the Red Sox always play at home on Patriot Day, for instance--but it is unique enough to honor The Man in a special way. It's not a requirement--save for the giveaways and the first pitch, the Cards could celebrate Stan Musial Day on the road as well, just using special road jerseys--but it would seem to mean more if it could always be held in front of the fanbase that cheered Musial on and in the city where he meant so much.
I encourage the Cardinals to implement this. Save for the jerseys (which, I expect, would take longer than two weeks to arrange), all aspects of this could be handled this year. As noted, there's already a Stan giveaway for that day. Let's give Stan that holiday on the baseball calendar he's always deserved!
You know, since this promotion has been so successful, I expect to see it in September if the Cards need a push to get into the playoffs.
FANS CAN PURCHASE $4 TICKETS THANKS TO "CARDS WIN, YOU SAVE" PROMO
Select tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m. CT at a nearly 80% discount
ST. LOUIS, MO (May 22, 2013) - The St. Louis Cardinals announced that discounted tickets as part of the team's Cards Win, You Save promotion will go on sale today at 10:00 a.m. A select number of tickets normally priced at $19 will be sold for $4 as the team took $3 off for each victory during the most recent homestand series with the Mets and Brewers (5-2).
"This continues to be one of our most successful promotions from both a winning and savings perspective," said Joe Strohm, Vice President of Ticket Sales. "Not only do fans get a tremendous value to some of our best games, but the promotion seems to bring good luck to our team."
The Cardinals are 21-7 (.750) lifetime with the promotion. The discount applies to a select number of RF/LF Pavilion, RF/LF Loge and RF Terrace tickets when the Cardinals take on the Arizona Diamondbacks (June 3-6)
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!