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!
You should know by now that the hallowed field at Busch Stadium will be used to host a soccer match this week. If this is up your alley, here are the details of the event. Again, I've never gotten into soccer since I quit playing it as a kid, but I'm sure this is quite exciting to some in the area.
International Soccer at Busch Stadium Details
Two Day Soccer Celebration in St. Louis Highlighted By Historic Match Between EPL Icons
ST. LOUIS - May 21, 2013 - Two of the most storied English Premier League clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City, will be in St. Louis this week for a historic exhibition match at Busch Stadium on Thursday, May 23rd. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST. This will be the first international soccer match at Busch Stadium, as well as the first non-baseball sporting event at the ballpark that opened in downtown St. Louis in April 2006. Following is a schedule of official activities and information to help fans enjoy international soccer in St. Louis this week. Fans may also join the social media conversation on Twitter with #socceratbusch.
Thursday's match is sold out, but fans should continue to monitor cardinals.com/soccer as tickets may be made available up until game time. Tickets to Chelsea's training session event on Wednesday are available for $20 at cardinals.com/soccer, the Busch Stadium box office and by phone at 314.345.9500. The public training event includes a free concert by indie rock band Cracker, fireworks and a unique crossbar soccer challenge that will end with one fan in attendance winning a trip for two to travel to England next year to see Chelsea play at home.
From Baseball to Soccer - The Busch Stadium Transformation
On Monday, the Cardinals grounds crew began the process of reconfiguring the ballpark for soccer by removing the pitcher's mound and installing sod in the infield and along the infield warning track. The soccer field will be finished by Wednesday. The 100 x 65 meter soccer playing field will span from just in front of the visitor's dugout to the edge of the outfield in front of the home bullpen.
Wednesday, May 22nd - Chelsea Training Session Event
As the designated home team, Chelsea will conduct a public training session at Busch Stadium for St. Louis fans. The training session event promises to be an affordable and special evening for soccer fans. Not only will fans be able to see one of the greatest international soccer teams prepare for their historic match with Manchester City, they may also enjoy a free concert by indie rock band Cracker, fireworks, and have a chance to participate in a unique crossbar soccer challenge that will end with one fan in attendance winning a trip for two to travel to England next year to see Chelsea play at home.
Gates for the training event open at 5 p.m. Before fans enter Busch Stadium, they may want to visit one of three Chelsea fan-tents set up around the ballpark where they can pick up a complimentary Chelsea flag, sign up for information about the club and take a photo with a championship trophy. The Chelsea fan-tents located at 8th & Clark, Gate 1 and Gate 2 will be open from 3:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Chelsea's training session will commence at 7 p.m. The session is expected to last just over an hour. The Cross Bar Challenge will start around 8:30, followed by the Cracker concert. The evening will end with fireworks around 9:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 23rd - Chelsea vs. Manchester City Match
Fans will want to plan to be downtown early to soak up all the soccer excitement. Budweiser will kick off the formal activities at 4 p.m. with the Budweiser March to the Match Pep Rally at Kiener Plaza. A full schedule of activities follows:
4 P.M. - 6 P.M. Budweiser March to the Match Pep Rally at Kiener Plaza
The Cardinals and Budweiser will host a pre-match pep rally in Kiener Plaza, located between Broadway, 7th, Chestnut and Market. Local rock band Griffin and the Gargoyles will perform. Budweiser will have their Build-A-Bars and Pool Ball games as well as other soccer-themed activities. Both teams will distribute free items for fans (Chelsea flags & Manchester City megaphones), and the team mascots and a Budweiser Clydesdale will be on hand for photo opportunities. Team officials are scheduled to address the crowd at 5:30 p.m. and invite fans to "March to the Match," led by the Budweiser Clydesdale and the team mascots down 7th Street to Gate 3 of Busch Stadium.
5 P.M. Gates open
7:00 P.M. Pre-match ceremonies begin with an appearance by Chelsea's mascot, Stamford the Lion, and Manchester City's brother and sister mascots, Moonbeam and Moonchester.
Chelsea and Manchester City will be introduced. Each team will enter the field with 12 local children dressed in team attire. The 24 children are between the ages of six and eight. The referees will be introduced and will conduct a coin toss ceremony with the two teams.
The National Anthem will be performed by Brian Owens of the Missouri Air National Guard Band, Sidewinder.
Flyover by Commemorative Air Force
7:30 P.M. Match Commences
Half-time Ceremony honoring six St. Louis members of United States Soccer Hall of Fame (Frank Borghi, Bob Herman, Bob Kehoe, Denny Long, Pat McBride and Al Trost)
Watching on TV
Fans can watch the match on ESPN 2.
Fans can tune into KMOX (1120 AM) to hear coverage of the match.
Online or On the Go
Fans may also get unique content from the game via the Cardinals' Twitter account, @Cardinals.
Getting to the Game -- Roadwork & Alternative Transportation Reminders
MoDOT will not have any scheduled additional lane closures on state highways inside the city limits for Wednesday or Thursday. There are projects under construction at I-64 and Jefferson and Tower Grove. MoDOT will continue to have three lanes open in each direction of I-64 Wednesday and Thursday to accommodate soccer fans.
MetroLink is a convenient alternative to driving, allowing fans to avoid the cost of parking and game day traffic. To avoid the traffic congestion and the cost of parking on game day, fans can use one of 19 free Park-Ride lots along the MetroLink line and take the train to Stadium Station, right across the street from the ballpark. Check the Metro website www.MetroSt.Louis.org for schedules and the Park-Ride lot nearest you.
Soccer Merchandise Available in Cardinals Team Store
Fans will want to stop by the Busch Stadium Team Store to purchase a variety of soccer-related retail items connected with the historic match. The Team Store has team specific merchandise, as well as special items commemorating the historic match such as t-shirts and scarves. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, and offers free, 15-minute street parking next to the store entrance at Clark and 8th Street, between Gates 3 and 4. Merchandise will also be available at locations throughout the ballpark on both Wednesday and Thursday.
Media credentials can be picked up at the Media Will Call Window by Gate 2 under the Interstate 64/US Route 40 overpass, beginning at 3:30 p.m., on both Wednesday and Thursday.
The Media/VIP Entrance is located to the immediate right of the Media Will Call Window by Gate 2 with access to the press box via elevator in the Media/VIP Lobby.
A post-match press conference with the coach and players from both clubs will be held in the Press Dining/Media Interview Room on Thursday. A 20-30 meter Mixed Zone will be stanchioned off between the Media Interview Room and the Manchester City/St. Louis Cardinals Home Clubhouse area for player interviews. Chelsea will host a pre-training press conference at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday with Branislav Ivanovic and Juan Mata. No media will be provided access to playing field other than properly credentialed still photographers.
About Chelsea Football Club
Chelsea is one of the most successful teams in England with four Premier League titles and seven FA Cups. The Blues also boast two UEFA Cup Championships, one UEFA Super Cup and one UEFA Champions League title. In 2012 Chelsea, with the help of Spaniards Juan Mata and Fernando Torres, as well as English International and three-time Chelsea Player of the Year, Frank Lampard, became the first London club to win the Champions League. On May 15, 2013, Chelsea won the Eurpoa League Trophy, beating Benfica 2-1.
About Manchester City Football Club
Informally known as "The Blues" or "The Citizens", Manchester City FC is an English Premier League side, founded in 1880 as St Mark's West Gorton. The Club won the 2011-2012 Premier League title and has won 25 major trophies. It counts the European Cup Winners' Cup, three League Championship titles, and five FA Cups amongst its honors. The Club plays its domestic home fixtures at the Etihad Stadium, a spectacular 47,500 seat arena, which the Blues made their home following the successful Commonwealth Games in 2003. For more information, please visit www.mcfc.co.uk.
About Relevent Sports
Relevent Sports brings the excitement and intensity of international soccer to the United States by showcasing the best clubs in the world through premier tournaments and events. Going beyond the game, Relevent provides an innovative approach to building international soccer presence by utilizing brand development, grassroots planning, corporate sponsors, international touring and philanthropic initiatives for the soccer organizations.
BUSCH STADIUM - POLICY REMINDERS
Bag Inspections Policy
· The standard game-day bag inspection policies for Busch Stadium will be in effect. Bags will be allowed that meet Major League Baseball's standard size restriction (16"x16"x8"), and all bags will be inspected prior to entry.
· Fans will be permitted to bring small personal cameras and will be subject to inspection. No professional-sized photography equipment will be allowed except for members of the media with proper credentials.
· Non-alcoholic beverages such as water and soda in open cups or in clear plastic bottles no larger than 2 liters are allowed.
· Alcohol, bottles, cans, thermoses, hard-sided coolers; hard plastic cups/mugs are not permitted.
· Small banners and signs are allowed. Banners may be displayed as long as they do not hinder or interfere with play or distract or interfere with the view of another guest. Banners may not be obscene or in poor taste, attract abuse or cause a disturbance among other guests. They should be soccer-oriented and not commercial in nature.
· Please minimize items you bring into the stadium to speed up the inspection process.
· Expect long lines upon entry. Allow plenty of time to go through the inspection process.
Standard Exit/Re-entry Policies are in effect. Guests wishing to leave the stadium, but planning to return during the same game must have their hand stamped at Gates 1, 2 or 4 as they exit the stadium. Guests must show ticket upon re-entry. Inspection policy will also be enforced.
No Smoking Policy
Standard Busch Stadium Smoking Policy is in effect. Busch Stadium is a smoke-free facility. Exit/Re-Entry turnstiles will be set up at Gates 1, 2 and 4 to allow fans access in and out of the stadium if they wish to smoke. Fans will get their hand stamped as they exit the stadium. Guests must show ticket upon re-entry. Inspection policy will also be enforced.
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!
John Gast threw five scoreless innings before running into a spot of trouble in the sixth. Even that wasn't entirely of his own making, as two of the runs came after the Cards had what Mike Matheny termed an "ugly" rundown attempt of John Buck. Marlon Byrd homered after that, something that would have been avoided had they gotten Buck for the third out.
Other than that, though, Gast was quite good. It wasn't a situation where he put runners on and his defense kept bailing him out. He gave up only six hits and one walk and four of those baserunners came in that sixth inning. That overall ERA of 6.00 is really misleading given the way he pitched.
Then the Cards followed up a rookie with two more, as Seth Maness and Carlos Martinez both had scoreless frames, with Martinez striking out the side (with a walk mixed in). Maness had to labor, though, throwing all of 10 pitches, which is about as many as he's thrown in his career up to this point! Joe Kelly ruined the rookie streak, as the second-year man finished up the game.
The Hero of the night, not discounting at all how the arms did on the mound, would be Carlos Beltran. Beltran had three hits, scored two runs, drove in four and had a home run mixed in with all of that. That's a nice evening of work right there.
Of course, when the team puts up 10 runs, there are a number of offensive stars. Allen Craig had two hits and drove in the first two runs of the game. Jon Jay had a couple of hits and his fourth home run of the season. Matt Carpenter set the tone by going 2-3 with two walks in the leadoff slot.
As for our Goat, Yadier Molina did go 0-5, but given that he guided the rookie through such a strong outing, I'm going to give him a pass this time. Unfortunately, that means winding up with David Freese again. Freese went 0-3 with a walk and left three men on, though he did wind up scoring once. I'm not sure what's going to have to happen to get Freese back on track. You figure Matheny's got to give him a couple more days off pretty shortly, though that means more starts for Daniel Descalso. Still, Dirty Dan's hitting better than Mr. Freese, I think, so maybe it's a livable tradeoff.
The road doesn't get any easier for the Mets tonight. Sure, they are facing another rookie, but a rookie that had an almost-perfect game last time out. Right now, the Mets are hoping that Shelby Miller wore himself out throwing that gem against the Rockies, because otherwise it could get pretty rough.
Small sample, but it doesn't give much encouragement to the New York squad, who are really struggling right now. However, you know there's going to be a lot of focus on the at bats where Miller faces Rick Ankiel. After all, they are linked in a way, with Rick being the Shelby Miller of the last decade, really.
The Mets run out an old acquaintance to the mound tonight. The Cards have faced Shaun Marcum a number of times, most recently when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers. It's been a mixed bag with Marcum, though he's only 1-1 against the club in five outings. His 4.65 ERA against St. Louis isn't completely out of line, so the Redbirds might have a bit more trouble with him than they had with Dillon Gee last night.
Jay and Matt Holliday seem to have solved him the best, but a lot of the other guys haven't seen him much. Expect Freese to sit again given his struggles both recently and against Marcum.
Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the Jose Oquendo Game, when the Secret Weapon threw four innings in an extended extra-innings affair. If you've not read about this one and were too young to remember it (which I think I have a vague idea of seeing a little of it, but I can't be certain), Chris Jaffe has a great writeup about it here.
Cards go for the series win tonight. They are 10-2 in May so let's hope they keep that machine churning!