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 Westbrook cancelled 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!
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