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Brewing Up Some Dominance

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 6:44 AM
Filed Under: Heroes and Goats | Milwaukee Brewers | San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals
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.

Friday (7-6 win)
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.

Saturday (6-4 loss in 10)
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.

On the upside in this game, Pete Kozma went 2-5 with a run and an RBI, giving him Hero status.  There's the discussion of when Ryan Jackson might get the call back to St. Louis now that he's hitting .385 in Memphis, but Kozma's done pretty well lately with the bat (.281 over his last 10 games) and I don't see them making that move unless he starts to tank.  Yadier Molina had two hits as well, the only other person to do that.

Sunday (4-2 win)
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!

Obviously Carp's not ready now and now is when they need another pitcher, so the front office has selected Tyler Lyons for the job, skipping over Michael Wacha and not caving to the public pressure of wanting Wacha in St. Louis.  This was a little concerning to Bernie, who did some railing about it on his Bytes.  A number of those concerns were repudiated in a nice post over at the Future Redbirds portion of Viva El Birdos, indicating that Lyons was quite qualified for this job.

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.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Yonder Alonso 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0
Chris Denorfia 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 1.000 1.500 0 0 0 0
Jesus Guzman 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0
Chase Headley 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Everth Cabrera 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Eric Stults 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Total 10 10 3 1 0 0 2 0 2 .300 .300 .400 .700 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/20/2013.

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:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Carlos Beltran 27 24 6 0 0 1 3 3 6 .250 .333 .375 .708 0 0 0 0
Ty Wigginton 27 24 9 1 1 0 4 3 5 .375 .444 .500 .944 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 22 20 4 0 0 2 3 1 5 .200 .273 .500 .773 0 0 0 1
Yadier Molina 14 14 4 1 0 1 2 0 1 .286 .286 .571 .857 0 0 0 0
Total 90 82 23 2 1 4 12 7 17 .280 .344 .476 .820 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/20/2013.

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!

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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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