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Cards Soar In Foreign Land

Posted on June 23, 2010 at 7:21 AM
Filed Under: Heroes and Goats | St. Louis Cardinals | Toronto Blue Jays
You know, when the discussion of launching pad stadiums comes up, I never think of Toronto's Rogers Center.  Wrigley, Coors, even the old Atlanta stadium that started the nickname.  However, if last night is any indication, Rogers Center is right up there with the rest of them.

The Cardinals played the long ball better, smashing four, while Jose Bautista got to 20 with his two blasts.  Of course, Toronto leads the majors in home runs, but I did some quick figuring.  They hit an average of 1.52 per game, but if you just look at their home rate, it's 1.71.  A pretty significant jump.  I know there are more stats out there, including park factors, that would indicate whether it was the park that was the cause, but I'm not able to find them right now.  Maybe we'll talk to Ian about that tonight on UCB Radio Hour.

Another spectacular night for Matt Holliday.  The way he's been hitting against American League teams, you'd have thought he'd have torn it up for Oakland last year.  If he's going to be comparable to the Holliday that the Cardinals saw last year, this offense really should get on track soon.

Nice to see Colby Rasmus pinch hit and break his slump with a home run.  Of course, is anyone really surprised that the Cardinals lost their DH last night and had to pinch-hit with Aaron Miles?  This is Tony La Russa we are talking about.  Being able to juggle a lineup and mess with the fringes of baseball rules is ideal for him.  I could have almost guaranteed that at least one time this week he'd have done that.

Jaime Garcia pitched pretty well also.  The two-run home run by Bautista guaranteed he was going to have his ERA creep up, but you'll take three runs in six innings, especially when there were no walks involved in that.  Garcia might have been able to go seven, since he was only at 89 pitches, but by that time the Cards were up 6-3 and there didn't seem to be any reason to push him.

Tough night for Brendan Ryan, who went 0-4 and wasn't able to get down a sacrifice bunt in the fifth.  Of course, with nobody out and a runner on second, even with the struggles Ryan has had this year, I think I want him up there swinging away.  He's probably just as likely to move the runner with a ground ball and might even get a hit, priming a big inning.  It's really bad when it doesn't work, since Randy Winn (who had doubled to start the inning and had a pretty good game himself) never did come around to score.

Looks like Ryan is going to be a bit on the streaky side this year.  After a big push got his average past the Mendoza line with room to spare, he's regressed to a .133 average this week.  Perhaps it is time for the Cardinal Diamond Diaries ladies to jump start him again with a Ryan post?

A little off the field news, as Shelby Miller and Eduardo Sanchez were named to the Futures Game squad.  It'll be fun to see what these guys do in an All-Star setting, especially against some guys that are in higher classifications in Miller's case.  I'm also keeping an eye on Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles for personal reasons--he tossed my son and I a ball after warming up at a minor league game we attended.

The rotation for the Kansas City series hasn't been completely determined.  Jeff Suppan is going on Friday, but the fifth starter slot comes back up Saturday.  There's only one more off day until the All-Star Break, so it seems most reasonable to go ahead and pull Adam Ottavino back up and plug him back into the rotation.  If La Russa decides to go with one of his patented bullpen games, however, I think you have to take that has a definite vote of no confidence in Ottavino.  Would a package of Ottavino, Allen Craig (who, notably, wasn't called up while the Cards need a DH) and Mark Hamilton net a decent #3-#4 starter?

Cards try to win the series tonight by sending Chris Carpenter to the mound.  Last time he was in Toronto, all he did was throw a one-hitter.  I don't think Carpenter has been to that level on a consistent basis this year, but he has shown that, if everything's going right, he's going to be dominant.  If it isn't, he's still going to be pretty good.  Here's what the current squad of Blue Jays has done against him:

Alex Gonzalez 22 21 3 3 0 0 1 0 4 .143 .182 .286 .468 0 0 0 1 0
Lyle Overbay 10 9 5 3 0 0 2 1 0 .556 .600 .889 1.489 0 0 0 0 0
Jose Bautista 8 7 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 .143 .250 .143 .393 0 0 0 0 0
John Buck 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Hill 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Fred Lewis 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Vernon Wells 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
John McDonald 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 54 51 11 7 0 0 4 2 13 .216 .259 .353 .612 0 0 0 1 0
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/23/2010.

More experience than I thought, though that's mainly due to Gonzalez and Overbay's stints in the National League.  Still, if he can get around Overbay, it looks like it could be a low scoring game for the Jays.

On the flip side, the Cards will be facing Ricky Romero.  Romero is having a solid year for Toronto in only his second major league season.  The only Cardinal that has faced him is Holliday, who went 1-3 with two strikeouts against him in a game last year.  Of course, he's a lefty, which seems to be all the Cardinals see lately, but after they solved Brett Cecil last night, it should give them some confidence in facing Romero.

Before I wrap this up, I wanted to give an opinion on something that's circling around the baseball internet right now, the discussion of whether or not Stephen Strasburg should be an All-Star selection.

Now, my friend Chris over at Bird Brained has come down on the "I don't think so" side of the equation, but I'm going to take the opposing view.  Even though Strasburg was responsible for ruining my iTouch, I think that, if he keeps pitching the way he has, he should be on the All-Star roster.

If you've read here for long, you know that I'm not a big fan of the "This Time It Counts" bunch of malarky that Bud Selig and company spew.  The All-Star Game, in my mind, is a pure exhibition that is for the fans.  If the fans want to see Player X in the starting lineup, commentators and experts need to quit griping about it when they vote him in.  I like the managers and players selecting deserving players that might not be voted in.  I like the every-team-has-a-representative factor.  This is supposed to be a fun game and a showcase for baseball.

So what better way to draw attention to the game, to bring in more eyeballs to see the best players, than to put the biggest drawing card on the market in the game?  Casual fans that have heard of Strasburg may tune into the game to watch him and get caught up in the rest of it.  The ratings for the ASG are never all that strong, so they could use a Strasburg bounce.  Get the country talking about him and what he does.

And what if he pitches one inning and strikes out two or three guys?  The buzz around him only increases, and that's really good for baseball.  You are already seeing the attendance bounces around the country when he pitches.  What better way to get the game into the national spotlight again?

Like I say, if he keeps pitching like this, he's shown he can be an All-Star.  If he stumbles, maybe you reconsider.  (Which means that, since I've written this, Kansas City will get to him today, most likely.)

Remember, 6:07 start for the Cards tonight, 9:30 is the UCB Radio Hour.  Come on and join us!

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

Thanks for the Diamond Diaries mention! We'll have to see what we can do about Brendan ... again!


Couldn't agree more about the pop up bunt, Ryan should never had been directed to bunt in that situation!

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Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
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