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Coming Out Of The Trance

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 6:44 AM
Filed Under: Cincinnati Reds | Heroes and Goats | San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals
"And when I snap my fingers, you will realize you can hit Giants pitching."

Whomever snapped their fingers and pulled the Cardinals out of being mesmerized by anyone hurling the baseball wearing a San Francisco uniform should have done it a day earlier.  That said, overall it was a pretty solid weekend for the Cards.  Let's recap.

Friday (1-0 loss)
I said on Twitter after Jake Westbrook squirmed out of the fourth that it could have been worse, but the one run he allowed on a bases-loaded walk "might have been enough."  Turned out that was the case as Barry Zito did to the Redbirds what he did to them last October, making the bats disappear.

Even though Westbrook got the loss, I'd give him the Hero tag if it weren't for the fact that he walked a whopping six batters.  Westbrook put people on all day long, but was able to get out of jams in every inning but the fourth.

He might have gotten out of that one without being touched as well if it weren't for Yadier Molina, who has to be the Goat of this one.  Molina bobbled a bunt by Zito in that inning, loading the bases for Angel Pagan, who then walked to force in the only run of the game.  (Like we needed another reminder of Game 5 of last year, when Zito bunted for a base hit in the critical inning.)  Yadi was also 0-3, so it wasn't one of his finest games.

We'll give the Hero tag to Allen Craig, one of the few batters who wasn't completely useless against the stylings of the former Cy Young winner.  Craig rapped out two hits, while his counterparts in the lineup combined for just one more.  Coming off of the 16-inning disappointment and a series loss to Arizona, this wasn't the way to start the weekend.

Saturday (6-3 win)
It started to look like more of the same on Saturday.  The Cards were able to push across a first-inning run, but the Giants answered with one in the second and third to take a 2-1 lead.  Cardinal fans had to start wondering if San Francisco had some sort of hold over this team.

And then someone snapped their fingers.

The Cards scored three runs in the fifth inning.  Do realize that, until then, the Cards had scored three runs total in their last 40 innings against the team in orange and white.  Three runs was huge and it paved the way for the victory, Shelby Miller's first in the big leagues.

There were a number of options for Hero.  You had to like what Miller did in his first start, shutting down the world champs for the most part.  He walked his last two batters and got the hook, though I'd have liked to seen if he could get out of it.  The bullpen held, unlike what they did in Arizona, and Mitchell Boggs wound up with his first save.  It wasn't a tightrope save, having a three run cushion, but it counts nonetheless.

Offensively, things got going.  I'll give the Hero tag to Pete Kozma, who went three for four, scored a run and drove in a run.  Kozma in the early going is picking up from where he left off last year, and if any team should have been able to shut him down, it was the Giants.  He was not much of an offensive factor in last year's NLCS, so either the Giants forgot about how to get him out or he's made adjustments.  You figure it must be the latter and that's an encouraging thing.

Carlos Beltran had a good day as well, tormenting Ryan Vogelsong as he's done many times before.  Beltran drove in the first run and broke the game open as well, going 2-4 with three RBI.  Credit also goes to Matt Carpenter, who had two hits.

We'll give the Goat to Jon Jay, who in his leadoff role went 0-4 and left three men on base.  Usually it's tough to get things going when your leadoff guy is silent, but the Cards were able to make do in this one.

Sunday (14-2 win)
Bring out your bats!  Bring out your bats!

Matt Cain has often had trouble with the Cardinals.  Not as much trouble as he had yesterday, of course.  Nine runs in one inning isn't something that happens regularly, especially when you are as good as Cain is.  His career ERA is almost five against the squad and there have been some really ugly games for him against the Redbirds.  So it wasn't unheard of for the Cards to get to him, but it was sure a lot of fun to watch.

With fifteen hits, there are a lot of offensive possibilities for the Hero, though I'm torn between two for the most part.  I'm going to give it to Matt Carpenter, who drove in three, scored three, and had three hits.  That's a pretty solid day all around, don't you think?  Yet Matt Adams was right there with him, getting three hits and two RBI in one less at-bat.  He'd have had that at bat if he hadn't been pinch run with Tony Cruz.  (I think they did that mainly so they could justify bringing Cruz on this trip.  He could have gone straight to St. Louis and waited for them since this was his first game of the season.  It's tough catching behind a Molina.)

Jon Jay, Yadier Molina and Ty Wigginton had two hits each....hang on, Ty Wigginton?  Really?  You mean that there is something left in his bat after all?  Given the way many Cardinal fans have taken to this signing and the fact that Wigginton didn't hit at all in the spring, there were likely a lot of people bummed that he was starting yesterday when the Cards had a chance to win the series.  While that contract was head-scratching, In Mo We Trust.  I believe the Cards knew what they were doing and I'm willing to wait and see if Wigginton comes around.  I don't think we'll see a lot of him anyway, so it's probably something of the order of a first world problem.

Adam Wainwright came back from his troubled Opening Day start to have an outstanding outing.  He didn't let a leadoff triple faze him, stranding Pagan there with two strikeouts and a groundout.  He did get behind 2-0 in the third on a couple of doubles, one of them Adams-aided, but the Cards put up the nine spot and he was good for the rest of the day.  Seven innings, six strikeouts.  I like that kind of Waino work!

Let's see, Goat for this one.  That's tough, of course.  Being that all the starters got at least one hit, everyone but Molina had at least one RBI, I'm going to go with Joe Kelly as the Goat. He came into garbage time, granted, and I doubt he was razor-sharp because of it, but he did give up a run in his only inning of work.  Being that he got beat around some in Arizona, a clean inning out of him would have better to see than a three-hit one.

Now, now the season really begins.  The Cardinals come home to St. Louis for hoopla, ceremony and what really is a holiday for anyone wearing Cardinal red.  You saw the press release last week of all the scheduled events for today and Fox Sports Midwest should be covering them all on the TV side of things.  One of these days, I really want to get up for an Opening Day in Busch Stadium.  I don't know when or how, but there are only a few things on my bucket list and that's one of them!

While I won't be in the sea of red today, there will be one St. Louisian who will be returning to his native land.  David Freese had a very solid weekend in Memphis, ate some ribs, walked on Beale Street, went three-for-five yesterday.  Which means that Shane Robinson will miss out on all the festivities as he'll trade spots with Freese today.

It's going to be a tough Opening Day for some players.  It's going to be tough for Wainwright not to cry, knowing that he's going to be here for a long time to come.  It's going to be tough for Robinson to miss out on all the festivities.  And it's going to be tough for Chris Carpenter, who will be attending likely his last home opener as a Cardinal player.  Carp, who engaged in a little unexpected public relations this weekend, showing up with the Clydesdales to help deliver Opening Day tickets to some lucky fans, knows that it's a very special time and he's going to soak up as much as possible, but it's bittersweet when you know you can't contribute, when you can hang out in the dugout but can't get on the field.  Hopefully Carpenter will have more openers to come to, either as a coach in the future or just as a respected player.  While in the past they've only honored Hall of Famers, if they retire Carp's number, maybe they'll add him to the parties as well.

Jaime Garcia goes for the Cardinals on this special day against the division-leading (and likely only real competition for the NL Central title) Reds.  We know how good Garcia has been at home.  How good has he been against these Reds?

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Brandon Phillips 32 32 8 2 0 1 6 0 6 .250 .250 .406 .656 0 0 0 0
Jay Bruce 29 27 6 0 0 1 3 1 7 .222 .241 .333 .575 0 1 0 0
Joey Votto 27 24 6 2 0 0 2 3 6 .250 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0
Ryan Hanigan 17 14 4 0 0 0 2 2 1 .286 .353 .286 .639 0 1 0 0
Zack Cozart 15 14 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .286 .333 .286 .619 0 0 0 0
Chris Heisey 11 11 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 .182 .182 .455 .636 0 0 0 0
Bronson Arroyo 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 .200 .200 .200 .400 1 0 0 0
Todd Frazier 5 5 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .200 .200 .200 .400 0 0 0 0
Homer Bailey 4 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0
Johnny Cueto 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 2 0 0 0
Mike Leake 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0
Devin Mesoraco 3 3 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0
Manny Parra 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Mat Latos 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0
Xavier Paul 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Total 163 150 37 6 1 2 16 8 32 .247 .281 .340 .621 3 2 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/8/2013.

Not too bad, actually, especially when you consider some of this had to be done in Cincy's bandbox ballpark (and what Garcia is like away from Busch usually).  You'd expect as a lefty he'd have some success against Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, though Randy Choate and Marc Rzepczynski will have to ready to face them later in games as well.

The Cardinals will get to face Mat Latos, who was pretty dominant down the stretch last year for Cincinnati.  

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Jon Jay 18 17 8 2 0 0 0 1 3 .471 .500 .588 1.088 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 17 17 7 2 0 1 4 0 3 .412 .412 .706 1.118 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 16 15 4 0 0 0 6 0 2 .267 .250 .267 .517 0 1 0 0
Carlos Beltran 14 11 4 0 0 3 4 3 1 .364 .500 1.182 1.682 0 0 0 0
Allen Craig 10 9 2 0 0 1 3 0 1 .222 .222 .556 .778 1 0 0 0
Daniel Descalso 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0
Ty Wigginton 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 4 4 1 0 0 1 1 0 2 .250 .250 1.000 1.250 0 0 0 0
Jaime Garcia 3 2 1 0 1 0 2 1 1 .500 .667 1.500 2.167 0 0 0 0
Pete Kozma 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 1 0
Matt Carpenter 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Joe Kelly 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Lance Lynn 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Total 97 89 28 5 1 6 20 6 19 .315 .354 .596 .950 1 1 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/8/2013.

St. Louis has been able to hit him in the past, though it's never an easy chore.  The Redbirds beat up on him last April in Busch, getting eight runs off of him in 5.2 innings.  They also got seven runs in five innings of his work in August.  In fact, that 5.2 in the first game was the longest he went into any game against the Cards.  Hopefully that trend holds again today.

Enjoy the opener!  Let's go Cardinals!


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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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