For one evening, at least, things worked the way they were supposed to. The starter had a strong outing, the offense did just enough (though, unsurprisingly, they could have done more) and the much-maligned bullpen closed the door. It's a time-tested formula for a win and it was good to see the Cardinals still remembered the equation, especially against a formidable opponent.
There were a lot of good performances last night, but for something that's been unheard of this season--a 1-2-3 inning with a one-run lead--Edward Mujica takes home the Hero tag. Mujica may not be the closer all year long and he may not be your typical game-ender, but it has worked the last two times out and there's no need to tinker with it just yet. I wouldn't say just yet that there's a sense of inevitability when Mujica comes in, but there is probably more relief than when the former closer does.
A tip of the cap to Trevor Rosenthal as well. I was afraid he was going to be snake-bit when he got Denard Span to hit a weak ground ball to David Freese, who had to hurry and airmailed a throw over to Allen Craig. Span was safe (after the two collided) and the leadoff batter was on. Instead of buckling, though, he got Jayson Werth to strike out, pitched carefully to (and walked) Bryce Harper, and then got Adam LaRoche to pop out and Ian Desmond to strike out. Rosenthal may be slowly coming around--he has not been scored upon in his last three appearances totaling 2.2 innings, though he has allowed four hits in that time span. It's not perfect, but it looks like the right road.
Kudos to Craig for driving in the first two runs of the game and to Yadier Molina for snapping the tie with an RBI single. Carlos Beltran also had two hits and Public Enemy Number 1 in Washington, Pete Kozma, went 1-2 with two walks, one of which was the intentional pass that he should have gotten last October.
(I really don't understand booing Kozma in DC. Sure, he was the person that put it over the top, but your team blew a 6-0 lead and it was a tie game when he came up to bat. He didn't hit a six-run home run and he didn't even contribute much besides that single. If you are going to boo anyone, it probably should be Daniel Descalso for his efforts in that game. Which, to be fair, DC fans might have gotten them confused.....)
Shelby Miller continued his good season last night as well. Save for the fourth, when he gave up back-to-back RBI doubles, Miller didn't have too many troubles until he put runners on at the end of his stint. He didn't have the long stretch of retired batters like he has had in his first three starts, but that's not exactly unexpected. Miller struck out eight and gave up only four hits. His next start is on Sunday when the bloggers will be at Busch, so I'm excited to get a chance to see him in person. (Remember, #ucbweekend on Twitter, but I can't encourage you enough to get the Bonfyre app and follow us there.)
On the down side, it's got to be Jon Jay again. I know, he made a stupendous catch to keep the game tied in the seventh. Monday Pitcher Joe Kelly (who only got that one out, more on that in a bit) was likely very appreciative. The problem was, if Jay had been able to come through at the bat earlier in the game, that wouldn't have been as necessary. Jay came up in the sixth with the bases loaded and nobody out, but promptly rapped into a 3-2-3 double play, killing the rally. Jay was 0-4 on the night, falling below .200 on the season and is nothing for his last 22 or so. Jay's defense is good, but I don't think it's going to be able to carry him if the bat doesn't come around. I'd think Shane Robinson might get a few more starts until Jay looks a little sharper.
Mike Matheny has come in for a fair share of criticism the last few days in the social media realm and last night was no different. This, again, centered around Joe Kelly (no bunting controversies last night, as least not that I could tell). Being that Kelly hadn't pitched in a week, it seemed reasonable that when he came in to get the last out in the seventh, he might stick around for the eighth as well. Instead Matheny, going with that bullpen formulaic mindset that he's shown at times, immediately brought Rosenthal in for the eighth.
Now, it's likely that this goes to the same philosophy that he has with Mitchell Boggs, in that he's going to pitch them out of their slump. It also was a successful move as we discussed above. That said, it just seemed like a good chance to let Kelly go out there. Rosenthal has now pitched in 11 of the Cardinals' 19 games, which is a tough pace to maintain. Does Matheny not trust Kelly in a one-run game? That can't be it--he brought him into a one-run game with runners on. Hopefully that won't be the only out Kelly gets this week, otherwise they might actually have to chip the rust off of him next time they want to use him.
Matt Adams was pulled out of the lineup last night due to a tweaked side. Hopefully it was just a minor thing and he'll be healed up shortly. He's having such a good start you hate to see it derailed by any time on the DL.
Cards see if they can put this series away early tonight by sending Adam Wainwright to the hill. Seems to be that's a good plan for winning a series right there.
Harper tore up Waino last year, but as our friend Bob Netherton pointed out in The Bird's Eye View for this series (are you subscribed? You should be.), Wainwright wasn't quite Wainwright for much of last season, so we'll see if that success continues into this year. It well may--Harper's a wonderful talent--but Waino is much more on his game this year than we saw at any point last season. Same goes for Desmond, without quite the "wonderful talent" caveat.
Cards get to face St. Louis native Ross Detwiler, which isn't necessarily the great thing you think it is when you just hear that name.
Not a lot of data points there, of course, which is the only silver lining. Craig's done pretty well against him in limited time and Kozma doubled off of him last September. Cards beat him 10-4 in his last start in 2012, so they might be better off than that .220 would appear. Hopefully it's another game that's lacking in late-inning dramatics!
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball