It was incredible yesterday. The Cardinal offense....how do I describe this.....they put on something that was so rare. It was....well, I believe they call it a rally.
On the afternoon after having all their runs score on a Matt Holliday home run, in a series where they had only put up three runs entirely before yesterday, the Cards were able to string together four hits and a walk to score three runs in the sixth and basically put the Reds away. You'd have to go back to the eighth inning on Friday night to find a comparable inning, where the Cards scored more than one run on multiple hits.
This lack of consistent offensive production isn't a huge surprise when you look at those that are making up the lineup. Batting average obviously has its flaws, but when you have two regulars (David Freese and Daniel Descalso) hitting under .170 and another just barely over .200 (Jon Jay), there are going to be a lot of gaps in an attack, meaning the offense just won't fire. Whether you clump them together or spread them out, the result is the same, a bucket of water on flames that are just starting to find purchase.
The biggest Hero had to be Matt Carpenter, getting three hits including two doubles and driving in a run. We discussed this some on last night's UCB Radio Hour, but Carpenter has to be putting some pressure on Freese. Josh noted that Freese didn't get a long-term extension this offseason and that the club drafted a lot of third basemen. Couple all of that with the fact Kolten Wong could be coming up soon, meaning Carpenter would need more playing time at third base, and you wonder if Freese is trying too hard due to the external pressure. While he's a local hero and a fan favorite, that's not going to protect him if John Mozeliak feels it'll help the team to do something else with him.
Of course, they didn't get all their runs via stacking single on top of single. Carlos Beltran may not be on the power kick that he was last year, but he's doing a reasonable imitation of it. Beltran's seventh home run cracked the lid on the scoring and was his seventh of the year, four ahead of The Three Matts for the team lead.
Lots of kudos to Lance Lynn as well. I said yesterday that we needed to see another good start out of him to stop worrying about whether he's the next Jaime Garcia, an inconsistent but talented pitcher. (Garcia's been less Garcia this year as well, but that's another topic.) Lynn provided that against Cincinnati yesterday, going seven innings, allowing just one run and striking out five. Lynn ran his record out to 5-0, leading the team in that department.
Then the game was turned over to Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica. It looks like Rosenthal has finally figured out this bullpen thing. Save a home run he gave up in Washington, which was in a 4-1 game at the time, Rosenthal hasn't been charged with a run since April 17 against Pittsburgh, after which his ERA sat at 5.00. It's down to 3.72 now and while reliever ERA typically isn't much of a measure, since inherited runners scoring affect the starter (or other reliever) rather than the pitcher who actually allowed them to score, since Rosenthal typically starts an inning it's a pretty good indication of how he's doing.
Getting a trustworthy eighth inning guy is huge because Mujica apparently owns the ninth now. Mujica got his sixth save in six chances yesterday. Which was meaningful, because he had six career saves coming into this season. Whatever he's doing is working, even if he did allow a home run and a Daniel Descalso error brought the tying run to the plate. $99.99 to Cardinals Care later, St. Louis was out of danger.
About the time you start thinking Jon Jay might be snapping out of it, he has another game worthy of the Goat. Jay went 0-4 and left three men on in his leadoff role, something that has usually kept the offense from clicking. Thankfully, they were able to work around that yesterday.
Cardinals head off for a four-game set with the Brewers in their park starting this evening. Jake Westbrook again goes for his 100th win, as he's been beset with bullpen problems and a lack of support the last few times he's gone for it.
The Brewers have had some success against Westbrook, most notably Ryan Braun. You'd expect those kind of numbers from Braun, I guess, but Alex Gonzalez with an OPS of 1.000? Yuniesky Betancourt slugging .545 off of him? Let's hope that Westbrook's current run of good pitching outweighs what he's done against these guys in the past.
The Cards have to face Wily Peralta. That's something that they've never done, so it's hard to know exactly what to expect. Peralta's ERA is over 5 this season and the worst of that came against the Giants in Miller Park. The Giants aren't exactly known for their offense, either. The only time he's given up less than three runs, he was facing the Cubs. If the Cardinal offense was rolling, I'd say they'd put up some solid numbers against him. I guess we'll have to wait and find out!
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