Before we get into all the stuff that happened on Tuesday, both on and off the field, let's take a moment to revel in Monday night's win, shall we?
First off, Hero status is given to Allen Craig. It's not often, even with this powerful lineup, that we see a two-home-run day and that's just what Craig gave, even if the last one wasn't exactly crucial to the effort. A 2-4, 3 RBI night is a good bit of work, I'd say.
Of course, you could give the tag to Kyle Lohse as well. Lohse went into the eighth and only allowed two runs (though he did leave with the bases loaded), meaning that while all the run support was nice, it wasn't really vital. (Then again, the way this offense sputters at times--as we will talk about--it might have been.) Lohse's only mistake was giving up a long ball to Tyler Colvin, something that will be a recurring theme.
One inning ruined the game for the Cardinals. Joe Kelly walked the eighth-place batter, Jonathan Herrera. That's a bad thing to do at any time, but then Yadier Molina compounded it by trying to get Herrera at second when pitcher Jeff Francis bunted and his throw was off the mark. The next batter was Colvin, who smashed another home run and gave the Rockies the 3-2 lead that they'd keep the rest of the game.
Not that the Cards didn't have chances. Craig (who has to get the goat due to his 0-4) looked like he'd at least tied the game in the bottom of that inning, when with bases loaded and two outs he hit a broken bat shot, but it was right at the third baseman. Holliday grounded out with two on and two outs in the seventh. Finally, in the ninth, with two on and one out, Rafael Furcal grounded out and Jon Jay stared at strike three.
For his part, Kelly kept the team in the game. He did load the bases after the Colvin home run, but he got the comebacker to get out of that. His command was a little shaky (four walks) but he did a serviceable job and deserved a better fate. I'm still not sure I'm confident in keeping him in the rotation for an extended period of time, but there's a strong chance that's going to happen.
Hero from this game would be Holliday with his two-run homer that scored all the Cardinal runs, but it was good to see another strong outing from Barret Browning and a good one out of Fernando Salas as well. If the bullpen could get back to the levels we saw last year, the levels we expected for this year, things will look a lot better for the Redbirds.
The game was somewhat overshadowed, though, by the official news that Chris Carpenterwas going to undergo surgery and would not return in 2012. However, it does look like we've not seen the last of Carp. While he admitted that he thought about retiring, he got assurances from the doctor that he should be able to continue pitching at a high level after this surgery. It's noted in Jenifer Langosch's article that Kenny Rogers had this type of surgery at about the same age and pitched another seven years afterwards. If nothing else, I still hope we can get a year of Carp and Adam Wainwright in the same rotation.
What bothers me is the idea espoused by Bernie Miklasz in his blog post that it was "naive" to think Carpenter could pitch again this season. I'll admit, I thought we'd see Carpenter at some time this year, though as the season drug on that became less and less likely. All the fans can do, though, is make judgments based on what they read from the reporters. When people at the Post-Dispatch are reporting that the club expects Carpenter back by August 1 or that he's improving in his throwing program, what are we supposed to think? If we aren't supposed to use that information in our reasonings, then what good is it?
Don't get me wrong, I know the club will put a positive face on things as much as possible. That's what (I expect) all the clubs do as a matter of course, so we take timetables and glowing reports with some grain of salt. Once Carp was throwing, though, and looking good, why wouldn't we think that he was going to make his return? I think we all kept a relapse in the back of our mind, but it seemed rational to at least project him into the rotation.
I mean, right now the club is saying that Jaime Garcia could be back in the middle of August. While Bernie does express some skepticism in that forecast, he doesn't seem to think it's naive for people to expect him back. Garcia's got less of an injury history than Carp, so maybe that plays into it, but it comes off as trying to be the smartest man in the room. Which I don't think Bernie was going for--he and Derrick Goold are the most reasonable and realistic guys over at the Post-Dispatch--but it rubbed me the wrong way when I read it this morning. Maybe I just need more sleep.
This does make John Mozeliak's job a little more complicated, though. The loss of Carpenter isn't a huge one for this team--I mean, the club has been doing OK without him and while he'd been a plus, there was no guarantee what you'd get out of him anyway. So the only way it changes the equation is if Mo had been planning on him being the cavalry and now he's not. Mo's got to figure if they can keep Lance Lynn and Kelly in the rotation and whether Garcia is returning. I still think Mo looks for a starter--there's a lot of ifs there--especially if the bullpen starts to shape up. Interestingly, Kyle McClellanjust started throwing and Garcia is supposed to today, so there may be some new data points for Mozeliak's equation very soon.
Our Fourth of July ballgame gets fronted by Wainwright on the mound, looking to bounce back from his rough outing against the Pirates.
Todd Helton's hit him hard in the past, but he's not looked very good in this series. According to the broadcast crew last night, they are tying him up with fastballs that he just can't seem to get to anymore. It's been a rough year for Helton and you have to think the face of the Rockies won't be there much longer.
And of course Colvin's hit him well. Because that's just what the Cardinals need.
Facing the Redbirds will be Jeremy Guthrie. It's been a rough year for Guthrie, with an ERA around six and a half and only a strikeout every two innings. Should be a lot of contact this evening, in other words. He's not faced most of the 'Birds, though.
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