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Mopping Up The Brewers

Posted on May 6, 2013 at 7:03 AM
Filed Under: Chicago Cubs | Heroes and Goats | Milwaukee Brewers | St. Louis Cardinals
I know, the traditional cleaning implement in this situation is a broom, but sweeping up spilled product from a brewmaster just isn't going to get you very far.  The Brewers were thoroughly cleaned up and out this weekend, so any cleaning tool you want to use is pretty appropriate.  We've already talked about Thursday's game and Saturday's game, which leaves us two others to quickly discuss.

Friday (6-1 win)
If you've been following the Cardinal minor league system for any extended period of time, this game was what you've been waiting for.  Shelby Miller, followed by Carlos Martinez (making his debut) followed by Seth Maness (also making his debut).  Fernando Salas, another minor league product, cleaned up the ninth.  Offensively, you had Matt Carpenter with a hit and a walk, Allen Craig with three hits, Yadier Molina, David Freese and Jon Jay with two and Pete Kozma with a hit of his own.  Prospect gurus probably sniffed and wiped a tear of joy while watching all of this minor league talent mesh together at the big league level.

While all of those guys did a wonderful job, you have to give the Hero tag to Matt Holliday.  Holliday had three hits, including a two-run homer that got the scoring started off of old friend Kyle Lohse.  It's extremely hard to pick a Goat in this one since everyone had a hit and all of the pitchers went well, but we'll go with Pete Kozma since Carlos Beltran won the tiebreaker since his hit was a home run.

Martinez and Maness both looked very good in their first appearances in the bigs. Martinez gave up an infield single to his first batter, but then got a double play to erase him.  Maness came in and threw the Dave Duncan special--three ground ball outs.  It may be the newness of the players or the fact they were up against the Brewers, but I have a feeling confidence in the bullpen is at possibly the highest point it has been at all season long.

Sunday (10-1 win)
It didn't take long for this one to get out of hand.  The second six-run inning that the Cards had while spending time in Milwaukee gave Jaime Garcia all that he was going to need.  Even Bad Jaime might have had trouble squandering that lead, but he didn't show up yesterday.  Garcia went eight innings, striking out three and allowing just one run.  He did all of that in just under 100 pitches as well, meaning he was unusually efficient.  No doubt that he was Hero of the action.

There were plenty of other people to make their claim on the Hero action, though.  Allen Craig drove in three in that six-run second and added another RBI later on.  Matt Holliday went 2-3 with a home run and three RBI.  Jon Jay, back in the leadoff slot as his average is getting back to reasonable levels, got two hits and scored two runs.  Pete Kozma had a multi-hit game.  Lots of fun at the old ballpark for the Cardinal hitters yesterday.

There were a couple of hitters that didn't get into the fun.  Daniel Descalso didn't get a hit, though he did draw two walks.  However, the Goat of the action is David Freese, who had multiple hits in each of the first three games, but went 0-5 with three strikeouts and six left on base.  Freese was starting to look much better, so hopefully that's just an off day rather than the reemergence of whatever had him in that slump.

In the middle of this series, there were a couple of pieces of news--one expected, one not-so-much.  The first was that Jason Motte was going to have Tommy John surgery after all.  Even with the news last week that Motte was feeling better and was throwing, few believed that the Redbirds were going to dodge that bullet.  Some will say that Motte should have gone under the knife as soon as the irritation showed up at the end of March, but that seems a bit extreme to me.  For one thing, they didn't even a clearer picture of the problem until the exam on April 9.  Which means that, at most, they lost less than a month.  Sure, the odds weren't good for them, but three weeks in the long run isn't likely to affect Motte's return all that much.

Frankly, I think we've seen the end of Motte closing for the Cardinals anyway.  Assume that Motte isn't able to come back until early June next year, which would seem reasonable.  We don't know that he can heal up and return as quickly as Adam Wainwright did, though he does have the advantage that he doesn't have to build up as much stamina being a reliever.  If the Cardinals don't have an established closer by then, they've got bigger problems than a couple of weeks on Motte's recovery.  You'd figure someone was locked into that role and even if they weren't, we saw the erratic nature of Wainwright when he returned.  By time Motte really gets back to full strength, the '14 season is likely over and Motte's a free agent.  Would the Cards resign him to be the closer?  Guess that depends on the situation at the time, but it would seem a bit unlikely.

The other news was that Chris Carpenter was throwing again, with the idea of returning to the club as a reliever.  The words "Chris Carpenter" and "throwing again" are going to make any Cardinal fan giddy with dreams of yet another comeback.  There's nothing wrong with that and, indeed, this seems to have more substance than just a columnist's flight of fancy.  Having Carpenter back in uniform would be a huge boost to this team psychologically if nothing else, plus you'd figure his veteran wiles would be handy in the sixth or seventh inning or wherever trouble might strike.

That said, even though John Mozeliak is quoted that he was optimistic and excited about the idea and putting a late June/early July timetable on a possible return, we've seen this before.  We've seen Carpenter start to look good and plans be made for him to go out on a rehab start or something of that nature, only to have a setback.  That seemed to be the order of the day last year, as he'd be good until he hit a throwing level that brought him back down.  Until we see him on a minor league assignment and having success, I don't think we can count too many chickens.

If he did return, though, it would like be the past, present and future of the Cardinal pitching staff all in one spot.  Carpenter, Wainwright, Miller, Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal all on the squad at the same time?  That's an incredible sight.  I really hope this happens and, of course, you never rule Chris Carpenter out or he actually comes to your house and beats you about the head and shoulders while spewing profanities.  Matt Whitener had horror stories about it last weekend.

Off day today, then the Cards start a two-game series in the Friendly Confines on Tuesday.  Lance Lynn puts his perfect record (and the Cards' six game winning streak) on the line against the Cubbies, who currently sit last in the division and are wishing that Houston had never left.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Starlin Castro 13 13 5 1 1 0 2 0 1 .385 .385 .615 1.000 0 0 0 0
David DeJesus 13 10 2 0 1 0 0 3 2 .200 .385 .400 .785 0 0 0 0
Alfonso Soriano 13 13 4 1 0 0 1 0 5 .308 .308 .385 .692 0 0 0 0
Darwin Barney 10 9 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 .111 .200 .222 .422 0 0 0 0
Anthony Rizzo 6 5 3 0 0 1 3 1 0 .600 .667 1.200 1.867 0 0 0 0
Cody Ransom 5 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 4 .200 .200 .400 .600 0 0 0 0
Luis Valbuena 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .250 .000 .250 0 0 0 0
Travis Wood 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Nate Schierholtz 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Edwin Jackson 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Total 71 65 16 4 2 1 6 6 16 .246 .310 .415 .725 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2013.

Lynn's had pretty good success against these guys.  He'll have to deal with Anthony Rizzo, but that's a pretty small sample there so we'll assume that he can make some adjustments.

Lynn goes up against Travis Wood, whom he faced off against last July.  (Lynn got the win in that one 7-0.)

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Matt Holliday 18 18 6 2 0 2 4 0 4 .333 .333 .778 1.111 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 15 14 4 1 0 2 4 0 3 .286 .267 .786 1.052 0 1 0 0
Jon Jay 14 12 5 1 0 0 2 2 1 .417 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0
Allen Craig 10 10 4 0 0 1 1 0 1 .400 .400 .700 1.100 0 0 0 0
David Freese 8 5 3 0 0 0 1 3 2 .600 .750 .600 1.350 0 0 1 0
Daniel Descalso 7 7 3 0 1 0 1 0 1 .429 .429 .714 1.143 0 0 0 0
Carlos Beltran 6 6 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 .333 .333 .833 1.167 0 0 0 0
Lance Lynn 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 .000 .333 .000 .333 1 1 0 0
Matt Carpenter 3 2 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 .500 .667 2.000 2.667 0 0 0 0
Tony Cruz 3 3 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Pete Kozma 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0
Total 93 82 29 5 1 7 19 8 17 .354 .402 .695 1.097 1 2 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/6/2013.

Wood's not been as successful as Lynn has and it's not all from that game last year.  Molina and Holliday will be excited about this one and Jay looks to continue his fine hitting.  Freese might be able to make yesterday's game an aberration and even Daniel Descalso has done pretty well against the hurler.  Everything is in the Cards' favor here, but we know that doesn't always translate to the field.

In case you missed it (and you might have--I was unusually active here on the blog this weekend), I had Star Wars questions for the players and a recap of UCB Weekend posted, so be sure to check them out if you haven't already!


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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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