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Picking Themselves Up

Posted on May 9, 2013 at 8:43 AM
Filed Under: Chicago Cubs | Colorado Rockies | Heroes and Goats | St. Louis Cardinals
After their six-game winning streak was snapped, the Cardinals were in the ugly position of possibly getting swept at Wrigley Field by the last place Cubs.  (That's what a short series will do for you.)  Now, anytime you are going to be swept by the Cubs, it's a bad thing, but when they are in last place, it's especially bad.  Well, they often are in last place, so maybe when they aren't in last, it's incrementally not as bad?  Anyway, you get the idea.

That idea looked much more possible in the fourth, when the Cubs scored three to take a 4-2 lead.  Thankfully, the Cardinals were able to put together some single runs in three innings and the umpires actually made a correct interference call, something we obviously can't take for granted.  The Cardinals escaped with a 5-4 win and gained ground on most of the NL Central, pushing their lead out to three games over the Pirates and the Reds.

Our Hero of the day has to be Seth Maness.  Mr. Double Play came into the game with two on and one out in the sixth.  Two pitches later, everyone was heading for the dugout.  He actually allowed a single to lead off the seventh, but like I said on Twitter, that was just to guarantee he could get another double play.  Sure enough, after the batter interference on the bunt got him one out, Maness coaxed David DeJesus into yet another double play.

Derrick Goold breaks down Maness's amazing and efficient start to his career in the gamer today, but Adam Wainwright's question about whether Maness could get to 100 wins before 100 pitches says it all.  He's got more innings pitched than batters faced.  He has three double plays in three outings.  Of his 18 pitches to get 10 outs, 83% have been strikes.  The man chews doublemint gum, for crying out loud!

So far, Maness has been what we expected Brad Thompson to be, a ground-ball specialist with that uncanny knack of getting the double play.  Obviously Maness is a better, more talented pitcher than Thompson was, but there are some similarities so far in their careers.

You have to give some love to Jon Jay as well.  His sacrifice fly gave the Cards a 2-1 lead and his base hit in the ninth drove in the winning run.  Like Daniel Descalso last year (and what has happened to that progress, I don't know), Jay reworked his swing radically on the fly and, so far, it's working like a charm.  On the road trip, he hit .500 with two home runs, raising his batting average 50 points.  Having Jay clicking is big for this lineup, because he's never going to be the power source, but he can be the guy that scores the runs or gets the hit that keeps the line moving.

Some good work at the top of the lineup yesterday as well.  Matt Carpenter went 2-3 with a couple of walks and Carlos Beltran had three hits, but some baserunning blunders kept the runs to a minimum.  Yadier Molina had a couple of hits as well.

I think the Goat has to go to Jake Westbrook, who wasn't quite on his game yesterday.  He allowed four runs (three earned) in just over five innings, being bailed out by Maness when he left as well as a comebacker double play the inning before.  Westbrook danced with trouble all day long (10 baserunners allowed) and was lucky to be able to keep the score as close as he did to allow for a Cardinal comeback.

Mike Matheny made a curious move as well, but that's pretty much par for the course.  I'm not talking about double-switching out David Freese and bringing in Descalso.  With Freese still not hitting and the game situation, I could understand that one.  What I was surprised with--well, not surprised so much because I know what he was thinking, but I'm not sure it was necessary--was the fact that he brought in Trevor Rosenthal, who struck out Starlin Castro and then walked Luis Valbuena.  That's not the problem part.  

The issue was that instead of sticking with Rosenthal, who even this year has been more effective against lefties than righties, he brings in Randy Choate to face the left-handed Anthony Rizzo.  Could be he was remembering the fact Rizzo took Rosenthal deep last year in Wrigley, I guess.  However, Rosenthal has faced Rizzo two other times and gotten him out.  (Rizzo was 0-1 with a sac fly off of Choate, if you want to deal with small samples.)  Choate then blew the whole hand advantage by allowing a singe to Rizzo, but got Nate Schierholtz--who was the Cub hero this series with his homer on Tuesday and his two-run double earlier in the game--to hit into yet another double play.

Edward Mujica continues to prove that those that thought he'd struggle out of the seventh inning (yes, that's my hand in the air) were wildly incorrect, nailing down his ninth straight save with no drama whatsoever.  Just the way we like it.

Cards get their second off day of the week today, then head home to take on the Rockies in Busch.  The Rockies are off to a solid start, 19-14 and just a half-game out of the divisional lead.  (They'll finish off their series with the Yankees this evening, so that record will be a little different at the start of play.)  Going to the mound for Colorado will be Jon Garland.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Carlos Beltran 49 39 12 3 0 2 5 9 6 .308 .449 .538 .987 0 0 0 1
Ty Wigginton 12 12 2 0 1 0 0 0 2 .167 .167 .333 .500 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 11 9 2 0 0 0 1 2 2 .222 .364 .222 .586 0 0 1 0
Yadier Molina 10 9 7 0 0 0 2 1 2 .778 .800 .778 1.578 0 0 0 0
David Freese 5 5 3 0 0 0 0 0 2 .600 .600 .600 1.200 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 5 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .200 .200 .200 .400 0 0 0 0
Jon Jay 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .250 .000 .250 0 0 0 0
Total 96 82 27 3 1 2 8 13 16 .329 .427 .463 .890 0 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/9/2013.

Being that Garland spent most of his career in the American League, it's not a huge surprise that most people on the team haven't seen him.  Molina's destroyed him in his limited sample and Beltran's seen him the most and will be glad to renew acquaintances.

Shelby Miller gets the ball for the Cardinals.  Obviously the rookie is doing quite well so far--four wins and an ERA under 2 into May kind of indicates that--but he's never faced the Purple Mountains Majesty.

Should be a good series!  Come back tomorrow when I'll hopefully have up a review of Out of the Park Baseball 14 as well as iOOTP 13!


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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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