Amazing how three straight wins over a serious contender can give you a new perspective on a team, huh? The Cardinals limped into Washington with a leaky bullpen and questions about what this team was going to be like. They leave Washington with the bullpen issues solved (for the time being) and a spring in their step.
It was Good Jaime Garciaon the mound yesterday. Whether that means that the Philadelphia game was just a blip or whether having a three-run lead before he threw his first pitch settled him enough, it's tough to say. Garcia didn't make it through the sixth, who left with the bases loaded, but he was good enough to turn it over to a bullpen that was much sturdier than the one he's turned leads over to before. That said, you know he was having flashbacks to that last home stand, wondering if this was going to be the third game he didn't get credit for the win.
That didn't happen, because of our Hero of the day. Joe Kelly got to play twice in one series after his stint as a Monday pitcher and the results were outstanding. Kelly struck out Ian Desmond to clean up Garcia's mess, then after allowing a couple of singles in the seventh, struck out Steve Lombardozzi, which turned into the exciting strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play.
Kelly's coolness under fire (and his fire-breathing fastball) are surely going to be noticed, especially in a time of trial like this has been. With Mitchell Boggs indefinitely shelved (he didn't pitch at all in this series), Kelly's days of pitching once a week would seem to be over. Will we see Mike Matheny go to a Kelly-Trevor Rosenthal-Edward Mujica end of game triumvirate? I'm actually betting that we won't. Matheny used Rosenthal as the fireman last year, bringing him into situations like bases-loaded, two-out to get the strikeout. I wouldn't be surprised if Kelly slides into that role as well, giving Matheny the option to keep him out there for another inning if he gets out of the jam or just letting him get the key out.
As for Rosenthal, I'm of two minds about his outing yesterday. On the one hand, he did give up another home run and therefore another imperfect outing. On the flip side, he wasn't out there giving up multiple hits like he has in the past and struck out two of the other four batters he faced and the home run was to Jayson Werth and he walked Bryce Harper, two salty bats. I think I'm still on the "he's coming around" bandwagon but I'm sitting on the edge of it. I'd like a couple of more strong outings so I could get back into the middle of the vehicle.
There were a few offensive stars as well. Matt Holliday saw seven pitches all day long, but swatted three of them for hits, including an RBI single in the eighth that meant Werth's home run wasn't as dramatic as it could have been. Matt Carpenter took to the leadoff role, also getting three hits, and Yadier Molina drove in the first two runs of the day with his only hit.
We'll have to give the Goat to Allen Craig. 0-4 is rough enough, but three strikeouts meant that it just wasn't his day. Not the strongest day for Carlos Beltran either, though he did get a walk and a run out of his 0-3.
With the bullpen starting to come around, the demand for a fresh infusion of pitching is subsiding somewhat. That doesn't mean we aren't going to get regular Michael Wacha updates from Memphis, though. Wacha threw seven scoreless yesterday with, interestingly enough, John Mozeliak in attendance. Wacha has had one iffy game in his four starts and sports an ERA under 2.00. We still haven't seen him struggle and need to see how he can bounce back from adversity, but if he keeps this up, Mo might be thinking about ways to get him a spot in St. Louis.
The Cardinals keep the Eye On Baseball Heavyweight Title Belt that they snatched from the Giants earlier in the season and will have to defend it against the Pirates this weekend. If you a long-time reader (if such a thing exists) you might remember me mentioning before that my church does a fundraising BBQ this time of year. So tomorrow will be spent from well before dawn to probably about first pitch doing all the things that entails and there won't be a post. Then, Saturday I head to St. Louis for UCB Weekend (have you downloaded the Bonfyre app to stay up with things yet?) and Sunday I'll be at the game. I don't promise a post on Monday either, depending on how late I get back on Sunday. All that to say, let's go ahead and look at the starting matchups for tomorrow.
Lance Lynn tries to stop this whole good-start, bad-start thing when he heads to the mound on Friday night. Lynn looked quite good against the Phillies, but two starts ago, he got beat around by these Pirates, though he was able to get the win due to an explosive night for the bats.
Jonathan Sanchez goes for the Bucs. It's been an awful season so far for Sanchez, who still has two digits to the left of the decimal point in his ERA. His best start was probably the one against the Cardinals last time out, where he hadn't given up a run before the rains came and rained it out. He's yet to go five innings--the only game he got that far was his first--and, in theory, should be a great tonic for some fairly quiet bats.
The historical numbers do say otherwise, of course, and he is a lefty which is sometimes a drawback for this team. We'll see what gets more weight, the past or the present, when the two teams take the field on Friday evening.
Should have a press release from the Cards for you later today and I plan to put up the May Egraphs contest this afternoon as well. Hope you have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you back here next week!
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