(Side rant: I never watch ESPN anymore. Maybe occasionally a few minutes of a ballgame, but on the whole, not really. Part of the reason is because, apparently, there are two all-football channels, the NFL Network and ESPN. The week after the season, they are breaking down teams for the next season. The schedule gets a three-hour special. It's gone extremely over the top. If there was a zombie apocalypse tomorrow, ESPN would spend their time predicting how zombies would affect the NFL. "You know, Mike, if the Rams got a couple of them zombies on their defense, they could make some noise. Zombies might not be quick to the quarterback, but they are tenacious." I know I have readers that are big football fans--hi, Robert!--but to me, I don't think it's a coincidence that the rise of football comes at the same time as the general decline in society.)
While St. Louis might have won even without the two errors made by Ian Kennedy, those errors back to back in the sixth really opened the game up. Kennedy may have been unjustly accused once--it looked like Rafael Furcal slapped the ball out of the glove of Paul Goldschmidt--but his airmail attempt of trying to get Skip Schumaker at third on Shane Robinson's bunt opened the floodgates and took the air out of any Arizona comeback. A three-run eighth by the 'Birds just put icing on the cake.
Even though he botched a ball in the third inning, a ball that I had a number of Twitter followers note to me was the toughest kind of ball for an outfielder to judge, Jon Jay has to be the hero of the piece. Not only did he get two hits and get the Cards what turned out to be the winning run on a long ball, but he made a spectacular catch to keep Arizona from starting a rally.
Also, credit has to be given to Matt Holliday, whose two-run homer started the scoring, Allen Craig, who had two hits and an RBI, and Matt Carpenter, who pinch-hit and drove in two with a double. There was a hole in the middle of the lineup--Carlos Beltran gets the Goat for striking out three times on his way to an 0-4, but David Freese and Yadier Molina also took the doughnut--but the offense definitely was cranking last night.
Not that Joe Kelly needed that much of it. As both game stories point out, Kelly very likely was making his last start of the season with the club, unless a fill-in is needed at some point. Jaime Garcia pitched in Memphis last night and....well, was Jaime Garcia. One of the more frustrating things about Garcia in the past has been his tendency at times to be quite inefficient. Garcia threw five innings of acceptable results, but threw 93 pitches during it. The pitch count was the key--they wanted it to get close to 100--but I figure people in charge hoped he'd get into the seventh with that kind of limit. Still, you have to figure that Garcia will be activated this weekend, forcing a decision about a spot in the starting rotation.
Kelly didn't make it easy on them, though, throwing six scoreless innings before allowing a two-run homer to lead off the seventh. Kelly also piled up six strikeouts during his time on the mound and has shown that he can handle the starting role. If they do slide him out of the rotation in favor of Garcia (which, to be honest, I can't see them doing anything else), we'll have to see how he can transition into the bullpen role that, honestly, he was drafted for out of college.
Which also means that someone has to go to the minors. If Kelly doesn't get sent down to keep starting in Memphis, somebody else will have to do it. Barret Browning has had a couple of rough outings and he and Fernando Salas are really the only ones with options available to be sent to Memphis. Whomever goes, of course, won't be there long as there are only about two and 1/2 weeks left in the minor league season, meaning they'll return when rosters expand. Of course, now Browning takes on more importance because......
.....technically, there is someone else now in the bullpen with options. In one of the more unexpected stories of the season, Brian Fuentes has told the Cardinals he had some personal issues to deal with, apparently with his family, and has been placed on the restricted list. That basically means he's not in the organization--doesn't take up any roster spots--but the Cards get first rights to him when and if he returns. As Mike Matheny said, though, it's unlikely that Fuentes will return this season and you have to figure it may be the last he plays in baseball, given his age and the results from this season. John Mozeliak didn't sound thrilled with the whole idea, given that Fuentes played a large role in how they approached the trading deadline (and the fact that Fuentes apparently didn't ask to leave the team, he told them he wasn't going to show up), but if there's problems, there's problems and a guy has to be allowed to work to solve them.
That means Trevor Rosenthal returns to the bigs after a couple of turns in Memphis. Rosenthal impressed his first time around and it's good to see him back in the bullpen mix for the club. His power stuff can be pretty nasty and I'm glad he'll be able to get that last outing, when he gave up the game-winning home run to the Cubs, out of his mind soon.
Rosenthal returned instead of Shelby Miller getting the call. Miller has done much better of late and there seems to be a push for bringing him to the bigs when rosters expand and using his fastball in the bullpen. I'm against that and I'll tell you why. (I'm sure you figured I would, since it is my blog and all.) What the Cardinals have emphasized to him all season long is using his off-speed pitches. They put in the "no-shake" rule so that he'd have to do something besides challenging people with his fastball. If he comes up to be a reliever, what's going to be the focus? Throwing fastballs. You don't set up a hitter as a reliever, you try to blow them away. It seems to me you risk undoing a lot of the work you have done this season if you do that with Miller. While I'm as excited as anyone to see him in St. Louis, I don't think this is the way to do it.
One guy that won't be getting a September call-up is Matt Adams, who recently underwent surgery for bone spurs and is done for the year. I don't think that's a huge blow for the Cards, as Adams wouldn't get a lot of playing time with Craig and Lance Berkman floating around and this way he can get an extra month of recovery time and be sure to be ready by next spring.
Tonight is Social Media Night for the Cardinals, which is always a lot of fun. If you'll remember, last year's SMN was on August 25, the day the Cardinals started their run for October. The Cards are 4-0 on either SMN nights or blogger events since September of 2010, when they started having such things. There's a strong chance they'll move to 5-0 as Adam Wainwright goes to the mound for St. Louis.
Not only has Wainwright been Wainwright lately, showing that he is getting stronger and sharper the farther away he gets from surgery, he's also been a Diamondback killer in his career. He only has a 4-3 career mark against the club, but that comes with a 2.48 ERA and, well, look at the historical numbers:
That's not the largest sample, but it's large enough to be ugly if you root for Arizona. When players as a group are hitting under .200 against a pitcher, that doesn't fill you with optimism.
The Diamondbacks send out Joe Saunders. Saunders is one of those soft-tossing lefties that could give the Cardinals some fits and has been pitching well of late. Interestingly, though, many Cardinals have hit him well in the past.
Holliday's had his struggles, but he's one of the few. When you see a matchup like this, you can't help but get excited. Of course, the Cards have found a way to turn these kind of matchups on their heads before, so you can't call it a lock by any means. Let's see a dominate Waino and get a series win, what do you say?
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