The Cardinals had been living dangerously the last few days. Having never trailed in the division this year, they played their way into just a half-game lead with their stumbles in Los Angeles. Tyler Greene saved them from second place earlier in the week, but with the Reds refusing to lose, it was going to be tough to keep that wire-to-wire dream alive.
If you are looking for a Goat from Thursday's game, it seems reasonable enough to look toward the center of the diamond. However, picking just one does become difficult. After all, only Mitchell Boggs pitched and came away unscathed, giving up just one hit in an inning and a third. You could make a strong case that starter Jake Westbrook should get the award because, after all, it was his disastrous outing that got the Cards in a 6-0 hole to start with. There's a solid case there. Perhaps you note that the home run given up by Victor Marte turned out to be the difference in the game, though Marte did strike out three in his 1.2 innings.
No, I think the best case for the Goat can be made against Fernando Salas. Salas came into the game after two furious rallies had tied the game at 7. Momentum was swinging in the direction of St. Louis and it looked like this was going to be one of those games that we talked about with a glow for the rest of the season, showing how you are never out of it, that this team is a battling team.
All that is still true, of course, but Salas splashed cold water on our fevered imaginings. With one out, he gave up back-to-back singles. After another out, it looked like he could wiggle free, but then again gave up back-to-back singles, which allowed two runs to score. The Cards went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth and Philadelphia was back in control.
That doesn't mean the offense was completely blameless--Carlos Beltran struck out with the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first in the eighth--but when they put up 9 runs, it's tough to say that it was their fault the Cards lost this one.
Hero tag has to go to Yadier Molina. Four hits, including a big home run that tied the game in the fifth, three RBI and a run scored. We thought last year was an outlying year for Molina's offense, but he's hitting .314 with six home runs right now, showing that he really has developed into a very solid offensive force.
Other positives were Matt Holliday and David Freese both going yard. Freese had a couple of hits, making it look like he really is coming out of that slump. Beltran had three hits to chip in to the offensive fun, though unfortunately couldn't get a fourth at the end of the game.
You wonder how long the Cardinals can afford to keep running Salas out there. I guess with that almost three innings of scoreless ball against the Braves two weekends ago, he's still got some rope, but even with that he has an 8.22 ERA for the month and has given up 11 hits in 7.2 innings. (Without the Braves outing, the ERA would be 12.60 and it'd be 11 hits in five innings. Very, very ugly.) Apparently Maikel Cleto is pitching well recently in Memphis (he has a 1.38 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 13 innings for the month of May) and swapping those two for a bit might be a wise idea.
Some other people may be heading to Memphis soon as well as there are some positive reports on a few disabled guys. Allen Craig took some ground balls--at second base, of all places, though the club has continually denied since Mike Matheny took over that Craig would be back in the middle of the infield and it's not exactly the safest place for a guy with some leg issues--and hopefully will be ready to come off the DL a week from today. Jon Jay can come off on Wednesday, so if he's going to need a rehab assignment he hopefully will be going out on it soon.
The same story notes that Chris Carpenter is doing better with his shoulder, but he won't start a throwing program for another month. Factor in following that program and a stint in the minors and Carp may not be with the big club until the middle of August. A nice stretch run pickup, I guess. (Let's all say it in unison, shall we? "It's like a big trade without giving up anybody!")
Lance Berkman's surgery got pushed off until today due to a scheduling conflict on the part of the surgeon. Berkman continues to maintain that there's going to be more damage in there than the initial tests indicated, so we'll have to wait and see how good Berkman is at diagnosing himself. (Honestly, I'm expecting he's pretty good, but hopefully his years of watching House haven't paid off.) I'm sure there will be a lot of discussion about it on Twitter today if you are on there, so keep an eye out.
Cards have another battle on their hands tonight. Cliff Lee (a fellow Arkansan, so I can't dislike him too much) takes the mound for the Phillies and, though the Cards were able to get to him in last year's NLDS, doesn't mean it's any easier to have him on the docket. Here are the stats:
Kyle Lohse gets to go up against Mr. Lee. Lohse has not had the same success lately that he did earlier in the season, but he's still not given up more than three runs in a game save once. Of course, he's only finished the sixth once in his last four starts as well, so the bullpen may get an early call this evening. The numbers:
I tend to forget that Lohse actually was a Phillie briefly. I don't think that factors into his preparation at all, though. They've hit him in the past, especially Hunter Pence and Ty Wigginton, so he's going to really have to be on his game tonight.
Remember, tonight's game is Fox Sports Midwest's "This One's For You" as they (and we) honor those that sacrifice for our freedom. As always, my thanks goes out to those actively serving and those that have served in the past. I'm not sitting here playing with this silly little blog without your sacrifice.
Have a great holiday weekend, everyone! I hope to publish the guest posting schedule this weekend, just waiting on one more confirmation. Enjoy!
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