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Wrenching Sweep Plans

Posted on August 18, 2011 at 6:57 AM
Filed Under: Heroes and Goats | Pittsburgh Pirates | St. Louis Cardinals
Like a superhero facing a notorious foe, the Cardinals wrenched the Pirates' plans of pushing the Redbirds farther into irrelevancy.  And they used The Wrench to do it.

Allen Craig, who hadn't had a hit in the big leagues since before he went on the disabled list, had a career day at the plate, getting four hits, including two home runs, and driving in four runs to lead the Cardinals to a 7-2 win.  It was the first time the Cardinals had won on Wednesday since June 29th.  Granted, that's nothing like the Rockies' 17 straight losses on a Sunday, but it was still notable.

Tony La Russa, not happy unless he's got something to tinker with, is proposing Craig play a little center field at the right times.  We'll see if that happens, but it's getting to the point of the season where you have to play Craig pretty regularly somewhere, even if it's giving regulars time off at third or right, to make sure there's a good feeling for what the team has there.  The Cardinals are 7 games out because Milwaukee isn't going to lose (19-2 in their last 21, with those two losses coming to the Cards) and it is going to take a miraculous push to be in the playoffs.  You have to keep an eye on 2012, at least somewhat, and the team needs to know if Craig is going to be a part of that or, alternatively, showcase him somewhat so that he can be a valuable chip in the offseason.

Craig wasn't the only one making a claim to the Hero status last night, though.  It was a second strong outing from Kyle Lohse, something we've not been able to say recently.  Lohse struggled in the first, but was able to get out of it with no damage and then started to roll.  Save for the two-run home run to Jose Tabata, it was a very good night for him and it was also good to see him get into the seventh inning.  If Lohse could get back to that form that he showed earlier in the season, when a lot of people were eating crow, that would help make the last few weeks much more enjoyable.

It was a nice night all the way aroundYadier Molina had three hits and even got a stolen base late in the game.  Rafael Furcal had two hits after returning to the leadoff slot.  Ryan Theriot had a couple of hits.  Lance Berkman got his first pinch-hit as a Cardinal.  If the offense would click more like that, things would be a whole lot better in Cardinal Nation.

Not everyone had a good night, though.  Our Goat tag would have to go to David Freese, who went 0-4 including a 5-3 double play.  Freese has been doing quite well, but everyone has an off night here and there.

Apparently it was also a good night for micromanaging.  The Cards are up 7-2 in the bottom of the ninth.  Marc Rzepczynski is on the mound and gets two outs before allowing a Ryan Ludwick single.  Now, remember, Rzepczynski (as I keep harping on if you have read posts this month) was touted as a guy that was more than a LOOGY, who could even be a starter at some time.  You have a five-run lead.  Does TLR shake it off and let Rzep finish the game?

Of course not.  He has to go to the bullpen and bring in Kyle McClellan, which makes little sense at all.  Why use another arm when you don't have to?  Why was McClellan even warming up?  I think Rzep could have handled that completely.  If TLR isn't going to use the one long-term piece the team got in the Colby Rasmus trade correctly, it's going to drop the value of that trade even more.

Secondly, in the pregame show this week Mike Shannon told TLR that the NL games were taking longer, on average, than the AL games and TLR was incredulous.  I thought at the time, and last night reinforces it--Tony, there's a strong possibility you are the reason for that, with these kind of pitching changes!

Albert Pujols didn't have a dominant series in Pittsburgh, one that we were hoping for as he pushes toward that .300 milestone.  Albert, of course, doesn't think it's a big deal, but for the fans that have increasingly less to watch for, that's going to be a major focus the next five-six weeks.  According to Jon of Redbird Dugout, AP needs to hit .342 the rest of the way.  That would seem to be doable for the big guy--he's done that over a season before--but he's going to need to do more than 1-4 and 1-5.  Really would like to see him get hot and get that .300 mark.

Cards get a day off before facing the Cubs tomorrow afternoon.  Brewers play this afternoon and the Dodgers send Clayton Kershaw to the mound, so perhaps the Cards can finally gain a 1/2 game on the Brew Crew.  Cards gotta have some help if they are going to chase them down!

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Baseball Prospectus is predicting that both the Cardinals and Brewers will finish the season with identical records of 22-17. I think that seems about right. So the Cardinals would have to beat that by going 29-10 down the stretch. It's not impossible. But it's improbable.

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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)

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%)

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%)

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%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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