So far the Cardinals have played two games in Arizona. Â The differences could not be more stark.
Monday night, it was vintage 2010 Cardinals. Â Brad Penny allowed a couple of runs in the first, then cruised, piling up out after out, extending the streak of starters going seven and allowing two runs or less to seven games. Â Matt Holliday continued his breakout of Sunday night, putting up three hits, including the game-tying two-run homer. Â It was even one of those nights when it was hard to find a Goat, as the bullpen came in and kept Arizona scoreless while almost everyone had at least one hit. Â If you have to give it to someone, I guess you give it to Yadier Molina, since he went 0-3 with runners in scoring position. Â As I’ve noted though, not all Goats are created equal.
If you had said before Tuesday night that the Cardinals were going to score seven runs off of Dan Haren, I think just about everyone would have signed up for that win. Â With the way this pitching staff is going, you are going to give them seven runs? Â Yes, please.
Rob Neyer put out on Twitter this week a new term, disaster start. Â A disaster start, if I remember correctly, is a start where the pitcher goes five innings or less and gives up more runs than innings pitched. Â Kyle Lohse apparently decided to see what one of those looked like up close and personal.
The worst part of the game was the frustration factor. Â The Cardinals got up two before an out was recorded, but gave it back in the bottom of the inning. Â Went up two in the top of the third, gave back three in the bottom. Â Scored three in the top of the fourth, allowed three in the bottom of it. Â The team never stopped Arizona when they needed to.
Of course, it’s always something with Lohse. Â I don’t say that in a derogatory way, just saying that if there’s something strange, it’ll be with him. Â Not only did he have Bryan Anderson catching (more on that in a bit), but apparently he had major head congestion last night. Â Having dealt with all the pollen and everything around here, I completely know what he’s talking about (you can probably hear me hacking all the way through last night’s BBA Baseball Talk), but if you were to guess which pitcher would have that happen to him, you know you’d guess Lohse.
Mitchell Boggs and Kyle McClellan stoked the bullpen worries again after they’d started to ease due to the great performances in the 20-inning affair and Monday’s game. Â Boggs delivered a meat pitch to Mark Reynolds who tagged a two-out homer to give Arizona the lead they’d never give up. Â Plus, when you allow the opposing pitcher to get four hits, you know things aren’t going your way. Â The Cardinals never seemed to be able to get the third out when they needed it.
The Hero of last night’s game should be Ryan Ludwick, with a three for four night including two home runs. Â Even he comes with a drawback, however, as the Cards had a chance to get rid of Haren once and for all, with runners on the corners and Albert Pujols up, but Ludwick got picked off of first. Â Pujols was intentionally walked and Holliday was out to end the inning. That play may have changed the complexion of the game, though it’s likely that, even if the Cards had taken a lead, the bullpen would have given it right back.
Two things that I really wanted to talk about yesterday before circumstances kept me from blogging was the talk about the reliance on home runs and the captivity of Bryan Anderson. Â Both are still somewhat relevant, so I’ll get into those after the jump.
First, home runs. Â I noticed the backlash to this line of thinking was already starting on Twitter yesterday, but before then the storyline was that the Cardinals were scoring too many of their runs via the home run and that was going to come back and bite them.
While it’s true that being able to score some runs by stringing together hits is a good thing to diversify the offense (and we saw a little of that last night), look at the lineup the Cards have. Â The home runs come from up and down the starters. Â It’d be different if the whole offense was “wait for Pujols to go yard,” but it’s not. Â Ludwick hit two last night. Â Felipe Lopez hit the grand slam against the Mets. Â Colby Rasmus has gotten a couple of dingers. Â Molina has gone yard twice. Â This is a powerful offense that will hit a lot of home runs. Â There will be times where we would like to see a single with a runner on second, true, but I don’t think you should argue too hard how you are scoring runs as long as you are scoring them.
Finally, Bryan Anderson. Â Which is basically what I was saying last night when he got the start in Arizona. Â Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge Anderson guy. Â I’m not coming up with “Anglin’ for Anderson” T-shirts. Â I’d like to see him play some, but I realize that Yadi’s going to get the bulk of the time.
However, “the bulk of the time” shouldn’t mean “every single inning, no matter how long the game goes.” Â I think it was admirable that Molina caught all 20 innings on Saturday. Â There’s no way he should have been out there Sunday, even if he wanted to be. Â And if you put him out there Sunday, what’s he doing starting Monday as well? Â You have a backup catcher–use him! Â Molina doesn’t need to be worn out after the first two weeks of the season.
I know there’s not a lot of trust of Anderson, and Tony noticeably avoided a question after last night’s game wondering if that had something to do with Lohse’s start, but does anyone really think that Molina would have caught ten straight games including the marathon contest on Saturday if Jason LaRue was available?
I’m not sure exactly what Anderson has done to be so lightly regarded by La Russa, but it’s not helping the player or the organization. Â Leave him at Memphis and let him play everyday so as to increase his trade potential or play him some in the bigs. Â Letting him wither on the vine as they have so far isn’t good for anyone.
It’s Chris Carpenter vs. Edwin Jackson tonight, so disaster start, for either side, shouldn’t come into play. Â UCB Radio Hour is on tonight as well, so tune in for that!
To end on a high note, check out what Albert knows how to do now!