Laying An Egg
No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth or been thrown into some big glowing light on a remote island. Â My work schedule has made it tough to blog this week and the Cardinals’ play has keep the motivation to blog down as well. Â Let’s take a quick look at the Houston series (such as it was) before discussing.
Hero: Ryan Ludwick. Â Three hits, two runs, one RBI.
Goat: Brendan Ryan. Â Even though I think Brad Penny should have probably been able to get the third out of the inning anyway, he wasn’t hit all that hard and Ryan did make two errors plus have another hitless game.
Notes: Jason Motte had been looking a bit sharper, but two home runs in one inning will erase that pretty quickly. Â Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday both had a chance to get the Cards back in it in the seventh, but had weak groundouts.
Wednesday (9-6 loss)
Hero: Ryan Ludwick. Â Too bad everyone couldn’t hit the Astros like Luddy!
Goat: Kyle Lohse. Â Sure, Brendan Ryan made another key error. Â But did you see the pitches that Lohse made after that? Â After the Cards had gotten the second out of the inning at third on the sac bunt, I still felt like they were going to allow at least one run. Â Seems like it happens way too often. Â Lohse, however, just laid some pitches in there. Â They may have been unearned in the scorebook, but not so much in reality.
Notes: Give the Cards credit, they never think they are out of it. Â Down 9-1, they came back and had the tying run at the plate in the ninth. Â Lance Berkman had two home runs coming into this series, then hit HR on back to back nights.
Thursday (4-1 loss)
Hero: Matt Holliday. Â Two hits and the only RBI.
Goat: Chris Carpenter. Â That home run to Hunter Pence was a killer, especially when there were two outs. Â One run is bad enough in that game, four runs is basically insurmountable.
Notes: Last time out, an unearned run. Â This time, an earned run. Â They are slowly figuring out Bud Norris! Â In 2013 they are going to just own him.
Seriously, though, what is up with the Cards and Norris
? Â It’s one thing to be dominated regularly by a great pitcher. Â It’s one thing to be beaten regularly by an average pitcher. Â But to find it this tough to score against a guy the league tees off on? Â They’ve seen him enough so newness shouldn’t be that much of an issue.
Colby Rasmus thinks he’s getting a little lucky. Â Which, besides the fact that it probably violates the unwritten rules of pitcher respect
, may have a little bit of truth to it. Â It could be that when Norris regresses to the mean against the Cardinals, it’s going to happen in a big way. Â It could be he has an idea on how to pitch to this team, however. Â It could be that he was dipped in some mystical power, so that whomever he faced in his first career start
would be the team he could beat for years. Â Who knows?
For such a potent, power-packed team, the Cards have now gone 84 innings without a home run. Â You have to back it up 13 more innings until you find a home run by a regular, which was David Freese in the second inning of Sunday’s game. Â (Against the Reds, whom the Cardinals face starting tonight.) Â Pujols hasn’t gone yard since April 25. Â Holliday? Â April 19.
It’s not like the Cardinals are completely impotent if they aren’t going yard. Â They scored six against Houston without a homer, 11 against the Pirates without one. Â They are still generating some runs, just not enough. Â The key hits, the hits that break a game open or complete a comeback, just aren’t there.
and I discussed this on the UCB Radio Hour
this week. Â There’s a lot of “it’s early” talk still going around, and I can subscribe to that to a point. Â However, as the investment commercials say, past results are notÂ indicativeÂ of future performance. Â You figure that things will start swinging upwards soon so that these guys will get back on their career track, but there’s no guarantee.
Which really leads to the question of how much credit or blame Mark McGwire gets in this whole thing. Â As I said Wednesday, McGwire really shouldn’t be a problem for Skip Schumaker, since he was the one that got Skip going in the first place. Â But is he causing Brendan Ryan to think too much or to get away from what he’s been doing?
On the whole, save for the really spectacular ones like Dave Duncan, I think coaches get a little too much credit and a little too much blame for things. Â So I don’t want to go assigning fault to McGwire when it could just be people out of sync or running into some good pitching causing a slump. Â It’s something to keep an eye on, though, as he continues to integrate himself into the organization.
The Cardinals have to be concerned after being swept by a last-place team. Â (Good news, last time that Houston swept in St. Louis, it was 2004 and we know how that season went for St. Louis. Â Then again, Houston was a lot better in 2004 as well.) Â Not only being swept, but allowing 19 runs to a team that had only scored 85 coming in and allowing four homers to an offense that has been punchless most of the year.
Cincinnati isn’t going to let them off the hook, either. Â A loss tonight and the Cards are out of first place for the first time this year. Â Jaime Garcia is a good one to have on the hill when you need a win, that’s true. Â Interestingly, even though the Cards already have six games under their belt with the Reds, Garcia hasn’t pitched in any of them. Â He’ll definitely need to be keeping the ball down tonight in the launching pad that the Great American Ball Park can be.
Aaron Harang goes for the Reds. Â The Cards have gotten to him in the two starts they’ve faced Harang. Â Four runs (three earned) in just over five innings on opening day in Cincinnati, then three runs in six innings in St. Louis last week, including that Freese home run. Â Harang’s a guy that the Cards have seen a lot of over the years. Â If they are going to get out of their slump, this would be a strong candidate for the job.
One blurb before I sign off here. Â As many of you know, I’m involved with the great baseball site Seamheads. Â After seeing the success of the BBA Baseball Talk podcast (which has some ties to the UCB Radio Hour), they’ve started up their own show called What’s On Second
. Â Good baseball talk there, especially about the history of the game. Â The first show focuses on Ernie Harwell and Robin Roberts, so be sure to check it out.
Cardinals really need a win tonight. Â I look for the bats to get going and just hope the bullpen can keep the lead handed to it. Â I’m sure Ryan Franklin would like to pitch again someday!