April 24, 2019

Pitchin’ On The Dock Of The Bay

April 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

You knew, just looking at the matchups, two things about this weekend’s series.  One, it was going to be darn tough for the Cardinals to keep their streak of not losing a series alive.  The second was that if anyone scored, it was going to be a fairly impressive accomplishment.

Sometimes when you think you have a handle on a series, it turns around and surprises you.  This time, not so much.  The Giants scored all of six runs this weekend–and won two out of three games.  The Cardinals scored three runs, which normally would provoke questions about the offense (and to some degree still does), but really wasn’t unexpected.  So the two teams combined to score fewer runs in the entire series than the Astros scored by themselves on Sunday.  It was that kind of weekend.
Jaime Garcia continues to draw the toughest the other team has to offer.  It’s one of the downsides to that early season flip of him and Chris Carpenter due to the unwillingness to have Garcia pitch in the first ESPN Sunday Night game.  I say downside, but it’s not affected Garcia anywhere but in the win column.  He beat Yovani Gallardo and arguably outpitched Johan Santana in the beginnings of that 20-inning game.
While he didn’t outpitch Tim Lincecum–that’s a tough thing to do–he did pitch a solid game without his best stuff.  He walked three and gave up seven hits, yet if the defense had been a little better behind him, he might have gotten out of there with only two runs allowed.  He becomes more and more impressive every time out and it’s be interesting to see what he does on Wednesday versus his first non-ace, Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami.  More kudos go his way for getting his first major league hit off of such a dominating starter.
The Hero of that game, though, was probably Yadier Molina, for providing the little offense St. Louis could muster against Big Time Timmy Jim.  Two of the eight hits and the only RBI.  Lincecum gave the Cards a few chances, but Molina was the only one to capitalize on any of them.
It’s a little tough to separate out a Goat, but we’ll give it to David Freese for an 0-4 with a strikeout.  I wanted to lean toward Brendan Ryan, due to his error that helped lead to a run, but in the long run it’s doubtful that run made all the difference in the game.
I wasn’t able to see much of the next two games, which is a shame because I do like to see good pitching.  Adam Wainwright has proven that last year wasn’t necessarily a career year, just a level that he can attain on a regular basis.  After four starts, he’s 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA and two complete games.  Waino is going to be the team workhorse for a while, though, and is understandably supplanting Carp as the de facto team ace.  He should be just hitting his prime at 28, so hopefully we have a lot of years left of seeing that big curveball and more deep-game outings.
I think you probably go and give the Goat to Albert Pujols on this one.  Pujols hasn’t seemed right, especially this week, so to go 0-4 with a called strikeout (that, granted, was at least questionable from his point of view) and a key double play is just not what the team is used to out of Pujols.  Now, given the results of Sunday, it’s possible that he’s starting to stir out of it, which is good news for us and bad news for the pitchers of the National League.
Sunday, Brad Penny was, well, insert your own Penny/money pun here.  A lot of us weren’t sure what we had with him, but I think a 0.96 ERA has given us reason to think that, even though he can’t keep that up all year, odds are he’s going to be above-average as a third starter.  With Garcia being well above average as a #5, if Kyle Lohse gets going to be an average #4 (which is well within his capabilities), this rotation is going to be the best in baseball.
Pujols did get back into the groove against Matt Cain, whom he’s now 8 for 12 against.  Always good to get a little extra BP when you are struggling, especially since those results counted.  His first-inning homer was all that Penny needed and perhaps may be a omen for how many games will be won this summer.
Tough to find a Goat in this one.  Lots of similar performances, as the hits were pretty evenly spaced throughout the lineup, save for Pujols’s three.  I guess we’ll give this one to Matt Holliday, who went 0-4 with a strikeout.
Because the Cardinals are winning, sitting 2 1/2 ahead of the Cubs and the only NL Central team that actually is above .500, attention can be paid to some of the smaller issues on the club, such as the St. Louis bench.  Nick Stavinoha, Joe Mather, and Allen Craig aren’t exactly picking splinters out of their posterior, but that’s more to do with the quality of major league dugouts than it is their playing time.  It’s a tough dilemma for them, because how do you stay sharp and really get into a rhythm when you may only play once a week, if that, and pinch hit here and there.  (And don’t get me started on Bryan Anderson.)
Tony La Russa hasn’t shown much of his famous propensity for lineup swapping and creative playing schedules.  It’s tough to do with guys like Holliday, Rasmus, and Ryan Ludwick that have proven they should be out there most every day.  David Freese is doing well enough that they can’t even crack third, because even if Freese is out, Felipe Lopez is probably in.
It makes me wonder if there won’t be some other move made here soon when Jason LaRue returns this week and Anderson goes back to Memphis.  Might Craig go with him and Tyler Greene come up?  Especially if Lopez’s arm is still barking at him, I wouldn’t be surprised at such an insurance move.
The Cardinals get to return home tonight and face a Braves team that is struggling, sitting at the bottom of the NL East.  The pitching they face in this series won’t nearly be as tough as they faced in San Francisco, and with Cincinnati (and Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey) coming in afterwards, if we aren’t talking about a good offensive week for this club, there may be deeper problems than we think.
Tonight the Cardinals face probably the best starter they will see all week in Tim Hudson.  Hudson has a solid 1-1, 2.38 record so far this season and hit his only career home run in Busch Stadium.  Here’s what he’s done against the current Redbirds:
PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP
Felipe Lopez 29 27 5 2 0 1 2 2 3 .185 .241 .370 .612 0 0 0 0
Albert Pujols 22 20 8 0 0 1 3 2 2 .400 .455 .550 1.005 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 13 11 3 1 0 0 2 2 1 .273 .385 .364 .748 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 8 4 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 .250 .571 .250 .821 1 0 1 0
Brendan Ryan 4 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .750 .750 .750 1.500 0 0 0 0
Jason LaRue 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0
Kyle Lohse 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0
Colby Rasmus 3 3 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0
Skip Schumaker 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Brad Penny 2 2 2 1 0 0 3 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.500 2.500 0 0 0 0
Ryan Ludwick 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Total 91 81 26 6 0 2 11 9 7 .321 .389 .469 .858 1 0 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/26/2010.

It looks like the Pujols resurgence could continue tonight.  It’s probably not a bad thing that Lopez might not be available for this game, as Tony wasn’t likely to start him with those numbers anyway.  The team has hit Hudson in the past, but we’ll see if they are able to do so tonight.

Kyle Lohse looked terrible last time out, but he has had some solid work at times this year as well.  Here’s what he’s done against the Braves:
PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Eric Hinske 21 19 6 1 0 0 2 2 5 .316 .381 .368 .749 0 0 0 0 1
Omar Infante 19 19 3 1 0 1 2 0 4 .158 .158 .368 .526 0 0 0 0 0
Chipper Jones 17 11 6 2 0 1 5 5 1 .545 .647 1.000 1.647 0 1 0 0 0
Nate McLouth 17 16 4 1 0 1 3 1 2 .250 .294 .500 .794 0 0 0 0 0
Brian McCann 13 12 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .250 .308 .250 .558 0 0 0 0 1
Yunel Escobar 11 10 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .400 .455 .400 .855 0 0 0 0 0
Troy Glaus 11 9 3 0 0 1 2 2 1 .333 .455 .667 1.121 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Diaz 7 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 .143 .143 .286 .429 0 0 0 0 0
Martin Prado 5 5 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 .400 .400 .400 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Tim Hudson 4 3 1 0 0 1 2 1 1 .333 .500 1.333 1.833 0 0 0 0 0
Jo-Jo Reyes 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
David Ross 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jordan Schafer 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 132 117 35 6 0 5 18 14 21 .299 .371 .479 .850 0 1 0 0 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/26/2010.

Man, Chipper Jones has owned Lohse in the past, hasn’t he?  It’s a good thing for St. Louis that he’s been hobbled lately, even sitting out some games.  He’ll be in the lineup tonight, I have no doubt, but maybe he won’t be quite the same guy that’s blistered Lohse in the past.

The Cardinals also get to see what all the fuss is about with Jason Heyward.  Should be fun to get to see him for four games, unless he wins one or two of them for the Braves!
My weekly post at Baseball Digest will be up later this morning, so be sure to look over there for that.  This afternoon, though, come back here for a project I worked all weekend on.  It’s a comprehensive guide to the Cardinal blogosphere.  Really, you don’t want to miss that.  Or even if you do, humor me since I put in around eight hours on it!

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