December 2, 2020

Desert Mirage

June 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Cardinals won the first game in Arizona, but that was just the oasis in the losing streak.  A quick recap:

Friday (5-2 win)
Hero: Brendan Ryan.  He’s still not found himself at the plate entirely, slipping back around .200, and a home run was about the most unlikely thing that could have happened in that at-bat, but it was good to see him get the big hit.  Plus, that means a post-game interview on FSMW and he and Jim Hayes always make for good TV.
Goat: Dennys Reyes.  Again, if the lefty can’t get lefties out, there’s a problem.
Notes: Read a note that Jaime Garcia and Yadier Molina agree that people aren’t chasing Garcia’s pitches as much anymore.  He’s going to have to make some adjustments now, because walking five batters leads to shorter outings and will wind up come back to haunt you eventually…The top of the lineup went 0-12 in this game.  It just seems impossible to get this offense going on a regular basis.

Saturday (7-2 loss)
Hero: Colby Rasmus.  Two for four with a home run.  I also want to give major kudos to Blake Hawksworth for his work after his rough start on Monday.  Three innings, only one run and three strikeouts is a pretty effective outing.
Goat: Adam Ottavino.  Rookie pitchers are like a box of chocolate, you never know what you are going to get.  This time, the outing wasn’t nearly as sharp as the one against the Brewers.  Then again, in that time period, his pitching coach has basically said he’s not good enough for a good team.  Can’t imagine that’d mess with his mind or confidence, do you?
Notes: Nice to see Fernando Salas doing well.  He’s probably the one booted to Memphis for Jeff Suppan’s triumphant return, but he’s still getting valuable experience.  And can someone explain to this pitching staff how to get Dan Haren out?  Man’s hitting .425 on the season, but that’s in large part due to his six for seven against the Redbirds.

Sunday (7-5 loss)
Hero: Albert Pujols.  Honestly, Pujols has looked completely lost at the plate recently.  Eight strikeouts in his last 11 games?  An average below .300?  It’s gotten so bad that Arizona pitched to him with first base open and two outs.  That never happens.  So it was good to see him come through in big situations late in that game to spur the comeback.
Goat: Dennys Reyes.  Yes, Kyle McClellan allowed the game winning home run, which was a no-no after having two outs in the inning.  But you get into the ninth or extras on the road, you run the risk that one mistake kills you.  However, if Reyes does his job, that ninth inning scorefest for the Cards may have given them the lead, bringing Ryan Franklin into the game instead of McClellan.  Reyes again can’t get lefties out, which is become less of a slump and more of a problem.
Notes: It was nice to see the Cards rally, even if it was against one of the worst bullpens in the league.  Jumpstarts have to come from somewhere, so that coupled with interleague coming up might help somewhat.

The Cardinals look up at the Reds 1.5 games ahead of them.  I know it’s just a function of the last few games, of the way the team has seemed to struggle, but is anyone else getting worried a bit?  Not flat out, “we’re doomed” worry, but some general unease?  1.5 games isn’t a lot, I know, but imagine where this team would be if they hadn’t built a five game lead in the division by mid-April.  If they were playing good baseball, I’d be less concerned, but they haven’t been able to do a sustained and consistent attack since the middle of last month, and even that was only about five or six days.

There has to be some joy in Cardinal Nation soon, right?  Maybe this week will hold the key, though the return of Jeff Suppan may tamp down on some of that exuberance.  The more I think about it, though, and hearing that the braintrust does believe that there are some adjustments he can make, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Suppan didn’t go out and put together one or two decent starts.  I think the league would catch up with him again, and I just the idea that the Cards went out and signed him is completely wrong, but for the fact that they may only need him to pitch a couple of times before Brad Penny returns, it might not be a disaster.  Might.

The Cardinals have traditionally (wow, using traditionally to talk about interleague play.  There’s something so wrong with that.) been a strong interleague team, with their winning percentage second only to Florida in the NL.  Pujols has the highest interleague batting average.  In theory, the conditions are right for a surge.

If it’s going to happen, it may start tonight against the Mariners.  Adam Wainwright takes the mound for the Cardinals against Luke French.  While on the face of it, you like the fact that French has a 6+ ERA, you then realize that 1) he’s a lefty, 2) the Cardinals have never seen him before and 3) those are the kind of guys that drive the Cardinals to distraction.  With Wainwright on the hill, it could be a pitcher’s duel.  Perhaps they’ll be able to solve this riddle and put up some runs.  We’ll have to just wait and see.

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