The offense looked like something other than sleepwalking in yesterday’s match against the Giants. The question is was that a one time fluke or was it the outbreak they needed to start consistently pushing runs across the plate? Today’s game just might tell us as the Redbirds open up a 3 game series versus Arizona.
David Freese especially had a banner day. He went 3 for 4, smacking in RBIs every chance he got. And to cap it off, he added a solo shot for his first home run of the year. All in all, the ‘Birds scored 6 runs in 11 hits, which is drastically more than they have been doing and easily at least what this offense is capable of on a regular basis.
When you have guys like Pujols, Holliday, Berkman, Rasmus and Freese, you expect to score runs. Bottom line. I should also say Kyle Loshe has really been quite good. Certainly much better than I expected him to be. Who would have thought pre-season that we would love the pitching and watching a struggling offense? Not I.
So what do you think? Will the Cardinals continue to break out and score runs? Will Pujols figure out how to get above .200 before April is over? Post below!
Fun to watch your team score runs,
Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me??? 3 blown saves in 4 chances. No, Franklin did not lose this game by himself. The offense isn’t hitting and I think Colby should have caught that ball, even though it was far from a routine grab. But Franklin deserves quite a bit of blame. You can’t keep putting runners on every game and expect it to not catch up to you. You let guys get on with base hits and walk, it will come back to get you. And that’s all on Ryan Franklin.
I think something might be up with Franklin. Remember how many saves Izzy blew before he finally admitted to arm discomfort? He got it fixed and came back better. If I find out this is the case, I will be pretty ticked off that he didn’t say anything. Not speaking up only hurts yourself and more importantly the team.
People who are saying, ‘Trade him now!’ are just being ridiculous. We already have him under contract, so we might as well use him. Selling low isn’t going to help us. But I’d love to see the hard throwing Motte in that role at some point to see how he fares.
In any event, the Giant series continues the trend of losing by 3 runs or less and was the 4th 1-run differential of the season. What does this tell me? That we are in for a very, very long season if the offense doesn’t snap out of this ridiculous funk.
Can’t wait to get Matt Holliday back tomorrow. Hope he gets Pujols going.
Franklin, Deja Vu
So I have decided that the Cardinals are trying to kill me. There is no other explanation for today’s game. And it nearly worked.
They started their first road trip of the season tonight by traveling to San Fran and taking on the reigning World Series champs. The first 8 innings were typical Cardinal baseball of late. Scratch together a hit here or there, plate a runner or two, but fall just short of victory.
And then the 9th inning happened.
In the bottom of the ninth, the first two Redbirds went down quietly to bring Yadier Molina to the plate. And that’s where the fun began. Down to his last strike, Yadi drew a walk. Newcomer Daniel Descalso (who I hope keeps his blog going) somehow magically beat out a dribbler and Jon Jay was just barely grazed by a pitch. Things suddenly had gone from bad to interesting.
It was now the top of the order and the weight of the world had landed on the shoulders of Ryan Theriot. I looked at the TV (as I’ve previously stated, I do talk to players during the game) and said, “Ok Theriot, if you want Cardinal Nation to love you….here’s your opportunity.” He must have heard me because after working the count full and fighting off what seemed like a million foul balls, he hit a single between third and short, plating two Redbirds and giving the Cardinals their first lead of the game.
At that point, I was hoping they’d score a few more because then maybe Franklin wouldn’t be brought in to pitch the 9th if it wasn’t a save situation. No such luck. Rasmus walked and the still cold Pujols flied out to end the inning.
I was at my folks house during the game and my exact words to my mom prior to Franklin starting the 9th were… “You know his MO is to get two quick outs before he walks the bases loaded.” Though that wasn’t 100% accurate, it was pretty darn close. Franklin did get two quick ground outs before the bottom fell out. Aaron Rowand singled, then moved up with a wild pitch by Franklin. He walked Posey and Pablo Sandoval proceeded to tie the game with a base hit.
On to extras.
It was really bad at this point because the Cardinals had no one left on their bench, except for Holliday who hasn’t been cleared to play. This is normally a spot for someone like Adam Wainwright, but he is, of course, out this year. So Kyle Loshe got the nod to pinch hit. Nothing really interesting happened until the bottom of the 11th.
Bryan Augenstein then pitched some of the most nerve wrecking baseball I have ever seen in my life. He gave up a leadoff double to start the inning and it seemed all was lost. If you have a runner in scoring position with no outs, it seems pretty safe to say you will be able to score him. However, he then delivered some of the most important strikes of his career to strike out Freddy Sanchez. Rowand again is trouble when he rips a ball to what looks like will go down the left field line. But the Cardinals are playing with 5 infielders at this point and Allen Craig makes an incredible play to stop the ball and get Rowand into a rundown. He gets tagged out and two batters later we are out of the inning. Major props to Augenstein and Craig for that inning.
In the 12th the Cardinals were sat down 1-2-3. In the Giants half, it was the last Cardinal reliever in Brian Tallet. He struck out the leadoff man to bring up Miguel Tejada who singled to left. A double play would have ended the inning and I thought we had one. It was Pujols to Theriot and back to Pujols. Tejada was out at 2nd, but they called the other runner safe at first. Even with replays I really thought he was out. The inning would have been over with the next batter anyway, except when Tallet tossed the ball to Pujols, he somehow missed it which allowed everyone to be safe.
What happened next I had a bad feeling about as it was happening, although I don’t disagree with LaRussa’s decision. There were runners on 2nd and 3rd, so Tallet intentionally put on Freddy Sanchez to get to Aaron Rowand. With 1st base open it’s pretty much a rule that you put on the next hitter.
The only problem was that from the moment he entered the game, Rowand seemed to have the Cardinals number. He was 2 for 3 and his only out was almost the game winner and would have been if it wasn’t for Craig’s stellar play to the plate. This time he made sure to get the job done, however, as scorched the ball to the warning track.
The Reds are getting killed right now, but it’s the same problem as September of last year. It doesn’t matter how much they lose, if we can’t win and take advantage of it. I do like that the Cardinals did not just roll over and play dead when down to their final strike. But it’s still frustrating that they can’t seem to get that big hit that puts the game away for good.
This afternoon, the Cardinals start their 10 day road trip to the West. It begins with the defending World Series championship, the San Francisco Giants. It’s kind of annoying to have to be the team that has to sit through their flag raising, their ring ceremony and all the other hoopla, but some team’s gotta to do it.
Now, if we could take 2 of 3 from them, it would certainly take the sting out of it.
Westbrook is going for us in game 1 of the series. While he’s certainly not one of our dominant pitchers, he’s going to be be better than he showed in his last outing, where he got clobbered. But to me the most important thing is that our offense gets going. It has been absolutely abhorrent these first few games. I know it’s only been six games and all that, blah blah blah, but it’s still hard to watch your teams hit so poorly game after game.
To give you an idea of how badly it’s been, in six games:
- We have three guys with any regular at-bats who are hitting over .300. Everyone else is under .200.
- The one guy who had been on fire (hitting .750) has only been able to play one game due to having an emergency appendectomy.
- We are 5th to last in the NL in team average and dead last in slugging, due to only having two guys who have gone deep all season and a mere 8 extra base hits.
- Our 9 time All-Star, 3 time MVP and 2 time gold glover is hitting .182 and slugging .318.
- We are dead last in RBIs with 14. 14!! 3 teams have twice as many as us and the Reds actually have 3x as many.
- We’ve averaged 2.5 runs scored per game, also dead last.
In short, it has not been pretty on the hitting side of things. At some point, it has to change. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later. On a positive the World Champs have an identical 2-4 record as us, so this might be the best time to play them, while they’re finding their groove as well.
Looking to be better on the road,
So far I’ve looked at the Cardinals chances of bring home the MVP and the Cy Young in order to ease my pain as I watch the Cardinals lose game after game. Tonight, I will look at the final of the big 3 individual awards: Rookie of the Year.
The Cardinal contender in this category is Jaime Garcia.
Garcia, of course, is a pitcher. Therein lies the interesting thing about this award. In the MVP, we compared hitters to hitters and in the Cy Young, pitchers to pitchers. And all of the other likely candidates besides Garcia are hitters. Still, we will try and make a good analysis of this award.
The NL has a lot of great talent this year. In fact, there are many names, I won’t go into detail about, like Stanton, Colvin, Castro, Desmond, among others. I’m going to look at the top 3 hitters contending for this award, plus Garcia.
First, the hitters. They are: Jason Heyward (Braves), Gaby Sanchez (Marlins) and Buster Posey (Giants). The stats break down like this:
Sanchez 139 games .283 / .350 / .470 19 HR 81 RBI
Heyward 132 games .286 / .401 / .475 18 HR 71 RBI
Posey 97 games .324 / .373 / .522 15 HR 62 RBI
There are obviously a lot of other numbers too, but all of that will still point to the same thing. Sanchez and Heyward have played the entire year, while Boster Posey was called up at the end of May. Clearly, Posey has the better average, but is it fair to compare his 364 at-bats against the other guys who have around 500 at-bats?
Sanchez’ Marlins aren’t going anywhere, but that’s not why I wouldn’t give him this award. I think Heyward and Sanchez are pretty similar, but I give the edge to Heyward. I think he’s the overall better player, and has really delivered in the 2nd half for an Atlanta team dreaming of October.
It is a tough call between Heyward and Posey though. Both of these guys are good. And 80% of the time, I would give the award to the guy who has done the tough work of the 162 game grind that is baseball. But Posey may be that one exception to the rule. This is not just a guy with good numbers. This is a guy who has encompassed exactly what a catcher should be. He came in to replace Bengie Molina (not an easy task) and started playing like a seasoned veteran. He has led this team as a catcher, handling the pitching staff with ease. He has come through in the clutch many times. But if you want to talk numbers, let’s talk numbers. In all of those less at-bats, he is still only 3 homers and 9 RBis shy of Heyward.
So while I think you can make a case for either guy and I wouldn’t think it a travesty, if one guy got picked over the other, if it were my vote, I would cast it for Buster Posey.
So now, what about Garcia?
How do you compare his line with Posey’s? Obviously, you can’t. What you can do is look at what kind of numbers rookies need to have to get the ROY. It varies year to year, but at least we can get a ballpark. The last NL pitcher to win the award was Dontrelle Willis in 2003. But we have a couple more recent examples.
Last year JA Happ got 2nd in the vote and in 2006, Justin Verlander received the award for the AL. (Huston Street won it as a pitcher in 2005, but as a closer, which is a whole other dynamic.) Let’s look at Garcia compared with Verlander and Happ.
Jaime Garcia 28 GS 163.1 IP 13-8 2.70 132 K 64 BB
JA Happ 23 GS 166.0 IP 12-4 2.93 119 K 56 BB
Verlander 30 GS 186.0 IP 17-9 3.63 123 K 60 BB
His initial numbers are better than Happ’s, but of course Happ only got 2nd place. Verlander had an amazing 17 wins, but his ERA was astronomical. And Garcia kills them both in strikeouts.
The other question is, will Garcia pitch again this year? He has skipped two starts for “fatigue.” This is the most innings he has ever pitched and it’s catching up with him. Now that the Cardinals are out of it, management might feel it’s best to shut him down for the rest of the year. Garcia wants to pitch again, but they will be careful with the valuable southpaw.
Garcia’s number are great. But in a year, where there are many different worthwhile candidates, I don’t see the voters giving it to a rookie with his numbers. But if he pitches again (or even twice more) and adds 1-2 more wins and lowers his ERA even more, I think he forces the voters to take him seriously for the award.
It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. What’s your take? Who do you like for NL Rookie of the Year? Is there a guy on your team not getting enough love because he’s playing a non-contender?
The youngster has game,
How do you follow what Chris Carpenter did on Saturday night? Rookie of the Year candidate Jaime Garcia only needed 89 pitches to show you exactly how.
Sunday afternoon’s game promised to be a matchup of two southpaws who both at times have been very dominant. But in the rubber match game vs. the Giants, Jaime Garcia looked like the veteran against the floundering Barry Zito. It’s hard to believe how far Zito has fallen. He was once as good as anybody in the league when back when he pitched for the A’s and before he landed one of the biggest contracts ever forked over for a pitcher. (Lesson learned: big name pitchers earning big money usually disappoint, even if they are lefties….ahem, Mark Mulder.)
On the other side, Jaime Garcia is a rookie still carving out a name for himself. But after today, I don’t think many Giants players will forget him. After 8 2/3 innings, he had only faced the minimum, thanks to two double plays by his defense. That was spoiled one at-bat later thanks to a single by Nate Schierholtz. But Garcia composed himself and got leadoff man, Aaron Rowand, to end the game on a groundball to shortstop, Brendan Ryan. That groundball was his bread and butter, as the Giants pounded that ball at him, Ryan and newcomer Pedro Feliz. But the defense looked good backing up Garcia’s dominant performance. In the end, he 3 hit the Giants, for his first career complete game and his first career shutout. In the process, he walked none, while striking out 6.
The last time Garcia looked this good was vs. the Mets, where he didn’t get the win because he was let down by his offense. That game, you might remember, ended up going an incredible 20 innings before the Cardinals lost 2-1. This time around, the bats would not falter. They hit Zito hard and they hit him early, chasing him after only 3 2/3 inning of work. It was nice to see the offense participating up and down the lineup. The hits, runs and RBI were contributed in some way by all of the starters. And that’s exactly what the Cardinal lineup is capable of when they’re in their groove. And we should be seeing that kind of production on a regular basis. My ONLY complaint today was Matt Holiday. Yes, he did get a hit and drive in one run, but they walked Albert in front of him twice and one of those was intentional. Both times he failed to come through. If we’re going to do anything in the playoffs, Holliday has to make teams pay or else Albert will be walked every at-bat. It wasn’t a big deal in a game like this, but in tight playoff games, every run counts and we need him to produce in those clutch situations.
Other than that, a good day for the Redbirds! it’s just too bad that LA couldn’t take down the Reds. For us, we move on to Pittsburgh. Kyle Loshe is the last man I want on the mound, but if I had to pick a team for him to pitch against, I guess it would be the Pirates.
Thinking someone bought Garcia dinner tonight,
Pitching change. Good time for an update.
Prior to Sunday afternoon’s series finale against San Fran, I predicted that this would be the game that the Cardinal bats would finally break free and that Jaime Garcia would be good. Well, I was certainly right about the bats. The offense did, indeed, come alive in a BIG way. So far, still in the 7th inning, the Redbird offense has put together 8 runs on 13 hits. Every starter (including Jaime) has a hit to his credit and all but two have an RBI. Even Allen Craig got in on the act! I’ve given him a hard time on here for his lack of production, so now I gotta give him props for his 2 run shot over the left field wall.
But I was wrong about Garcia. He has not simply been, “good.” He has been OUTSTANDING. He’s pitched 7 innings and has only thrown 67 pitches. Are you kidding me??? That’s less than 10 pitches per inning. And with the big lead, I see no reason for LaRussa to move the kid. But with LaRussa, you just never know; he does tend to overmanage.
But barring any tinkering by the Cardinal skipper, Garcia should get his first complete game today and possibly his first shutout as well. Add that to his 11th win and Garcia is a dark horse for Rookie of the Year. I didn’t think he had a shot because it’s harder for a pitcher to win this award than a fielder and because there has been so much made of Jason Heyward. But if Garcia continues to add to his resume with a few more wins, don’t count him out just yet.
We’ll come back to the game with Holliday at-bat with the bases loaded and 2 out following a walk to Pujols. After Pujols walked the first time, Holliday did nothing. He must make them pay this time.
Rooting for a shutout for the rookie,