Well, Kyle Loshe obliged my request. He did not blow the lead. And I gotta give him credit. He was good. Not great. But he was good. Granted, he was pitching against the Pirates, a team who is well on their way to a 100 loss season. Nevertheless, he was good. Do I trust him in the postseason with the NLCS on the line? Not by a long shot. But maybe he can spot start against poorer teams on occasion until we get there. Because in a short series in October, Carpenter, Wainwright and Garcia is about as good as it gets. (Ain’t that right Cincy?) And by then hopefully Suppan will be back from the DL. I think Soup having the postseason experience and pitching again in St. Louis, he would do well as a number 4.
So Loshe ended up the winner by throwing 5 1/3 innings, giving up 2 earned runs, walking 2 and striking out 4. Luckily, it was more than enough, thanks to another rousing day by the Cardinal offense. The Redbirds got it started early in the 1st inning. A couple singles, a double, a couple walks and an Albert Pujols long ball later and the Cards had batted through their lineup. As good as it was, they really could (and should) have gotten more than 4 that first inning. But, hey, I’ll take it. Especially because, before the game was over, the Cardinals would tack on another 6 insurance runs. But that first inning of offense was more than enough to beat Pittsburgh who only managed two runs in the 6th inning on a Garrett Jones homer.
The bullpen picked up where Loshe left off and pitched a scoreless 3 2/3 innings to make this the second game in a row that we have won pretty easily. (And by easily, I mean that the bullpen isn’t walking the bases loaded while I’m breathing in a paper bag.)
The best part of these last two games is that all of these runs are being scored without Colby Rasmus, who figures to be a big part of the postseason push. But as long time Cardinal fans know, you can’t only depend on your 3-4-5 guys for the runs. True playoff contenders get production up and down the lineup, as well as those unlikely guys who step off the bench into history. Remember Scott Spiezio’s torrid hitting in late 2006?
The end result of this game is not only our third win in the row, but it’s a win that puts the pressure on the Reds whose game started moments ago. We know we can’t drop in the standings and have a shot to gain a game on Cincinnati. We also gained one game on Philly thanks to a Houston win, although I’d certainly rather take the Central than the Wild Card.
Side notes: Albert upped his MVP candidacy by going 3-5 and belting his 33rd home run of the season. He leads in home runs, RBI and is now batting .319, good enough for 2nd place, depending on what Prado and Gonzalez do. That’s serious contention right there for the Triple Crown. Votto’s putting up killer numbers, but how can you not give the MVP to a guy who’s seriously competing for the Crown? Also, his home run brought him within one home run of the milestone #400. Good money says it happens this series. Albert loves hitting against the Pirates. He’s now .425 with 10 home runs against Pittsburgh over the last 3 years
Lovin’ watching the Redbirds roll,
A poster, by the name of, “fixisin” recently left comments that he (or she…..no idea without a name) was not pleased about the Cardinals recent two losses, especially the 3-2 loss to the Cubs. After we got the leadoff runner on 2nd, the next 3 Redbirds were Brendan Ryan, Felipe Lopez and Allen Craig. Miles never even got to 3rd. Here’s my take on the game if you would like to read it.
While I was equally disgusted about the loss, he blamed it on Ryan Ludwick being traded to the San Diego Padres. I was sad to see Ludwick go, but I don’t know that this particular trade is to blame here. In fact, this was the first game since Ludwick was traded at the deadline (July 31st) that the Cardinals didn’t score 4 runs.
But I appreciate comments (I respond to every one) and I equally love stats, so I thought, hey, let’s look at the numbers and see what they say about the situation. Let me preface my findings though by saying that it’s still way too early to tell if the Ludwick / Westbrook trade is going to be to our advantage or not, but here are what the numbers say so far.
In 14 games with the Padres, Ryan Ludwick has batted .275, slugged .510 and driven in 8.
In that same span, Ludwick’s replacement in RF, Jon Jay, has hit .317, slugged .415 and driven in 4.
Jake Wesbrook, who we got in the deal for Luddy, has started 3 times for the Cardinals. In those 3 games, he has a 1-0 record, pitched 19 innings (average of 6 1/3 innings per game), a 3.32 ERA, walked only 2, while striking out 19.
Looking at all of this, Ludwick has decent numbers. It’s not MVP territory, but good solid numbers for a RF. At the moment, John Jay is outhitting him, (even with having an 0 for 3 yesterday), but as I said, it’s still early. There’s no way to know if Jay will cool off down the stretch run, while Ludwick, as a veteran with the experience, may continue to stay hot from time to time.
Westbrook has proven to be a good performer so far, but 3 games is a very small sample size. What will he be like down the stretch? Can he be that postseason wildcard that Jeff Weaver was for us in 2006?
As always, there are the intangibles that numbers don’t give you. Some in the Cardinal organization feel that Ludwick gone has taken the pressure of Colby Rasmus, now that he knows he will be starting every day instead of being platooned. Whether or not our favorite southern boy, Colby, is feeling more relaxed or not, in the 3 games following Ludwick’s departure west, he went 6 for 12. Ludwick is also known to be a very streaky hitter and the problem with that is there’s no way to tell right now whether that’s good or bad in considering the trade. Will he heat up at just the right time in the playoff push or slump a little bit in the upcoming month?
There’s also the salary considerations. Ryan Ludwick was going to be a free agent at the end of this year and likely to get traded anyway. He would be eligible for arbitration and going to be able to demand quite a bit more money. Something we are pretty tight on at the moment, considering the money we plunked down for Matt Holliday and the money you would HOPE they are ready to plunk down for Pujols, who is approaching the end of his contract, after the club option next year. So you really have to consider his benefit to the club this year and not what he would do next year.
And one of the greatest intangibles of all at this point…..we could potentially see the Padres and Ryan Ludwick in a post season game. If he hits a series winning home run against us, suddenly the trade isn’t looking so good.
So according to the numbers it’s working out for us so far, but my gut still says we should have gotten more for Ludwick. I know it was probably time for him to go since he’d be gone at the end of the season anyway and Westbrook has been solid thus far, but I wish we would have gotten more thrown in besides “cash considerations.” A decent 3rd baseman would have gone a long way to alleviate my concerns about the trade.
The game that started this discussion in the first place showed us that…..what we’re lacking is a quality 3rd baseman not a right fielder. Holliday, Rasmus and Jay are a very solid outfield. But there is not one decent 3rd baseman in the bunch. Felipe Lopez has been ok, but he’s not an ideal big league 3rd baseman by a long shot. Plus, if he slumps (as he has been) or needs a rest, who are his backups? Allen Craig? Aaron Miles? Come on. These are great bench players or for filling in at 2nd, but we need someone with an arm that can hit for average.
With David Freese and Tyler Greene out, a 3rd baseman has been a desperate need for the Cardinals and I don’t know how that’s going to improve. Freese is gone for the season and Greene’s return is unknown. And expanding the rosters in September is not likely to bring in the calvary.
I definitely was sad to see Ludwick go though. He seemed to be a great player and a great person in general. I was able to meet him once in a restaurant in Missouri after he had been signing autographs locally with some other Redbirds and he was really nice.
Thoughts? Are you still missing Ludwick or have you come to terms with the deal? Do you think Westbrook will be the starter we need or do you think we were fine with the Loshe / Suppan / Hawksworth combo?