So after taking 2 of 3 from Houston, it was time to see if the Cardinals could take their recent success to Atlanta, and beat a tougher team and a tougher pitcher in Tim Hudson. The Cards sent their ace, Chris Carpenter, to the mound to do the job.
Big surprise: once again we did not get Carp a win. Are there any other teams who have sent their #1 guy to the mound 6 times and still haven’t gotten a win for him? He’s pitched well. There was one game where he let it get out of control, giving up 8 runs over 4 innings. But besides that, he has gone deep into games, getting out of jams and deserving a win. But every game either the Cardinal bats or the bullpen have conspired against him.
Last night, it was the bats. For all the talk of bullpen trouble, they actually held their own. Sanchez was again impressive. I could watch that guy pitch all day. There was unnecessary drama in the 9th. The tying run was once again at the plate with a runner on. And he flew out to Matt Holliday who made a pretty decent over the shoulder catch on the warning track, just shy of home run distance. The drama has probably given me ulcers, but I’ve grown to accept that may just be the way it is with the Cardinals. And as long as they win, I probably won’t complain (too loudly) and last night they were able to win. Combine that with the Reds loss and it was a pretty good night. Unfortunately, the Cubs won.
After a night when the big boys ripped the cover off the ball, it was not so big guys making the noise last night. Yadier and Descalso each had an RBI to knot the game at 2-2 and after the Braves homered to make it 3-2, Descalso hit a sac fly to again tie the game at 3-3 in the 9th inning. Then it went to extras where things got interesting. You figure the 10th inning is where they have to make it happen. They have Pujols, Holliday, Berkman coming up that inning. Back to back to back jacks, perhaps? Nope. They go down easy, 3 up, 3 down.
But in the 11th inning, the Cardinals start to make some noise. With 2 runners (via a HBP and walk) and 2 out, Nick Punto steps to the plate. Punto was brought to St. Louis to be an all-around utility guy, because he’s decent with his glove. Not because of his extraordinary bat. In fact, going into this at-bat, he’s already 0-5 on the night, hitting .160 for the season. But on some nights the cards fall just right. (No pun intended.) Normally, Theriot would be leading off and in this spot and not Punto, but he was recovering from rib cage soreness. But the stars aligned and Punto ripped the ball down the right field line for a 2 RBI triple. And that would be the game. 5-3 Redbirds.
I really do feel bad for Carp. I know they always talk about team wins rather than personal wins, blah, blah, blah. But it has to be bad on the morale to go out their game after game and not be able to secure the win. And Carpenter is equally responsible for their win last night because he kept the game close despite a couple bad breaks. One that jumps to mind was the play in the 7th inning. Berkman made a decent throw to try and get the base runner at 3rd and instead hit him in the back. Nothing you can do about that. But it meant runners on 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out. So they walk Chipper to load the bases and face Brian McCann. Carp induces the double play and they get out of that inning that could have been a lot more damaging.
Speaking of that Berkman throw, it would have been nice to see him throw a runner out. The Cardinals have not had one outfield assist this year. Not one. I mentioned before how bad the Cardinal defense is. This is just a team that is more offense than defense, which has not usually been typical of Cardinal clubs. I mean, when Edmonds was in the outfield, he would have had several assists this year, not to mention many runners being scared to go on him. But I do have to give it up for Nick Punto. He did make a nice play last night. And with the lack of quality defense has a whole, it’s nice to see the occasional great play.
I’ve been watching the 76 second Reebok recaps of the games. Sometimes they will include home runs or game winning doubles, but mostly it’s just great defense packed into 76 seconds, which I love. I watched probably a week’s worth last night. And not one Cardinal play was on there. That should tell you something about Cardinal defense.
The only other scary moment of the game was when Gerald Laird got hit in the head in the 9th inning with a bat. I mean he got hit hard. So hard that he fell over and looked pretty dazed. Molina was already out of the game, so if Laird had to come out, it would have called for an emergency catcher situation, which the announcers were saying was Daniel Descalso. That would have been interesting to say the least. I had to be the emergency catcher one time on my college softball team. It was a lot of fun, but I also wasn’t catching a 97 MPH Jason Motte fastball.
So after a horrendous beginning, the Cardinals now have won 5 series in a row. A win today or tomorrow would give them 6. They aren’t dominating teams and sweeping them, but that’s okay. If you win every series, you have yourself a championship. It’s just one series at a time. And that seems to be the way the Cardinals are handling it. And while you have guys like Schumaker and Craig out, or Freese sitting, you need to see guys like Descalso and Punto deliver. One thing in common of all championship teams is that they don’t just look to their 3-4-5 guys to get it done. Production comes from surprising places at times and it comes from up and down the lineup. For maybe the first time this year, I believe the Cardinals really do have a shot to play in October and to play well. They have this way of rising to the occasion when everyone has doubted them. Hopefully they can keep it going today.
Takin’ down the chop,
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have given up hope on the season and have begun to look at the Cardinals chances in the big 3 individual awards. I already covered MVP and now will look at Cy Young.
The contender here for the Redbirds is Adam Wainwright. Many feel he was robbed in 2009 from the award and he definitely is putting up Cy Young caliber numbers this year. The problem is that the NL is STACKED with pitching in a year that many have called, “The Year of the Pitcher.” This is a year that has been filled with no-no’s galore, perfect games, (that’s right, plural) and all kinds of crazy pitching feats.
I personally believe that the only real competition for Wainwright is Roy Halladay. But let’s go ahead and look at a few of the dark horses that could garner some 1st or 2nd place votes. They are: Tim Hudson, Mat Latos and Ubaldo Jimenez.
First, we will compare where they stand in the traditional triple crown pitching categories.
Triple Crown Pitching
Wainwright 2.50 ERA (4th), 18 wins (1st), 199 K (4th)
Halladay 2.44 ERA (3rd), 18 wins (1st), 201 K (2nd)
Hudson 2.62 ERA (5th), 15 wins (4th), 122 K (34th)
Latos 2.43 ERA (2nd), 14 wins (7th), 174 K (11th)
Jimenez 2.75 ERA (7th), 18 wins (1st), 186 K (6th)
Wainwright and Halladay are the only two pitchers in the top 5 of all of these categories, which will probably go a long way with voters. And for those who are still obsessed with wins (I am not one of them), if one of these current 18 game winners (Waino, Halladay and Jimenez) gets to 20 wins, that might appeal to some of the voters.
Then, there are other factors that we have to look at when discussing the best pitcher this year. There’s the often-debated WHIP stat.
Wainwright 1.05 WHIP (3rd)
Halladay 1.05 WHIP (3rd)
Hudson 1.13 WHIP (11th)
Latos 0.99 WHIP (1st)
Jimenez 1.15 WHIP (14th)
But I think more importantly are these 3 stats. Complete games, shutouts and innings pitched. A guy that can eat up a lot of innings, while maintaining a low ERA is invaluable to a club. And this is where the five guys stack up. I call these the ‘endurance and domination categories.’
Endurance and Domination
Wainwright 5 CG, 2 SHO, 216.1 IP (2nd)
Halladay 8 CG, 3 SHO, 228.2 IP (1st)
Hudson 1 CG, 0 SHO, 203.0 IP (5th)
Latos 1 CG, 1 SHO, 166.2 IP (35th)
Jimenez 4 CG, 2 SHO, 196.1 IP (9th)
As I said before, it could come down to which guy gets to 20 wins. It’s
up for grabs. Any of these guys could have already been there and
several of them will have a few more chances to hit that mark before the
season end. I don’t think 20 wins is the end-all, be-all, but Wainwright and Halladay are ridiculous close this year. Some voters might seek to right a wrong from last year by giving Wainwright the award this year, that he finished 3rd for last year. Other votes might look at Halladay’s career and say that Doc deserves the award. It can be hard to predict.
As it stands right now, I give Halladay the award by a smidge. Right now, Halladay edges out Wainwright in ERA and strikeouts (both by the slimmest of margins) and they are tied in wins. He has pitched more innings, throwing an incredible 8 complete games, 3 of them shutouts. Thought it shouldn’t be a factor, he has also thrown a perfect game this year. Don’t think that his perfecto won’t be on the minds of some voters, when comparing two guys who are literally a hair’s breadth apart.
But that’s if the season ended today. If Wainwright could string a couple of good starts together, he could inch ahead in the race. Here’s hoping for that.
Looking for Wainwright to finish strong,
Ugh. The Reds beat the Marlins 5-4. Maybe the Fish were watching the
Cardinals game because with two walks and a base hit, they loaded the
bases in the 9th with nobody out. Unfortunately, they only squeezed out
one run on a double play ball. Uggla then popped up to end the game
which let Cincinnati pull back even with the ‘Birds. Seems like
whatever we do, we just can’t shake this team. I’d love to put some
distance between us, but it seems like one of those years where it just
might come down to the wire.
In other news, Wainwright’s top two competitors for the Cy Young award pitched yesterday and today. I already talked yesterday
about how Josh Johnson was roughed up pretty bad by the Reds. He took
himself out of my top 3, for the time being, with my 3rd place vote now
going to Atlanta’s Tim Hudson. He’s been quietly putting together a
pretty decent season. Hudson is now 2nd in ERA and 4th in wins. The
only thing that hurts him is the low strikeout total. But outs are outs
and he’s definitely in the running to finish in the top 3.
Halladay, however, threw another excellent game and put the pressure
squarely back on Wainwright. Those two are neck and neck. Halladay
went 8 innings today, allowing no runs and striking out 7. For awhile,
it seemed like he might have another complete game shutout to add to his
resume, but luckily his pitch count was 113 and he was pulled after 8
Still, Halladay managed to increase support for his case
for the NL Cy Young by lowering his ERA to 2.24 and picking up his 15th
win. And did I mention those 7 strikeouts? Wow, this guy really does
it all. He’s now 3rd in ERA, 3rd in wins and remains 1st in strikeouts
by a ton.
At this point in time, I still give the edge to Wainwright (as I did here)
because I think being 1st in wins and ERA goes a long way, but it’s not
over by a long shot. If Wainwright’s ERA drops a lot in next couple
starts and he fails to get to that magic number of 20 wins, Halladay
could surpass him. But hopefully Adam will deliver another
Wainwright-esque performance and this could be a fun battle to watch all
the way through September.
As for tomorrow’s game, Kyle Loshe
returns to pitch for the first time since May 22nd. He was far from
impressive in those 9 starts, so let’s hope he comes back bigger and
better that ever. Here’s also hoping that Albert continue to rake.
He’s always tended to get hot in August and this year is no exception.
He’s only gone hitless one game this month and is hitting .447 and
slugging .830 for the month. Are you kidding??? He’s also already gone
deep 5 times with 13 ribbies and scored 15 runs. I think it’s safe to
say he’s feeling good at the plate right now. His average is up to
.313, instead of hovering around the .300 mark as it has been so long.
He’s back in the top 5 in the league for average and of course continues
to be at the top in home runs and RBIs. Albert for MVP and Wainwright
for Cy Young could be a perfect addition to World Series win #11,
right? But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first. And that
first thing is Loshe getting us the series win against the Cubbies.
Wanting to see a healthy Loshe do his thing,
Hey Phillips, how’s that broom taste? Victory is sweet indeed. And even sweeter when it comes on the heels of some idiotic comments by the Reds second baseman. Man, I love baseball.
Well, today’s an off-day. Normally, I hate off-days. I love watching Cardinal baseball. But today is good timing for one because I can continue to play catch up with my blog and talk about something that is driving me crazy as I read various message boards or articles that are out there.
I’m hearing a lot of people saying that Josh Johnson is the best Cy Young award candidate right now. Really? Come on. I know that wins aren’t everything (which is why Jimenez is gone from contention, in my opinion, despite the 17 wins), but Johnson with his 10 wins is only leading in ERA and it’s not by much.
In my opinion, if the award was to be handed out today, you have to go with Wainwright. Maybe I’m biased and feel free to tell me if I am, but I don’t see how you can’t make a case for Wainwright as the number 1 candidate. And honestly, number 2? Not Johnson. I would pick Roy Halladay, who is also surprisingly getting not much attention. And then Johnson would be third.
I mean what else does the guy have to do? If he didn’t have you convinced before, he’s trying everything he can now. In his last 3 starts, he has pitched 23 innings (including a complete game), gave up 1 (yes, ONE) earned run and struck out 16. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s called DOMINATION. If it wasn’t for that blasted rain delay, he’d probably have another compete game, shutout and a few more Ks.
But, it’s a year long award (as the one-hit wonder Ubaldo is finding out), not a 3 game long award. And there is more baseball left to play. Things could change over the next month and a half, but handing it out today, it’s Wainwright’s to lose. As a Cardinal fan, I love knowing that Wainwright is taking the ball. Just like I loved knowing he was closing it out in 2006. I trust him the way I have very few Cardinal pitchers in my lifetime. You just know he’s going to get the job done. Of course I will admit, that is all very subjective. I have rarely seen Johnson pitch and my observance of Halladay has been sparse as well and I see Wainwright pitch all the time. I know how he buckles knees with that big sweeping curve and gets Major Leaguers to look like little leaguers as they swing at balls in the dirt. It’s beautiful. So I have to go on stats and stats alone. And still Wainwright gets my vote.
Let’s break it down.
First, the famous “triple crown” categories for each of the contenders.
W ERA K
Jiminez 17 2.55 143
Wainwright 17 1.99 158
Halladay 14 2.34 168
Johnson 10 1.97 156
Looking at these numbers, Ubaldo Jimenez is immediately out of it. All he has going for him is his wins, most of which he got the first half of the season when he was better than he is now. His ERA and strikeouts, while good in any other context, are laughable for a Cy Young winner, when you look at the other 3 pitchers stats. Still, I include him because some people just LOVE wins and if he starts tearing up and the other 3 have a meltdown, I suppose he could have a chance.
So now you have 3 pitchers, all with very good stats. Wainwright leads in wins, Johnson with ERA and Halladay with strikeouts. When you put it like that, it looks to be a close race. But how about looking at it like this?
- Wainwright is 1st in wins, 2nd in ERA and 3rd in strikeouts
- Halladay is 3rd in wins, 4th in ERA and 1st in strikeouts
- Johnson is 14th in wins,1st in ERA and 4th in strikeouts
In my opinion, this eliminates Johnson and gives Wainwright a slight edge of Halladay. I will admit it’s close. Halladay is right there with Wainwright. Looking at other non conventional stats, such as WHIP, we see the numbers break down like this:
- Wainwright has a WHIP of 0.97 (1st in the league)
- Halladay has a WHIP of 1.03 (still good, but edged out again by Waino)
And then the numbers that very few are talking about. And if Halladay would get voted in over Wainwright, this is the only reason I could see why.
IP CG SHO
Wainwright 176.1 5 2
Halladay 185 8 3
Roy Halladay is clearly an innings eater monster, throwing 8 complete games. That’s the kind of thing that keeps your team in it for the season, saves a bullpen, etc. etc. Wainwright’s doesn’t look too shabby though. 5 complete games is nothing to sneeze at. Nobody else is even in the discussion here. If it wasn’t for LaRuss’a crazy love for the “right matchup” Wainwright probably would have a few more.
But the shutout stat is basically dead even, with a slight edge to Halladay. But combining these numbers with the previous, Wainwright gets my vote at this point in the season, not to mention when you look at things like Wainwright is undefeated when given 4 or more runs.
The question is what will happen the rest of the way. Johnson starts tomorrow and Halladay on Saturday. Let’s talk again after those starts and see where we stand.
Feel free to comment if you agree / disagree. I’d love to hear who you think I missed or overlooked. Hudson? Latos? Which boy on your team is not getting the media love?
Hoping Phillips is using his offday to realize that he’s a tool,