Today’s Loss In 3 Sentences

Cardinals Loss 2You’d never think a team could leave 17 runners on base and win.

Yet that’s what happened to the Nationals, as they beat the Cardinals 3-2 on a one-out bases-loaded walk-off sacrifice fly by Denard Span with a five-man infield and Seth Maness pitching.

Boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo, boo.

4 Highlights From Lance Lynn’s 4th Win

First off, see? Saturdays are better than Fridays for this year’s Cardinals. Their Saturday winning streak increased to a perfect 3-0 for 2014 with yesterday’s 4-3 victory over the Nationals.

LanceLynn419And speaking of perfect records, Lance Lynn has one as well — he’s now 4-0, the first (and, at the moment, only) pitcher in the National League with that many wins. There’s only one in the American League too: Mark Buehrle of the Blue Jays, who also won yesterday afternoon.

Just a reminder: Lynn does rhyme with win …

Anyway, the win more importantly was the Cardinals 11th of the season. And here are four highlights from the victory.

1. The top of the second inning

Yes, another error, and not surprisingly by the Nationals. This time it was after a one-out walk to Allen Craig, when Jhonny Peralta grounded it to Anthony Rendon at third, whose throw to Danny Espinosa at second was wide. Both Craig and Peralta were safe. They each moved up a base when Kolten Wong grounded out, which meant they each were able to score easily on Tony Cruz’s base hit to right when the Nationals chose to pitch to him with Lance Lynn on deck. Although pitching to Lynn perhaps wasn’t a wise decision either, given that he doubled to the right field corner and drove in Cruz. A 3-0 lead in the second inning courtesy of the 8th and 9th hitters? Now that’s a highlight. Continue reading

Friday Is Just Not The 2014 Cardinals Day

Friday is usually eagerly anticipated, since it’s the end of the work or school week and the start of the weekend. So far in 2014, the St. Louis Cardinals certainly don’t seem to like Fridays — they’ve yet to win a game on that day.

sadThe losses have been frustrating too, such as that 12-2 bullpen nightmare in Pittsburgh and last week’s in 11 innings after the Cards battled back to tie the Cubs in the ninth. Add last night’s L to the list.

Maybe it was the baseball gods’ revenge after all the mockery of the Nationals four errors on Thursday. Perhaps it was the assuredness that of course the Cards would win since they had an eight-game regular season winning streak against the Nats and Michael Wacha on the mound.

But baseball is baseball. And all Friday nights the Cardinals spend in Washington, D.C., are not fantastic.

Some games Matt Carpenter will miss a catch in a crucial situation for his second error of the night to load the bases for the Nats with none out in a 1-1 game. Sometimes Michael Wacha will bounce a changeup in the dirt in front of home and — difficult as it is to believe — Yadier Molina won’t get it, and then make a throw past Wacha so that two runs ultimately end up scoring to give the Nationals a 3-1 lead. Some nights, after a fantastic 12-pitch at-bat by Jhonny Peralta where he advanced the two runners to second and third while grounding out, Matt Holliday swings at the very first pitch Drew Storen throws and fouls out. And, at times, games end when Shane Robinson grounds into a double play with Matt Adams waiting on deck to pinch-hit.

So it goes

The good thing? Not much time to dwell on this one, since it’s about three hours until the Cardinals and Nationals play again at noon Central Time. Lance Lynn goes for the Cards against Jordan Zimmermann.

Even better? The Cards have done very well in their two Saturday games so far in 2014.

Joe Kelly To DL, Keith Butler To Memphis

After having an MRI today, Joe Kelly was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. In addition, Keith Butler was optioned to Triple-A Memphis.

nurseTaking their places on the Cardinals roster: Eric Fornataro and Jorge Rondon, both rookie right-handers who are being called up from Memphis.

Kelly injured his hamstring while running to first base during yesterday’s game in Milwaukee.

Butler had made two appearances this season, allowing six earned runs in two total innings.

Here’s more on Fornataro and Rondon from Cardinals.com:

Fornataro, 26, appeared in four games for Memphis this season, going 1-0 with the team’s lone save. He had yet to allow a run and had been touched for just one hit in five innings of work. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Fornataro was the Cardinals’ sixth-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Miami Dade Community College. He has made 180 career Minor League appearances (71 starts) and will make his Major League debut with his first appearance.

Rondon, 26, was an international free-agent signing by the Cardinals in July 2006 and is a product of the Cardinals’ former Venezuelan Summer League team. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Rondon led the Memphis squad with 51 relief appearances in 2013. He appeared in five games for Memphis this season, allowing three runs infive innings pitched. Like Fornataro, he too will be making his Major League debut with his first appearance.

Both will be in Washington, D.C., for tonight’s Cardinals-Nationals game.

And Now For Opponents Other Than The NL Central …

After the season’s first 15 games, the St. Louis Cardinals are 9-6 and in second place in the NL Central. And all 15 games have been against the other four teams in the Central, as the Cardinals finished up their series in Milwaukee by falling to the first-place Brewers 5-1 yesterday.

MLB NL CentralBefore moving on to face the Washington Nationals for four games starting tonight and the New York Mets for four after that, is there anything we can learn from those first of 19 match-ups have with each Central team?

The Cards lost just one of the five series they’ve played, only taking one of the three games in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. Otherwise, they’ve won two of three against everyone else. That’s good to see — and especially good was stopping the nine-game winning streak the Brewers had coming into play on Monday.

The Brewers have to be the surprise of the NL Central so far, even though we’re just in the third week of the season. They have the best record in the majors right now at 11-4 and were the first team to double-digit wins. Their pitching is the best in MLB at the moment, with a team ERA of 2.17, with their starters ERA 2.52 and their bullpen ERA an incredible 1.33. What are the odds, however, that the Brewers pitching will still be so sparkling when the Cards meet them again on April 28?

Looking at the rest of the Central, the Cards overall ERA is 3.51 with the starters at 2.78 (third best in the NL, behind the Braves and Brewers) and bullpen at 5.06. The Reds are slightly better overall with an ERA of 3.50, though their relievers ERA is even worse at 5.18. The overall ERA for their starters is 2.94. In the standings, the Reds are 6-9 and in fourth place. Continue reading

Did You Know, Or Care, That Albert Is Close To Homer No. 500?

Yesterday morning I saw a headline somewhere that said Albert Pujols had hit home run No. 496 in the Angels loss to the A’s Monday night.

I’ll admit it — I had no idea he was that close to his 500th homer. I’ll further admit to not really paying attention to how he’s doing this season, except for occasionally seeing tweets from someone who still does a “Pujols Watch” regularly.

This afternoon, I saw a link to an article in USA Today with the headline “As Albert Pujols nears 500 HRs, does anyone even care?” The point made by Bob Nightengale was more that steroids have tainted what used to be a sacred milestone, despite the fact only 25 players in MLB history have reached that total.

albert-pujols

Those were the days …

And while that point is certainly valid, as I was reading I wondered if Albert approaching homer 500 would be a much bigger deal if he was still a Cardinal.

Which is pretty much what I then read Fred McGriff say in the article too:

“I think we all thought Albert had a chance to hit 700 homers after seeing what he did in St. Louis,” says McGriff, “but it’s been tough for him out in L.A. Maybe that’s why he’s not getting the attention.

“I’m sure if he was still in St. Louis, they’d be blowing it up pretty good out there.”

Albert hit 455 home runs with the Cardinals, yet — due to injury last year and his struggles during his first season in Anaheim (Los Angeles of Anaheim?) — he’s only hit 51 so far as an Angel. He’s hit four in 14 games this season, which of course is the same number as Jhonny Peralta has hit and one behind his teammate Mike Trout. Continue reading

Brewers Streak, Meet Lance Lynn

With the exception of Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers seem far less annoying than they were back in 2011. Different players plus a 2013 season in which they were really awful make it hard to hate them like before. But with all the hype coming into the first 2014 meeting between the Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals thanks to a nine-game winning streak, halting it was bound to be sweet.

LynnLance Lynn dominating the Brewers to do it? Now that would be even better.

And it was, as the Cardinals beat the Brewers 4-0 to indeed stop that streak. Plus hopefully even Lynn’s most ardent Cards fan detractors appreciated his performance.

It was a shutout — meaning, to be ridiculously obvious, he gave up no runs. He also allowed only three hits, struck out 11 (including Braun twice plus got him to ground into a double play) and walked three. Yes, a couple of those walks led to the possibility of a “Lance Lynn big inning” in the fifth and the sixth, as the Brewers had two on both times — yet also two out in those innings too. And, again, it was a shutout. Crisis averted. Twice.

Lynn now joins Mark Buehrle, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale as the only pitchers in the majors with three wins. Oh, and Luis Avilan of the Braves — who has a 13.50 ERA, meaning Lynn’s now 4.00 is not the highest either. Continue reading

Should We Be Concerned About Trevor Rosenthal?

Trevor Rosenthal did not have the best weekend against the Chicago Cubs. Nor is Rosenthal pitching like we’re become accustomed to seeing from him thus far in 2014, even after just 12 games.

TrevorRHe’s made six appearances, so it’s definitely still in the small sample-size category. But do we have reason to be concerned?

He has four saves — so if that’s what matters to you, then he’s just fine.

He has one loss, which came Friday night in the 11th inning to the Cubs. He retired the Cubs in order on six pitches in the 10th; was kept in the game to bat even with runners on first and second in the bottom of the inning; then gave up a lead-off double to Nate Schierholtz who was sacrificed to third, intentionally walked Starlin Castro, got the second out via a popped up bunt and then allowed a three-run homer to Welington Castillo before Darwin Barney lined out to right to end the inning. All of that on 16 pitches, for 22 total in the game.

Yesterday was another battle, as he entered the top of the ninth with the Cards up 6-3. A strikeout of Castro was followed with a triple by Junior Lake and a single by Mike Olt, then he hit Castillo. His command is not what it’s been previously, nor is his efficiency — he threw 25 pitches to get the save. Continue reading

Want To Win A 2011 World Series Game 6 DVD?

Baseball is so much about history, which we as St. Louis Cardinals fans especially know. There are so many classic games the Cardinals have been involved in through the decades, and even (or especially) recently.

game 6To celebrate some of the greatest moments in overall MLB history being available for digital download on iTunes, you have the chance to win the most memorable Cardinals game in recent years on DVD/Bluray combo: Game Six of the 2011 World Series.

It’s part of A&E Home Video’s “Baseball’s Greatest Games” series, and it couldn’t be easier to enter our drawing to win one of three DVDs.

One of the Cardinals from that game who played a significant role in the victory was just honored last weekend on his retirement from MLB by his previous team. Who is that former Cardinal? (Hint, hint — although I doubt you need one.)

Simply provide the answer in a comment below, tweet @AMilesFastball or leave it as a comment on the AMF Facebook page.

Enter by this Tuesday, April 15, at 7 p.m. Central Time (just before the Cardinals-Brewers game). A random drawing for the winners will be held.

And also through April 15, you can take advantage of the digital download sale at iTunes. Continue reading

Are Cardinals Fans Going To Like Oscar Taveras?

So I played hooky on a beautiful 75-degree day and went to yesterday’s Memphis vs Omaha game. They say the worst day at the ballpark beats the best day at work, and for the Redbirds, it was the worst day at the ballpark. I left during the seventh-inning stretch — I’d seen enough in what ended up a 20-3 loss, and Memphis has no Aaron Miles to come in to pitch to have compelled me to stay.

OscarBut I got to see Oscar Taveras, who with just one swing was worth the price of admission. But watching him that afternoon, I came to a disturbing conclusion.

Cardinals fans aren’t going to like Oscar Taveras.

There’s no denying his talent, he CRUSHED a first inning home run to right off Storm Chasers’ lefty Chris Dwyer against a howling 25-mph wind blowing out to left. It’s like the wind just noped its way out of the baseball’s way and let it just go until it crashed into the Werner Park berm. His swing is almost exactly like Vladimir Guererro’s was, long and full of fury. Dude is SCARY.

But here’s what I thought about watching him other than at the plate. He never looks like he cares enough, and the biggest sin? He’s definitely not scrappy. He was kind of goofy, loping around in warmups, always grinning, slump shouldered, cutting up, laughing with his head bobbing around, that sort of thing. That sort of thing that will spark a working class Cardinals fan to take to Twitter or Cards Talk in righteous indignation that here we go, another “superstar” who doesn’t play The Cardinal Way.

I fear Oscar Taveras is going to be another J.D. Drew or Colby Rasmus, another of a line of extremely talented players who will appear never to get the fullest out of their natural talent. I say that like it’s a bad thing. Cardinals fans love their Scrappy Guys(TM) like David Eckstein, Stubby Clapp, Bo Hart, even Allen Craig, those sorts of players, while hating on guys who can help the team such as Ray Lankford, Rasmus and Drew (I have to admit calling him Lazy Drew myself — in hindsight, we all should have appreciated him for what he was, a near-superstar who really could play the game).

So will we appreciate Oscar Taveras for what he can do, or will we scowl and work ourselves up in a froth over all the things he won’t do? I hope we learned from our time blessed with J.D. Drew and Colby Rasmus … but I’m just afraid we won’t.