3 Hits, 2 RBI, 1 Great Game For Shane Robinson

Shane Robinson hasn’t gotten a lot of attention this season, and probably rightfully so. He hadn’t done much, hitting just .100 before he was sent to Memphis in late April and, now that he was recalled this week, flying out as a pinch-hitter on Wednesday night to drop his average to .095.

Then came last night.

shane robinson

Photo: STLToday.com

Robinson started in right field (with Allen Craig at first and Matt Adams getting a day off) and definitely made a big impact: three hits and two RBI that tied the game in leading the Cardinals to a 4-2 win and sweep of the Diamondbacks. He also scored the final run of the game on Matt Carpenter’s RBI single.

Great to see for Shane? Definitely. Plus his success — two singles and a two-RBI double — boosted his batting average all the way to .200. Progress!

Also great to see: Allen Craig driving in the go-ahead run in the seventh, after he singled in the sixth. Craig still isn’t the Craig we’ve gotten used to, but he’s showing signs at times. Progress!

Plus all four runs by the Cardinals came with two outs. With those, the Cards as a team are now hitting .217/.320/.343 with two outs and runners in scoring position and .235/.322/.334 with RISP overall. Progress!

With just two runs allowed, the pitching obviously went well — although you certainly wouldn’t have known that if you glanced at Twitter during the first inning, when Lance Lynn allowed two runs on three hits and a sacrifice fly. Calamity! Lance Lynn is the worst! OMG! Release him! They’re doomed! Continue reading

Cardinals, It’s Been A While Since …

The St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 victory last night over the Atlanta Braves was their third win in a row, and those five runs came on 13 hits. Offense. Yay!

Their record improves to 22-20. Woo hoo!

Thats a winner-LGIn this season that’s thus far been much mediocrity, it’s been a while since several things that occurred during the game happened previously.

Last time the Cards were two games over .500: April 27, when they were 14-12

Last time winning three in a row: April 13-15 (part of a four-game win streak, April 12-15)

Last time with 13 hits: May 7 in Atlanta, 7-1 win over Braves

Last time Kolten Wong started for the Cardinals: April 25

Last time Wong had two hits in a game: April 24

Last time Allen Craig had three hits in a game: April 30 (he had four)

Last time Peter Bourjos was ejected: never

Last time Mike Matheny was ejected: Sept. 7, 2013

Last time Lance Lynn won a game: April 19, when the Cardinals beat the Nationals 4-3

Last time Trevor Rosenthal faced just three batters in earning a save: April 25 in a 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh, his seventh save. Last night was number 12.

Positive progress all around, except for the ejections — and that’s all on on Sean Barber being ridiculous, so we’ll just let that go. Here’s to more positivity, though (and to umps just being umps).

The Braves and Cards are back at it again this afternoon at 1:15 p.m. Central Time, with the pitching a rematch from May 5: Aaron Harang vs. Shelby Miller. The same outcome, a Cardinals victory, would be great — and if it involves more hitting from Peter Bourjos, all the better. (Looking back at that post, glad things are a little more back to normal now … Thankfully Matheny has made progress on his managing as well.)

Walk-Off Hit By Pitch? That’s So 2014 Cardinals

In a thus far inconsistent and mediocre St. Louis Cardinals season …

GarciaWhen Adam Wainwright finally, sort of, maybe figured out the 2014 Cubs and only allowed two runs in six innings on a Luis Valbuena homer …

During a game when the Cardinals had the same number of strikeouts as hits (nine), were walked eight times and left 13 runners on base while scoring just three runs through 11 innings …

When Trevor Rosenthal finally did what was seeming inevitable and blew a save …

Yet the rest of the bullpen — Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez, Sam Freeman in his 2014 debut, Pat Neshek, Seth Maness — combined to allow just one hit and no runs in five innings …

And, in the 12th inning, when the Cubs bullpen started to resemble what we would expect the Cubs bullpen to be with Justin Grimm walking Allen Craig and Yadi to load the bases with one out after Jhonny Peralta singled …

Up stepped Greg Garcia to pinch-hit. It was Garcia’s 14th plate appearance yet he had just 10 official at-bats, thanks to one walk and two hit-by-pitches.

He still has just 10 official at-bats, thanks to his third hit-by-pitch. Plus he now has his first RBI — and it’s a game-winning RBI.

Thank you, Justin Grimm. And thank you, Greg Garcia.

Whatever it takes to win.

Especially for the 2014 Cardinals.

3 Bright Spots From A Disappointing Cardinals Loss

What a frustrating game. After battling back to take the lead twice — which, given the team’s offensive challenges for much of the season, was impressive — the Cardinals lost to the Pirates 6-4.

Bourjos catch

Photo: Pittsburgh Trib Live

Ugh.

Just when the offense had shown some spark, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez have off nights. Guess that’s why the Cardinals are back at .500 again with an 18-18 record.

Despite the loss. there were three bright spots in the game — two on offense, one on defense.

1. Peter Bourjos’ awkward but great catch

It wasn’t very pretty (or should I say gorgeous?) but Peter Bourjos lost the ball hit by Starling Marte in the lights, found it, jumped against the wall and managed to make a great catch. Seeing is better than reading the description, for sure — and that picture sure gives you the idea how awkward it looked. But it got the job done. Honorable mention for a bright spot goes to Pete’s triple in the ever-increasing downpour following moment No. 2 below. (Whoever decides what videos to post on MLB’s highlights is obviously not female nor a fan of watching really speedy baserunners — that was a play worth seeing again.)

2. Allen Craig’s three-run homer

Maybe it just took the rain to get Allen Craig going. He came to the plate in the top of the fourth with Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holliday on base — each had singled — and connected for a home run into the Cardinals bullpen. It gave the Cards a 3-2 lead … which only lasted until the bottom of the fifth, but let’s focus on a positive. Craig also singled in the eighth. Continue reading

3 Positives From The Cards Loss To The Cubs

If there ever was a game that seemed like a guaranteed win for the Cardinals, yesterday was it. Adam Wainwright had a perfect 6-0 record at Wrigley Field to go along with his 25-inning scoreless pitching streak, as well as a 1.20 ERA after a terrific April. The offense had come to life in the last game. The wind was blowing out in Chicago.

Positive-AttitudeAnd then we were reminded that nothing is guaranteed, especially in baseball.

Wainwright did not have a Wainwright-like day, with the scoreless streak ending in the first with two runs scoring on Anthony Rizzo’s single (which came after Luis Valbuena’s was-it-fair-or-foul double that was called fair). Waino allowed all 6 runs to the Cubs, and has allowed 10 runs in 12 innings pitched this season against them.

Still, even with the loss for the Cards — and despite the fact that puts their record at 15-15 — there were some positives to be found.

1. The offense kept its momentum
With yesterday’s 5 runs on 8 hits, the Cardinals now have 14 runs and 21 hits in two games. That’s a welcome change. Sure, there were missed opportunities — they were just 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position — but, still, we know it could have been worse because we’ve recently had to endure it being worse. Progress is progress … even when it’s slow. Continue reading

Tim McCarver A Refreshing Change On FOX Sports Midwest

Every St. Louis Cardinals fan, or baseball fan for that matter, has an opinion on Tim McCarver as a broadcaster. That meant there were already opinions aplenty about him making his debut on FOX Sports Midwest last night to begin the 30 games he’ll broadcast with Dan McLaughlin this season.

TimMcCarverI’ve never been reluctant to share my feelings about the quality of the broadcasters at FOX Sports Midwest — in a nutshell, as Cardinals fans we deserve better — nor that I take every opportunity possible to listen to optional broadcasts when I can, such as when the Cards play the Cubs or Brewers.

Yet I was curious to hear McCarver last night, willing to forego the chance to listen to FOX Sports Wisconsin. Yes, I too often found him annoying when he did games on FOX all these years. But the games on FOX Midwest are different since they’re local and not national. Would he be different too? (Plus, really, how could he be any worse than what we have to endure with whatever combination of McLaughlin, Al Hrabosky and Ricky Horton is on the air any given night?)

It didn’t take long to notice a difference from the usual broadcast. McCarver impressed me right away when he said that no only did he watch Wacha’s last start against the Mets, but he also picked up the phone and called Bob Gibson to talk more about Wacha’s pitching line from that day as well as his curveball and why he was throwing so many in the game. When the wind is in your face, Gibson said according to McCarver, that’s when your curveball works the best. And the curve worked both to Wacha’s benefit and detriment that day, as he was wild with it also.

Look at that — insightful broadcasting. Beats the heck out of hearing Al read yet again from that day’s media notes. And McCarver mentioned numerous times Cardinals games he’d watched this season and cited specific examples. Continue reading

7 Highlights From A 7-0 Win, Plus 2 Roster Moves

Welcome back, Cardinals offense! You were greatly missed. Yes, it was definitely nice to see runs being scored — more Sunday, 7, as the Cardinals beat the Pirates 7-0, than they had in Wednesday through Saturday’s games combined — and even a home run for the first time in 366 at-bats since Allen Craig last launched one on April 16.

7And while things are starting to get better at the plate, just like Michael wrote they would on Saturday, one game is apparently not enough of a jumpstart, since two roster moves were announced late Sunday night. Promoted to the Cardinals are infielder Greg Garcia and outfielder Randal Grichuk and one of the subsequent demotions, Shane Robinson, is not a surprise. But the other is: Kolten Wong.

Wong was hitting .225 and hadn’t played since going 0 for 4 against the Pirates Friday night. And, courtesy of Rick Hummel in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, here’s a very interesting comment from general manager John Mozeliak:

“This will give him a chance to play every day and if he gets back on track, that would be helpful,” said Mozeliak.

Hmmmmm.

Back to yesterday, in addition to the offense, it’s always good to see Adam Wainwright be Adam Wainwright, isn’t it? Here’s more on him and six other highlights from the series-winning victory.

1. The Cards manufacturing a first-inning run
Matt Carpenter did a very Matt Carpenter-like thing (guys doing what they typically do was a theme of the day) and doubled to lead off the game for the Cardinals. While there was plenty of Twitter outrage when Jon Jay then bunted him over to third base, the move immediately paid dividends: the Cards took a 1-0 lead on a Matt Holliday sacrifice fly. With the way the offense had been struggling, the move was understandable at the moment — regardless of opinions on Mike Matheny and his bunting strategies. Continue reading

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

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

Eight Cardinals in MLB’s Top 100 Right Now

The Cardinals are good — this we know. But just in case we’d somehow forgotten, the fact they have eight players on MLB Network’s 2014 list of Top 100 Right Now is definitely a reminder.

collageThe criteria MLB Network uses for determining the rankings are a player’s stats for the last three seasons, with 2013 weighted more heavily; projected performance in the 2014 season; the defensive position played; accolades earned by the player; and intangibles.

There was a youth movement on the overall MLB list, as 21 of the 100 total are age 25 or younger. Four of the eight Cardinals fit into that category too.

It’s probably no surprise who those four are either. Three are pitchers, and they appeared in a row at the start of the countdown from 100 to the top spot: 23-year-old Shelby Miller at No. 93, 22-year-old Michael Wacha at No.92 and 23-year-old Trevor Rosenthal at No. 91. (Just FYI, Pirate Gerrit Cole was right before them at No. 94.) Impressive debuts on the Top 100 for all three, especially Wacha. Would postseason performance be one of the intangibles?

Continue reading