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

7 Things We Learned From The Cardinals Crazy 7-6 Win

Attention, everyone worried about the St. Louis Cardinals offense through the first two games: the bats are still there, the Cards know how to use them, and they can indeed still hit and score runs. They just needed another long rain delay to figure that out …

And another long delay was definitely in store before the Cardinals 7-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Once it finally began, it was about as crazy as the amount of time they spent waiting to play on Wednesday and Thursday. No pitchers’ duel this time, although some great pitching to close it out. And here are seven things we learned.

collage-4-41. Lance Lynn is Lance Lynn

Your opinion of Lance Lynn’s performance yesterday depends on your opinion of Lance Lynn. To his legion of detractors, it was just another typical start and emphasized why you can’t stand him. Of course he had a bad inning — this time it was the first, when he allowed back-to-back mammoth home runs to put the Reds up 3-0 — and of course his luck from last year of getting tremendous run support continued.

If you like Lynn, yes, the bad inning frustrated as it always does but he settled in after that and gave up plenty of hits but limited the damage.

2. Trevor Rosenthal is Trevor Rosenthal

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Cardinals Haiku Wednesday: On Spring Games and Kolten Wong

There’s no prize for having the best record in spring training, no Grapefruit League or Cactus League championships. But, even with games that really aren’t important once March 31 arrives, it’s painful to look at the standings and see the St. Louis Cardinals at the bottom with only two wins to go with seven losses (and, though not listed, two ties).

MathenyEven with the small number of innings to skew things, looking at the pitching stats thus far is not terribly pleasant either. The hitting stats are a little better … until you really start looking at some of those toward the bottom.

Patience, right? It’s only March 12. Things will improve, because these are the Cardinals. They are talented. They have depth. They are the reigning National League champions. They’re good enough, they’re smart enough and, doggone it, people like them!

We like them!

Even when we get frustrated by them … which we sometimes do these days. Right?

But things can — and will — change. A week ago, we were all worried about Kolten Wong. Now look at him. Not that he’s at the top of those stats, and that’s OK. He’s improving. He’s relaxing. He’s doing back flips and being featured everywhere, with this story in the New York Times especially good. As is this one by Derrick Goold. Plus you can see his homer from yesterday in this story by Jenifer Langosch (which is not to say her story isn’t good, because it is as well).

With all of that, plenty of poetic fodder …

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Jon Jay & Peter Bourjos: A Tale of Two Outfielders

The Cards have a load of depth on their roster and it’s not just limited to the pitching staff.MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers

Coming into camp, the Birds have an outfield full of possibility.  The Oscar Taveras watch begins this month and younger guns like Stephen Piscotty(coming off a white hot Winter league session) and James Ramsey aren’t too far off the M.L.B. radar.  The area with the most intrigue is center field, with newcomer Peter Bourjos and returning player Jon Jay.

Some people think Jay will be taking over the spot by the end of April because he can hit and provide adequate defense.  Others think Bourjos offers you the better defensive ability that can give a fine bump to an outfield that ranked near the bottom in the majors in 2013.  Each offer you something different.  Let’s break them down individually first.

Jay does have the better bat and showed that over the course of 2010-2013, hitting .300 in two seasons and playing a fine centerfield after the departure of Colby Rasmus.  He filled a gap for a relatively low price and has a good history with this team and working relationship with the coaches.  While his bat slowed down in 2013, he still hit .276 with 151 hits, 67 RBI and a .351 on base percentage.  A lot of Cardinals fans, including myself at times, forget that 2013 wasn’t a horrible year at the plate for Jay.  His defense did erode last season, and that is where Bourjos comes into play.  Jay had problems covering the gaps and has never had a great arm.  However, his bat will get him plenty of starts in 2014.

Bourjos is an amazing defensive outfielder and can make the highlight reel with his catches.  His arm is decent and his range is very good.   The biggest question mark with Bourjos is his bat and his health.  His only 130 + game season came in 2011, and the other seasons have seen him take injuries to his upper body and lower body.  Bourjos played 50 + in 2010 when he came up to the Los Angeles Angels and only got 55 games in last year.  He has never hit for an amazing average, with a lifetime mark of .251 and an even worse on base percentage of .306.  He has stolen 41 bags in 54 attempts in his short career.  His biggest feature easily comes from his defense and that sets up the main question.

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Catching Up With The Cardinals: December Edition

If you’re like me, the quietness of the Cardinals’ offseason combined with the business of the holiday season lends itself to feeling out of the loop.

No worries! Let’s catch up on the latest news together, shall we?

saint_louis_cardinals_logoThe biggest story this week is one that ended without actually ending. The Cardinals appeared to be all set to finalize the purchase of the Memphis Redbirds, as announced in mid-November. With John Mozeliak in attendance at last night’s City Council meeting, the plan was to finish up the details and obtain the council’s approval.

That plan hit a snag when the council members began arguing they hadn’t had sufficient time to review the changes to the plan or the Xs and Os of how it would/could all work.

With a Dec. 31 deadline to complete the purchase, the timeline grows tighter and tighter with each delay, this time until the council reconvenes on Monday. Continue reading

Not Much Positive In Game Four Loss

For the first four innings, Game Four of the World Series was good from the St. Louis Cardinals perspective.

Sad smileyThen it wasn’t.

And, since we all know there are nine innings in a game, we’re now looking at a 2-2 Series tie after the Cardinals lost to the Boston Red Sox 4-2.

Through the first four innings, Lance Lynn was terrific — facing only the minimum number of Red Sox after the one base runner he did allow (David Ortiz, of course, on a second inning single) was erased on a double play.

Plus the Cardinals scored a run in the third when Matt Carpenter singled with one out, advanced to second when Jacoby Ellsbury let the ball get past him in center field for an error and scored when Carlos Beltran (of course) singled.

Then the fifth inning arrived, as did the beginning of the end. We all know about Lynn and his one bad inning. As an October special, it actually extended over two innings, the fifth and the sixth. Although the fifth inning actually could have been much worse, as a lead-off double by Ortiz (of course) and back-to-back walks to Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts loaded the bases with no outs. Stephen Drew was next, with a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game — and the only run of the inning.

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Bottom Line On Game Three: A Win Is A Win

We know the final score of last night’s Game Three of the World Series: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4.

And, by now, we do believe what we just saw in the bottom of the ninth — we’ve all watched replay after replay after replay.

The bottom line: this …

10-26-1was obstruction, since it illustrated the very example given in the MLB rule book:

BXjm3GDCAAA_SSB.jpg largeWe as Cardinals fans are thrilled.

Baseball fans who understand the rules — and appreciate the umpires not only making correct calls but also having a press conference with Joe Torre after the game to further explain, by reading the rule book, how the correct call was in fact made — are pleased with the outcome, even if the ending was something none of us have ever seen in a World Series game.

Everyone else? Not happy, to put it mildly. Red Sox fans (and players) in particular.

Plus those furious it’s the Cardinals benefiting from this call — Cubs fans, Reds fans, Pirates fans, probably Dodgers fans. Especially Braves fans, remembering last year’s wild card game and the infield fly call.

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Cardinals Game Two Win Taught Us Six Valuable Lessons

Game Two was so much better than Game One for the St. Louis Cardinals, to state the absolute obvious. Then again, winning has a way of making everything better, doesn’t it? And the Cardinals were definitely better last night as they beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 and tied the World Series at one win each.

collage 10-24As it unfolded, Game Two also taught us some valuable lessons. Such as lesson one: a “bad” Michael Wacha is still really, really good. Last night was Wacha’s worst start since mid-September and, obviously, still incredibly impressive.

Yes, his October has been so unbelievable that we have to go back to Sept. 19 to find a game in which Wacha allowed more than the two earned runs he gave up on one swing by David Ortiz last night. And the only other time in his short big league career that he walked four, as he did last night, was on Sept. 14 against the Mariners. Yet even with those “bad” numbers from last night, Wacha gave up only three hits, struck out six and won his fourth game in October — and the Cardinals have won eight games this month so far. He’s been so very good that, going back to his final regular season start (his near no-hitter against the Nationals) through last night, he’s allowed just three runs in 35 2/3 innings pitched for a 0.78 ERA and struck out 37.

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Nightmare Game One Sets Cards Against The Odds

alexanderYuck.

Last night was a “Murphy’s Law” kind of night — not what the Cardinals wanted (or expected) in Game 1 of the World Series.

It was ugly all around. Adam Wainwright struggled as much as Waino ever does. Pete Kozma — in the game for his defensive abilities — had a pair of mistakes through two innings (one of which ended up in an overturned call at second base), and Shane Robinson bobbled a ball that resulted in three early runs.  Waino and Yadier Molina reinacted Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran’s lack of communication from the NLCS, watching a pop up drop between them. Beltran made a sensational leaping catch to rob Big Papi of a grand slam in the second inning, only to leave the game with a rib contusion from slamming into the low outfield wall.

With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, David Freese played the opposite of World Series hero and bounced right into an inning-ending double play. The next inning, with runners at second and third with two away, it should have been Beltran’s at bat. Instead, it was Jon Jay who, despite coming up with some big hits before, wasn’t a likely hero against lefty Jon Lester.

Oh yeah. They were facing a lefty, too. Continue reading