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.)

Cardinals Recall Kolten Wong From Memphis

Greg Garcia’s reward for getting the walk-off-hit-by-pitch in last night’s Cardinals win? A trip back to Memphis. The better news, however: Kolten Wong is back (even though he never should have left). Here’s the news release from the Cardinals.

Kolten WongThe St. Louis Cardinals announced today that second baseman Kolten Wong has been recalled from Memphis (AAA) and that infielder Greg Garcia has been optioned to the triple-A club.

Wong, who was on the Cardinals Opening Day roster for the first time, was optioned to Memphis on April 27 and turned in a stellar performance for the Redbirds, batting .344 (22-for-64) with two home runs and 10 RBI in 15 games. The left-handed hitting Wong was 6-for-16 (.375 BA) with runners in scoring position and he was a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.

Wong, 23, enjoyed a 4-hit, 4-RBI game yesterday against Round Rock, upping his batting mark over the past 10 games to .372. He hit safely in 13 of his 15 games for Memphis, including six multi-hit efforts.

In 20 games played for the Cardinals this season, Wong had a double and triple amongst his 16 hits (.225 BA) in addition to a team-high three stolen bases.

Garcia drew a bases loaded hit by pitch in the 12th inning last night for his first career major league RBI — the first time since 1974 that the Cardinals had won a game in walk-off fashion via a hit batsman.

Wong will report for tonight’s game (7:15 p.m. CDT) against the Chicago Cubs. He wears uniform no. 16.

UPDATE FROM THE CARDINALS:

Second baseman Kolten Wong, who was recalled from Memphis (AAA) today, reported to the ballpark earlier today suffering from stomach illness and was sent home in order to rest and recover. He is not expected to be available for tonight’s game.

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

Cardinals Haiku Wednesday: Cards Win Behind Lynn

The St. Louis Cardinals are undefeated at Busch Stadium this season!

This expression looks unfortunately familiar. (Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

This expression looks unfortunately familiar. (Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Just wanted to emphasize that before also mentioning Lance Lynn is 2-0. Yep, the man who’s now allowed 8 earned runs and 16 hits in 11 innings is right there among the league leaders in wins. (And, yes, many think wins are a dumb and ineffective stat. But it still exists.)

Happily, there was plenty of offense behind Lynn as well — that’s a better thing to consider — and the 13 hits and 7 runs are what led the Cardinals to a 7-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Since a work obligation kept me from watching the game, Michael wrote this first stanza to describe last night’s game. In catching the game’s highlights, I felt compelled to add on …

Lynn is what he is.
But the offense is what it
Is, bailing him out.

About that offense:
Gorgeous Bourjos 3 for 4.
He likes his new home. Continue reading

Yadi + Wainwright + Bullpen = Opening Day Happiness

When there are nine tight, tense and dramatic innings that end with the St. Louis Cardinals on the right side of 1-0 Opening Day victory over the Cincinnati Reds, it’s pretty hard to be unhappy about it.

collageOpeningDayWhen the lone run is courtesy of a Yadier Molina seventh inning homer — after the crowd had already been booing him all day? Great.

When Adam Wainwright throws seven scoreless innings and gives up only three hits while striking out nine to not only pick up his first-ever Opening Day win but also the 100th of his career? Even better.

When we get to see Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal throw 21 of their combined 28 pitches for strikes to get the final six outs of the game — especially when three of those outs are in a messy eighth inning? Fantastic.

Oh, and for Johnny Cueto to pitch nearly as well as Wainwright by allowing just Yadi’s homer and two other hits while striking out eight Cardinals in seven innings — and be the losing pitcher? What more could you want?

Well, sure, you could want to not see the Cardinals defense commit three errors. Yet each of the three who committed those errors — birthday boy Peter Bourjos, Kolten Wong and Matt Adams — also made good defensive plays. The first inning catch by Bourjos was great (and, sadly, not worthy of being a video highlight from the game according to MLB’s website) and proved right away why his speed will be such an asset. Continue reading

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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What Could Keep The Cardinals From Winning The NL Central?

It’s a good week ahead, right? Spring training games begin on Friday — just the final step before real baseball games — and the outlook is good for the talented and deep 2014 St. Louis Cardinals.

united-cardinal-bloggers-lgYet yesterday morning, I couldn’t help but feel pessimistic as I thought about what to ask my fellow United Cardinal Bloggers members for our spring training roundtables. Blame it on Monday, blame it on the post I’d just finished at the time, blame it on the rain (for those of you who’ve even heard of Milli Vanilli …)

My question to them: what could keep the Cardinals from winning the NL Central in 2014?

Here are the responses.

Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat

Your post this morning pointed out the main possibility — Yadier Molina missing a significant portion of the season. Most anything else I think the Cards can survive, but Molina going down would be rough.

Bill Ivie, I-70 Baseball

I’m taking two shots … Health and inexperience …

The Cardinals have depth, but it is young and unproven at a lot of spots. An injury to a key player with little depth behind him could disrupt this team fairly quickly. An injury to a veteran starter and the young arms that have yet to pitch a full season are suddenly going to have to shoulder (pun intended) a lot of the inning load.

The team has the depth in various places to sustain an injury. But young players will have to play up to expectations for the Cards to be able to chug along without a key component. The pitching looks great on paper, but I wonder how hard they will push the young bucks. Time will tell.

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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On-Paper Advantage Falls Through In Game 3 Loss

Ah, the best laid plans. Lion

On paper, things were lining up perfectly for the Cardinals headed into last night’s NLCS Game 3. They’d beaten the Dodgers’ two star pitchers, and had Adam Wainwright on the mound. They were up 2-0 over a Los Angeles team that had struggled offensively even more than the Cardinals had, and they had a golden opportunity to put the first nail in the coffin.

Unfortunately, it’s games where the odds are with them that the Cardinals tend to struggle. And struggle they did. Continue reading

Welcome Back, Cardinals Offense! You’ve Been Missed!

More runs that the last four games combined. Same number of hits as the combined total for those previous games.

Yes, the 12-run and 19-hit performance by the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday was incredibly welcome. As was the 12-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners to not just win the series, but finish a very successful 7-2 home stand.

9-15-13

Yadi, we are just as happy as you are over yesterday’s game! (Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Leading the charge on offense: Yadier Molina, who broke out of his 0-15 slump in a rather Yadi-is-such-a-BAMF manner: by launching a no-doubter home run into the Mariners bullpen in the second inning to put the Cards up 1-0. Yet his contributions for the day were only beginning.

He singled and scored in the fourth, singled and scored in the fifth and singled in the sixth. He did fly out to right field in the seventh. Oh — since Yadi is Yadi — he also threw out Dustin Ackley trying to steal to end the top of the fifth inning. Make that Dustin “the man who obviously learned nothing when he also was thrown out Friday night” Ackley.

Besides Yadi’s big day, it was a great one for Matt as well — all three of them.

Continue reading