So What Now For The Cardinals?

No positives after today’s Cardinals game, which was a 3-0 loss to the Cubs.

5611453557_158a23d554For the first time since April 8, 2013, the Cardinals are below .500. They’ve now lost four of their last five games.

The offense, as you can tell by the score, disappeared once again. The Cards had only 7 hits today, all singles — with 3 from Matt Adams, 2 from Jhonny Peralta, and 1 each from Yadier Molina and pinch-hitter Mark Ellis. The one best chance they had to score, in the top of the 9th, ended when Jon Jay grounded into a double play with Yadi and Peralta on.

They were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. They left 8 on base.

Michael Wacha was good, giving up 2 runs on a 6th inning bomb to center by Junior Lake along with 4 other hits while striking out 6. But he wasn’t perfect, which is what’s needed with an offense like today’s. Randy Choate wasn’t perfect either, allowing a homer to Anthony Rizzo — his first homer allowed since 2012, and his first as a Cardinal.

So, what now?

What’s your one solution to get the offense going?

 

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

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

Summing Up Today’s Cardinals Loss In 2 Sentences

Boo - smallI only had the chance to watch the first three innings of today’s game, which meant I had the opportunity to see some great pitching and one hit each by the Cardinals (Matt Carpenter to lead off the game) and the Pirates (Clint Barmes, of all people).

So when I received an email from my friend Michael with the subject “sometimes, this team is maddening” and a message that only said “but what else is new,” I didn’t have much frame of reference. When I emailed back that I didn’t see the game, he replied with this — which is now your game recap.

They lost. Wainwright pitched well, Edinson Volquez pitched better and against a left-hander and the Pirates’ mythical shift Matt Adams couldn’t hit sand if he fell off a camel.

There you go.

Back to St. Louis now, and on to the home opener tomorrow.

Winning Makes For A Better Night All Around

From the very beginning, things were much improved for the St. Louis Cardinals compared to Friday night. For that matter, things were much improved in facing the Pittsburgh Pirates Francisco Liriano than they had been during the entire 2013 regular season when they only scored two runs off him in three games.

Last night, the Cardinals scored two runs before they even made two outs in the top of the first and finished that inning with a 3-0 lead. Matt, Matt and Matt all played a role as Carpenter led off with a single, Holliday drove him in following a Jhonny Peralta walk and Adams followed an Allen Craig sacrifice fly and Yadier Molina single with an RBI single of his own.

Allen Craig

Allen Craig driving in a run, always a good thing. (Photo: STLToday.com)

And though Liriano settled in and began throwing like his usual self facing the Cards, retiring 13 straight from the second inning through the sixth, Yadi homered to make the final total on the night four runs allowed.

That kind of game is so much better, as the Cardinals ultimately won 6-1 since Jhonny Peralta has apparently decided the only kind of hits he’s going to get as a Cardinal are home runs — he hit a two-run shot in the ninth with Matt Carpenter on base. (Now, if only Peter Bourjos can get that bat going …)

With just a lone run scored by the Pirates, it’s obvious the pitching was much better too. Yes, Pirates Stopper Joe Kelly retains that title once again. And while it wasn’t necessarily the most efficient of outings for him — the run allowed came on a bases-loaded walk, one of four he gave up for the night along with six hits and four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings — it was good enough to get the job done. 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

Continue reading

These 1-0 Games Are More Fun To Win Than To Lose

After Mother Nature decided we needed to wait over two-and-a-half hours for Wacha Wednesday to begin, we as St. Louis Cardinals fans were treated to our second consecutive pitchers’ duel to begin the 2014 season.

sad faceOnly this was a little more frustrating.

Because any game that ends with the other team celebrating a walk-off 1-0 win certainly is.

And because even though the Reds pitchers struck out 12 Cardinals (with nine by starter Tony Cingrani) and walked three plus gave up three hits, the Cards couldn’t capitalize and were 0 for six with runners in scoring position when they did have chances. Now, the chances were limited — yet no less frustrating to watch, especially after the two-plus hour delay.

Ah, well. Game two of 162. Too early to be concerned about the offense. Too early to panic over Carlos Martinez allowing three hits in the ninth and the walk-off run. Although of course everyone is panicking anyway, because as fans that’s what we do.

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

Finally, Opening Day — Get Ready, Relax, Enjoy

It’s been 151 days since the last St. Louis Cardinals game that counted, which was Game Six of the World Series on Oct. 30. Now, it’s 2014 and a brand-new season begins today. The proverbial slate is clear — even the Cubs, Marlins and Twins still have a chance. (Theoretically.)

Opening DayThat’s the beauty of Opening Day: new beginning, fresh start, all those cliches every sports columnist and blogger trots out every year just for today because those too are part of the baseball tradition … even though the Dodgers have already played three games, the Diamondbacks two and the Padres one. Today, though, is Opening Day for real, because the Cardinals are playing.

And that’s what we’ve been waiting for. Daydreaming and counting down to Opening Day is what got us through the very long and very awful winter with so much snow and Polar Vortex cold which all seems far in the past with the ground now clear and the temperatures warmer.

But, finally, here we are.

Our Cardinals are taking the field at last and facing off against the Reds when 3:10 p.m. Central Time arrives. Yeah, Johnny Cueto is starting and we all rightfully hate him and we’ll no doubt have to hear from Danny Mac and Al what a terrific guy Brandon Phillips is, just like they tell us every single Cards-Reds game, and they’ll have to mention August 2010 and all of that and still talk about Dusty Baker even though he’s gone — but it will be Cardinals baseball and we will be watching it again. Therefore, it’s good.

Which is why I want to remind you to enjoy it. Continue reading

5 Cardinals I’m Most Looking Forward To Watching In 2014

Opening Day is almost here … though sadly (and not surprisingly), Ozzie Smith and Budweiser’s push to make it a holiday was denied. As a result, I had to take a vacation day for tomorrow to stay home and scout out the Cubs-Pirates and other early games before the Cardinals and Reds begin at 3 p.m.

It’s a relief to finally have the regular season arrive. All the countdowns and all the spring training games are finally over and it’s real baseball for the next six (and hopefully seven) months. And there are five 2014 St. Louis Cardinals I’m looking forward to watching a little bit more once game time arrives tomorrow (or, in the case of a couple, when they take the pitcher’s mound).

Here they are.

1. Michael Wacha

MLB: St Louis Cardinals-Photo DayNo surprise, right? Who isn’t looking forward to seeing Wacha (Wacha Wacha) pitch again when it counts, especially after how he did this spring when it didn’t matter at all?

Perhaps those spring numbers are encouraging too, despite the fact they don’t mean anything. He just went out and continued to do what he did last September and October. Expectations are obviously high for him based on those performances, both from around the rest of MLB and even the Cardinals — the kid is starting the home opener after all.

It will be fun to watch him out there again starting Wednesday night. Continue reading