If We Can’t Watch A Game, Did It Really Happen?

Oh, where to begin with last night’s Dodgers-Cardinals game?

Or should I say alleged game? For all I know, it could have been an elaborate hoax like a modern day version of “The War of the Worlds” since the game was only on the radio for many of us.

And perhaps I wouldn’t have gone to such dramatic lengths to find and keep up with the game were that contest not the one chosen for the annual United Cardinal Bloggers Progressive Game Blog — I had the first inning to recap, so knowing exactly when it started was obviously of prime importance. Here’s more on the UCB progressive blog, plus an intro for the game. This is the eighth year for the project, and the game chosen is traditionally one on FOX that’s available to all the bloggers involved regardless of where they live (since many of us don’t live in St. Louis).

Unfortunately, FOX did not cooperate with the UCB plan in choosing their games and who would see see what in their home market. That was the first glitch, as evidenced by the broadcast schedule from 506Sports.com.


Yes, lots of Cardinal red on that map — much of the U.S. would see the game. But I live in the Quad Cities, which is represented on the map above right on the border of Iowa and Illinois with the QC … in green. Yes, green for Royals and Cubs as my FOX game of the week. Because we didn’t have enough of those teams last Saturday, apparently.

Yet as game time approached, I discovered Mother Nature must be a Cardinals fan — the Royals and Cubs were rained out. Hooray! That had to mean I’d get the Dodgers-Cardinals game, right? There’d be no way I’d end up with the Red Sox-Rangers, not when that was being shown in so few markets.

Then we discovered Mother Nature must really be a Sawx fan, or perhaps a Josh Hamilton fan. Because she made it rain in St. Louis too. Enough that everyone got to see the start of the Sawx-Rangers. Not that I really paid attention …

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The “Because Matheny” Season Ends Because Of Matheny

Really, that was a fitting ending.

Painful, absolutely. Who can’t help but feel sorry for Michael Wacha, pitching for the first time in 20 days and making his 2014 postseason debut in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth inning with a Giants pennant on the line if they win?

MLB: NLCS-San Francisco Giants at St. Louis CardinalsWacha shouldn’t even have been in that situation — yet obviously he was. Because Matheny.

And what better way to end a 2014 Cardinals season filled with so many frustrating and infuriating and confusing decisions made by Mike Matheny that had no other explanation except “Because Matheny” than with a final “Because Matheny” moment?

The bullpen management in the past two games was just inexplicable. My Giants fan pal at work with compared Matheny’s rotating through all the relievers in Game Four to a little kid after trick-or-treating on his first Halloween: “Ooooh, this one! No, this one! Now this one!”

Now Game Five and using Michael Wacha in that situation.


Predictable ending? Unfortunately yes in that situation, though perhaps not with Travis Ishikawa delivering the final blow of a walk-off pennant-winning home run to send the Giants to the World Series (of course! It’s an even year!) to face the Cinderella-story Kansas City Royals.

Yes, Matheny has led the Cardinals to the National League Championship Series in each of his first three years as manager. Yes, the 2014 Cardinals won 90 regular season games and were NL Central champs for the second straight year. Yet I don’t believe even the most die-hard Matheny fan out there cannot say Mike Matheny regressed as a manager in 2014.

Ultimately, the season ended last night because of it.

Now I need to end this so I can leave for work. And if the Giant fan’s first words to me this morning aren’t “Thanks, Matheny!” I might have to punch him.

Because Matheny.

What A Week, Cardinals Fans!

Last Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Chicago Cubs 7-2. It was their third straight loss and fifth in their previous seven games, and they remained stuck 1 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings.

Thats a winner-LGThe losing streak extended to four Saturday afternoon when the Cubs took the first game of their day-night doubleheader. But then came game two, and especially the 9-run eighth inning for a 13-2 win.

Nothing but W’s since, with the streak now 6 after last night’s tense and defensive-filled 3-2 victory over the Brewers.

That deficit in the standings has turned into a 4-game lead.

The Cards are a season-high 14 games over .500 at 77-63.

Michael Wacha is back.

Over the past seven games Peter Bourjos is hitting .462, Jon Jay .455, Matt Holliday .379 and Daniel Descalso and Randal Grichuk .375 each.

Trevor Rosenthal is tied for the major league lead with 42 saves (even if an incredibly high number of them are very nerve-wracking, like last night’s).

The Cardinals have a magic number of 19 to clinch the NL Central title for a second straight year.

Happy Friday, Cardinals fans, and what a week!

Cardinals Acquire Justin Masterson From Indians

The St. Louis Cardinals announced this afternoon that they have acquired right-handed starting pitcher Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Springfield (AA) outfielder James Ramsey.

Justin_Masterson_20110323194624_320_240Masterson, who will join the Cardinals on Friday, Aug. 1, in St. Louis, is scheduled to start Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Masterson, 29, is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts for the Tribe this season, fanning 93 batters in his 98.0 innings pitched. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 8 (right knee inflammation) and made a pair of injury rehabilitation starts (July 20 and 25) for Columbus (AAA) prior to today’s trade.

The 6-6, 250-pound Masterson was an American League All-Star in 2013 as he compiled a 14-10 mark with a 3.45 ERA while ranking 8th in the league with 195 strikeouts and a league-best three shutouts. The Jamaican-born Masterson owns a career mark of 57-49 with a 4.16 ERA in 231 games (169 starts) for Boston (2008-09) and Cleveland (2009-14).

The Cardinals also announced that they have transferred pitcher Michael Wacha from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day D.L.  The team will make a corresponding 25-man roster move prior to Friday’s game once Masterson reports to the team.

How Will The Cardinals Respond To Losing Wacha, Garcia?

Adversity brings a team together, right? But what about when the adversity affects the season-long strength of the team — the starting rotation? That’s what we’re about to find out from the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals as they embark on a 10-game road trip to face the Rockies, Dodgers and Giants minus Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia.

collageThe Cardinals currently are tied with the Dodgers for MLB’s best starter ERA at 3.08, just ahead of the A’s 3.10. Add the relievers in also and the Cards are third overall in MLB with a 3.18 ERA, behind the A’s at 3.02 and Nationals at 3.04. Yes, the Cards’ bullpen has improved much so that its ERA right now is 3.41 (seventh best in the NL, 11th in MLB).

With Carlos Martinez able to stay in the rotation, that’s a benefit. Joe Kelly is going to begin a rehab stint on Friday at Memphis — good news, as he will hopefully be back soon. Until he is, there are options currently at Memphis such as Tyler Lyons, Zach Petrick or Tim Cooney.

But then there’s the other side of the game: the offense. And with that, who knows? Though, with as good as the pitching has been lately, the way the offense goes is the way the game goes. Get hits, score runs? Winner! Fall flat, don’t score? Yeah, we’ve seen that plenty. The team is currently hitting .250/.318/.364, which is eighth/fifth/13th in the NL. Of course they’re still last in homers with just 42 — which is what the Royals have now as well.

A spark and any sense of urgency from this team seems to occasionally appear, leading us all to think “OK, now they’re playing like they should.” Then the Cards lose back-to-back games to the Phillies and have A.J. Burnett and his 13.50 Busch Stadium ERA throw a complete game against them.

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Cards Post-Game Shocker: Garcia, Wacha Going On DL

Carlos Martinez had his longest outing as Cardinal today — and that’s good. He’s going to be staying in the starting rotation.

nurse-e1397756375763After the game, and after Mike Matheny’s post-game comments on FOX Sports Midwest, John Mozeliak addressed the media with some rather shocking news: both Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha are going on the disabled list with shoulder injuries.

Garcia’s injury is reaggravation of the shoulder injury that kept him on the DL to start the season, after having surgery on the same shoulder in May 2013.

Wacha has what was described by Mozeliak as a “stress reaction” in his shoulder and Wacha described as a tightness on the back of his shoulder during comments aired on FOX Sports Midwest. More details are available from Viva El Birdos and from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

No roster moves will be announced until tomorrow.

Prior to 40 percent of the rotation going onto the DL, the Cardinals did win today’s game 5-3 to split the series with Phillies. Martinez allowed the three runs in five innings to earn his first win as a starter. The Cards scored four runs in the fourth to take the lead, with the lower part of the lineup getting the job done: Jon Jay and Jhonny Peralta each had RBI singles that inning, while Mark Ellis drove in Jay on a safety squeeze. Ellis also had an RBI single in the sixth.

All Streaks Must Come To An End, Unfortunately

No streak lasts forever (except, perhaps, the 100-plus year streak of the Cubs not winning the World Series). And the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays brought numerous streaks to an end.

WachaTo begin with, the Cardinals three-game winning streak ended.

That also means, unfortunately, so did the consecutive shutout streak by the Cards pitchers after three straight games. The streak of not allowing a run did reach 30 innings before coming to an end, however — and that streak is a tremendous accomplishment.

The end of the pitcher’s scoreless streak also meant the subsequent finish to the Rays’ own such streak on offense, which had reached 31 innings (with 12 of those against the Cardinals).

Then there’s Michael Wacha’s streak this year of not allowing more than three earned runs in a game this season. He gave up four runs to the Rays in the fourth inning and he obviously was not at his best. Wacha walked four — two in the fourth inning — and didn’t strike out a batter, which not surprisingly was a career first (and thus another streak that came to an end).

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Welcome Back, Jason Motte! About That Beard …

Hey, Jason Motte! It’s great to have you back on the Cardinals active roster again, as we all know it’s been a long journey through Tommy John surgery, rehab and back again. The ovation you received when entering the game last night was very special (and well deserved), and you did a nice job out there.

However, Jason, we need to talk.

About that beard.

Motte beard

Yeah, we know. It’s your thing, it’s been your thing and we’re good with that. We get it. And, really, it’s fine … as long as you realize there’s this other thing called grooming. Because that word seems to have escaped your beard vocabulary.

Sure, with being on the DL for a year and all that, it’s understandable you might get caught up in rehabbing and your tremendous volunteer efforts and not keep the beard trimmed like you used to before.

But you’re back in the big leagues now. And every single time we see you, something bad happens. A flashback.

To this.


Do we really want to have to keep remembering the 2013 World Series — and losing the 2013 World Series — day after day after day, every time you pitch? It’s been bad enough when we’ve seen you just sitting in the bullpen until now.

Remember, Jason, grooming is your friend. And we’ll all appreciate it if we don’t have to think of Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia and especially David Ortiz every time we see your face.


As for the rest of last night’s game, it can be summed up in one alliterative sentence: weird walk-off win on Wacha Wednesday.

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


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

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?