UCB Newsletter, Week of May 28

by Pitchers Hit Eighth on May 30, 2012

WEEKLY RECAP (Rodney, St. Louis Sports)

The Cardinals started the week strong, and ended the week strong – but the problem was the three straight losses in the middle. The Cardinals went 4-3 on the week, sweeping San Diego at home, and then dropping three out of four to Philadelphia. Cincinnati has won eight of ten games to move into first place; 1.5 games ahead of the Cardinals.

Monday – beat San Diego 4-3 – Things were looking a little bleak, as the Padres led the Cardinals 3-2 heading into the bottom of the 8th. Andrew Cashner was bringing the heat near 100mph with 2 outs in the 8th inning. An unlikely hero came through, and earned one day of praise from Cardinal Nation. Tyler Greene hit a two run homerun to give the Cardinals the lead. Jason Motte picked up the win, after blowing a save in the top of the 8th.

Tuesday – beat San Diego 4-0 – Adam Wainwright was tremendous in this game. The right hander pitched a complete game shut-out allowing just 4 hits in the game. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday had two runs batted in for the Cardinals. The win kept Padres pitching Edinson Volquez winless in St. Louis in his career.

Wednesday – beat San Diego 6-3 – Something that the Cardinals had not been doing very well; finishing off a sweep happened on Wednesday. After Lance Lynn allowed three runs in the first inning, St. Louis battled for three in the bottom half of the inning. The offense for the Cardinals knocked out Jeff Suppan, to give Lynn his NL leading 7th win. The offense hit his NL league leading 14th homerun of the season, while David Freese got back on track with a solo bomb as well.

Thursday – lost to Philadelphia 10-9 – In one of the craziest games of the 2012 season – the Phillies scored 10 runs, which was one more than St. Louis. This was probably the final straw for Cardinals relieve Fernando Salas to get sent to Memphis. Salas allowed 4 hits and 2 runs after the Cardinals had worked to tie the game up. The Cardinals offense pounded out 15 hits, including 4 from Yadier Molina. The Cardinals saw Holliday, Molina and Freese hit solo homeruns. The bullpen allowed 10 hits and 4 runs the final 5.1 innings. Jake Westbrook went just 3.2 innings in the game.

Friday – lost to Philadelphia 5-3 in 10 – In a game the Cardinals would like to have back, the Phillies topped them 5-3. The Cardinals took a 3-2 leading heading into the 7th when Juan Pierre tied the game up. Jason Motte pitched a scoreless ninth, but then allowed a Hunter Pence two run homerun, which was the difference in the game. Offensively, St. Louis saw Molina pound out two more hits, while Shane Robinson did the same. Kyle Lohse went 6.1 innings, allowing 6 hits and 3 runs in the no decision. Mitchell Boggs allowed just the one hit, but it was the Pierre single in the 7th.

Saturday – lost to Philadelphia 4-0 – Kyle Kendrick picked up his first win of the 2012 season by shutting out the lifeless Cardinals offense. Kendrick got just enough offense from Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Brian Schneider for the win. The Phillies right hander only needed 94 pitches to get the job done. David Freese was the only Cardinal with two hits in the game. St. Louis rested both Yadier Molina and Rafael Furcal in this game.

Sunday – beat Philadelphia 8-3 – The Cardinals looked like they would have a daunting task to avoid the four game sweep by Atlanta. St. Louis would face Roy Halladay on Sunday afternoon. After a couple base hits and a walk, Yadier Molina belted a grand slam off Roy in the first inning. That would be all Adam Wainwright would need for his second straight win. Halladay would then later leave after two innings with a shoulder injury. Aiding Molina in the offense would be Carlos Beltran with another three run blast, along with Matt Adams hitting his first career homerun. The three homeruns pushed the team total to 63, which leads the National League.

A LOOK AHEAD & PITCHING MATCHUPS (Rodney, St. Louis Sports)

The Cardinals head out on the road for a long road trip. St. Louis will head to Atlanta and play three games, before taking Thursday off. Then, the Cardinals will head to the Big Apple and take on the New York Mets at Citi Field. Following that series, which ends on Monday, the Cardinals will spend some time in Houston taking on the Fighting Altuve’s before finally coming home to take on Cleveland June 8th, 9th and 10th. That will start the first of nine straight games at home against the American League Central.

Monday: @ Atlanta – Lance Lynn (7-1, 2.54) vs. Tommy Hanson (5-3, 3.12)
Lynn looks to be the first starting pitcher in Major League Baseball to 8 wins. It will be tough with a good offensive team in Atlanta, and a solid Tommy Hanson on the mound. The last time Lynn faced the Braves they handed him his first loss of the season. The big right hander would like to lower the amount of opponent hits allowed, as he has given up 17 in his last 12 innings.

Hanson has always had great potential. 2012 seems to be a season in which he has been able to put some of the potential together into a complete starting pitcher. Hanson beat the Cardinals just two weeks ago, throwing five innings. Hanson has not lost since May 7th when the Cubs beat him at Wrigley Field. On the season, the right hander has struck out 51 and walked 23.

Tuesday: @ Atlanta – Jake Westbrook (4-3, 3.38) vs. Randall Delgado (2-5, 4.53)
Westbrook would like to rebound from his start against Philadelphia. The Phillies hit him all over the ball park early, but the offense took him off the hook for the loss. Westbrook hasn’t won since May 8th at Arizona, allowing 26 hits in his last 3 starts. The right hander has only allowed 3 homeruns all season; a positive stat for the veteran.

Quite honestly, a guy the Cardinals should be able to send to the showers early. Delgado has not been very good in 2012. The 22 year old right hander won his first two outings of the season, but since then has lost five, with two no decisions mixed in there. In his last 9.1 innings, Delgado has allowed 10 hits, walked 8 and allowed 8 runs. Delgado is making just his 17th career start.

Wednesday: @ Atlanta – Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.90) vs. Tim Hudson (3-2, 4.12)
Lohse is having a solid season through two months. The Opening Day starter has allowed 62 hits in 62 innings, but has walked just 9 batters on the season. The right hander has done a good job keeping composure and limiting the damage. Kyle would like to pick up a win, as his last one came on May 9th at Arizona.

The Cardinals will face the Atlanta Braves ace in the final game of the season for these two teams. Hudson has not been real sharp for Atlanta in the early going. The right hander missed nearly the first month of the season. Since returning on April 29th he has made six starts, throwing nearly 7 innings per start. Hudson is coming off a loss to Washington, where he finished in the 7th, allowing 8 hits and 7 runs. Hudson needs just 16 more wins to have 200 in his career.

Thursday: OFF

Friday: @ New York – Jaime Garcia (3-3, 3.78) vs. Johan Santana (2-2, 2.75)
Garcia didn’t pitch poorly in his last outing against San Diego. The left hander got zero runs of support and allowed a couple key hits. Opponents are batting nearly .300 against Garcia, an area of concern for the Cardinals.

St. Louis will face a tough lefthander in the first of four at Citi Field. Johan Santana is back, and has been pitching well as of late. In his last start, Santana went the distance in a win over the San Diego Padres. Santana on the season has struck out 60 batters, while walking just 16. The Mets left hander is nearly 65 games over .500 in his career as a starting pitcher.

Saturday: @ New York – Adam Wainwright (4-5, 4.45) vs. R.A. Dickey
Wainwright has been hot lately, winning his last two starts. The right hander has improved on his K/BB ratio, as he has 51 strikeouts, to just 17 walks. If Adam can keep his homerun total at 7, he should be able to get his record back to .500 barring the knuckleballer doesn’t befuddle the St. Louis offense.

Dickey is a pitcher who is battling with Lynn for the NL lead in wins. The knuckleballer is coming off a performance over San Diego where he allowed just 3 hits in 7.1 innings pitched. Dickey has not lost since April 18th at Atlanta. In his last 7 outings Dickey has went atleast six innings. Dickey struck out a career high 11 batters in the win on Tuesday over Pittsburgh.

Sunday: @ New York – Lance Lynn vs. Jonathan Niese

Monday: @ New York – Jake Westbrook vs. Jeremy Hefner

ROSTER NOTES (Kevin, Cards ‘N Stuff)

Approximately six months ago, the Cardinals said goodbye to Albert Pujols. No problem. Both Allen Craig and Lance Berkman were ready and willing to man first base with admirable offensive numbers. And if that failed, Matt Carpenter had slugged and scrapped his way into the picture with a second consecutive eye-opening Spring Training. To put it simply, the St. Louis Cardinals were deep at first base.

By mid-May, the entire plethora of first baseman found themselves sharing a room on the disabled list. In response, Mozeliak made the call to Memphis and promoted AAA prospect Matt Adams.

The word on Adams was promising. A big, burly left-handed hitter capable of launching home runs with country power, the grizzly slugger had also shown a true ability to hit for a .300 average. According to the front office and the coaching staff, Adams was ready for The Show. So far, he’s making his faithful look like prophets.

In his first nine games, Adams is 13 for 34 with a home run, five RBIs, two walks, and five doubles. His confidence and poise in the box has impressed his teammates, as has his humble, calm presence in the clubhouse. And none other than Mike Matheny himself has praised the surprising defensive potential in Adams’ “soft hands.” He’s gone from emergency option of last resort to the slugger of choice at first base in just under 10 games. Not bad for a kid whose biggest concern two weeks ago was trying to get the aisle seat on the AAA charter.

But now Adams faces a new challenge – staying in the lineup and on the roster despite his impressive offensive statistics.

On Friday, Allen Craig is set to rejoin the 25-man roster. His powerful RBI bat has shown a shocking ability to produce runs at the big league level. With Lance Berkman on the shelf for two months, Matheny has to find a spot for Craig in the heart of the Redbirds order. Those at bats will likely come at the expense of Matt Adams’ appearances at first base. In other words, the big bat that’s used to playing everyday will now have to find out what it’s like coming off the bench as the LH’ed piece to a left/right platoon.

Of course, it’s not as dire as all that. Matheny will likely want to ease Craig back into everyday duty, and Carlos Beltran’s knees could certainly use the break in right field, another one of Craig’s old haunts. But the facts of the matter are clear – the Cardinals are approaching a difficult decision on Matt Adams. Do they send him back down to AAA to get every day at bats and prepare for a potentially significant role on 2013’s roster? Or do they concede the point that everyone in Cardinal Nation already knows – that the Pandora’s Box on Matt Adams’ big league career has already been opened and closing it again might not be quite so easy?

More Roster Notes: Jon Jay could return from the DL before Craig on Wednesday or Thursday. The expected roster move to make room for Jay would likely be Adron Chambers (a then excessive LH’ed option in CF). On Friday, the decision becomes a bit more difficult for Allen Craig’s activation. Do the Cardinals demote their only RH’ed CF option in Shane Robinson? Or do they choose to go a pitcher down in the ‘pen and option Chuckie Fick back to Memphis? Most likely the man to get the Memphis shuttle ticket will be Steven Hill, but considering the Cardinals lack of RH’ed power off the bench, and the fact that Robinson already saw his MLB life pass before his eyes before being recalled again…my money would be on Sugar Shane getting the demotion to AAA by the end of the week.

TWEETS OF THE WEEK (Nick, Pitchers Hit Eighth)

“Nice W. I will be taking Tyler Greene to eat every night this next road trip.” — @JMotte30, after Tyler Greene’s game-winning home run May 21

“Funniest thing about Twitter is the more followers u get the more hitting coaches u get. #liftandseparate #waitthatsnotit” — @dfreese23

“I have one its 92 and a cutter. Thanks coach RT @sbstl_mo: @JMotte30 Strauss does believe you need an off speed pitch. I agree.” — @JMotte30

“Matt Adams! #stlcards” — @saintlouissport, after Adams’ first big-league home run

“Hittin’ around .340…and u try to bunt ur way on?” — @deckacards, in Rafael Furcal’s general direction

“Lohse nearly doubled down the third base line with that bunt. #STLCards” — @shendricks221

“Yadier Molina: 21 HR in last 692 PA. 19 HR in the 1,550 PA before that.” — @HitTheCutoff

THIS WEEK’S PODCASTS

UCB Radio Hour (Wednesday, May 23)
Gateway To Baseball Heaven (Sunday, May 27)

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