WEEKLY RECAP (Christine, Aaron Miles’ Fastball)
What can you say about a week in which the Cards won only two games, lost five straight in between victories and were on the wrong side of history? Here’s a look back …
Last Monday, Memorial Day, found the Cardinals in Atlanta to take on the Braves, who were on a seven-game losing streak. The Cardinals extended that streak to eight, thanks to the pitching of Lance Lynn to go along with 8 runs and 14 hits by the offense. Lynn allowed two runs and five hits plus struck out eight in seven innings to give him win No. 8 on the season, tying him with Cole Hamels for the NL lead. Daniel Descalso hit a two-run homer, Rafael Furcal had three hits including a homer, and Matt Adams had three hits and three RBI in the Cards 8-2 win.
Tuesday, the Braves losing streak ended — and the Cardinals began. Michael Bourn led off the game with a homer for the Braves, and Jake Westbrook’s struggles grew from there. Dan Uggla hit a three-run homer two innings later and Westbrook allowed five runs in five innings. Yadier Molina did all he could to get the Cards back in the game, going 4 for 4 with a homer and three RBI, but it wasn’t enough and the Cardinals lost 5-4.
On Wednesday, more injury news preceded the game as it was revealed Jaime Garcia returned to St. Louis for an MRI on his elbow (no structural damage was found) and Jon Jay was getting a second opinion on his sprained shoulder (no more damage there either, just inflammation). Then, during the game, Skip Schumaker strained his hamstring and was placed on the DL Friday. The game itself was just as disheartening as more injuries. The Braves had a 5-0 lead by the third inning, but the Cardinals tied it thanks to a fourth inning RBI single by Matt Holliday and a four-run sixth with RBI singles by Holliday, Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso. Then came the bullpen … Marc Rzepczynski allowed three runs in the bottom of the sixth, and Jason Motte had a wild eighth and allowed two more runs. Final score: Braves 10, Cards 7.
Thursday was a much-needed day off, the team’s first in 20 days.
Then came Friday. Historic moments are incredible. As Cardinals fans, we know this — we’ve had our share. But being on the wrong side of a no-hitter, especially when it’s a no-hitter due to an umpire’s bad call on a ball that was wrongly called foul, is a completely different story. And that’s exactly where the team found itself as Johan Santana (with umpire Adrian Johnson’s assistance) finally threw the first no-hitter in the New York Mets 50-year history. And, of course, it would be Carlos Beltran, making his return to Citi Field as a Cardinal, who hit the disputed ball. The Mets scored 8 runs, 7 off Adam Wainwright and 1 off rookie Sam Freeman, making his major league debut. Both Freeman and Maikel Cleto were called up to try to get the bullpen back on track, while Brandon Dickson and Chuckie Fick were sent back to Memphis. Cleto pitched a scoreless inning during the game. Allen Craig also returned from the DL.
Saturday’s game was better in one regard: Beltran got a hit. Actually, the Cardinals managed seven of them off knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. But that was it, as the team was shutout in back-to-back complete games. Lance Lynn was not at his best, lasting only 4 2/3 innings, and it was a rough day defensively for the two Matts: Holliday and Adams. Bullpen-wise, Victor Marte and Mitchell Boggs each allowed a run and Eduardo Sanchez threw a wild pitch that allowed the run charged to Marte to score. So, for the fifth straight year, the UCB Progressive Blog day was another defeat — this time 5-0.
Sunday’s game was on ESPN. More progress: the Cardinals finally scored a run, after more than 25 scoreless innings. However, they gave up six. Jake Westbrook had another rough start, allowing 5 runs in 5 innings. Sam Freeman allowed the other run, and Maikel Cleto, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte had scoreless outings. Jonathan Niese struck out 10 Cardinals, and they ended up with 14 Ks on the night. Their fifth straight loss put the Cardinals at 27-27 and into third place in the NL Central for first time since last July 21, when the Pirates were again ahead of them in second. This year, it’s the Reds instead of the Brewers in first.
A long-awaited victory finally came on Monday, although it was anything but easy. The Cards took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Allen Craig — and it lasted all of five minutes before Lucas Duda tied it with a homer off Kyle Lohse. The Cardinals took advantage of some sloppy defense by the Mets in the seventh to take a 2-1 lead and load the bases. Even though Lohse had only thrown 76 pitches and allowed two hits, Mike Matheny pinch-hit for him with Matt Adams — who struck out. Rafael Furcal was next up, and he did drive in another run. But that left three innings for the bullpen, and Marc Rzepczynski promptly gave the two runs back to the Mets in the bottom of the seventh. Never fear, Craig provided more heroics in the eighth with a two-run homer,. And that proved to be enough, since the Mets only scored once more. The victory allowed the Cardinals to move into a tie for second place with the Pirates, who have the day off.
A LOOK AHEAD (Corey, Balls & Strikes)
The Cardinals will start the week off by continuing what, so far, has been a painful road trip. They begin the week in third place in the National League Central for the first time in 2012. They are currently one-half game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. Monday afternoon, the Cardinals will play the final game of a four-game series against the New York Mets at 12:10 p.m.
After the game, the Cardinals will catch a quick flight to Texas where they will play three against the Houston Astros at 7:05 p.m. each night. The 23-and-31 Astros are in fifth place in the National League Central. The Cardinals are 17-and-12 against NL Central opponents and should be glad to get back home. They are only 1-and-2 against the Astros, but Houston was playing much better baseball when they last faced off.
The team will return home on Friday to kick off interleague play for the season where they will face the Cleveland Indians who are currently in second place in the American League Central. The Indians are 28-25 and are off to a much better start than anticipated by many.
PITCHING MATCHUPS (Daniel, C70 At The Bat)
Monday at Mets: Kyle Lohse (5-1, 3.36 ERA) vs. Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.69)
Tuesday at Astros: Undecided* vs. Lucas Harrell (4-4, 4.71)
Wednesday at Astros: Adam Wainwright (4-6, 4.98) vs. Bud Norris (5-2, 4.52)
Thursday at Astros: Lance Lynn (8-2, 2.63) vs. J.A. Happ (4-5, 4.31)
Friday vs. Indians: Josh Tomlin (2-3, 5.32) vs. Jake Westbrook (4-5, 4.23)
Saturday vs. Indians: Justin Masterson (2-5, 5.09) vs. Lohse
Sunday vs. Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 5.79) vs. Undecided
Best bet: There’s not a lot of stellar matchups going this weekend, though we hear great things about Undecided. (Obviously that is Jaime Garcia’s slot and indications are he may make both games.) If Wainwright is Wainwright (which seems to be a slightly better-than-even proposition lately), then his battle with Cardinal killer Bud Norris should be the highlight of the pitching week.
DOWN ON THE FARM (Tom, CardinalsGM)
Memphis Redbirds (AAA)
Highlights: Recently signed Lou Montanez was strong with the bat, having three multi-hit games including back-to-back three-hit affairs. A couple of firsts–John Gast with his first AAA win and Fernando Salas notched his first Memphis save of the year–but not all was sunshine and puppy dogs, as Shelby Miller got rocked for five runs in three innings.
Springfield Redbirds (AA)
Highlights: Xavier Scruggs had a solid week, with two hits in Monday’s game and a home run and two RBI on Saturday. Kyle Conley had a stellar game on Tuesday, driving in five runs. Highly touted prospect Trevor Rosenthal took the loss on Saturday in a close game.
Palm Beach (Advanced A)
Highlights: Starlin Rodriguez had a career game on Wednesday, hitting a home run and driving in six. Mike O’Neill went 5-for-5 on Thursday and got two more hits the next night.
Quad Cities (A)
Highlights: A big offensive week for the club as they scored 16 and 20 in separate games. Anthony Garcia had six RBI in the latter game. Tyrell Jenkins didn’t get the win as Saturday’s game went into extra innings, but he struck out five and didn’t allow a run in his six innings pitched.
For more details on the week that was on the farm, check out the complete wrapup at CardinalsGM.
THIS WEEK’S PODCASTS
This week’s UCB Radio Hour hosts: Bill Ivie and Rob Darnell