WEEKLY RECAP (Christine, Aaron Miles’ Fastball)
The week began with perhaps the Cardinals’ best, and most interesting, win of the season thus far. Last Monday was the Cardinals return to Miami for the first time since Opening Night at the new Marlins Park. The Cardinals were behind 2-0 after six innings, when Jake Westbrook left the game. And then the biggest problem of the week reared its head: the bullpen. Fernando Salas gave up a double and walk before Eduardo Sanchez was brought in. His first move, at the direction of Mike Matheny, was to intentionally walk Jose Reyes to load the bases. It seemed questionable, and especially when Sanchez then unintentionally walked the next two batters. Marc Rzepczynski was next and he too had trouble, allowing two more runs to score. Going into the top of the ninth, the Cardinals trailed 6-2. Then the fun began — at the expense of Marlins closer Heath Bell. Rafael Furcal walked to lead off the inning, moved up on a Matt Holliday double and scored on a Carlos Beltran single. After a sacrifice fly by Allen Craig scored Holliday to make it 6-4, Yadier Molinahit a two-run homer with two out to tie the game. Then came the bottom of the ninth …
It started out fine, with Sam Freeman getting a strikeout. It’s only when Matheny removed him from the game for Victor Marte that things got weird. There was a double switch, with David Freese leaving the game also and Tyler Greene entering. Marte was supposed to replace Freese in the batting order. But that’s not what Ozzie Guillen thought. He had a discussion with umpire Bob Davidson, followed by Matheny also have a discussion with Davidson. And then Allen Craig was leaving the game, looking thoroughly confused, and Tony Cruz was playing first base. It wasn’t until after the game that the whole situation became clear — Davidson mixed up the lineup changes, and admitted it. (Fox Sports Midwest had the audio.) The inning ended without incident, so it was on to the 10th. A Greene single and Furcal double put the Cards up 7-6. And, since there were no position players left, Joe Kelly pinch-hit. Choosing him was very smart, as he legged out a run-scoring infield single to make it 8-6 Cards. That extra run was needed too, as Jason Mottegave up a run in the bottom of the inning. Final score: 8-7.
Tuesday night was much less drama and entertainment, but still another win. The Cardinals scored all five of their runs in the first inning off Carlos Zambrano, with three coming from a Yadi home run. And while most of the Cards hitting also came that inning, Kyle Lohse allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings, and Mitchell Boggsand Jason Motte shut down the Marlins for the 5-2 win. It was the Cardinals fifth straight win, as they’d swept the Royals in Kansas City the previous weekend.
Wednesday night, Joe Kelly was back at it — but from the more familiar spot on the pitchers mound. He pitched well, allowing only two runs that were both the result of walks (his only walks of the game). Although he left with the score tied 2-2 after six innings, Tony Cruz led off the seventh inning with his first major league homer. And then, again, the bullpen. Fernando Salas allowed a one-out homer in the bottom of the seventh, before being lifted for Sam Freeman. And Freeman too allowed a homer. Victor Marte allowed three straight hits an inning later for the Marlins final run in their 5-3 win. Still, the Cardinals returned home having gone 6-3 on the road trip — definitely a plus.
After Thursday’s off day, the Pirates came to Busch Stadium for a weekend series. After four innings, the Cardinals led 5-2 thanks to Carlos Beltran’s 2,000th career hit (an RBI single) and Allen Craig homer. Yet Adam Wainwrightwas not effective, giving up three runs in the top of the fifth and back-to-back homers in the sixth. Eduardo Sanchez was next, and he was no better — he gave up the Pirates third homer of the inning before getting the final out. Fernando Salas retired the side in order in the seventh before getting into trouble in the eighth. He was replaced by Sam Freeman, who had more troubles and gave up two runs. Marc Rzepczynski struggled also. Final total: seven runs allowed by Wainwright, seven allowed by the bullpen as the Pirates won 14-5.
Saturday, those bullpen issues were addressed as Sanchez and Freeman were sent to Memphis and Maikel Cleto and Barret Browning were called up. Lance Lynn started the game. The now All-Star had a rough outing again, allowing six earned runs in five innings including a first inning grand slam. Browning made his major league debut, and it was very successful: two perfect innings. Cleto was in next, striking out the side. Yet the Cardinals scored only three runs on six hits for the day, losing the game 7-3.
Sunday, Lance Lynn received a surprise: he was named an All-Star, as were Carlos Beltran, Rafael Furcal and Yadier Molina. Beltran and Furcal were voted in as starters by the fans. Plus David Freese has the chance to join his teammates and retired manager Tony La Russa in Kansas City next week, as he’s one of five on the All-Star Final Vote ballot. (Voting is open through Thursday. Click here to vote or text N2 to 89269.) Yadi showed off his All-Star skills by homering in the first inning, which was followed by a two-run Allen Craig blast in the third. Yet Jake Westbrook had a rough inning, allowing two singles, a double and a homer in the fourth to put the Pirates up 4-3. Matt Holliday tied it with a fifth-inning double, which was followed by a Shane Robinson single to give the Cards a 5-4 lead. And Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte kept the Pirates from scoring as the Cards won 5-4.
A LOOK AHEAD (Daniel, C70 At The Bat)
The Cards continue their first-half ending homestand by hosting the Colorado Rockies for four and the Miami Marlins for three.
The Rockies come in struggling, 18 games under .500 and a pitching staff that is in disarray. Troy Tulowitzki is out and the offense, while still featuring the talents of Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer, is not the potent force that it has been in years past. It’s been a long season already for Colorado and the Cards hope to continue their misery. (They were able to do so in game one of the set, winning 9-3 behind strong pitching from Kyle Lohse and two longballs from Allen Craig.)
St. Louis finished up the first half with the Marlins, whom they just took two of three from in Miami. The Marlins are scuffling, closer to last to first and under .500 as the week starts. The Cardinals, however, have played better on the road than at home, so it remains to see if the success they had in Miami will translate to Busch Stadium.
PITCHING MATCHUPS (Daniel, C70 At The Bat)
Monday vs. Rockies: Josh Outman vs. Kyle Lohse (Cards win 9-3)
Tuesday vs. Rockies: Jeff Francis (1-1, 5.47) vs. Joe Kelly (1-0, 3.38)
Wednesday vs. Rockies: Jeremy Guthrie (3-7, 6.56) vs. Adam Wainwright (6-8, 4.75)
Thursday vs. Rockies: Christian Friedrich (4-5, 5.52) vs. Lance Lynn (10-4, 3.62)
Friday vs. Marlins: Ricky Nolasco (7-6, 4.62) vs. Jake Westbrook (7-6, 3.91)
Saturday vs. Marlins: Carlos Zambrano (4-6, 4.14) vs. Lohse (8-2, 2.80)
Sunday vs. Marlins: Anibal Sanchez (4-6, 3.94) vs. Kelly
Best bet: Well, obviously there are no intriguing pairings with the Rockies in town, so you’ll have to wait until this weekend to get to a pitching matchup. The entire Marlins series has potential, but Saturday’s matchup of Zambrano and Lohse may be the best. Zambrano gave up five runs in the first when the Cards faced him last week, but that was in part due to his own error and he didn’t allow another person across the plate. Lohse has regained his early season form and could have his numbers put up against Johnny Cueto‘s without too much of a downgrade, but you don’t see him griping about not going to the All-Star Game…..
TWEETS OF THE WEEK (Tara, Aaron Miles’ Fastball)
We’ve seen some positives this month, and those are much more fun than than the negatives. So, let’s go all-positive in this week’s Tweets of the Week!
- Back n my home state of Michigan. How I’ve missed u. Those first 6 months of my life we great. Oh the memories. —@JMotte30 [Oh, the beautiful memories of, um, infancy? Love a guy with a good sense of humor.]
- Sweeeeeeeppp!!! — @MattCarp13 [One word. Seven “E’s.” Case closed.]
- That was the clutchiest steal of second base in the history of clutch. — @PitchersHit8th [It takes a lot to be credited with “Clutch” status. So, when it happens, we better savor it!]
Now for some #babybird action:
@Xavier_Scruggs: Florida swaggin http://instagr.am/p/ MYxJ9-ODNP/” you got absolutely no swag!!! #swagless #confused — @KoltenWong [It all comes down to the hashtags. #owned]
- My handmade curtain. Gonna be much cooler now! http://instagr.am/p/
MbESDEF3Yf/— @CaseYRasmuS [Minor league living arrangements. Major league craftiness.]
And then, there’s this. Thank you, Matt Sebek.
DOWN ON THE FARM (Tom, CardinalsGM)
Some notable things took place this week for the Cardinals.
- Oscar Taveras (Spfld) was named Double-A All Star Game MVP
- Carlos Martinez won his first game at the Triple-A level.
- Memphis went 4-3 this week and scored 20 runs on Saturday.
- Adron Chambers (AAA) went 5-for-6 in the 20-6 blowout.
- Springfield (AA) has won 5 games this week.
- Kolten Wong (AA) went 4-for-4 and upped his average to .310
- Palm Beach (Adv-A) won 3 games and lost 4 in the past week.
- Sam Gaviglio (A) pitched 7 innings of shutout baseball and Heath Wyatt recorded his 12th save.
- Batavia Muckdogs went 3-4 in the New York Penn League.
- Breyvic Valera (Rookie) went 4-for-5 in a win for Batavia.
- Jeremy Schafer hit 2 doubles in a win for Johnson City.
Let’s look at affiliate leaders to date:
- ERA- Victor DeLeon 1.82
- Wins- John Gast 9
- SO- Shelby Miller 81
- Saves- Keith Butler 15
- Hits- Oscar Taveras 93
- HR- Colin Walsh 16 Oscar Taveras 16
- Ave- Ildemaro Vargas .364
THIS WEEK’S PODCASTS
This week’s scheduled UCB Radio Hour host: Bill Ivie