Game Recap: Cards lose 3-2 to Brewers in Extras

The Bottom Line: Lance Lynn (15-9, 2.68) pitched a phenomenal game as he went 8 innings, surrendering just one run on 5 hits.  The Cards got on the board early with a bases-loaded walk from Matt Adams and a run scoring on a double play in the first inning.  But this was all the Cards would score for the entire game.  Lynn gave up a solo home run to Gerardo Parra in the fourth.  Lynn was in line for his 16th victory until Trevor Rosenthal blew his sixth save opportunity as the Brewers put the game in extras with a sacrifice fly.  The Brewers would bring across a run in the top of the 12th off Kevin Siegrist; it would go on to be the winning run.

Solidifying the Bullpen: The Cards have had excellent pitching over the last month.  The starting pitching has been dominant and the bullpen has been good.  But tonight’s game shows us how the Cards are vulnerable to losing tight games.  The playoffs are typically filled with close games, often times only separated by one run.  The Cards need to get in the mindset of playoff baseball.  With the season coming to an end shortly, the Cards will be thrown into an environment where the bullpen is critical.  Rosenthal has been a solid closer this year, but he needs to be sure to be in peak form by October.  It is often said that defense wins championships.  In baseball, so do bullpens.

Trevor Rosenthal

Trevor Rosenthal

 

What’s Next?: Adam Wainwright (18-9, 2.56) takes on Mike Fiers (6-2, 1.84) at Busch Stadium on Wednesday.

Game Preview: Brewers at Cardinals (9/16/14)

This series may be the last chance for the Milwaukee Brewers to salvage any hope of regaining the high ground in the NL central. As the first place Cardinals and third place Brewers take hacks at each other this series, the Pittsburgh Pirates (having won 8 of their last 10), sandwiched at second place will try to not only reinforce their hold on the second wild-card spot but also make a reach for the division.

The Pitching Matchup: Lance Lynn‘s (15-9, 2.73 ERA) last outing, at Cincinnati, was possibly his best of the year. He pitched a phenomenal complete game, allowing just three hits and one run. Unfortunately, he was slapped with the loss, as one run was all the Reds needed to shut out the Redbirds with Johnny Cueto at the mound, who also just allowed three hits.

Wily Peralta (16-10, 3.75 ERA) allowed just 1 run in 6 2/3 innings in his last outing. This quality start was a morale booster for Peralta, who in his previous 3 starts had only went an average of 4 2/3 innings, gave up 16 total earned runs, and was charged with the loss in each.

brewers_cardinals

The Skinny: If the Cards can provide run support and Lynn is feeling anywhere near as good as he was last time, then the Cardinals have a good chance of reducing their magic number by a game. However, judging by Peralta’s performance on the mound in his last start, he won’t simply let the Cards walk another away to a division berth. Although the Brewers held the lead in the NL Central for most of the season, they suffered a late-season collapse sit at third place; still, they are fighting hard to wrestle the second wild-card spot from Pittsburgh.

Game Recap: Cards Complete Sweep of Colorado With 1-4 Victory

The Bottom Line: The Rockies struck first, plating one in the 2nd, but the Cardinals countered with three runs in the 3rd; Matt Holliday hit an RBI double was then driven in on Jhonny Peralta‘s 2-run homer, his 21st of the season. Peralta is second among Major League shortstops in home runs . St. Louis tagged on another run in the 8th when Yadier Molina came home on a wild pitch.

Rookie Marco Gonzales pitched 5 2/3 innings of one run ball, earning the win, his third in as many decisions. Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 43rd save, touching 100 mph and striking out the side. Rosenthal now is one save away from the NL lead. The Cardinals are 23-2 when Rosenthal comes into a game.

rockies_cardinals

What’s Next: Lance Lynn (15-9, 2.73 ERA), who pitched a stellar 3-hit complete game loss in his last start faces Wily Peralta (16-10, 3.75 ERA) and the Brewers who are treading water to regain the second wild card spot after holding the lead in the NL Central for most of the season.

Game Preview: Rox v. Cards (9/15/14)

The Cards look to sweep the Rockies before a day off and a series against the Brewers next week.

Pitching Matchup: Marco Gonzales (2-2, 5.01) returns to the starting rotation after Mike Matheny announced that Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.14) is sitting out for precautionary reasons after making two starts off the DL.  Gonzales’ last start came on August 30th against the Cubs where he went six innings, giving up one run on three hits.  He got the win that day as the Cards put 13 runs on the board.  He has pitched twice since then: once against the Brewers where he came in after a short outing from Wacha and picked up the win, and the other against the Reds where he came in and pitched a scoreless inning.

Marco Gonzales

Marco Gonzales

Jordan Lyles (6-2, 4.20) takes the mound for Rockies as he looks to replicate the solid outing he had against the Mets in his last start.  He gave up one run on three hits in six innings.  Lyles has received a no-decision in eight of his last 10 starts.

The Skinny: The Cards could really use a sweep of the Rockies as there are only 13 games remaining in the regular season.  They have a 3.5 game lead over the Pirates and a 5 game lead over the Reds.  This game is a great opportunity for Marco Gonzales to get more innings before the postseason; he may be an overlooked factor in Cards’ playoff baseball.

 

 

Game Recap: (9/13/14) Cardinals Beat Rockies in a Close 5-4 Win

The Bottom Line:

  • The Cardinals take a 2-0 lead in the series with the Colorado Rockies in a 5-4 win. The Cardinals went up a game on the Pirates as they lost to the Cubs. The Cardinals now hold a 3.5 game lead.
  • Shelby Miller had another strong September start tonight. He gave up 1 earned run on 5 hits over 6 innings and was credited with the win. He had 5 strikeouts and did not walk any batters. This marks Miller’s second straight start issuing no walks. Miller’s command has been very good his last few starts and nothing changed tonight.  He also helped his own cause, driving in Pete Kozma on a second inning double. Miller’s resurgent efficiency on the mound is promising given the Cardinals push to stay atop the NL Central.
  • Matt Holliday stayed hot tonight, going 1 for 2 while hitting his second consecutive homerun and also drawing 2 walks.  Matt Carpenter then followed Shelby Miller’s RBI double in the second with a homerun of his own, scoring both Miller and himself.
  • It was an anxious top of the ninth, as relievers Sam Freeman and Pat Neshek cut it close allowing the Rockies to put up 3 runs to make it a 5-4 game. Neshek eventually got pinch hitter Rafael Ynoa to fly out to center for the final out.
  • The Cardinals came out swinging, knocking Rockies starting pitcher Franklin Morales out after 4.0 innings pitched.  The Cardinals ended the day with 9 hits.

Food for Thought: Had the Cardinals pitchers not faltered in the ninth inning, this game would have been the fifth time in the last 7 games that the Cardinals held their opponents to one run or less.  This Cardinals starters are doing their part to make their team division champions.  The wins also marks a season high win streak of 7 games for the Cardinals.

What’s Next: The Cardinals take on the Rockies for the final game of the series tomorrow as Marco Gonzales (2-2, 5.01 ERA) will take on Jordan Lyles (6-2, 4.20 ERA). First pitch will be at 1:15 PM CST and can be seen on Fox.

Preview: Rockies at Cardinals (9/13/14)

The Cardinals look to bring another dominant performance against the Colorado Rockies tonight at 6:15 CST.

The Pitching Matchup: Shelby Miller (9-9, 3.83 ERA) looked sharp in his last two trips to the mound going 7.0 innings  and giving up 0 runs on 3 hits in each start.  Miller has a 0.83 ERA in his last three starts and has held opposing batters to a .143 average over that same timespan. If Miller can keep the walks to a minimum, we’ll be looking at another fine start from the resurgent starting pitcher.

Franklin Morales (6-7, 5.21 ERA) has averaged 5.2 innings pitched over his last 5 starts and has looked shaky as a starter in the Rockies rotation.  However, he did pitch 6 scoreless innings in last Sunday’s 6-0 win over the Padres.  The Cardinals will need to come out swinging tonight.

The Skinny: Shelby Miller has looked the sharpest he has been all season in his last couple starts.  If Miller can maintain his strong presence on the mound going forward, it seems that the Cardinals will be heading into October with a formidable rotation.

Game Recap: (9/12/14) Cardinals Beat Rockies 5-1 With a Dominant Outing From Wainwright

The Bottom Line:

  • The Cardinals take the first game of the series with the Colorado Rockies in a dominant 5-1 win. The Cardinals maintain a 2.5 game lead on the Pirates who also won earlier tonight.
  • Adam Wainwright kept his September success rolling tonight. He gave up 1 earned run on 6 hits over 8 innings for his third win of the month. He had 0 walks and 8 strikeouts including retiring his last 16 batters. Wainwright seems to have bounced back from a shaky August showing of a 5.17 era to bring another much-needed dominant outing. With the Cardinals in the final stretch of the season, it’s nice to see their ace coming back around.
  • Matt Holliday was in the zone tonight, driving in 3 RBI’s and scoring twice while going 2 for 4 with a monster homerun.  Holliday seemed to be in a slump following his naming of NL player of the week a little over a week ago.  However, he broke out today acting as the dominant offensive force in the Cardinals lineup as he was clearly in the zone while covering all parts of the plate.
  • While Holliday provided most of the offense for the Cardinals, Johnny Peralta also looked comfortable at the plate driving in 1 run on a well hit single in the third inning.  Yadier Molina then padded the Cardinals 3 run lead with a two out insurance RBI in the eighth.
  • Trevor Rosenthal—vying for the Cardinals single season saves record of 47 as he now sits with 43—shut down the Rockies in the ninth, although it wasn’t a save situation.  Molina’s eigth inning RBI pushed the game out of a save situation, however Rosenthal’s command was still very strong, bringing the game to a quick close.  While he did give up two hits, it is important to note that they were both well placed infield hits and it seemed that the Rockies weren’t able to key in on his 98 mph fastball and devastating curveball.
  • While the Cardinals only had 5 hits on the day, they made them all count.  Rockies starting pitcher Jorge de la Rosa had a decent showing giving up 4 runs (3 earned) over 6.0 innings, however the Cardinals’ situational hitting and ability to take advantage of runners in scoring position gave them the upper hand through the entirety of the game.

Wainwright

What’s Next: The Cardinals take on the Rockies again tomorrow night where Shelby Miller (9-9, 3.83 ERA) will take on Franklin Morales (6-7, 5.31 ERA). First pitch will be at 6:15 PM CST and can be seen on Fox.

Preview: Rockies at Cardinals (9/12/14)

After dropping three in a row to Cincinnati, Cards hope their ace can turn them around.

The Pitching Matching: Adam Wainwright (17-9, 2.62 ERA) struggled throughout August with 5.17 ERA and a 2-4 record in six outings. However, he seems to have returned to his normal form, winning his first two starts of September. He pitched an absolute gem on Sunday, limiting Milwaukee to one run and pitching his fourth complete game of the season.

Jorge de la Rosa (13-10, 4.27 ERA) is 2-4 in his last seven starts.  In his past three starts, he has been unable to go deeper than six innings.

Adam+Wainwright+Cincinnati+Reds+v+St+Louis+dvXM2FMHL-ll

The Skinny: Hopefully Wainwright is feeling comfortable on the mound again and can chug out another stellar start. This will be De la Rosa’s second start after he signed a 2 year/$25 million contract extension.

Polar Opposites: Rockies v. Cards

Something is a little off whenever you go to a Colorado Rockies game on a beautiful summer night in Denver.  It is hard to articulate, but you know that the atmosphere at Coors Field is no where near that of Busch Stadium.  Busch Stadium is filled with excitement and anticipation before a game — a sea of people dressed in red engulf the stadium as you can literally feel the energy bouncing off the walls. Coors Field feels more like going to watch the symphony — people are looking to be entertained for the night, caring as much for the beer as they are for the Rockies.  What has caused these stark differences in attitude and environment? How can two teams in the National league have such a different atmosphere and culture?

I had never thought about these questions until I moved to Colorado eight years ago and was suddenly in a city where there is a Major League team.  I had been to Cards’ games before, due to my dad’s loyal following of the Cards (Living in Louisiana at the time, with no baseball team, I had also decided to become a Cards’ fan). The excitement and thrill that comes with games at Busch Stadium was all I had ever experienced before.  So when I attended my first Rockies game (against the Cards) at Coors Field, I was taken aback.

It started with what the people were wearing.  Instead of seeing a stadium filled with purple and black as I had expected, I saw a mix of various colors that all seemed to blend together.  In fact, I saw just as many people wearing Cardinals’ apparel as I did people wearing apparel Rockies’ apparel (including myself).

Coors Field

Coors Field

 

The next problem I noticed was the lack of spectating and cheering.  Many people were just as entertained looking at the games on the big screen between innings as they were watching the actual baseball game.  The beer tabs piled up as Rockies fans viewed the game as a good time to get drunk and yell profanities directed at their own team.

Come seventh inning stretch time, the anticipated, “Root root root for the Rockies”, became an incoherent jumble of different teams’ names.  What the heck is going on? I thought, Where is the passion for the home team?

I now realize that the lack of a solid fan base is a result of many factors.  Firstly, the Rockies are a very young franchise. They have only been around since 1993.  The Cards, as an organization, had been around 101 years before the Rockies. This history is a big part of how the Cards were able to build such a loyal and strong fan base over time.  The Rockies will never be able to replicate the history that the Cardinals have.

The next issue lies within the city of Denver as a sports bubble.  Denver is a football town through and through.  Ask anyone in Denver who his/her favorite sports team is, and the answer will almost always be the Broncos.  This is not the case in St. Louis, where the Rams are more of an afterthought to the Cards.  Denver also has the Nuggets and Avalanche (and Rapids and Mammoth for you soccer and lacrosse fans out there), all of whom have been increasing their fan bases and attracting more viewers.  This is a tough place for the Rockies to compete for the love of the people of Denver.  With many other successful teams to watch, the Rockies simply have not been performing at the level necessary to garner vast attention.

Finally, the Rockies front office is struggling to find solid players for fans to rally behind.  Yes, we have our Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, but beyond that, the Rockies are comprised of a bunch of no name players who are either brand new to The Show or are on the brink of retirement.  The lack of success for the Rockies (with the only exception being 2007 where they made it to the World Series) has caused the owners to try to compensate in other areas.

For example, the Rockies recently tore down part of their upper deck in right field to build an area called “The Rooftop” where new bars and restaurants are located, in hopes of attracting a younger crowd to the games.  While great in theory, The Rooftop has created an environment where people eat and drink while socializing with each other as the game is going on in the background.  If this ever were to happen in Busch Stadium, fans would be furious! In Denver, it is the norm.

The Rooftop

The Rooftop

 

Such an atmosphere in Denver makes me really appreciate what the Cards have done here in St. Louis over the last century.  Not only have they produced talented teams that compete for the World Series often, but they have created a fan base that is going to remain loyal through anything.  The Cards are a priority in St. Louis; fans are willing to drive over an hour to see a game (such as my dad did when he was a kid).  The Rockies are simply a way to kill time.  The Cards have a magic about them that the Rockies will most likely never create.

Game Recap: (9/11/14) Cardinals Shutout by Reds in Pitching Duel, 1-0

The Bottom Line: Pitching connoisseurs could not have asked for a better matchup than what we saw Thursday. Johnny Cueto walked and hit the first two batters, respectively in the first inning and then surrendered two consecutive hits in the second inning and started off the third with another hit, but then retired every batter batter he faced until he relieved in the ninth.

Lance Lynn surrendered only three hits in a very tough, complete game loss that he did not deserve. Lynn had possibly his best outing of the season, striking out six across eight innings, only to be bested by an equally stellar Johnny Cueto outing. In the bottom of the eighth, Ramon Santiago drove in the only run of the game

What’s Next: On Friday September 13, Adam Wainwright (17-9, 2.62 ERA) faces Jorge de la Rosa (13-10, 4.27 ERA) and the visiting Colorado Rockies. Wainwright pitched a complete game on Sunday, not allowing a single run until the 9th inning. Hopefully this is a sign that he has escaped his August funk and ready to lead the staff through another October.