The Cardinals and Jason Motte and momentum

The more I think about it the more I'm convinced that a lot of the old-sportswriter tropes we laugh about now, or at least wonder about now, come from the real need to understand just how schizophrenic a sport baseball is. The Cardinals lost the last two games by a combined score of 27-8; their bullpen allowed 17 earned runs in six innings.

Football teams who play like that across two consecutive games are apt to finish 1-15 and draft Sam Bradford. Baseball teams who play like that across two consecutive games are apt to put up seven runs in two innings and run away with game three of the series. 

So Chris Carpenter is a Stopper, a guy who can diminish two days' worth of momentum, which has to exist, I mean, because why wouldn't it exist, by sheer force of will. He's a gamer, because he didn't always look great but ended up with a suitably outstanding night of run-prevention. 

Aaron Miles does all the little things right because he doesn't do any big things right, and because when you watch him play it looks like he isn't doing much at all, but he's on the roster and a manager who is legitimately great keeps playing him, so he has to have something to do with their occasionally bewildering success, right?

Albert Pujols—okay, that one's easy to figure out. As of yesterday afternoon Albert's second half wasn't as scintillating as I'd hoped or expected, but such is 20 games; the double and the home run added 50 points to his post-break slugging percentage, pushing it to a shade under .550. My money's on it going higher.

After the jump, more injuries still—clicking on it exposes you to a 15% chance of instantaneous oblique strain.

I like Freese a lot, I was hoping Ludwick would stay healthy the entire year, and I knew the Cardinals could hardly afford to miss Penny and Lohse for significant amounts of time, but Jason Motte going on the DL with a not-as-serious-as-the-usual-shoulder-injury shoulder injury hits closest to home. At Get Up Baby I was one of the first people on the Motte bandwagon, and all last year I waited for him to turn his season around; in 2010 he finally seemed to be doing it. 

In the end his peripherals only look a shade better than they did in 2009—mainly his home run rate fell down to mere-mortal levels, and his control got a little finer. But that's the eight mortal innings in the second half bringing him (and me) down—until he gets back to further wreck them I'll remember the first half stats, where he struck out 38 batters against 12 walks in 35 innings. 

One thing we got out of it: a sterling example of Motte's not-publicized-enough tendency to sound like a self-help guru in post-game interviews—though not as well as Rich Hill once could:

"I was a little bit lower," Motte said. "I think it was one of those things I think my mind was telling my arm we're not going to do it right now. We went and got it checked out. Everything is fine right now."

Fernando Salas, who might finally get to spend more than a week and a half with Major League meal money, is another long-time prospect hound favorite, which is always fun, but despite his perfectly reasonable start to his MLB career I remain a little worried about his stuff.

His fastball wouldn't impress if it were coming from P.J. Walters, and his changeup is great but it's not exactly one of those minor league reliever trick pitches. Command isn't one something you can eyeball, so I'm not about to write him off, but his AAA numbers to date don't strike me as anything Blake Hawksworth couldn't do given two months as the Memphis closer.

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