Recap 4/19: Cardinals lead Nationals early, hold on to win 4-3

This is Matt Adams tagging up from first base. Yeah, that happened. - Mitchell Layton

Lance Lynn survives a lefty-heavy lineup to put in a perfectly decent outing. The Cardinals score four thanks to poor Nationals defense yet again.

Lance Lynn's struggles against lefties have not gone unnoticed across the league.  Joey Votto and Jay Bruce destroyed Lynn in two starts, almost single-handedly providing all the Reds' offense.  (So just like every other game for the Reds).  The Brewers put in the three lefties they had on their roster, but luckily those guys were not very good.  Today, the Nationals had five lefties face Lynn, two of which were switch hitters.

The results were undoubtedly positive, although it's not as if the Lynn of yore disappeared.  Lefties today went .182/.308/.455 compared to his career line of .263/.373/.436.  Against Lynn, lefties struck out once, hit four ground balls, hit five fly balls, and walked twice.  One of the ground balls went for a single and one of the fly balls went for a home run.  One of free bases was unfortunately given to Sandy Leon, who hit .177 in AA last year (his last full season in the minors).  Overall, he actually pitched better against left-handed batters than against right-handed batters.  (Right-handed batters who weren't the pitcher went 3-8 with a BB)

Lynn did not actually pitch better than the man who picked up the loss for the afternoon.  Jordan Zimmerman mostly shut down the Cards all evening with one earned run through seven innings.  In fact, in the 1st inning, I'm not sure I've seen a worse offensive performance yet this year.  Matt Carpenter struck out (albeit with a questionable strike call involved), Jon Jay hit a weak ground ball out, and Matt Holliday just looked silly swinging and missing three times.  He was locating and dominating.

But he ran into a bit of bad luck in the next inning.  He walked Allen Craig on a perhaps questionable pitch.  Then Anthony Rendon botched a surefire double play with a wide throw to 2nd.  With two outs, Tony Cruz and Lance Lynn hit good pitches that flared over the infield for hits.  At the end, the damage to the scoreboard was 3-0.

The game went uneventfully enough for the next three innings with a home run for the Nationals being the only run scored for either team.  In the 6th, Lance Lynn had a rough inning with spotty command at best.  Bryce Harper led off with a weak, slow roller to Lynn that he was evidently benched for not running out despite a quad injury.  Jayson Werth hit a line drive single to start the potential rally that was not to be.  Then Lynn went 3-0 in the count to the next three hitters, sandwiching a strikeout with two walks.  Matheny had seen enough with a left-handed batter coming to the plate.  Kevin Siegrist replaced Lynn causing Danny Espinosa to fly out to center to end the inning with no runs having crossed the plate.

Fearing the Nationals would stop doing that thing where they get runners on and leave them on, the Cardinals added to their lead in the next half inning.  With two men on, Matt Holliday hit a line drive single scoring Mark Ellis, who had been double switched into the game for Kolten Wong (0-3).  Jon Jay, who had singled, got thrown out trying to make it to third.  It may have qualified as a TOOTBLAN because he shouldn't have tried to reach third base.

In the 8th Carlos Martinez allowed back-to-back doubles to shrink the Cards' leads.  Other than that though, he looked pretty good striking out two hitters in 1.1 IP.  I could not say the same about Trevor Rosenthal, who struggled.  He walked Zach Walters with one out and nobody on.  Then Span hit the ball right back at Rosenthal, and Rosenthal hesitated and then tried to throw out the guy at 2nd anyway for some reason.  This was not a good decision as the man was safe at second.  Then Rosenthal balked and with that the tying run was on second base with one out.  Thankfully, Kevin Frandsen grounded out (scoring Walters) and Rosenthal became Rosenthal for one batter at least striking out Werth on three straight 98+ fastballs.

Obligatory WPA graph


Source: FanGraphs

Notables

  • Jon Jay went 2-4 today; Bourjos went 0-1.  I'm not of the opinion that this should have swayed you one way or the other towards either player, but Dan McLaughlin certainly was.  He should be Jon Jay's agent.
  • Allen Craig walked twice.  He looked pretty good despite not getting a hit today with a flyout that was near the warning track.
  • Kevin Siegrist won player of the game today with 1 IP, which wasn't as stupid of a decision as you may think.  Nobody really had that great of a game - the two guys with two hits curiously enough made stupid decisions on the basepaths and Lynn was average.  Siegrist got out of a bases loaded jam and struck out two hitters.
  • If there's something to the Lynn-Cruz tandem being more successful, I would not point to this game as evidence.  He had 5 Ks, 3 BBs in 5.2 IP with one earned run (but kind of lucky to only have given up one)
  • I'm worried about Rosenthal, although he looked like 2013 Rosenthal against Werth.
  • Mike Matheny unquestionably out-managed Matt Williams.  Williams only really did one thing badly, but was it really bad.  He benched Bryce Harper after not running 90 feet on a pitch back to the pitcher.  Harper's spot came up to the plate in the 9th with 2nd and 3rd with one out.  His replacement, Fransden, did not come through  The play wasn't particularly close and Harper has had issues with injuries for going too hard.  So now he isn't going hard enough?  Make up your mind!
Tomorrow, Stephen Strasburg faces Shelby Miller at 12:35 CT.  Strasburg has a 6.00 ERA, but with a 2.52 xFIP so don't be fooled into thinking he's started slow.  Miller has undeniably started slow, but hopefully his last start is a sign of things to come.
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