There once was a man we call Miller
And today, his fastball was killer
He allowed just three hits
With the help of Cards mitts
And the Redbirds won in a thriller
Lots of good stuff to talk about today, folks. The bats were working, the defense looked great, and Shelby Miller was the pitcher we've been hoping he could be for a long time. The offense started out slow, though Miller was on from the beginning of the game. His fastball velocity was up - hitting 93-96 consistently and even into the late innings. He was hitting his spots - for the most part - and threw a handful of really good-looking breaking balls. Perhaps most impressive, he had a no-hitter going against the first place, offensive powerhouse Blue Jays through 5 2/3 innings. Stellar defense by Allen Craig and Peter Bourjos in the 5th inning kept the Jays hitless, but Jose Reyes ultimately broke up the no-no with a base hit in the bottom of the 6th. Shelby also gave up a double to Cabrera that inning on a ball that bounced off Craig's outstretched glove. Because Shelby was a different pitcher today, he came back to strike out Bautista to end the inning and stranded the runners at second and third. Miller allowed only one more hit - by Cabrera - and finished the day with this lovely line: 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 Ks.
The offense was frustrating at the beginning, seemingly unable to capitalize on the FIVE walks Buehrle dealt over seven innings. Despite several baserunners, the Cardinals did not score until the top of the 5th inning, when Randal Grichuk hit a huge home run to straightaway center field to give them a 1-0 lead. It was his first career home run. Congrats to Mr. Grichuk!
The Cardinals had baserunners in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, but could not manage to get a run home, other than the solo shot from Grichuk. Finally, FINALLY, they got things going in the 8th. Craig started the rally with a double to right field over Bautista's head, who was playing awfully shallow (actually, it seems the whole Toronto OF has been playing shallow pretty regularly this series). An intentional walk to Peralta and a base hit by Taveras loaded the bases with one out. Ellis walked in a run, Tony Cruz had a two-run base hit, Carpenter walked, Grichuk walked to score Ellis, and the Cards finished the inning, and the game, up 5-0.
1. Molina did not start today, and Matheny made it clear that Molina needed a mental break and would not be used at all in the game. From Derrick Goold:
"I don't think it's a physical thing," Matheny said. "I think he's just beat down like a lot of guys are with the fact that we're not playing how we should play, how we want to play, and how he wants to play. It's more of a frustration that is overbearing and overwhelming. When you want to win so badly, you want to do your part so badly, and none of it is working."
I admit that I was initially annoyed not to see Yadi in the lineup. He DH'd yesterday and Miller seems to be the pitcher on this staff most in need of Yadi's guidance. And the Cardinals needed a win badly. However, Yadi has looked really...distressed at the plate over the last few days. He's 2 for his last 21 and has been visibly airing his frustrations on the field - slamming helmets and the like. It's a long season, and we're only in the first week of June. I believe that sometimes players do need a mental day to regroup, and I will give props to Matheny for recognizing that. It's not an easy decision to sit your MVP-caliber catcher, and you know Yadi wasn't asking for a day off. Let's hope the break rejuvenates him.
2. ALL OF TEH LOBSTERS. The Cardinals drew nine walks today. Nine. While they did score on four of those in the 8th inning, it doesn't make the five before that any less frustrating. Not only did they have baserunners in every inning but the first, but they also had the leadoff hitter on four times. Not a single one of those leadoff baserunners came around to score. It was heartening, at least, to see the Cardinals draw walks and get on base, but stranding 11 runners is enough to drive you crazy.
3. Tomorrow's game starts at 12:07 CT. Jaime Garcia will take the mound against RHP Drew Hutchison. Expect to see Jon Jay back in the lineup, and, sadly, Daniel Descalso. No news on Wong's shoulder, but Langosch tweeted yesterday that he is likely out for the series.
I'm always happier when I get to recap a Cardinals victory. Have a great weekend, VEB.