The Cardinals picked up the win yesterday in what felt like a poorly played game especially in the late innings. Colby Rasmus had what can only be described as a terrible day combining some terrible throws with three strikeouts. Looking over gameday, he was fooled by a couple sliders but for the most part it looks like the ump had the zone about right. It was just one of those days for Rasmus. The poor throw narrative seems to be taking on a nasty life of it's own. There shouldn't be much concern about the arm that once made him a top flight high school pitcher and long earned glowing reviews in the minors. It's simply an aspect of the game in the majors that either has fully developed or we've seen a smattering of negative anecdotal evidence. Either way, not a long term concern.Not long after offering Blake Hawksworth some praise, he proceeds to lose command walking a batter and allowing a hit. Both baserunners would come around to score. I'd say he was overly reliant on the fastball in the game and I wonder if he was feeling comfortable with the changeup. Either way, it showcases the concerns that I've had with Hawksworth the reliever -- if his command of his changeup is off, things seem not to end well. His other secondary pitches aren't great and the fastball by itself is .... well, not ideal.
Dennys Reyes offered little in the way of help which set the stage for Ryan Franklin to be the hero of the game. Give LaRussa credit for calling in what he perceives as his best pitcher prior to the 9th. That's the way it should be done. Franklin would proceed to retire all four batters he faced and strike out two of them.
Lost in the late game ups and downs is just how fantastic Kyle Lohse was. 7 innings, 8 strikeouts, 5 hits and 1 ER. The strike zone seemed a little liberal early in the game but Lohse's command and control were much improved than what we've seen in recent weeks. He did a nice job of getting inside on the Reds hitters but for me the key was the superb job of mixing pitches. Switching from fastball to slider was a recipe for success yesterday.
The only other thing I want to touch on from yesterday's game is the continued mileage that Dusty Baker places on young pitcher's arms. Obviously Dusty is doing something right in the dugout. He's managed some excellent teams and has been hired by three different front offices. He's often referred to as a player's manager. That said, letting Homer Bailey pitch to Pujols and get bit on pitch 121 is negligent. Bailey is still a young pitcher with relatively little big league success. The logic behind leaving him in there at that point escapes me. Bailey's command deteriorated as the game went on forcing him to grove some pitches and when he went back to the fastball well one last time, it was dry. It's poor managing but even more perplexing is that it seems Baker is incapable of learning how to prevent this problem or break the habit. I just don't get it.
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The Cardinals will send Chris Carpenter to the mound to face Aaron Harang. Harang has been terrible this year getting hit hard and giving up a lot of HRs. Some of that is bad luck (his HR/FB% is 20; a normal rate is 10%) but he doesn't seem to have found his pitches to date. Harang has been an under appreciated pitcher in the past posting 4+ WAR seasons from 2005-2007 but he's not that pitcher anymore.
Chris Carpenter is well, healthy, and it seems that whenever he's healthy, he's really good. Outside of the atrocious Milwaukee start, Carpenter has posted 4 quality starts. He's got a 3:1 strikeout to walk rate and a fluky homerun rate that's sure to come down. The only tidbit that worries me is his fastball is coming in about 2 miles slower than last year. It's early in the season so he may not be at full arm strength but that's what I'll be keeping and eye on moving forward. Carpenter has the assortment of pitches to be useful without a fastball but a dominant Chris Carpenter features a heavy, hard fastball.
Game time is 1:15 CDT on Channel 5 KSDK locally.
|Chris Carpenter||Aaron Harang
|3.38 ERA||7.16 ERA|
|4.25 FIP||5.48 FIP
|3.30 xFIP||4.14 xFIP