As the Cardinal organization celebrated its rich past by revealing the inaugural four members of its team Hall of Fame, the current team scored a big victory over the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The win closed out April by pulling the season series between the teams even, while putting the birds back over .500.
A Jon Jay double (1 of 3 hits on the day for him) was followed by a Matt Holliday RBI single in the 1st inning. Shelby Miller gave up the lead in the 2nd inning when Mark Reynolds homered with Khris Davis on base (video). Another homer, this time by Carlos Gomez, extended the Brewers' lead to 3-1 in the 3rd inning (video). In the bottom of that inning, with Jon Jay and Matt Holliday on base, Matt Adams crushed a knee-high curve into the left-center stands (video). From that point on, the Cardinals piled on with notable contributions from Allen Craig (4 for 5 with a (homer) and a pair of doubles), a double by Shelby Miller plating Greg Garcia after his first career hit, and (this hit) by Jon Jay which cleaved Scooter Gennett, much to my delight.
- Matt Garza bruised his thumb batting in the 4th and left after giving up a walk the following inning.
- Each starter was hit on the derriere with a come-backer early in the game. The ball off of Shelby shifted softly to short-stop Jhonny Peralta, who was able to throw out the runner. The butt ball off of Garza ended up in the outfield and went as a hit. Perhaps Shelby needs to work on his glutes.
- Backup catcher and 1B Martin Maldonado pitched the 8th for the Brewers and allowed just a single among several hard-hit balls.
- Allen Craig is still in pain or has no confidence in his speed. He declined to tag up from 2nd to 3rd on a long fly to right with no prior outs when the outcome of game was still very much in question.
- In a move that Mike Matheny should patent, Shelby Miller batted for himself in the bottom of the 6th and then was pulled in the 7th after just a lone batter.
- Randy Choate and Eric Fornataro handled mop-up duties.
Well. I last wrote about a Shelby Miller game here. Including that day, he's 3-0 over his last 4 outings, allowing just 4 total runs over 23 innings. I think it'd be easy to get the impression that Miller has turned a corner and is well on his way back from last year's second-half struggles, but as optimistic as I am about the team in general, I am not at all convinced that Shelby is actually pitching that well.
While he managed to keep teams off the scoreboard in his last 2 outings, he was all over the place location-wise. Today his control was better, but his command still was suspect, with a number of pitches right down the heart of the plate. Each of the homers was on a pitch that missed an outside corner and low target and was left in the batter's wheelhouse. A bad offense (with Ramirez, Braun, and Segura out) made a lot of hard contact today.
Furthermore, the improved overall control came at the cost of some velocity. Miller's fastball averaged just 93.7 mph today, down from 94.78, 95.17, and 94.96 his last 3 outings. I see a guy who has middling secondary pitches, can't harness his fastball when its velocity is at its best, and doesn't have the pinpoint location to get outs with it when its not hopping as much.
This doesn't mean he can't improve from where he is, but right now I think he's a mediocre major league starter. I'd love to be wrong. Prove me wrong, Shelby.
A question for discussion: 1 up, 1 down
Who are the 2 players you think most differently about now than a month ago. Has anyone's play over April changed what you thought they'd be able to do in 2014? My 1 up is Jhonny Peralta. I liked him before, but I love how he's swinging the bat. All those hard hit balls are going to start resulting in more hits, and I think he's going to be lot closer to 2013 Jhonny than 2012. My 1 down was discussed in the prior section (prove me wrong, Shelby!).
The Cardinals have an off-day tomorrow before heading to Chicago to start 9 more away games. At the end of that stretch, they will have played 26 away games to just 12 at home.