Given the fact that Shelby Miller was starting and the Cardinals B lineup was playing, it's difficult to be surprised by what happened tonight. Miller has played with fire all season, striking out a below average amount of hitters while walking an above average amount of hitters and allowing nearly a home run per game. Despite that, he improbably had a 3.18 ERA - he's been so bad that even casual fans vaguely aware of advanced stats knew his ERA was really lucky.
Tonight was his FOURTH game where he struck out two hitters or less (He had just one). On top of that, he just had his fourth game where he walked two or less all season. That's right: out of 11 games, he has had seven games with three walks or more. On the "bright side" he managed to not allow a home run tonight. So he's got that going for him. That's about the only positive I can take from his performance. Hell, even the BABIP for the Yankees against him was .375, which is high but not that high when you give up seven runs without allowing a home run. Basically, this game was Miller's luck crashing down to earth (His LOB% fell from an insanely high 87.7% to a still high 80.6%)
Also, Miller's downfall was precipitated by a lefty-heavy lineup from the Yankees. Six of the batters were left-handed. Lance Lynn got all the attention for being less than good against lefties, but Miller is also pretty bad against lefties. For his career, righties hit .203/.275/.331 while lefties hit .261/.345/.424. The lefties tonight went 7-15 with two walks while Brendan Ryan and JR Murphy went 2-6 (ignoring the pitcher who was the other righty). The key difference between his performance between righties and lefties - much like Lynn - is walks and that held true tonight as well.
Despite that, this game kind of sucked for a simple reason: sequencing of hits. Nine of the 16 men to get on base for the Yankees got on base in two innings. Meanwhile the Cardinals had two baserunners in the 2nd (one from an error), three baserunners in the 3rd (one from an HBP), two in the 4th, two in the 5th, three in the 6th, one in the 7th, two in the 8th, and two in the 9th. It'd be really difficult to try and spread out your hits and walks/HBP more than what the Cardinals did.
This WPA graph really says it all. The game never really felt that close. It felt like the game was a couple hits away from being a close game, but unfortunately those hits never came. Unsurprisingly, Shelby Miller had the worst WPA for this game at -.338. Nobody came particularly close as the next lowest was Peter Bourjos, who went 0-4 (-.112). Hilariously, Daniel Descalso is next with -0.068. Lesson: Even when Descalso is good (2-5), he's bad. The player of the game was Yadier Molina with +.096
- Kolten Wong went 4-5 tonight with a double. He led off two innings with hits, hit an infield single, and did drive in one run.
- Bourjos was the only man to go hitless. On the bright side, he had no strikeouts! (And I genuinely mean that as a bright side unlike Miller) Granted, all of his balls in play were pretty weak except one lineout.
- Yadier Molina went 2-3 with two walks. Seriously when your #2 and #4 hitters get on base eight times, you should score more than four runs. (And Carpenter also got on base two times so that's 10 times from your three of your first four hitters)
- Miller's final line: 5 IP, 7 ER, K, 2 BBs, 9 hits allowed
- I went to the game from a view to where I could not possibly tell you how pitchers looked. I do think it's fair to say that Shelby Miller looked awful just from the hard hit balls and his stat line though.
- Maybe it's because he was explicitly told not to worry about the runners, but Jacoby Ellbsury stole two bases without a throw from Molina. It could be because of that or he just isn't good at holding runners, which has been the case in his career.
- Good showing by the bullpen. Sam Freeman walked a batter without striking anyone out and Seth Maness left with the bases loaded in his second inning of work (after a 1-2-3 inning). Randy Choate managed to escape without a run allowed thanks to a strikeout and then a double play. And Jason Motte pitched a scoreless inning as well with a strikeout.
- I wish I had written this down, but I don't even think the Cardinals were "unclutch." I mean I'm skeptical of its existence, but there were a few instances of hard hit balls that went right to fielders with runners on base. This just seemed like one of those games where baseball is baseball.
- I would remiss not to mention that Derek Jeter got a standing ovation. I will not comment on how this is the reason Cardinals fans are blah blah blah. But it was still cool and I'm not really even a Jeter fan. (Like I didn't really care that he wasn't starting tonight for example - I feel like the only person not enamored with him honestly - getting off topic here)
Tomorrow: The Cardinals will try to rebound from an ugly series against the Giants at Busch. It's "I'm just happy he's pitching" Jaime Garcia versus "not that bad" Ryan Vogelsong. It's got to be a better game than Wednesday's game.