I'm not a believer in momentum. I don't think winning one game is going to make the team more likely to win the next. I don't even think winning a huge game makes you more likely to win the next game. But I'd be lying if I didn't feel like this game was a momentum changer for the time being. It's not so much that I think the Cardinals will start playing like the Cardinals should. It's that I feel like a bunch of incredibly devastating, sometimes unlucky losses can get to a team. So by winning this game - after that 9th inning felt like luck decided to punch Adam Wainwright in the balls and then laugh in his face - it feels like we're giving luck the middle finger and saying we're winning with your help or not.
Mike Matheny managed a pretty good game today, with the exception of batting Randal Grichuk second again. It is my opinion that the 9th inning was handled well. Adam Wainwright had a little over 100 pitches, had eight scoreless innings, and nothing he did in the 9th would make you believe Wainwright was finished. He struck out Eric Hosmer, who made it safely to first unfortunately on a wild pitch. He induced a routine groundball that just so happened to go right up the middle. But it was not hit hard I assure you. At this point, Wainwright's pitch count was getting to a level I'm uncomfortable with even if the pitcher is looking good. So he brought in Trevor Rosenthal, who is probably our best reliever despite his struggles. Rosenthal failed to do his job and allowed two runs, but Matheny can't really be blamed for his best reliever blowing a lead
Now, you can dispute that Wainwright should have stayed in, and I'd respectfully disagree with you. It's by no means something that absolutely should have happened. Pitch counts aren't just there as a cool stat, but something that is proven to matter. You can dispute Trevor Rosenthal is the best reliever, but really I'm not sure who you would say is better - Neshek has better stats, but using 26.1 IP over a career is probably not the best way to make decisions. After that, there's... Jason Motte? He has a 5.40 K/9 right now (career: 9.35) so I would like to wait until I proclaim that. I don't know what happened, but our bullpen isn't really good right now.
Wainwright was fantastic after a rare rough outing. He pitched eight scoreless innings before coming back out into the 9th. As mentioned above, this wasn't a bad decision. At the same time, Wainwright absolutely did not deserve two earned runs. Does anybody else find it weird that you get an earned run when you strike out a guy who gets on base? Actually, the entire striking someone out who can still get on base thing is weird. Anyway, he struck out a guy and had a ground ball that went up the middle, both of which scored thanks to Rosenthal.
He struck out 8 in the evening, including striking out Eric Hosmer four times (Golden Sombrero!). And yet he still scored a run because of that K WP to lead off the 9th. (Watching Hosmer try to hit that curveball was quite hilarious) It's got to be frustrating allowing a run because your curveball is too good for Yadier Molina to handle. He uncharacteristically allowed two walks, which actually raised his BB/9.
All hail ye, Matt Carpenter. Matt Carpenter had a day that is hard to beat. He had five hits, including two doubles. He also walked because a great Matt Carpenter game is not complete if he does not walk. He raised his wRC+ from 118 to 128. His batting line after tonight is now .307/.395/.395. If only he magically reclaimed the power that he had last year, he'd be virtually the same hitter as last year.
Things aren't looking too good for Grichuk. He went 0-4 today in the #2 hole. He was asked to bunt in the 7th inning when the Cardinals had a 1-0 lead with Carpenter on second. (By the way, he made it to first because the pitcher threw it to third - Carpenter was safe) I don't think things are going really well for you when your manager asks you to bunt with a man on second and nobody out. Then he was pinch-hit for in the 12th inning and it was the right move - Jon Jay singled in his place in a great 12-pitch at-bat. Sorry, but Mike if you PH for the #2 hitter and it actually is a good move, PUT SOMEONE ELSE SECOND IN THE LINEUP. No worries, I'm pretty sure Grichuk is not long for the MLB and frankly, I think he needs more time in AAA anyway.
- The Cardinals stole two bases tonight and both directly led to runs. Mark Ellis stole second with two outs, and then Carpenter singled him home. That run can be directly attributed to Ellis' stolen base. In the 12th, Bourjos stole second with one out and Carpenter hit a looping base hit. It didn't get past the CF, but he had to take a weird route to it and Carpenter got to second on it. cardinalswsbound mentioned on twitter that Bourjos may have made it to home anyway on that play he's so fast so the steal may have mattered less (and it really mattered less when the rest of the inning happened)
- Sam Freeman pitched a scoreless 10th without striking anyone out, and Pat Neshek got his first career save with a 1-2-3 ninth (punctuated by a strikeout to end the game, the best way to end a game)
- Through nine innings, Grichuk, Holliday, Craig, and Peralta had combined for zero hits and one walk. The 12th helped a little with Craig getting a hit and Holliday getting hit by a pitch.
- Greg Holland looked really good tonight. Like I'm so glad he only pitched one inning, because it didn't seem like the Cardinals could do anything with him.
- No double switches tonight! Oh right, we're in the American League. Uh, wow this game was so much more enjoyable because Matheny was limited in his moves.
- And that's all I got. I was at Cardinal Nation at Ballpark Village for most of the game so hopefully my glancing at a TV while trying to act interested in my family was adequate for this recap.
Tomorrow, we face the Royals in Kansas City again. Michael Wacha faces Yordano Ventura! Don't be fooled by his 2-5 record, he is a really good pitcher. I am so excited to get to watch him pitch tomorrow.