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Recap 7/23: Cards dominated in 3-0 loss

The Cardinals pitched worse, hit worse, and played worse baseball than the Rays in a loss that should have been worse than it was.

Dilip Vishwanat

It's probably not a good thing when the best thing you can say about this game is that "it could have been much worse."  Because it could have.  Lance Lynn was not sharp, but managed to gut through 6.1 IP.  (Disclaimer: I was watching from right field so my view was not ideal to analyze Lynn's game.)  The Cardinals bats looked dreadful, largely due to Alex Cobb although they also looked awful against the bullpen.  The defense let down Lynn with a "wild pitch" and error causing two of the three runs.

In the first, Lynn escaped a leadoff double and a walk by inducing a double play ball by Evan Longoria to end the inning. (Lynn versus Longoria: 0-3 with 2 Ks and a DP).  In second, with a man on first and one out, he struck out Jose Molina with the ball escaping Tony Cruz's grasp allowing the runner to move to second.  Alex Cobb, who WAS 0-7 but he also only had one career strikeout (pitchers usually strike out > 30% of the time), doubled home the run.  I'm pretty sure that run doesn't score if Lynn has a clean strikeout.

After a drama free 3rd, Lynn began the 4th with a backwards K of Yunel Escobar.  Escobar objected and was immediately ejected.  It was a good game for pitchers as Jose Molina hit a double followed by Alex Cobb getting hit by a pitch.  (Jose Molina is not a pitcher, but he may as well be with how bad of a hitter he is)  Lynn escaped with a K and a groundout.  In the 7th, Matheny for reasons unclear to any logical thinking person, brought Lynn back out despite 105 pitches to Lynn's night.  Unsurprisingly, this did not work out as Lynn ended up leaving the game with runners on the corner and one out.

Matheny brought in Randy Choate to face Matt Joyce.  Joe Maddon countered by pinch-hitting for Matt Joyce with Brandon Guyer.  Joyce, a 123 wRC+ hitter this year who had gotten on base three times that day, is a career 63 wRC+ against lefties.  Guyer is a career 110 wRC+ against lefties.  Think Matheny does this with Matt Adams in the same position?  Stop laughing, it was a rhetorical question.  Anyway after Choate hit Guyer to load the bases, Matheny brought in Seth Maness.  Longoria hit a sac fly to bring the score to 2-0.  This is what I'm talking about when I say it could have been worse.  Sam Freeman came into the 9th and allowed a run in another shaky outing.

Offensively, the Cardinals struck out in half of their plate appearances and failed to walk.  After Carpenter grounded out to lead off the game, the Cardinals struck out, struck out, struck out, struck out, singled (by Oscar!), struck out, singled, struck out, grounded out, and struck out.  Overall, through three innings, the Cardinals had struck out 7 out of the 9 possible outs, with Matt Carpenter providing the two non-K outs.

The best opportunities to score were hampered by questionable decisions.  When Cruz hit a leadoff single in the 3rd and Lynn failed to bunt him over, the Cardinals executed a hit-and-run with Carpenter at the plate.  Problem: it was 2-0 and Carpenter was forced to swing at a ball.  The effort to get the offense started in actuality forced the only hitter to not strike out to swing at a ball.  In the 4th, Adams tried to steal second for some reason and was thrown out. In the 6th, after Carpenter led off with a double, Kolten Wong bunted him over to third.  I know Wong had three Ks on the night, but I HATE bunting men over from 2nd to 3rd.  It didn't work as Matt Holliday grounded to third and Longoria threw Carpenter out at home.  Holliday had an awful game with three strikeouts of his own.  It's really hard to win when the opposing starter has 10 Ks and you give away three outs.

Anyway, the Cardinals ended as they played the whole game: pathetically.  The Rays bullpen faced six batters and struck out five of them (except Carpenter).  For being a 3-0 game, the Cardinals never felt even close to winning in my opinion.

WPA Graph

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="">FanGraphs</a></span>


- Daniel Descalso pinch-hit for Cruz in the 8th inning for some reason.  I'm not the biggest Cruz fan (in fact I think George Kottaras should start most games against RHP), but what?  Descalso predictably struck out.  (And to be fair, so did Kottaras pinch-hitting for the pitcher)

- Jon Jay struck out when the count was 4-2.  It was that kind of game.  It didn't affect the game that much - I doubt the Cardinals would do anything with Jay on first, but still frustrating as hell.

- Alex Cobb line: 7 IP, 10 Ks, 0 BBs; Overall Rays pitching: 9 IP, 15 Ks, 0 BBs - That is ugly.  Thank god for Matt Carpenter

- Anybody want to explain why the Cardinals pitchers keep hitting people?  This is a weird trend.

- Lynn's final line: 6.1 IP, 7 Ks, 3 BBs, 1 ER - I personally didn't think he looked as good as this line, but again my view was not very good to analyzing pitching performances.  And to be clear, I am giving Lynn credit for somehow having that line with the way he looked, not bashing his performance.

Tomorrow, the Cardinals are off AGAIN and on Friday Joe Kelly faces off against Travis Wood in a game the Cardinals should win.