I'll say this much about the Cardinals 5-0 loss to the Mets. If I'm going to watch a game where the offense strikes out 13 times and gets two hits, I'm glad it was watching Jaime Garcia in his first game back in 11 months. That's not to say Garcia is the best pitcher or even the most exciting to watch. But we don't get Garcia starts very often and I'm glad I got to watch one of them. Even though this one wasn't that great.
It's a little difficult to judge his start because the advanced stats say he was awful, but he didn't look awful. I've seen a few people mentioned he pitched great. I won't go that far. He walked five people. That's not great. He also only struck out three people. I'm not saying he needs to strike out more than three people - although yeah I think he'd probably have to have a better than 3.86 K/9 to be successful - but if you're going to walk five people, at least strike a bunch of hitters out.
Garcia made up for it somewhat in his ability to force groundballs. That's the most encouraging part of the start - that and the mostly weak contact. Believe it or not, he was below average by his own standard in allowing groundballs. Today, 52.9% of balls hit in ball were on the ground. That would be a career low for him. His career GB% is 55.5%. Still, this is first game back and he looked good enough to make me excited for his future starts.
Garcia walked the leadoff batter in each of the first three innings. He got out of the first two because of double play balls. The second featured and I quote Tim McCarver "the best play I've ever seen an outfielder make." He was joking - probably - but it was still a fantastic play as he made a diving catch, jumped up quickly, and threw out the runner before he made back to first. In the third inning, Kevin Plawecki flew out, Jacob deGrom bunted, and Juan Lagares grounded out to short. I mention those names to highlight the Mets lineup is really bad. Really bad. Combined with the five walks, these two things could make the start seem less impressive.
He broke the streak of leadoff walks in the fourth only to walk the next batter, Lucas Duda. He then got BABIP'd a bit. To be fair, he was the beneficiary of BABIP in the first three innings. Nonetheless, Michael Cuddyer dropped a ball in front of Grichuk, and Daniel Murphy looped a ball into left field to load the bases. John Mayberry Jr singled to left which Matt Carpenter barely missed to score one. He got out of it with - all together now - a double play.
Garcia walked his fifth and last batter in the 5th, but Lagares got himself picked him off to waste that opportunity. In the sixth, Garcia gave up a home run to Duda, which would not be his last, and a single to Cuddyer before getting out of the inning with.... a double play. He got brought out for the 7th with 87 pitches and surprisingly pitched his best inning of the game. He struck out Mayberry and should have struck out Plawecki if not for the ump squeezing him.
You could summarize the Cardinals offense not with a sentence, but only a letter: K. They struck out 11 times against deGrom and for good measure, twice in the ninth. Matt Carpenter hit a single with one out in the first and the next hit was Kolten Wong with two outs in the 9th. Nobody walked either. Fun fact: the Cardinals struck out 13 times and none of them were from Mark Reynolds (who obviously didn't benefit from it anyway as he went 0-3 and all of his outs were of the very weak variety).
The bullpen wasn't better either. Mitch Harris came in and as is his custom, walked a batter. He also gave up a hit before conceding to Randy Choate to face Duda. (To be fair, Jhonny Peralta bungled up a double play ball that probably shouldn't have been a double play ball anyway) Duda homered on the first pitch. Seth Maness gave up two hits and walked a guy before having enough of this shit and striking out the next two batters.
- Jamie Garcia's final line: 7 IP, 2 ER, 5 hits, 5 BBs, 3 Ks, HR - I like exactly two of the things in his line - I guess technically I like five hits though I think that's mostly at the knees of BABIP - and am surprised I'm not more down on his start. I'm curious what you guys think of Garcia's start.
- Should I complain about the lineup where Mark Reynolds played left field when Peter Bourjos was available? I think the difference between Reynolds and Bourjos' bats is negligible. I think the difference between their defense is the difference between a toddler and his 10-year old brother playing one-on-one basketball.
Tomorrow the Cardinals face off against Chris Young - wait that Chris Young? He has a 0.94 ERA!!! He also has a 4.66 xFIP, but he apparently has made a career out of defying that. (Though he's played most of his career in Petco Park and Safeco Field) Still let's please change that ERA. The Cardinals have Lance Lynn going against the Kansas City Royals. Lance Lynn versus Chris Young. So yeah please win that game Cards.