Baseball (i.e. the GOB) has been whipping up some rather interesting cocktails of emotions lately for Cardinals fans. It has been extremely positive, grandiose, and maybe even a little absurd. After an all extra innings sweep of the Buccos, the Cubs have been nearly the same type of contest, but in an even more entertaining fashion. Instead of tight-knit pitching battles, there have been tight-knit offensive battles in its place.
As much as I love pitcher's duels, I like the festivities of much offense even more. It's fun in a different way, and it's more surprising (it seems like most games are lower scoring affairs, and I'm pretty leery of extra innings games the past few years, for whatever reason). After being supernaturally strong, the pitching has come down to earth. But luckily the offense woke up.
But so did the Cubs offense. There have been 64 hits combined offense in this series so far, which is not even over yet. That's an average of over 21 hits/game! I did a double take and checked the math again, but it's true. Holy mackerel. 41 runs have been scored. Does this kick off the era of a re-newed Cardinal/Cub rivalry? It sure seems so. The Cardinals lead the series 22-19, or 2 games to 1 if that's more your boat.
The first inning was a little odd, where there were challenges by both managers, and both were overturned. To my eye, Matheny made the right decision, because it looked like Bourjos was safe to me, but to the ump it looked like caught stealing. Whatever the true outcome, both challenges were erased right away. Maddon didn't take it as well, perhaps, because he was kicked out later in the game. But that was more about the called balls and strikes:
In my honest estimation, I think overall the umps have been slightly on the Cards side this series, but nothing too terribly abnormal. Same goes for this particular game as well. There were definitely some calls that hurt the Cardinals. Well, I could go on and on right now, but I'd like to try something new, maybe just for Cardinals loss recaps, a report card of sorts.
- Peter Bourjos CF - C+ (didn't catch a ball, didn't have much effect on the game, got caught stealing... yes, I know I said he was actually safe earlier, but he coulda got a better leadoff/jump on the steal)
- Matt Carpenter 3B - C- (didn't get a hit, but at least he walked)
- Matt Holliday LF - B+ (two walks and a hit)
- Mark Reynolds 1B - F (had the worst WPA, struck out 3 times, 0 for 5, so unclutch)
- Jhonny Peralta SS - B- (according to WPA he should have a lower grade, but that home run...)
- Jason Heyward RF - B+ (scored three runs, 1 hit, positive WPA)
- Yadier Molina C - A- (really great night with 2 RBI, 2 for 3 and a walk, but I'm kinda worried about his knee still and perhaps his pitch framing?)
- Pete Kozma 2B - B (1 for 3 with an RBI)
- Kolten Wong - A+ (high WPA! an RBI in one at bat! Molten Kong!)
- Matt Adams and Jon Jay - D- (they didn't git 'r done, but only had a chance a piece)
For the Cubs, Rizzo and his home run were the difference maker. But Rondon also layed down a verdict in the ninth, with the highest leverage of Cubs pitchers, for the save.Bryant and Soler also had great nights at the plate, and Castro is no slouch either (although he acts like a total goofball quite often!).
As for a player of the game, the obvious choice would be Rizzo, but Rondon shutting down a team that has been rather difficult to kill as of late, at least to me, was the most important moment in the ninth... they might have themselves a closer.
- I like stealing bases in theory, but in practice, it is more trouble than its worth. Too many close calls and caught stealings. Bunting and basestealing can be useful, but only in very specific situations, Mike Matheny... even with Bourjos, it can handicap an inning.
- Seems like the starting pitching has finally started to regress (Lyons excluded of course)
- It's a bummer that Walden is out for a while... that bullpen seemed unstoppable there for a bit
- Bourjos deserves to start more often, but Jay doesn't deserve to be benched. Equal playing time please, thanks. Of course, Grichuk will just make it even more complicated soon.
- Some of the more boring guys in the bullpen like Villanueva, Choate, and to a lesser extent Belisle got the job done pretty well tonight (yeah, they scored a run off of Belisle, but only one)
- The Cubs offense is potentially very scary if Rizzo, Bryant, Castro, Soler, etc are all "on" at once
Tune in to another Thursday day game at 12:45, where you'll see John Lackey (4.33 SIERA) take on Jake Arrieta (3.10 SIERA) at Busch Stadium. In what appears to be a lopsided battle, the Cardinals go for the series win; otherwise it's a split between the 2 teams. The Cubs quite clearly have the better starter, but ya never know.