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Heyward homer not enough to defeat Twins

The Cardinals have long taken pride in both the offense and pitching having the ability to carry the team. With Matt Holliday out, pitching alone might have to pick up the slack.

Fleeting moments
Fleeting moments
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

A couple hours ago, I was driving down the road when my little sister started making Hotme jokes, prompting an "oooh, what's the score!?!" from yours truly. To my surprise, she said it was 0-0 in the 6th. The surprise was less a product of the score, which is foreseeable given Jaime's return to prominence (and the under 2.00 era club) along with the Cardinals sputtering offense, but instead the speed with which the game was being played.

To be sure, the game was one of efficient pitching and little offense. The Cardinal offense managed only 5 hits and 1 walk, Pelfrey working them over with only 103 pitches through 8 innings of "work". After the Heyward homer alert in the 7th, there was some hope in the Cardinals ability to squeak by on the back of yet another stellar pitching performance, but unfortunately, perfection wasn't in the books.

In the 8th, Joe Mauer maxed his power meter out with all 359 points of slugging to lift the 8th fastball of his at bat against the lights out Kevin Siegrist. Four seam fastballs are definitely Siegrist's bread and butter, but that type of suspect sequencing is likely the reason Yadier Molina doesn't get any rest. From Brook's baseball:

Kevin Siegrist has thrown 2,001 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2012 and 2015, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2015, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph), also mixing in a Change using a Circle Change grip (86mph) and Slider (81mph). He also rarely throws a Curve using a Knuckle Curve grip (79mph).

The changeup and slider are definite weapons for Kevin this year and one must wonder if Yadi might have called some different pitches, or also, if Cardinal pitchers are so used to a passive approach with Yadi that they're not very assertive with less capable backstops such as Cruz. Joe Mauer might not be what he once was, but I don't think its out of line to call into question this particular pitch sequence against such a veteran (formerly?) quality hitter.

Putting yet another chink in our armour, Carlos Villanueva gave up a walk-off homerun in the 9th, raising his season era above 1!!! I won't go look at the pitch sequencing for fear of what I find, but even the best outfield in the league can't save the game if the ball goes over the wall. The culprit this time was Kennys Vargas and his .235 .273 .348 line.

I don't want to sound any alarm bells, but I'd like to point out that we are now only 20 games over .500 and our division lead has shrunk all the way to 4.5 games above the surging Pirates. We might want to start recruiting some anons.

Here is the most unfortunate win expectancy graph:

Source: FanGraphs