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2015.07.31 Cardinals vs. Rockies Recap: Based Carpenter returns

I do not even know what I am saying anymore.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

pre game

rockies lineup:
Charlie Blackmon 8
Jose Reyes 6
Carlos Gonzalez 9
Nolan Arenado 5
DJ LeMahieu 4
Ben Paulsen 3
Nick Hundley 2
Brandon Barnes 7
Kyle Kendrick 1

cardinals lineup:
Based Carpenter 5
Stephen Piscotty 7
Kolten Wong 4
Jhonny Peralta 6
Jason Heyward 9
Yadier Molina 2
Brandon Moss 3
Randal Grichuk 8
Michael Wacha 1


Much has been ballyhooed about the Cardinals offense, especially as of late with the team coming off a terrible series against the Cincinnati Reds that saw them drop two of three and score only four runs - all of which came off a Kolten Wong grand slam in the series opener. Although the offense seemed pathetic then, in reality it is merely average, perhaps even a tick above.  The team is eleventh in the majors in wRC+, and tied for third in the National League with 97.

The individual hitters follow this theme as well. While there is not really one truly great hitter (unless you believe Grichuk is a true-talent 143 wRC+ hitter, which this writer is skeptical of, but would gladly take) in the lineup, on any given night there are generally at least six good to very good hitters. The deep lineup has not only allowed the Birdos to, so far, weather the injuries they have incurred, but also the individual slumps that go along with the grind of a 162-game season.

Enter Matt Carpenter. For the first two months of the season, Carpenter was literal fire, for the past two months, not so much. Take a look:

Mar/Apr 10.40% 11.50% 0.91 0.372 0.438 0.651 1.089 0.279 0.403 0.460 201
May 12.70% 24.50% 0.52 0.269 0.364 0.473 0.837 0.204 0.317 0.360 132
Jun 16.30% 22.40% 0.73 0.190 0.337 0.241 0.577 0.051 0.259 0.273 72
Jul 12.80% 17.40% 0.74 0.213 0.321 0.383 0.704 0.170 0.225 0.315 101

June was definitely the toughest stretch, where Carpenter hit for a paltry .190 and struck out twenty-two times. This slump carried over into most of July and was so destructive it caused Carp to miss the All Star Game despite getting off to such a great start. Fortunately Jason Heyward, who started the season off horrendously, along with other hitters and the excellent pitching staff, picked up the slack and the team chugged along.

The point of all this exposition was to serve as a reminder that while this team is built to weatherr a storm like Carpenter's slump (I am compelled to point out the Matt's slump still saw him walking 16% of the time), it can also break out in a big way when everyone is clicking at the same time. Tonight appeared to be one of those nights as the Cardinals put up a touchdown and an extra point against the Rockies.

The Cardinals got off to a quick start, plating two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Carpenter led off the game with his thirteenth homer of the year and his second in as many games. Heyward followed that up with a sacrifice fly that scored Kolten Wong. The Birdos would do the rest of the damage in the bottom of sixth, plating five runs and sending ten to the plate. New Cardinals acquisition Brandon Moss would get the distinct honor of making two outs in two plate appearances in the same inning. Randal Grichuk, god of ISO and soul patches, hit a double, which was succeeded by a walk to Michael Wacha. Stephen Piscotty then hit his third double of the season to drive both runners in and then scored on a Kolten Wong single. Jhonny Peralta killed the rally launching a two-run home run into the left field bleachers to round out the scoring.

It would be cruel to overlook the darling Michael Wacha, whose more clean-cut appearance is welcome. Michael had a bit of trouble in the first, giving up a double to to Carlos Gonzalez, but settled in to throw 102 pitches in seven strong innings, giving up four hits and one walk and striking out seven, inducing seven groundouts and two flyouts. The bullpen was able to preserve not just the lead, but the shutout to give the Cards win number 66.

stray thoughts:

  • About three things I am absolutely positive. First, Matt Carpenter is a leadoff hitter. Second, there is a part of him-and I don't know how potent that part might be-that really enjoys being a leadoff hitter. And third, I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.
    Errr. I mean, he is a good player. [clears throat] Moving on.
  • This game became a bit of a bullpen game for the Rockies. Their starter, Kyle Kendricks, left after the first inning with shoulder inflammation.
  • With a seven-run lead, this game seemed like an ample time to give some of the bullpen guys some rest and get the new guys in, but Choate and Maness pitched anyway.

post game


This respected award go to the lovely Michael Wacha, who pitched a gem worthy of a 75 game score and .292 WPA.

Source: FanGraphs


Saturday the teams' two best pitchers square off as Lance Lynn faces Jorge De La Rosa at 6:15pm.