On the surface it was the Tommy Pham Show tonight, with Tommy going 3 for 4 with 4 RBI, 2 home runs, and 2 runs scored. The guy has some speed and a bit of pop to the bat. He's not a world crusher like the Mighty Grichuk, or a top tier defender like P. Bourjos, but he seems to do both pretty well, which is why I am fully endorsing him as a starter at this point. You could even "sort of" compare him to Jaime Garcia, but a minor league version since we don't have much to go by at the major league level, and he got hurt often at the sub-big league level instead of after he arrived.
So the comparison is very basic, especially since one's a pitcher and the other one is an outfielder, but I'm gonna run with it. And Pham can run, hit home runs, and defend, and he's done it at every level now. With Randal not being able to throw, I don't see why Pham is not starting every game, and getting experience under his belt prior to the postseason.
Jaime Garcia was not at his best tonight giving up 4 runs on 8 hits, but he showed flashes of brilliance as usual. The guy is undoubtedly one of the best lefties in the game. We just get nervous as fans when he is not in top form, because, well, there are very good reasons. But let's not talk about that at the moment. Jaime kept the team in the game for over 6 innings, and the bullpen is so damn good that him giving up 4 runs was not the worst thing in the world. As with many good-ish starts by any pitcher, they are marred by a multirun home run.
Another way to look at the game is that the Cardinals offense was patient and took 6 walks, while the Brewers only took 1 walk the whole night. This really could've been the difference maker as each team had 8 hits and 8 strikeouts, especially when it is a 1 run game outcome. The Brewers basically pitched by committee tonight, with Wily Peralta going 4 innings (and, like Garcia, giving up all the earned runs), our old pal Kyle Lohse going 2, Cravy going 2 with a high WPA, and Jiminez pitching 1 inning with 3K.
Meanwhile, Maness, Broxton, and Rosenthal put the lock down on Milwaukee's hitters. Closenthal is a total BAMF this year being that the only reliever in the NL that can be compared to him is Aroldis Chapman. They are neck and neck for the best reliever in the NL by many rate stats, and they are tied in fWAR.
Matt Carpenter hit his 22nd home run of the year and he is 7th in BB% in the NL. Pham had a triple and two home runs and nearly hit three, smacking the hell out of the ball for the third time of the night but having it fall just short since it was towards center field and up in the air. He and Carpenter providing the Cards offense and Milwaukee not being able to stop them was the narrative of the night, while the Cardinals bullpen and defense remained solid in the execution of the win. Watch the Phamtasm smack out his 2nd home run of the night: opens in new tab.
One last thing, the umping tonight was a little absurd when you look at this:
Here is a pitch by Garcia that was well inside the strikezone and called a ball:
It is my estimation that the umps were a little against the Cardinals tonight, but the team was still able to pull off the win with their peculiar magic. Tune in tomorrow when the Cards go for the sweep in Milawahkay. Lackey faces off against Nelson. 4.06 SIERA vs 4.11 SIERA. Might be a tossup, but I'd take the old man vs the youngster here. Especially with Lackey's robust ERA, experience, and better overall numbers.
Give me back my bullets:
- The Cubs gained a game on the Pirates, and they play them again tomorrow at 12:35, if you need some daygame baseball side action.
- The National League is not as exciting as the American League at this point in baseball history. It's the Yankees vs the Jays and the sneaky Texas Rangers stealing first from the Houston Astros. Any of the Twins, Angels or Indians could still get into the playoffs, but the most likely wildcards are the Yankees/Jays/Rangers/Astros, depending on who gets first place. The Royals are the best team.
- The Giants are finally not having one of their scary good seasons and are fading away from contention, which is good news for most Cardinals fans (the Giants historically defeat our team more than any other team). In recent times, also good news for everyone else, they are even more enchanted than the Cardinals. Which means the NL Central is just ridiculously good with 3 teams probably making the playoffs. The main spotlight in the National League is right on our division. Can the Cubs or Pirates catch up to us? Not likely. What it really looks like is the two teams fighting it out for home field advantage in the one game sudden death round of the postseason.