In June, the Cardinals had their first losing month since 2012. In July, they're 1-0.
The Cardinals beat the Brewers tonight in an atypical 2016 Cardinals way: with strong results from their starting pitcher and a bunch of singles at the right times. And it's cool when the starter gives up four and they're tied 5-5 coming into the 7th and then the Dinger Patrol arrives and the Cards score six off the bullpen and all that... but it's also cool when they just trickle some timely singles through the infield and Jaime Garcia gets a billion grounders that don't trickle through and they win easily. That's how it was tonight.
Not much to see. Tommy Pham in CF is nice for those of us who think he's pretty good and want him to play a lot until he gets hurt again. Brandon Moss has hit homers at an elite rate this year, so tonight his playing time comes at the expense of Stephen Piscotty (and Piscotty might be hurt anyway). Aledmys Diaz was back in the lineup after recovering from smashing baseballs into his own face.
You know how sometimes, a baseball team just takes an early lead, and the starter posts a bunch of zeroes, and the only interesting thing that happens late in the game is insurance runs scoring? Do you remember when the Cardinals used to do that more than once every couple weeks? That's what they did tonight, and hot damn it was relaxing.
The scoring kicked off in the bottom of the 1st when Aledmys Diaz (128 wRC+ with a 12% walk rate since June 1 coming into tonight; please reactivate the "is he actually awesome?" debate if you haven't already) doubled Matt Carpenter in from first. Of course, Diaz got caught in a rundown for no good reason for the first out of the inning, but tonight we didn't have to care.
Jaime almost made that one run stand up. Chris Carter hits bombs and strikes out, and he hit a bomb off Garcia in the top of the 2nd. But that was all the damage Jaime allowed. He finished with 8 IP, 6 Ks, 4 BB, 4 H, and just the one run on Carter's solo shot. The four walks don't look great, but he was able to limit baserunners by keeping the ball on the ground all night: the Brewers put 23 balls in play against Garcia, and 18 of them were grounders. Once you recalibrate yourself after four games against the Royals, you'll realize that 18 grounders in 23 BIP doesn't customarily lead to like 10 hits. (Stupid Royals.)
So this was a night where the Cardinals just needed one more run to win. Rather than just one, they got five in the 4th without the benefit of an extra-base hit, and instead with the benefit of some bad pitching and bad defense. Matt Garza gifted the Cards an out with an error on an underhand toss to 1B (oy), walked a guy, and gave up a hit to the Cardinals' pitcher. In between those gaffes, the Cards hit four other singles. Garcia's hit (at 100 mph) was actually the only truly hard-hit ball of the inning; nothing else was over 93 mph. But sometimes they get through -- tonight was one of those times, and when the dust cleared it was 6-1 St. Louis.
Given the Brewers' inability to elevate the ball off Jaime, it was all over but the shouting at that point. In the 6th, Holliday knocked in his third run of the game with a double to the track in center to set up the final 7-1 score, and I got a good laugh out of Keon Broxton's attempt to corral the ball:
You look ridiculous, but we've all been there, Keon.
Matt Bowman pitched a scoreless 9th to make the foregone conclusion official.
It's always nice to see the Cardinals win a laugher, especially when they've had an overlong and frustrating run of stressful wins and painful losses. The upcoming schedule (if, in fact, the Pirates' wheels have fallen off) is pretty favorable, so here's hoping to see more of these, and a July that is as good as June was bad.
- Sabermattrics: RMI 4, MBI 2, MMI 0. Somehow no MMI; I'm as shocked as you.
- Matt Carpenter reached base three times in five PAs, which doesn't even belong in this section because it's normal for him.
- Eleven assists for Diaz tonight, which apparently tied an old Cardinals rookie record. That's a pretty finely sliced kind of record, but still -- it was set in the 1930s, so it's neat. You can still see the less-than-optimal fundamentals from Diaz at short: he wants to circle around balls hit to his right so that he doesn't have to plant and throw, which seems to lead to a lot of gambling on hops (and it's not clear to me that it makes his throws more accurate anyway). But he's certainly less of a butterfingers than his initial rash of errors made him out to be.
- Ryan Braun came in with an eleven-game hit streak. He currently has a one-game hitless streak, and continues to be an easy guy not to like very much.
- This was a second consecutive night off for Piscotty, who tweaked his knee a couple days ago vs. the Royals. I don't believe there's much official news on his knee yet, but if I'm wrong on that some better-informed person will no doubt say so in the comments. So check there. [edit: the ultra-informed cardsfan59 has indeed corrected me: foot, not knee, and he's medically cleared to play]