Speaking purely of the strategic decisions a manager can make, managers don’t really matter. This has been studied. Nobody has been able to find much evidence of a manager impacting a team more than a couple wins, no matter how good or bad. And this is something that can be hard to accept, but when you watch a game like today’s, it begins to make sense.
I’m not sure Mike Shildt could have managed this worse. The Colorado Rockies are a very bad baseball team, maybe the worst in the National League. You can safely remove the maybe when the Rockies are on the road. Because this was a very badly managed game by Mike Shildt. And it didn’t matter.
Carlos Martinez did not pitch well today. That was evident to anybody. He walked leadoff hitter Ramiel Tapia on five pitches in the 1st inning. And with one out, the Rockies pulled a hit-and-run with Ryan McMahon batting, and it paid off big time when McMahon doubled and Tapia scored. Tommy Edman helped save a run with his defense when Charlie Blackmon hit a hard hit groundball with a funky bounce. And Garrett Hampson flied out to center.
Martinez also walked the leadoff batter in the 2nd inning. With one out, Josh Fuentes singled to put runners at the corner. Luckily, this time Chi Chi Gonzalez, the opposing pitcher, was up to the plate. And they attempted a safety squeeze. Attempted being the key word. Gonzalez bunted it back to Martinez, Martinez barehanded it, and underhanded it to Molina to beat Connor Joe to the plate. Tapia grounded out to end the threat.
The Cardinals bats sure showed up though. And immediately. Tommy Edman, with a 2-2 count, fouled four straight pitches. And then hit a ball where a 3B would normally be stationed (I believe), but because of the shift, it easily went for a hit for a leadoff single. Not sure Tommy is a hitter who makes sense to shift, but I’m sure the numbers make it make sense. Dylan Carlson lined a single on the second pitch he saw. And Paul Goldschmidt hit an opposite field liner to score Edman.
After Nolan Arenado hit a softly hit grounder that effectively advanced both Carlson and Goldschmidt to their next bases, Paul DeJong swung at the first pitch he saw and lined it up the middle to score Carlson. It was hit too hard to score Goldy, however. With Yadier Molina up, Paul DeJong stole second base without a throw. You read that right. On 1-2, Yadier Molina seemed to guide the ball to the right side of the infield. What would have been a double play - though Molina would surely have taken a different swing if a double play was possible - became an RBI groundout. Tyler O’Neill struck out to end the inning.
After the Cardinals went down 1-2-3 in the 2nd inning, the Rockies again had multiple baserunners in the 3rd. With two outs, Blackmon singled and Garrett Hampson walked. But Connor Joe grounded out to end the inning. In the 4th inning, Martinez had an ideal inning: two groundouts and a strikeout. It was his only clean inning of the game.
The Cardinals weren’t done scoring though. In the 3rd, Dylan Carlson led off the inning with a hit by pitch. But! Before he got hit, he hit a foul ball and a Cardinals fan made an amazing catch. Which I wouldn’t usually note, but well just see for yourself why it’s notable.
Goldschmidt followed with a single of his own, another hard hit ball. Arenado followed with a hard hit ball of his own, but it went directly back to the pitcher who caught it on a lineout. With men on first and second, Paul DeJong worked an eight pitch walk to load the bases. Molina, who otherwise didn’t really look good at the plate today, hit a line drive up the middle to drive in two for a 5-1 Cards lead.
And then the 5th inning. Ugh. Not a fun inning. I think I’ve illustrated that, up to this point, Martinez hadn’t really pitched good. He only allowed one run, but two baserunners in three of his four innings. Lucky sequencing that’s all. He allowed a leadoff infield single and then a double by Trevor Story. At this point, Mike Shildt needed to start warming someone up.
He didn’t though. Martinez struck out Ryan McMahon looking. He then walked Blackmon on five pitches. Still nobody warming. Hampson hit the ball to Arenado, who very quickly fired it to home for out #2. When it happened, it looked like a risky move that could go wrong. But Arenado.
With Connor Joe up, totally not a computer generated person on a video game allegedly, Martinez threw a wild pitch. 2nd and 3rd, nobody out turned into bases loaded, two outs, but it was ruined by the wild pitch. He then walked Joe to load the bases up again. It was only at this point that Kodi Whitley starting warming up. You’re allowed to use Giovanny Gallegos in the 5th inning Shildt. Anyway, Dom Nuñez doubled home all three runners to tie the game at 5-5. Left his starter out to dry, the result from a manager’s perspective was absolutely earned. Fuentes thankfully popped up on the first pitch he saw, because as I said Whitley was nowhere near ready at this point.
The tie game lasted all of five or so minutes. Bud Black brought back Gonzalez out for the 5th. Gonzalez was coming off a 1-2-3 inning, but he didn’t look good either. Black has the excuse of managing for a team that’s not really competing at least. Carlson singled. Goldschmidt fell behind 2-0. And Gonzalez threw two absolutely atrocious breaking pitches just begging to be crushed. Goldschmidt said, fine, I’ll crush this like you want me to on the second one.
The Rockies replaced Gonzalez with 26-year-old rookie Justin Lawrence who didn’t really fare any better. He allowed back-to-back doubles to Arenado and DeJong to put the score at 8-5. After Molina struck out looking, DeJong stole his second base of the game. This one put him at 3rd base. What?! And because of that, Tyler O’Neill hit a sacrifice fly to drive him home. 9-5. Harrison Bader roped a hard ground ball that Story almost made an amazing play on, but couldn’t field it cleanly. He was left on base.
Whitley came into the game in the 6th and pitched a perfect 6th inning with two strikeouts. Lawrence followed up with not so perfect an inning, but a leadoff walk turned into a double play allowing him to face the minimum. And then with a 9-5 lead, Shildt brought in Gallegos. A peculiar move, given a 4-run lead is not remotely high leverage.
Unfortunately, Gallegos didn’t pitch that well today either. He allowed two base hits in the 7th, but escaped without a run allowed. And for some reason, he came back out for the 8th. I just don’t understand this at all. I’m fine with him throwing two innings but 1) 4-run lead 2) it’s the Rockies and 3) he didn’t pitch that well in his first inning of work.
Anyway, he gave up two more hits, one run and only got one out before being removed for Alex Reyes in a five out save. Again what?! This is so unnecessary. This looked like a shaky proposition when he immediately walked Story to put runners at 1st and 2nd with a now 9-6 lead. McMahon advanced the runners on a groundout. And then Blackmon singled both runners home. 9-8 now. Reyes decided to make it especially nerve-wracking when he then tried to pick off Blackmon at first base, but threw it wild, allowing Blackmon to reach 2nd base. And then Hampson lined out to DeJong. Looked like a hit off the bat.
In the 9th, the Cardinals did not take advantage of a wild Mychal Givens. Lane Thomas walked. Dylan Carlson walked. With Goldschmidt up and just one out, Givens threw a wild pitch. And then Goldschmidt just refused to allow Givens to walk him, swinging at multiple balls, twice with a 3-2 count. And he struck out swinging at an obvious ball. They intentionally walked Arenado, and DeJong popped up to end the inning.
Thankfully, whatever Reyes struggled with in the 8th just went away in the 9th. He struck out the side and secured a 9-8 win.
- Carlos line: 5 IP, 5 BBs, 2 Ks, 5 ER, 6 H - it is definitely questionable for all five of those runs to be earned. Tyler O’Neill allowed a ball to hit off his wrist trying to jump and catch a liner - but it is worth pointing out, I doubt many left fielders get to this ball. I don’t think it’s some great travesty he’s getting the earned runs.
- One of my bigger pet peeves of the season is when Carlos is let down by his defense AND is pitching badly and the discussion immediately becomes “he would only have allowed one run if not for that” which is both true and ignores he pitched poorly. A product of paying more attention to FIP than ERA I suppose.
- Paul DeJong seems incapable of finding the line between awesome and terrible at the plate. He was awesome today, batting 2-3 with a double, two stolen bases, one run scored, and two RBIs.
- Also awesome: Goldschmidt! Wish he didn’t look so bad in his last PA which does not help my plate discipline concerns with him, but he did go 3-4 with a HR.
- Also awesome: Carlson going 2-3 with a BB. Although Carlson’s power seems to have evaporated with the move to the #2 spot weirdly enough. I know it’s a coincidence, but still weird.
- Molina really didn’t look good at the plate at all, but the one good thing he did was well-timed.
- Reyes with his first earned run in the 8th inning this year. Amazing it took this long, frankly, with all the batters he walks.
Tomorrow, the Cardinals go for the sweep. But beware, the Cardinals are facing the Rockies ace, German Marquez, and while his numbers are bad to start the year, he’s a very good pitcher and has to play half his games at Coors. He faces Adam Wainwright, looking for a bounceback from his last start. Let’s get the sweep.