Everything was working for the Cardinals today. After scoring six runs last night, the Cards busted out for 10 more this afternoon as they completed yet another series victory. It’s their fourth consecutive series win and it has them in a tie for third place with the Cubs and now just six games under .500.
Jack Flaherty got the start. He wasn’t great, as he lasted just 4.2 innings and allowed three runs. However, he ran into some bad luck with a pitch that was called ball four in the top of the fifth. That would have gotten him out of the fifth inning and put him in line for the win if called correctly. But the bats sure picked him up. Below, we’ll get into a few takeaways from this afternoon’s huge win.
Mercado’s Big Day
How about Oscar Mercado? The Cardinals outfielder picked up three hits and had five RBI’s out of the No. 9 hole. If this continues, I’m certainly in favor of him getting more playing time. Dylan Carlson is due back soon, but Mercado hasn’t done anything to make me think he doesn’t deserve a spot on the roster. Perhaps then, the Cardinals could send down Tres Barrera, Juan Yepez, or Alec Burleson. More on that another time.
But Mercado is swinging a hot bat and is playing some very good defense. With him in the lineup, the Cardinals have an extra weapon, and I’d very much like to see him get more opportunities. He’s hitting .545 with a 1.272 OPS.
Bullpen Solid In Win
After Jack Flaherty departed, Drew VerHagen came in and settled things down, giving the Cardinals 2.1 scoreless innings. He’s been kind of hit or miss this year, but I was certainly impressed by what I saw today. VerHagen ultimately earned his third win of the year.
Matthew Liberatore struggled in relief, allowing two runs in the eighth inning. I think it probably would have been more useful to use Andre Pallante in that situation instead, as Liberatore really belongs in the rotation. Fortunately, he bent but didn’t break.
Genesis Cabrera ended things in the ninth with a strikeout of Freddie Freeman.
DeJong Stays Hot
Paul DeJong has been an interesting story this year. All the odds were against him, yet he’s forced his way back into the Cardinals plans after two down seasons. The veteran shortstop hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to put the game out of reach. It was his seventh of the year.
I can’t say I saw this coming, but I like it a lot. It creates a good problem to have for the Cardinals, that being too many infielders who can produce. This means some tough decisions might have to be made come the trade deadline, but if DeJong keeps hitting like this, then I want him in the lineup as much as possible and believe that the Cardinals may want to work on a potential contract extension.
He had two hits today and bumped his average up to .282 and his OPS to .954.
It’s off to Ohio for a seven-game road trip. The first stop will be Cincinnati.