The legend of Matt Carpenter continues to grow in St. Louis. One game after a 4-for-4, 5 RBI performance, Carpenter was on the bench as Lance Berkman made his return to the lineup. Despite that, Carpenter was ready when his name was called in the bottom of the tenth inning with the bases loaded and one out. Carpenter went down on a pitch from Cincinnati Reds lefty reliever Bill Bray and lifted a sacrifice fly to right field scoring pinch-runner Tyler Greene with the winning run.
The Cardinals received a spectacular outing from Kyle Lohse (7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K) who lowered his season ERA to 0.89. The Cardinals couldn’t get many runs across against Reds starter Johnny Cueto (7 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 5 K). Mitchell Boggs blew the save chance in the eighth inning mostly due to errors from Daniel Descalso and himself. He was able to get a line drive double play, but just after that Boggs allowed a single to Zack Cozart. Marc Rzepczynski came in to finish off the eighth striking out Joey Votto.
The story of the game through the seventh inning was the starting pitching. After that it became a battle of the pens and wits of the managers. Logan Ondrusek pitched the eighth and ninth for the Reds and got into trouble in the ninth, but escaped a bases-loaded jam with Matt Holliday and Berkman failing to drive in the winning run.
In the top half of the tenth, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny brought out Jason Motte. Motte was throwing in the high 90′s and retired two men via strike out. The last K turned into a caught stealing double play as Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was running on the 3-2 count.
In the home half of the tenth, David Freese walked to start the inning and was replaced on the bases by Greene. Yadier Molina sacrificed Greene to second on a very nice bunt. Dusty Baker ordered Jon Jay to be intentionally walked to bring the double play back into effect. Baker then brought in the left-handed Bray to face Descalso and Carpenter. Descalso walked and on a full count Carpenter lofted a fly to right field scoring Greene.
BERKMAN, FREESE BACK IN LINEUP
After missing five games with a strained calf muscle first baseman Lance Berkman was back in the starting lineup. Freese, who missed two games with a sore finger was back at the hot corner. Berkman went 1-for-5 and Freese 0-for-3 with 2 BB.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, the Cardinals have been scoring a good amount of runs and it has made the starting pitching a little less noticeable. As the group begins its third time through the rotation it’s interesting to see that the three pitchers with the least expected of them (save maybe Lohse) are outperforming the “names” of the rotation.
Lohse, Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn are not pitchers a general manager revolves their rotation around. Adam Wainwright and to a lesser extent Garcia, or better put pitchers with the potential of Garcia, are the types of hurlers the GM will build around.
Losing Chris Carpenter placed a bit more responsibility on Lohse’s shoulders and he has taken it on with a vengeance. Westbrook has been magnificent since the beginning of Spring Training. Lynn has provided stability and alleviated any pressure to add a pitcher from outside the organization.
It would be nice to see Garcia and Wainwright put together better starts today and tomorrow. For one thing, it will boost their own confidence. Secondly, it will give the remaining members of the rotation some piece of mind that they will not be counted on to carry the entire load.
Garcia should be in the best position to do his part. He is at a point in his career where he needs to show whether he is a pitcher with number two type material or if he’s always going to be considered someone added at the end of the rotation.
Wainwright on the other hand is going to need to be excused for however long it takes to get his druthers back. Many people incorrectly and unfairly lumped the ‘savior’ label on Wainwright once Carpenter went down. I understand the desire for this, but it shouldn’t be expected from a man just returning from major surgery. As the season progresses he may become more consistent and provide the number one starter stats expected of an ace, but everyone needs to allow the transition to take its course naturally.
The Cardinals should feel fortunate that the three pitchers who are not as celebrated are making life easy on the struggling “stars” of the rotation. I would venture to guess the tide will change at some point, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were all able to pitch at or above their means at the same time?
Topics: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals, Chris Carpenter, Cincinnati Reds, Daniel Descalso, David Freese, Devin Mesoraco, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Jason Motte, Joey Votto, Jon Jay, Kyle Lohse, Lance Berkman, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski, Mat Latos, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Mike Matheny, Mitchell Boggs, St Louis Cardinals, Tyler Greene, Yadier Molina