Daily Rant: Cardinals Increase Wild Card Lead Behind Lance Lynn


This season has certainly been marked by high drama and high stakes for the St. Louis Cardinals.  With a win last night over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Redbirds pulled a little further away from them for the second Wild Card spot.  It further cemented the fact that when their backs are against the wall, the Cardinals come out swinging.

Box Score:

St. Louis Cardinals0100001002101
Los Angeles Dodgers100000000160
WPLance Lynn (15-7, 3.95)
LPPaco Rodruguez (0-1, 5.40)

Behind the Box Score:  Other than a first inning run, a common theme for Lance Lynn this season, the return to the starting lineup was a great one for him.  Over 6 innings, on just 82 pitches, Lynn allowed 5 hits, just 1 run, 2 walks, and had 7 strikeouts.  All it took for him to have crisper, faster, better located pitches was a slight change in mechanics.  Lance Lynn omitted his over-the-head wind-up, and went with a very simple delivery that focused on a smoother release point and proper landing.  It certainly paid off.

Lance Lynn Goes 6 Strong Innings To Extend Wild Card Lead Over Dodgers

After Lynn finished off his first start since being demoted to the bullpen August 24, Mike Matheny commented briefly following the game, saying, “I think it speaks volumes about him and his makeup.  It was a tough transition for him, going to the ‘pen.  He showed that he learned some things and couldn’t wait to get back out there and prove to everybody that he still has the stuff to start.”

After a 1-2-3 Cardinal 1st, Lance Lynn allowed the first 2 men he faced to reach, followed by a double play ground out by Matt Kemp.  Adrian Gonzalez‘s 42nd double of the season scored Mark Ellis, to put the Dodgers on the board  just ahead of a Hanley Ramirez strikeout to end the inning.

Skip Schumaker made sure the lead was short-lived, singling home Yadier Molina in the top of the 2nd.  The Josh Beckett and Lance Lynn duel continued until the top of the 6th, when Paco Rodriguez entered the game with Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran on base.  Skip Schumaker then grounded out, and Daniel Descalso followed with a fly out to left.

After replacing Lance Lynn to begin the 7th inning, Shane Robinson drew a walk from Paco Rodriguez that would prove crucial.  Jon Jay then bunted a ball in the air that Rodriguez caught, and a Matt Carpenter single sent Robinson to 2nd.  Ronald Belisario entered, and induced a lineout from Matt Holliday.  Following 2 failed attempts to advance Shane Robinson, Allen Craig singled just past 2 infielders, scoring Shane Robinson.  With Matt Carpenter standing at 3rd, Yadier Molina grounded out to Belisario to end the frame, but the St. Louis Cardinals wouldn’t be denied the win this night.

Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte each pitched a scoreless inning, with the only baserunner allowed by the bullpen being a 2-out double by Hanley Ramirez in the 9th just before Shane Victorino flew out to Matt Holliday to end the game.

Things Worth Noting:  Yadier Molina threw out two base runners on the night, and Carlos Beltran had an outfield assist on a heads up play to nab Josh Beckett at 1st in the 3rd inning.  Molina’s cannon came in handy, when he nabbed Dee Gordon trying to steal with 1 out in the 7th, after already having gotten Matt Kemp on a strike-’em-out throw-’em-out double play in the 4th.  Mystifyingly, runners still try to advance against Yadi, testing what is arguably the best arm behind the plate in the entire MLB.

Allen Craig had his 2nd game-winning RBI in a week, and continued to show that he can be a master of clutch hitting.

4 of the 5 wins that the St. Louis Cardinals have this moth are 1-run wins.  Showing true grit when it matters most is key to a playoff push, and that stat should make Redbirds fans very happy.

Quick Look at the Standings:

 Cincinnati Reds (8)8757.60447-2840-29618535+83Won 36-4
 St. Louis Cardinals7668.52811.043-2933-39681597+84Won 14-6
 Pittsburgh Pirates7270.50714.042-3030-40581582-1Lost 62-8

In what could very well prove to be another exciting pitching matchup, Joe Kelly (5-6, 3.51) faces off against Chris Capuano (11-10, 3.59) tonight.  Kelly has been the beneficiary of 5 runs of support in his 2 September starts thus far; starts in which the Redbirds have both won by an identical 5-4 score.  Capuano, on the other hand, has no decisions in his last two starts after allowing 6 runs in each of the starts before that.  Let’s hope that the Capuano we get tonight is the one who has seen his confidence and results drop since his 2.62 ERA since June 3.