St. Louis Cardinals: Seeing through the dark at Miller Park
The St. Louis Cardinals have had some rough games at Miller Park so far this season but there have been positives too! What are they?
The St. Louis Cardinals have gotten off to a rough start with their relationship with Miller park in 2019. As most fans would agree, playing the Brewers this year has been, “No fun!” or, “The worst thing ever,” or even, “How is that scraggly white guy doing that to us!”
Pardon my rhyme of a title, but there has not been much fun to see when the Cardinals have played the Brewers. Now having fun with some early sample sizes, if you take out the games against the Brewers, the Cardinals would be 8-3 and would probably have the lead in the division. Isn’t that great!
It’d be great if that’s how things worked but unfortunately, the Cardinals current 1-5 record (before Wednesday’s game) leaves them at 9-8 on the year. This is better than they have started seemingly in the past few years so it’s nothing to worry too much about as a whole, but sitting 2.5 games back of Milwaukee after looking like a AAA team against them at times is not great for an opponent that you are supposed to be beating.
The thing is, you would be lying if you said that the games at Miller Park have not included some encouraging things. Let’s dig in a little.
The first thing I want to mention is a player that is making the collective Cardinal fanbase, especially myself, eat crow at the moment. Marcell Ozuna has been hotter than anyo- no, sorry not hotter than Christian Yelich– hotter than most players recently and while his fielding performances still look rough, there is hope with his bat. On the season, he is batting .293 with a 1.046 OPS and has slugged seven homers in his last nine games tying him with the team lead.
While he hit most of his homers away from Miller Park, Ozuna’s .333/.407/.625 batting line at Miller Park looks beautiful.
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One thing I have learned is that to get a player to perform better, all you have to do is write a negative article on them and the universe will work it out so they get hot. Speaking of players who I just wrote were underperforming, Paul Goldschmidt has looked a ton better specifically in this current series. Yes, he had a game earlier where he hit three homers (HAH our guy did it first! Eat that Yelich!), he wasn’t hitting the ball exactly as we would want otherwise. Man, this crow is tastes good.
As I wrote recently, Goldy has been hitting way too many fly balls and not enough line drives, even if those fly balls were resulting in homers. He needed to square the ball up more and hit line drive singles-which is exactly what he has done. While they are just small improvements, he has lined a few more singles recently, as well as smacked his seventh homer of the year at Miller Park.
Regardless of how the Umpiring has been this series, the Cardinals have shown something else that, while hasn’t swung their way often yet, is a great thing to see that we haven’t seen much this early in the season in years past. They are being resilient.
In a much more in-depth look at this identity, Mark Saxon of the Athletic recently wrote on this, so I’m not going to try to step on his coattails too much here.
This was written after the Cardinals four-game sweep of the Dodgers, but it’s something we have kept seeing in the most recent series. In the game on Monday, the Cardinals struck first with two homers, but then found themselves down 6-2. In years past, they may have just rolled over and called it a day. But instead, they battled back to tie it. Unfortunately, Christian Yelich didn’t appreciate that and changed the score really quick but still, it’s great to see.
By my count, there have been at least four times where the St. Louis Cardinals have battled back to tie the game in just their games against the Brewers. Most of these times the Brewers did end up winning, but again it’s great to see this offense be able to get punched in the mouth and get back up and keep swinging.
The thing is, not every game is going to swing their way, as it hasn’t much so far, but this continued resiliency to keep fighting when down is a huge thing to watch the rest of the season and a good indicator of success.
The pitching staff and defense have been the biggest problems for the Cardinals against the Brewers. If they found a way to control Christian Yelich, we would’ve won many more games. The Cardinals will have to figure out how to get Yelich out eventually if they want to win the NL Central as these in-division games are very important.