Reyes Thriving with Secondary Pitches

Long before Yadier Molina bounced a controversial ninth-inning walk-off double, this game was about uber-prospect Alex Reyes.  His triple-digit fastball aside, what has accelerated his development into a quality major league starter is his command of and confidence in his secondary pitches.

Alex, in a fairly must-win situation, worked six mostly dominant innings, allowing 1 run in an eventual 4-3 Cardinal win (box score).  But he also walked 2 batters and pitched from behind against 10 of the 25 batters he faced as his command of those secondary pitches sometimes eluded him.

He also gave up seven hits – four of them when he was ahead in the count – as some of the Cincinnati hitters may have anticipated those secondary pitches.  In the second inning, Adam Duvall set up the first run of the game with a double to left.  He hit an 0-1 curveball.  Joey Votto did this twice, slapping a 1-2 curveball to left in the fourth and bouncing an 0-1 change up the middle in the sixth.

For the game, Cincinnati batsmen went 8 for 14 (.571) when behind in the count.

Conversely, when Alex threw those secondary pitches in even counts – when the hitter couldn’t really afford to sit on his curve – the results were much better.  Eugenio Suarez struck out on a 2-2 curve in the second.  Later in that inning Tony Renda got caught looking at a 2-2 curve.  Hernan Iribarren bounced a 1-1 changeup to second in the third and then struck out in the sixth swinging at another change-up with the count 2-2.  Reyes also induced a fifth-inning double play from Jose Peraza on a 1-1 pitch – but that was a fast ball.

So far in his career, hitters in even counts against Reyes have 11 hits in 49 at bats (.224).  Ten of the eleven hits are singles (with three of those being infield hits and another being a bunt single).  Factor in the double, and the league is slugging .245 against Reyes in even count at bats.

Seung-hwan Oh was awarded the win after absorbing as unfair a blown save as you are ever likely to see.  He gave two hits in the ninth-inning – a fairly routine fly ball to center that Randal Grichuk misplayed into a double; and a swinging bunt dribbler up the third-base line that brought the tying run home.

Even through this, Oh still never pitched behind in the count.  Of the five batters he faced, two went to 2-2 in the count, two others ended their at bats at 1-2, and Ramon Cabrera got his gift double on an 0-2 slider.  For the season, Oh has pitched even or ahead against 77% of the batters he’s faced.  Of these 236 batters, 29 have singles (including 5 infield hits and a bunt single), 7 have managed doubles, 3 have hit home runs, and 2 were hit by pitches.  This results in a batting line of .167/.174/.236.  Batters who get themselves ahead of Oh hit .269 with a .451 on base percentage.

After allowing 12 more hits to Cincinnati last night, the Cardinal batting average against sits at .273 since the All-Star Break, and .294 in September.  While the Cards were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, Cincinnati was 4 for 12.  Opposing batters are hitting .286 against the Cards this month (68 for 238) with runners in scoring position.

The pitchers have to share the spotlight with their battery mate Yadier Molina – who was masterful as always handling the staff, threw out the only runner brazen enough to try to steal against him, and accounted for the Cards last two runs with a home run and the game-winning double.

Far from slowing down, Molina has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games, getting multiple hits in 7 of them.  He is 22 for 53 in those games – a .415 average.  With three games left in September, Yadi is hitting .372 for the month (32 for 86).  With three games left in the second half, Yadi is hitting .358 (83 for 232).  He is three hits shy of his career high in hits – the 161 he had in 2013.

The game-winning double came on a 2-0 fastball.  In the month of September, Yadi has hit ahead in the count 30 times.  He has 5 singles (1 an infield hit), 4 doubles, a home run, 5 walks and a hit-by-pitch.  His batting line for those plate appearances is .417/.533/.708.

Aledmys Diaz finished with two hits – a gift double and a line drive single in the sixth on a 2-1 fastball.  When Diaz gets ahead in the count and can look for a pitch, he’s a handful.  Aledmys hits .355 (43 for 121) when ahead in the count and slugs .645 (8 doubles and 9 home runs).  His 40 walks push his on base percentage to .509 when he is ahead in the count.

After going 0 for 18 with runners in scoring position over the last two games, the team RISP average since the All-Star Break has fallen to .229 (116 for 506).

The Cardinals have now failed to score the first run in five consecutive games; in nine of the last ten; and 17 of the last 20.  They have trailed at some point in 21 of the last 23 games.

St Louis added 2 more home runs last night.  They now have 220 on the season with three games left.  If they don’t have another multi-homer game this year, they will finish with 62, the most since the 2004 team did it 67 times.

Cards Absorb One Run Loss to Reds

A microcosm of the Cardinals’ first 158 games developed in the ninth inning last night.  Trailing by one run in a critical late September game, Kolten Wong jumped on a hanging slider and drilled it down the line in right.  The ball was fair and had home run distance, but didn’t rise, bouncing off the top of the wall.

Denied the home run, Wong settled for a leadoff triple.  There he was.  The critical tying run 90 feet away with no one out.  Eight pitches later, Kolten walked to the dugout.  Cincinnati right-hander Raisel Iglesias worked out of the trouble getting groundouts from Aledmys Diaz and Jedd Gyorko, sandwiched around a too-short fly ball from Greg Garcia to secure a 2-1 victory (box score).  St Louis thus finished 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.  With the opportunity to secure a playoff spot floating tantalizingly before them, the Cards have lost 5 of their last 7 games.

They have scored 22 runs in the 2 wins and 5 runs in the five losses, and are now hitting .234 in the second half with runners in scoring position (116 for 496).

After winning 13 of 16 one run games at one point, they have now lost 4 of the 6 they’ve played this month.  They are 22-23 this season in one run games.

Stephen Piscotty

Among the positives from last night were the two hits from Stephen Piscotty.  Enduring a mostly dreary second half, Stephen has 7 hits in his last 17 at bats.  The hits include a double, a triple and a home run.  From the second inning of last Saturday’s game against Chicago, Stephen is hitting .412 with a .765 slugging percentage.

Jhonny Peralta

Jhonny Peralta also provided a spark of good news.  His 2 for 4 evening extended his hitting streak to 6 games.  He has 5 hits over the last two games and has had three multi-hit games in the streak.  In the 21 at bats over those six games, Jhonny has 8 singles, 2 doubles and a home run – a .524 batting average accompanied by a .762 slugging percentage.  Jhonny is now hitting .309 in September (21 for 68).

Jhonny’s most critical at bat came in the eighth, when he grounded out with the tying run on third and the lead run on second and two outs.  Jhonny is only 9 for 39 (.231) since the All-Star Break with runners in scoring position.

Matt Carpenter

Matt Carpenter slides to 2 for his last 22 (.091) after his 0 for 2 last night, but if you are looking for signs, he walked twice and didn’t strike out.  He had struck out 10 times in his previous 7 games.

Matt has been a .220 hitter (39 for 177) with 43 strikeouts since he came of the disabled list.  He hasn’t been improving.  In September Matt is hitting .207 (18 for 87) with 22 strikeouts.

Randal Grichuk

Randal Grichuk swung at 7 of the 10 pitches he saw last night, and has swung at 53 of the last 81 thrown to him (65%).  In those 81 pitches he has only taken 2 called strikes.  Hitting his first notable dry stretch since his recall, Grichuk is 2 for his last 17 (.118) with 6 strikeouts.

Grichuk has played in 32 of the team’s 45 one-run games.  He has hit 8 home runs in those games, but is hitting just .223 in them (23 for 103).

Brandon Moss

Brandon Moss broke his 0-for-23 streak Monday night with a little flare to left.  He has since begun another one – 0 for 5 after his 0 for 3, 2 strikeout performance last night.  Brandon is 7 for his last 96 (.073) with 2 home runs and 36 strikeouts.  He is down to .186 (34 for 183) since the All-Star Break.

Brandon had two-out RBI chances in both the fourth and sixth innings, flying out to left and striking out in those at bats.  Brandon is 1 for 19 this month with runners in scoring position (.053).

Moss has played in 33 of the Cardinal’s 45 one-run games.  He has hit 4 home runs in those games, and has the game-winning RBI in 3 of them, but is also hitting .183 (19 for 104) in those games.

Aledmys Diaz

Aledmys Diaz – one of the hitters who couldn’t bring home the tying run last night – has only Tuesday’s dramatic grand slam to show for his last three games and nine at bats.  Diaz’ quest to regain his first-half timing has hit a snag.  He is 4 for 33 (.121) over his last 9 games, getting hits in only 3 of them.

In the season’s second half – interrupted as it’s been by the broken hand – Diaz is hitting .245 (23 for 94).  He is hitting .167 in September (6 for 36), albeit with 3 home runs.

After last night’s 0 for 3, Aledmys is hitting .236 (26 for 110) in one run games.

Bullpen Stars

After the best start from Mike Leake since his bout with shingles, the Cardinal bullpen followed up its 3.1 scoreless innings on Tuesday with 4 more last night.  After the recent pitching struggles, it was refreshing to see a “2” on the board for the other team for a change.

Seung-hwan Oh

In the top of the eighth, Cincinnati also stranded their runner after Adam Duvall’s leadoff triple.  Heroic in that effort was closer Seung-hwan Oh, who struck out both Steve Selsky and Tony Renda to end the inning.  In his last 20 games, Oh has only given up 3 runs in 23 innings – a 1.17 ERA.  Opposing hitters are now just 12 for 67 (.179) against Seung-hwan with runners in scoring position.

Oh has been terrific all year in one-run games, but has been especially so in the season’s second half.  He has now pitched in 18 of the last 23 one-run games we’ve played.  He has 9 saved in 10 opportunities with a 1.13 ERA in 20.1 innings.  The Cards are 15-8 in one runs games since the break – about the time Seung-hwan was installed as the closer.

Kevin Siegrist

Kevin Siegrist put Oh in that circumstance.  He gave up the triple as he was starting his second inning of the night.  Siegrist has had issues (health and otherwise) this year, but is finally starting to put together a very reliable stretch.  He has given up runs in only 2 of his last 11 games, covering 11.1 innings.  Kevin has struck out 16 and given only 6 hits in those innings, posting a 1.59 ERA and a .154 batting average against.

Kevin has pitched 30 times since the break, covering 27.2 innings.  He has 31 strikeouts, a 2.93 ERA and a .210 batting average against in those innings.

Kevin has also been money in the team’s one-run games this year.  He’s pitched in 28 of the 45, allowing 3 earned runs in 26.1 innings.  He has 30 strikeouts in those games, a 1.03 ERA, and a .159 batting average against.

After giving Duvall’s triple, Kevin hung around long enough to strike out Eugenio Suarez before yielding the mound to Oh.  Batters are 8 for 47 (.170) this season against Siegrist with runners in scoring position.

Zach Duke

Wrapping up the ninth, Zach Duke retired Joey Votto again – this time on a softer fly ball.  Zach has now pitched 27 games as a Cardinal.  In 23 innings he has a 1.57 ERA, a .188 opponents’ batting average and slugging percentage, while stranding 22 of the 25 runners he’s inherited.

NoteBook

Leake became the first Cardinal starter in a while not to give up a first inning run.  When he did allow a couple in the third (Duvall’s pop fly fell in, Garcia’s did not), it marked the fourth straight time that the Cardinal opponent scored the first run of the game.  It’s also the eighth time in the last nine games, and the sixteenth time in the last nineteen games that the Cards have surrendered the game’s first run.  St Louis has trailed at some point in 20 of its last 22 games – the only exceptions being Alex Reyes last two starts.

Cards Answer Blow-Out Loss with Blow-Out Win

Riding a two-game losing streak – and having lost four of the previous five games – the Cards found themselves trailing 2-0 with two outs in the bottom of the third.  To this point of the month, the Cards were only 5-8 in games after a loss.

Then, with no warning, the flash-mob offense showed up.  Having hit just one home run in the previous 5 games, the Cards hit 5 out in the next four innings, sending the Cards on their way to a much-needed 12-5 victory (box score).

Coming Through After a Loss

The outburst brings the Cards to 120 home runs in the 75 games they’ve played after a loss (1.6 per game).  The team has only 640 hits in those games (they hit .255 in games after a loss) but 264 of them (41%) have been for extra-bases.

St Louis is now 43-32 (.573) this season after a loss; 19-14 (.576) since the All-Star Break.

Jhonny Peralta

Of all the Cardinals who have spent significant time on the disabled list, it’s Jhonny Peralta who seems to be finally re-gaining his stroke.  With his three hits (including a home run) last night, Jhonny finds himself sitting with a five-game hitting streak.  He has three-hit games in two of them, and is 9 for 17 during the streak, including a double and last night’s home run.  Jhonny is hitting .529 and slugging .765 in those games.

Seven of Jhonny’s eight home runs this season have come in games after a Cardinal loss.

Yadier Molina

Yadier Molina had his 11-game hitting streak snapped on Monday when he was removed early in the blow-out loss.  So, the 34-year-old catcher who has set career highs in games, starts, and at bats, simply began a new one last night with two more hits.  Yadi is now hitting .422 (19 for 45) over his last 13 games.  He’s had two or more hits in 6 of the last 8 of them.  Yadi is hitting .372 in September (29 for 78) and .357 since the All-Star Break (80 for 224).

Yadi has played and started 31 of the 33 games after a loss that the Cards have played in the season’s second half.  He is the team’s leading hitter in those games, hitting .318 (34 for 107).

Pitching Woes

Getting the win was a relief, but doesn’t obscure the ongoing pitching issues this team has been experiencing lately.  Before things were said and done, Cincinnati finished with 5 runs on 12 hits.  The Cards have surrendered 83 hits over their last 7 games.  Twenty-seven of those hits have gone for extra bases (including 13 home runs).  The Cards have only 1 quality start in the last 7 games, hold a 7.20 ERA (including an 8.58 by their starters) and a batting line against of .331/.385/.550 in those games.  The last seven Cardinal starting pitchers have been hit at a .373/.434/.683 clip.

Adam Wainwright

In the midst of all this damage – again – is erstwhile ace Adam Wainwright.  He made big pitches to get out of a third inning jam, but he survived only 5.2 innings allowing 5 runs on 10 hits.  Wainwright hasn’t made it through the sixth inning in any of his last 3 starts, surrendering 13 runs on 26 hits (6 of them home runs) over 16.2 innings (7.02 ERA).  Adam, who once this season went 9 consecutive starts without allowing a home run, has now given up 5 in his last 11 innings.  He has allowed at least one home run in 5 straight starts, and has served up 12 in his last 9 starts.

Adam is 4-1 in his 5 September starts, but with a 5.46 ERA.

Adam was bailed out again by his offense.  In his last five starts St Louis has scored 41 runs for him.

In 33 games after a Cardinal loss since the break, Adam has taken the ball in 7 of them.  He has managed 1 quality start, and has been battered for 53 hits in 40 innings.  Wainwright is 2-3 in those games with a 6.30 ERA and a .325 batting average against him.

As pointed out earlier, Wainwright worked out of trouble all night.  Cincinnati was 0 for 6 against him with runners in scoring position.  Since the All-Star Break, Adam has held opposing batters to a .225 average (20 for 89) when there were runners on second and/or third.

Zach Duke

Zach Duke came out of the pen to face one batter – Cincinnati superstar Joey Votto.  He didn’t exactly fool Votto, who lined out to short, but the result was still the last out in the sixth.  This was Duke’s twenty-sixth appearance as a Cardinal.  He has only given up runs in 3 of them, and has stranded 21 of the 24 runners he’s inherited.  His Cardinal ERA is down to 1.59 with a .179 average against (all singles).

Matthew Bowman

Matthew Bowman pitched a perfect seventh.  Earlier in the year, Bowman seemed to have hit a wall.  In September he seems to have caught his second wind.  He has been touched for only one earned run in his 8 innings this month.

The rookie Bowman has been quite good all season after a Cardinal loss.  Matthew has been involved in 27 of the 75 games we’ve played after a loss.  He’s given us 30 innings in those games with a 2.70 ERA.  He has allowed just 21 hits in those innings – only 6 of them for extra bases.  The batting average against Bowman in these games is .198 with a .292 slugging percentage.

Trevor Rosenthal

Trevor Rosenthal – who has looked much batter since his return from the DL – pitched a scoreless eighth, although he did give up two hits on breaking balls.  Once the Reds got the second runner on, Rosenthal ended the inning getting Eugenio Suarez to ground out.

This has been far and away Trevor’s worst season.  But even in the worst of it, he has still been tough with runners in scoring position.  RISP batters are now just 8 for 45 (.178) on the season against Rosenthal.  Only two of the hits have been for extra-bases, as he has held these batters to a .267 slugging percentage.

Notes

With Cincinnati scoring again in the first inning, Cardinal opponents have scored the game’s first run in three straight games, seven of the last eight, and 15 of the last 18.  They have trailed at some point in 19 of their last 21 games.  St Louis has given up first inning runs in 2 consecutive games, and 7 of their last 8.

The Reds hit some home runs, too.  The two last night on top of the four they hit in the first game gives them six for the series so far.  The two teams have combined for 11 in the first two games of the series (numbers that would rival the bandbox that Cincinnati plays its home games in).  After allowing only 78 home runs in the first 91 games, the Cards have seen 79 fly out of the park over the last 66 games.  St Louis has now given up 157 home runs in 157 games.

With their five home runs, St Louis has now hit 218 this season in 157 games.  The current home run pace is 225.  The 218 home runs surpasses the 214 hit by the 2004 team as the second most Cardinal home runs in this century.  The 235 hit by the 2000 team is the franchise record.

Last night was also the sixty-first multiple home run game from the Cards, who have now hit three or more 23 times, four or more 13 times, and five or more 5 times.  The 2004 team hit more than one home run 67 times.  The 23 three-homer games are more than any team except the 2000 club.  They did that 31 times.  No other Cardinal team in this century had more than 8 four-homer games or 2 five-homer games.

Season’s Last Home Stand Begins With Another Loss

The Cincinnati Reds made their very first visit to the home ballpark of the St Louis Cardinals in mid-April this year.  The Cardinals opened that first series hitting six home runs and trouncing the Reds 14-3.  At that time, their home record was 3-1.

Fast forward to Cincinnati’s very last visit to St Louis this season.  Cincinnati only hit four home runs last night, but more than fully avenged their earlier humiliation with a 15-2 rout of the home team (box score).  It was, I confess, slightly unreal listening to the Reds struggling after the game to say nice things about the team they had just trashed on the field.  How often have the Reds had more difficulty with the post-game interviews than they had with the team that they played against?

Problems at Home Continue

Last night, the Cardinal pitching staff surrendered ten or more runs for the seventh time this season at home.  Four of them have occurred in the last 19 home games.  Meanwhile, the hitters put fewer than 3 runs on the board for the twenty-fourth time in 75 home games (32%).  Hitting in their home park is something this team has never figured out all season.  In their 8 September home games so far, they have scored 22 total runs (2.75 per) while hitting .192.  For the year, they have hit .249 at home with 92 home runs.  They hit .257 on the road with 121 home runs.

But these struggles began before last night.  Dating back to the middle game of the Colorado series, the Cardinal pitching staff has been saddled with a 7.59 ERA and a .332/.391/.556 batting line.  They got six very good inning from Carlos Martinez in his start against Chicago.  The other five starters have combined to pitch 16.2 innings in their starts (less than four per game) and have a 10.80 ERA combined with a .397/.455/.744 batting line.  The team’s September ERA has soared to 4.88.

In pounding the Cards, Cincinnati went 9 for 17 (.529) with runners in scoring position.  Going back to the middle game of the Chicago series, opposing hitters are now 23 for their last 62 with RISP, including 4 doubles, a triple, and 3 home runs – a .371 batting average with a .613 slugging percentage.

Jaime Garcia

Last night’s game began with four hits and two runs off of starter Jaime Garcia before the Cards could come to bat.  That was the end of Garcia’s night.  Garcia, in his last 9 games, has made 7 starts (only 1 a quality start), has gone 1-5 in those games with a 7.60 ERA.  He has served up a surprising 13 home runs in his last 34.1 innings.  He has served up 16 in 70.1 innings since the All-Star Break, on his way to a 5.60 in those innings.

Jaime has been on the cutting edge of the home struggles.  Once a starter who was dependably at his best at Busch, Garcia has made 3 starts here this month.  He has totaled 6.1 innings in those starts, during which he has been hammered for 9 runs on 15 hits (5 of them home runs).  The 35 batsmen that he has faced at home this month are hitting .469/.514/1.063.  In the season’s second half, Garcia has taken the Busch Stadium mound 9 times, contributing only 45.1 innings and 2 quality starts.  He is 3-4 with a 5.36 ERA in those games.

There haven’t been many positives lately for Garcia.  He did retire both batters he faced with runners in scoring position last night (Eugenio Suarez on a fly ball and Scott Schebler on a ground out).  In the 18.1 innings he’s pitched this month, Garcia has held batters to 4 for 19 (.211) with runners in scoring position.

Michael Wacha

The game, of course, really spun out of control during Michael Wacha’s 2.2 eventful innings.  Wacha has made 3 bullpen appearances since returning from the disabled list.  In his 5.2 innings he has allowed 10 runs on 14 hits.

Luke Weaver

Luke Weaver’s very first relief appearance was memorable in all the bad ways.  It’s amazing how quickly this highly regarded prospect has unraveled.  He threw 3 quality starts in his first 6 big-league starts and carried a 3.48 ERA through his first 31 innings.  His last 3 games (2 starts and last night’s relief effort) have totaled 5 innings with damages of 17 runs (11 earned) on 16 hits, 4 walks and 2 hit batsmen.

Weaver’s ability to cope with runners in scoring position has also faded significantly recently.  RISP batters were 3 for 4 against Luke last night, and are now 9 for their last 19 (.474).

Dean Kiekhefer

It made no difference in the game, but when Dean Kiekhefer allowed his inherited run to score it was the eleventh of the 16 runners that Dean has inherited that have come around to score (68.8%).  These totals include 8 of 10 at home.

The Reds were 1 for 3 against Dean with runners in scoring position.  For his brief career, opposing batters are 15 for 28 against Kiekhefer with runners in scoring position, including 3 doubles, a triple, and a home run.  It all adds up to a .536 batting average and an .821 slugging percentage.

Partially obscured by the disastrous efforts of the pitching staff was another frighteningly quiet game by the hitters as yet another rookie pitcher had a career day at their expense.  In 24 September games, the Cards are now hitting just .237 and scoring 3.79 runs per game.

Matt Adams

Matt Adams was one of many 0 for 3s in the lineup.  At moments in the first half of the season, it looked like Adams was arriving.  In the second half, Adams is now hitting .216 (21 for 97) and might be departing.

Of those 97 second half at bats, Matt has had 46 of them at Busch.  He has only 8 hits to show for them (.174).

Brandon Moss

The background of the team-wide batting slump makes Brandon Moss’ ongoing struggles all the more painful.  His 0 for 3 last night stretches his most recent hitless streak to 22 at bats, and drops him to just 6 for his last 89.  He is 33 for 176 (.188) since the break.

Again, it didn’t change the outcome, but Brandon got one of only 3 Cardinal plate appearances with a runner in scoring position.  The Cards were already down 14-1 at the time, but Brandon popped out with a runner at second.  He is now 0 for 15 with runners in scoring position this month, and 0 for his last 19 overall.  His last hit with a runner on scoring position came in the first inning on August 23 – a single against the Mets Jon Niese that scored Matt Carpenter from second.

Notes

The Cardinals have now lost the first game in 5 of their last 6 series.  On pace at one time to challenge the franchises team home run record, St Louis has one home run in its last five games.

Next for the troubled Redbirds?  The Cards haven’t been beaten this badly since August 8, 2012 when they were pounded on by San Francisco 15-0.  This was only the fourteenth time this century that St Louis has trailed in a game by as many as 13 runs.  But it was just one loss.  Amazingly, this downtrodden team that can’t hit, can’t pitch, can’t field and can’t run the bases is still just one game out of the last playoff spot.

Sometimes an embarrassing loss can be a very effective wake-up call.  In April, after the Cards pounded Cincy in the first game, the embarrassed Reds bounced back to win the next game 9-8.  A few days ago, Philadelphia jumped out to a 10-0 lead against the Mets (the final was 10-8 as the Mets staged a nearly heroic rally).  The Mets bounced back the next day with a 17-0 win.

It will be instructive to see if there is any bounce back in the Cardinals.

Cards Have Little Season Left as they Limp Home

With the season ticking away, the Cardinals were dominated again by another good pitcher having a good night.  Chicago’s Jon Lester became the latest in a growing line of pitchers – famous and otherwise – who have silenced the once-potent St Louis offense with 6.2 innings of 3-hit shutout ball.  The baby bears went on to a 3-1 victory (box score).  The Cards have seven games left and sit a half game out of the last playoff spot.

The loss is extra-damaging in light of the unfortunate decision to give tonight’s start to erratic lefty Jaime Garcia.

Along the way, the Cards went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.  Since the All-Star break, St Louis is hitting .232 (111 for 479) with ducks on the pond.  That is about what the team is hitting for the month of September (.239 on 179 hits in 750 at bats).  Over the first 23 September games, the Cards are scoring 3.87 runs per game.

While the general batting attack has been mostly moribund since the All-Star break, the bat of Yadier Molina continues to try and carry the team.  He had two hits last night, including the Cardinal’s only extra-base hit.  Yadi is now hitting .436 (17 for 39) during an eleven-game hitting streak.  He now has had multiple hits in 5 of the last 6 games – hitting .500 (12 for 24) over his last six games.  Yadi is now a .375 hitter (27 for 72) in September.

Unfortunately, in the dysfunctional Cardinal offense, wherever he hits in the lineup is almost always the wrong place.  He was up with the bases empty in all four of his at bats last night, and is batting with no one on 66.1% of the time since the All-Star Break.

Yadi had 2 of the 3 hits that St Louis had against untouchable Cub left-hander.  In general, Cardinal right-handed hitters have floundered against lefties.  But not Yadi.  He is 9 for 19 (.474) against lefties this month.

Beyond Molina the news was pretty bleak.

Stephen Piscotty, a dynamic hitter after being called up in the second half of last season, and a .295 hitter at the break, has spent the entire second half of the season in a prolonged batting slump.   Over his last 238 at bats, Stephen has managed 57 hits – a .239 batting average.  Piscotty went hitless in 4 at bats last night.

Piscotty came up twice with the bases empty, popping out to second in both the first and fourth innings.  Since the All-Star break, Piscotty has been a .199 hitter (28 for 141) when hitting with no one on base.

Mike Matheny keeps writing Brandon Moss’ name in the lineup, and Moss keeps putting up 0 for 4s.  He now has no hits in his last 6 games – totaling 19 at bats – and is now 6 for his last 86 (.070) with 2 home runs and 31 strikeouts.  Brandon has fallen to .191 (33 for 173) in the season’s second half.

Brandon is 0 for 14 this month with runners in scoring position.  He ended the eighth inning last night, lining to center with the potential tying runs at third.

That lineout came against right-handed reliever Justin Grimm.  Since the All-Star Break, Brandon is 21 for 126 (.167) against right-handed pitchers.

Jedd Gyorko slides to 0 for 13 after a hitless night.  He has 6 strikeouts in those at bats.  He is 15 for 73 (.205) this month.

Carlos Martinez lost for the second time in his last three starts to the Cubs, but mostly pitched very well.  He walked 4 (one intentionally), but allowed only 2 runs and silenced a couple of long-time nemesis: Anthony Rizzo went 0 for 3, grounding into a double play; and Lester (who has 3 lifetime hits against Carlos) also went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts.  Carlos is 5-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 51 innings over his last 8 starts.  This was his nineteenth quality start of the season, and his sixth in those last 8 starts.

While he looked, overall, much more like the Carlos Martinez we have seen all year, he still invited a fair amount of trouble.  The Cubs put two runners on base in four of the six innings Carlos pitched.  One of those was the sixth-inning, when Chicago scored its second run when Addison Russell’s double kicked up the chalk on the left-field foul line.  Carlos extracted himself from the other three jams, getting Russell to ground out with runners at first and second and two out in the first; getting Rizzo to end the fifth by grounding into a double play with runners at first and third; and striking out Lester with runners at first and second to end the sixth.  For the season, 87 batters have faced Martinez with two runners on base.  They are hitting .171 (13 for 76).

Russell’s double was the only hit Carlos allowed in 7 at bats against him with runners in scoring position.  In his five September starts, opposing hitters are 6 for 29 (.207) with runners in scoring position.

Right-handed batters were just 2 for 9 against Martinez, but both of those hits cost him runs – the Russell double and David Ross’ home run.  For the season, righties are hitting .208 against Martinez (67 for 322).  Ross’ home run was only the fourth that Martinez has served up to a right-handed batter this season.

After Martinez left the game, Cub righties went 2 for 4 against the Cardinal bullpen.  For the month of September, right-handed batters are thumping St Louis to the tune of .302/.360/.478 with 18 home runs.

The Cards did get another strong inning from Kevin Siegrist.  He has been unscored on in 8 of his last 10 games, covering 10 innings.  With 2 strikeouts last night, Kevin has 14 in his last 10 innings with a 1.80 ERA.

After his 3-up-3-down inning, Kevin has now faced 24 of his 36 batters this month with the bases empty (66.7%).

Two of the three batters Siegrist faced were right-handed.  Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant both struck out looking.  Kevin is annually among the toughest lefthanders for righties to solve.  For the season, they are hitting .181 against him (26 for 144) – although with 7 home runs.

Zach Duke invited trouble by putting the first two runners on in the eighth inning, before Jason Heyward struck out attempting to bunt.  Duke’s numbers are similar to Martinez’ when he gets at least two runners on base against him.  Batters with those opportunities are 2 for 24 against Duke since he became a Cardinal.

Heyward was also the only lefty that Duke got to face.  This month, left-handed hitters are 1 for 12 (.083) against Zach.

St Louis has scored the game’s first run three times in the last 16 games.  Not surprisingly, therefore, they have trailed at some point in 17 of their last 19 games.  The only exceptions here have been Alex Reyes’ last two starts.

For all the disappointment of going 5-5 on that final important road trip, the Cards did finish the season with a pretty good road record of 48-33.  Had they played that well at home, this would have been a 96 win team.  They finished scoring 424 runs on the road (an average of 5.23 per).  With 7 home games left, they have scored 315 runs at Busch this season (an average of 4.26).  The runs allowed are fairly even.  They have surrendered 328 at home (4.43) and 352 on the road (4.35).  In the 26 road series played, St Louis finished with 14 wins, 6 losses and 6 splits.  They had 9 chances to sweep a series on the road, succeeding 5 times.  They were in danger of being swept on the road 5 times, but managed to avoid that fate in 4 of those occasions.  The Cards lost the first three games of the season in Pittsburgh and were never swept on the road again.  Last night’s loss was only the second rubber game they lost on the road all season.  The other was in Cincinnati – a 7-0 loss to Brandon Finnegan on August 4.

The Cubs were the twenty-fifth team the Cards have played this year that had won its previous series.  Even with last night’s loss, St Louis is still 44-37 against those teams, winning 12 of the series, losing 10 and splitting 3.  Fresh off of winning its last two games against Milwaukee, Cincinnati will be the third consecutive (and fifth of the last six) team the Cards will play that has won its previous series.

September Slipping Away

For those of you who might have been afraid that the Cardinals would peak too soon, you can relax.  They answered their recent four-game winning streak with two humbling defeats in which they have been outscored 16-1.  Somehow, they have managed to win 10 of their 21 September games, even though their hitting has come to an almost complete halt (a .236 average and 3.71 runs per game) while the team ERA has dwindled to 4.49.  With another early exit by a starter, St Louis has managed 8 quality starts for the month.

The numbers after 153 games tell the story of a defiantly mediocre baseball team that is fading as the final month draws to a close.

They have lost the opening game of 5 of the seven series they’ve started this month, and are 22-28 (.440) for the season in game one of a series.

They have been held to less than four runs 12 times in 21 games this month – 9 times less than 3 runs.  They have lost all 9 of those games.  They have been held to less than 4 runs 29 times in the 65 games since the All-Star break.

The last 12 games have included three in the hitters’ paradise known as Colorado.  In the first 2 games of the Rockies series, St Louis scored 15 runs.  In the other ten games combined they have scored 17.  In fact, remove the first two Colorado games and the team batting line since September 11 reads .188/.249/.276.

Conversely, they have surrendered 5 or more runs 10 times this month, 29 times since the All-Star Break, and 61 times this season.

In the month of September, St Louis is 6-2 when Carlos Martinez or Adam Wainwright start.  They are 4-9 when anyone else does.  Since the All-Star Break they are 16-9 (.640) in starts by Martinez or Wainwright, and 18-22 (.450) with anyone else.

With the Cubs scoring four times in the first, St Louis has now trailed at some point in 16 of their last 17 games.  They have trailed at some point in 18 of 21 September games, 49 of the 65 second-half games, and 112 of the 153 they have played this season.  They are 20-9 since the break when they score first, but have only done so 29 times in the last 65 games.

St Louis has now surrendered first inning runs in 4 straight games.  Over their last 16 games, the team has a 7.31 first-inning ERA, followed closely by a 5.63 second-inning ERA.  From that point on, the ERA is 3.70.

Conversely, they have held a lead at some point in 114 games this year, but have lost 34 of those games, anyway.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.

If this were any other club, they could be written off.  Not their year.  But we have seen this team do this before.  Throughout much of 2006 and 2011 the Cardinals were a painfully bad team to follow.  They were also that team that never bowed to adversity.  They believe that they are still that team.

What we are waiting on now is to find out if this team has that kind of character. If they do – if they claw their way into the playoffs and fight their way deep into October – the 2016 team will certainly add to the team’s legacy.

If they don’t, though, that will challenge one of the core beliefs that the organization has about the guts of this team.  We will no longer be able to completely believe in the un-conquerable will and championship mettle of this team.

This is – I think – a very important point.  These next nine games will not only decide whether this ragged team gets a shot at the post-season.  These next nine games could alter the team’s identity for the next several seasons.

Position Wars with Ten Games Left

Yesterday we looked at lineups and batting orders.  Today, for the last time in the regular season, let’s look at what I call position wars.

Position – Catcher

Yadier Molina has caught 17 of the 20 games this month.  St Louis is 10-7 in those games and 0-3 when Yadi is given the day off.  Yadi has also started 55 of the 64 second half games.  The team has gone 33-22 in his starts and 1-8 when someone else subs for him.  The team ERA is 4.03 in his starts and 6.08 in the other games.  Over the course of the entire season, St Louis is 73-59 in Molina’s 132 starts; 5-3 when Eric Fryer started; 2-6 with Alberto Rosario; and 0-2 with both Brayan Pena and Molina’s heir apparent, Carson Kelly.  The team’s inability to win with anyone other than Molina back there is an ongoing concern.

Position – First Base

As September wears on, first base is becoming more and more the default position for Matt Carpenter.  He has made 10 of the last 14 starts there, and has been the first baseman for 13 of the 20 games played this month.  St Louis is 5-8 when Carpenter starts there, scoring 2.77 runs per game with a team ERA of 4.89 in his starts.  Matt Adams has made the other 7 starts at first this month.  The Cards have won 5 of those games, outscoring their opponents 42-28 in those games.

Carpenter has also started 26 of the 64 post All-Star Break games at first base.  Adams is second since the break making 21 starts there, with Brandon Moss playing first just 12 times since the break.  St Louis is 14-7 when Adams makes the start; 13-13 with Carpenter; and 6-6 with Moss.  The offense does better with Adams (4.86 rpg), with Moss second (3.92) and Carpenter third (3.77).  The team ERA is also better with Adams (3.92).  With Carpenter, the team ERA has been 4.34 and 4.58 with Moss.  All of these numbers since the All-Star break.

Looking at the whole season, Matt Adams has been the starting first baseman 66 times.  The Cards are 37-29 in his starts (.561).  Offensively, the team scores 4.88 runs per game in his starts, while the team ERA is 3.78.  Although he hasn’t been there much recently, Moss has been the primary backup (39 games).  St Louis is 22-17 in Brandon’s starts (.564).  They also score more runs when Moss starts (4.97 per game), while the defense is not as good (4.11).  Carpenter has made 29 starts at first this season.  His numbers show a 15-14 record (.517).  The 4.31 runs-per-game they score in those games not quite offsetting the 4.55 team ERA when Carpenter plays first.

Position – Second Base

Kolten Wong is emerging as the regular in this much-contested position.  He has made 14 of the last 18 starts there, leading the team to an 8-6 record.

Kolten has made 31 starts there since the All-Star Break.  These games have not all been pretty.  In spite of the fact that the team ERA (4.38) is higher than the average runs scored in these games (4.22), St Louis has still gone 19-12 (.613) when Wong starts at second.  Jedd Gyorko has been the second most frequent starter at second base in the second half.  In his 13 starts there, the Cards have scored 5.51 runs per game, while the team ERA is just 3.52.  Even so, the team is just 6-7 in those games.  Carpenter and Greg Garcia have both made 10 starts at second since the break.  The team is 5-5 when Carp starts, and 4-6 with Garcia.

Those four players have made all the team’s starts at second this year, and with fairly consistent results.  Wong has a team-leading 70 starts there with a 41-29 record (.586) while helping the team to a 3.94 ERA.  Gyorko, in his 35 starts, has seen the team go 18-17 (.514), in spite of the fact that the offense jumps to 5.77 runs per game when he starts there.  St Louis is 15-19 (.441) in Carpenter’s 34 starts there.  Garcia has made the other 13 starts at second.  The Cards are 6-7 in those games, scoring just 3.38 runs per game while allowing 4.46 earned runs per game.

Position – Shortstop

Aledmy’s Diaz’ injury has given Jedd Gyorko the majority of the September starts at short.  He has made 12, leading the team to a 6-6 record.

Diaz, however, is the team leader since the break, making 22 of the 64 starts at short.  The Cards are 13-9 (.591) in those games.  Offensively, St Louis has done better with both Garcia (4.67 rpg) or Gyorko (4.20 rpg) playing the position. But even though the team is scoring just 4.15 runs per game with Diaz there, the team ERA (3.93) is better when Diaz starts.  The Cards are 10-9 (.526) in Gyorko’s second half starts (with a 4.20 team ERA).  They have been 9-7 in Garcia’s second half starts.

Diaz has started 96 games at shortstop in an excellent rookie year.  He has led the Cards to a 54-42 record (.563).  They have averaged 5.21 runs scored in these games, while posting a 3.89 ERA.  They are 12-11 when Garcia starts there and 11-11 with Gyorko.

Position – Third Base

In the game of infield musical chairs, last year’s starting shortstop has laid claim to third base – pushing last year’s third baseman (Carpenter) over to first base.  Jhonny Peralta has made 13 of the 20 September starts at third.  The team is 6-7 in those starts.

The season’s second half has found Peralta at third 32 times.  The results show 4.34 runs scored per game and a 3.81 team ERA, but just a 16-16 record.  Jedd Gyorko has been the other frequent third-baseman in the second half.  St Louis is 13-12 in his 25 starts, even though they have been outscored 140-92 in those games.

For the season, Peralta has made 57 starts at third – slightly more than Carpenter’s 52.  The offense is better when Carpenter starts there (5.10 rpg v 4.49), but the team ERA has been better with Peralta there (3.59 v 4.03).  The Cards are 28-29 (.491) with Peralta and 27-25 (.519) with Carpenter.

St Louis has actually won more frequently when Gyorko (16-12, .571) and Garcia (7-4, .636) start at third.

Position – Left Field

It wasn’t the way the season was supposed to play out in April, but Brandon Moss has made 16 of the 20 September starts in left field.  The Cards are 8-8 in those games, and 2-2 in the games he hasn’t started there.

Exiled from the infield as Carpenter has become the de facto first baseman, Brandon leads the team is second half starts in left field.  He has started there 24 times in the last 64 games.  Matt Holliday (18) and Jeremy Hazelbaker (10) have combined to make 28 of the other starts.  Record-wise there isn’t a lot to choose from.  When Holliday has started (since the break), the Cards are 10-8 (.556), in spite of the fact that St Louis only scored 3.89 runs per game in his starts.  When Moss starts, the team record in 13-11, in spite of the fact that the team ERA is 4.66 in his starts.  When Hazelbaker starts, the team scores 4.30 runs per game with an ERA of 3.58.  But the record in his starts is just 5-5.  Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk and Kolten Wong have combined to make 12 starts in left since the break.  St Louis has won 6 of them.

Matt Holliday made 82 starts in left this season before his hand was broken.  The Cardinal record in those games was 39-43 (.476).  Brandon Moss is up to 35 starts there, in Holliday’s absence.  The team is 20-15 in those games, although the team ERA (4.32) continues to be the worst when Moss plays there.  Of the other players who have made significant starts there, the team is 12-6 (.667) when Hazelbaker makes the start.  The Cards have scored 112 runs in Jeremy’s 18 starts (6.22 per).  Tommy Pham has made 11 starts in left this season.  The Cards have won 7 of them.  With Pham in left, St Louis is managing just 4.36 runs per game, but also has a 2.79 team ERA.

Position – Center Field

Randal Grichuk has made 37 consecutive starts in center field (including all 20 in September) since his recall from Memphis.  St Louis has won 20 of the 37.

Randal has been the center fielder in 42 games since the All-Star Break, with Tommy Pham playing there in 15 games.  The record when Grichuk starts is 23-19 (.548) and 8-7 (.533) with Pham.  The offensive numbers are similar – the Cards score 4.38 runs per game when Randal starts in center and 4.33 when Tommy is there.  The biggest difference since the break has been the team ERA – 4.13 when Grichuk starts v 4.92 with Pham.

By season’s end, the Cardinals will probably have only four of the eight defensive positions where one player has made at least 100 starts.  Center field will likely be one of those, as Grichuk is up, now, to 96 starts.  St Louis has won 55 of those games (.573), scoring 5.09 runs and allowing 3.98 earned runs in his starts.  Tommy Pham has been there for 24 games this year – with the team going 12-12 in those games; and Hazelbaker playing 16 games in center, with the Cards losing 9 of them.  Stephen Piscotty and Kolten Wong have combined to make 16 starts in center, with the team going 6-10 in those games.

Position – Right Field

Right field has been second only to catcher in stability for the Cardinals this year.  While injuries, slumps and other chaos has reigned in most all other positions, Stephen Piscotty has been the season-long constant in right.  He’s made 18 of 20 starts in September (with the Cards going 9-9 with his and 1-1 without); 53 of 64 in the second half (30-23, .566 with and 4-7, .364 without); and 126 games for the season so far.  The Cards have won 69 games and lost 57 (.548) with Stephen in right.  Brandon Moss has been the primary backup there, with St Louis going 8-11 in his 19 starts.

Examining the Lineup after 152 Games

Ten games and three difficult series remain as the Cards try to outlast either the Mets or the Giants for one of the two available Wild Card positions.  For the last time in the regular season, let’s see what trends we can mine from the various lineup combinations.  We’ll follow this up tomorrow with a by-position examination.

Yadier Molina didn’t start yesterday for only the third time this month.  The Cards have lost all three, scoring 3 runs in the process.  Since the All-Star Break, Molina has only missed 9 starts.  St Louis has lost 8 of the 9, averaging 1.78 runs per game.  For the season, St Louis is 74-59 (.556) scoring 4.99 runs per game when Molina starts.  They are 6-13 (.316) scoring 3.37 runs per game when he is not in the lineup.

Matt Carpenter has started 18 of the first 20 games this month.  St Louis has lost 10 of them, scoring 3.28 runs per game.  The Cards scored 19 runs in winning the two games that Matt didn’t start.

For the season, St Louis is 58-58 in Carpenter’s 116 starts, scoring 4.72 runs per game.  They are 22-14 (.611) scoring 5.00 runs per game when he doesn’t.  They are 14-19 (.424), scoring 4.52 runs per game when he starts against left-handed pitchers.  St Louis has won 6 of the 10 games they’ve played against left-handers without Matt in the lineup, scoring 58 runs in those games.

Injuries, diminishing production, and limited defensive positions have all conspired against Matt Adams’ presence in the starting lineup.  He has started just 21 of the 64 second half games.  The Cards are 14-7 in those games, scoring 4.86 runs per game.  In the 43 games he didn’t start, St Louis is 20-23, scoring 3.98.  For the season, the Cardinals are a 37-29 team (.561), scoring 4.88 runs per game, when Adams is in the lineup, and a 43-43 team (.500) scoring 4.72 runs per game when he’s not.

Adams, as you might suspect, is most often deployed against right-handed pitchers.  Twenty of his second half starts have been against righties – with the Cards winning 13 of those games (.650) and scoring 4.60 runs per game.  They have lost 14 of the last 27 games that Adams hasn’t been in the lineup against righties.  They have averaged 3.81 runs per game.

For the season, St Louis is only 33-28 when Matt starts against right-handers and 4-1 when he starts against left-handers.

Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright have combined to make 25 of the 64 starts in the season’s second half.  St Louis is 16-9 when they start (.640) and 18-21 (.462) behind the rest of the rotation.  For the season, the Cards are 20-11 in Adam’s 31 starts, scoring 5.23 runs per game for Adam.  They are 60-61 (.496), scoring 4.68 runs per game for everyone else.

Ten of Adam’s match-ups have been against left-handed starters.  The Cards are 7-3 in those games.  They are 13-20 when anyone else starts against lefties.

Kolten Wong has started half of the team’s 64 second-half games.  St Louis is 19-13 (.594) with Wong in the lineup, and 15-17 (.469) without him.  For the season, Kolten has made 80 starts.  The Cardinals are 46-34 (.575) when he does and 34-38 (.472) when he doesn’t.

Jhonny Peralta has started 40 times since the All-Star Break.  St Louis is 19-21 in those games (.475) and 15-9 (.625) when he hasn’t been in the lineup.  For the season, the Cardinals are 31-34 (.477) when Peralta starts, and 49-38 (.563) when he doesn’t.

Aledmys Diaz has started 96 games during his rookie season.  St Louis is 54-42 (.563) scoring 5.21 runs per game in his starts.  They are 26-30 (.464) scoring 4.07 runs per game when forced to play without him in the lineup.

His absence has been most felt against right-handed starters.  Since the break, St Louis is 11-4 (.733) when Diaz starts against righties.  They are 15-17 (.469) when they have to face right-handers without him.  For the season, Aledmys has started against 64 of the 109 right-handed starters who have faced the Cards.  They are 40-24 (.625) scoring 5.31 runs per game in those contests.  When those right-handers haven’t had to deal with Diaz, the Cards are 20-25 (.444), scoring 4.02 runs per game.

The Cardinals are 56-45 (.554) scoring 5.04 runs per game in Randal Grichuk’s 101 starts.  They are 24-27 (.471) when he is not in the lineup.

Randal has been in the lineup against 31 of the 43 left-handed starters St Louis has faced.  They have won 17 of those games (.548), scoring 5.13 runs per game.  They have lost 9 of the 12 (.250), scoring 4.00 runs per game when they have faced left-handers without Randal.

They are also 48-51 (.485) with Matt Holliday in the lineup and 32-21 (.604) without him.

Since the break, St Louis is 15-16, scoring 4.10 runs per game when Brandon Moss starts against a right-handed pitcher.  They are 6-5, scoring 4.27 runs per game when he starts against lefties.

Matt Carpenter has been the leadoff hitter in 17 of September’s 20 games.  Kolten Wong has led off in the other three games.  St Louis is 8-9 with Carpenter there, scoring 3.41 runs per game.  They have won 2 of the 3 that Wong has started, scoring 20 runs in those games.

Since the All-Star Break, Carpenter has been the leadoff hitter in 31 of the 64 games.  He has led St Louis to a 15-16 record (.484), scoring 3.58 runs per game.  They are 19-14 (.576) scoring 4.91 runs per game when anyone else leads off.  Greg Garcia has made the second most starts there in the second half, leading the team to a 7-5 record in those games.  They are also 6-3 since the break when Tommy Pham hits there.

Over the 152 games of the season so far, St Louis is 51-54 (.486) scoring 4.66 runs per game when Carpenter hits leadoff.  With anyone else in that line-up spot, St Louis is 29-18 (.617) scoring 5.09 runs per game.  Of the other 8 players who have hit leadoff at some point this season, only Garcia (16) and Pham (11) have made 10 or more starts in that position.  St Louis is 10-6 behind Garcia and 8-3 behind Pham.

No one has hit second in the lineup more than 8 times so far this month.  Since the break, though, Aledmys Diaz has re-taken the team lead.  He has hit there 21 times in the second half, followed by Jedd Gyorko’s 20 and Stephen Piscotty’s 16.  The team is 12-9 (.571) with Diaz, 10-10 (.500) with Gyorko, and 7-9 (.438) with Piscotty.

Throughout the season’s first half, Piscotty hit second early and then Diaz moved into the spot.  Overall, St Louis is 36-26 (.581) when Aledmys bats second, and 23-23 when Stephen is there.

Piscotty has been the third-place hitter for 10 of the 20 September games so far.  The Cards are 5-5 with him batting third, and 5-5 with someone else there.

Since the All-Star Break, the third spot in the lineup has been mostly split between Piscotty (26 starts) and Moss (18 starts).  The Cardinal record is 16-10 (.615) when Piscotty hits there and 9-9 (.500) with Moss.

For the season, Matt Holliday has hit third 86 times, with the Cardinals winning only 40 of those games (.465).  Of the other players who have hit third in at least ten games, the Cards are 19-11 (.633) when Piscotty hits there, and 12-9 (.571) when Moss hits there.  When not batting leadoff, Matt Carpenter has hit third ten times.  St Louis has scored 58 runs in those games, winning 7.

Six different players have hit clean-up so far this month, none of them more than six times.  Since the All-Star Break, though, Brandon Moss has found himself hitting clean-up 17 times.  That is the most on the team over the last 64 games.  Others with more than ten games hitting cleanup are Piscotty (13 starts), Adams and Holliday (12 starts each).  The Cards are 10-7 with Moss, 7-6 with Piscotty, and 7-5 with both Adams and Holliday.

For the season, Stephen Piscotty’s 55 starts at cleanup are the most on the team.  They have won 28 of those games (.509) while scoring 5.02 runs per game.  They are 17-16, 5.00 with Moss, and 13-14, 4.41 with Adams there.  Randal Grichuk has started at cleanup 15 times this year.  St Louis has averaged 5.67 runs in those games, winning 11 of them (.733).

Yadier Molina has mostly taken over the fifth spot in the lineup.  He has hit there 14 times this month, leading the club to a 9-5 record and 4.57 runs per game.  They are 1-5, scoring 14 runs total in the six games that Molina hasn’t hit fifth.

Yadi has hit fifth 37 times in the 64 second half games.  St Louis is 23-14 (.622) scoring 4.95 runs per game when he does, and 11-16 (.407) scoring 3.33 runs per game when he doesn’t.

For the season, Molina will end up as the team leader in starts batting fifth, even though he has only hit there 64 times.  The team has done well, winning 35 of those games (.547) and scoring 4.81 runs per game.  They have also gone 16-11 (.593) with Adams there (scoring 4.81 runs per game).  The run scoring has actually gone up with both Peralta (4.95 per over 21 starts) and Grichuk (5.31 per over 16 starts), but the team record is under .500 with both (9-12 with Peralta and 7-9 with Grichuk).

Brandon Moss has only hit fifth 4 times in the second half, but for the season he has landed there 13 times, leading the team to an 8-5 record with 5.00 runs per game.

With Molina moving up in the order, Jhonny Peralta has mostly taken over the sixth position in the order.  He has started there 26 times since the break, with the Cards winning 14 of them (.538) scoring 4.23 runs per game.  Grichuk has hit sixth 11 times in the second half, and the Cards have averaged 5.09 runs per game in those games.  But the team record in those games is just 5-6 (.455).

With 45 starts for the season, Molina also leads the team in hitting sixth.  And the Cards are still searching to replace his production in the six hole.  The team is 27-18 (.600) when Yadi hits sixth, scoring 5.29 runs per game.  Among the other prominent players who have found themselves batting sixth, Peralta has led the team to a 16-17 record and 4.21 runs per game; Grichuk’s numbers are 8-13 and 4.43; with Moss 7-8, 4.93; and Jeremy Hazelbaker, batting there 12 times, has seen the team score 4.75 runs per game while splitting the 12 games.

Jedd Gyorko has hit sixth 15 times this season.  St Louis has won 10 of those games (.667) averaging 5.00 runs per game.

Gyorko has hit seventh in the lineup more than anyone else on the team both for the year (40 times) and since the All-Star Break (21 times).  In neither case are the results awe-inspiring (19-21 [.475] overall, and 11-10 [.524] in the second half).  Grichuk has hit there 27 times this season (15-12), including 16 times since the All-Star Break (8-8).

St Louis has also had Kolten Wong (12-11) and Yadier Molina (11-9) bat there more than ten times.  There are also ten others who have hit there.  The team record in those games is 23-19.

Nine different players have batted eighth just since the All-Star Break.  The most frequent of these is Kolten Wong – who has hit there 20 times, leading the team to a 12-8 record and 4.45 runs per game.  Grichuk has hit there a lot recently (11 times since the break) with the team going 8-3 (.727) and scoring 5.55 runs per game with him there.  Greg Garcia also has 10 second half starts there.  The team has split those, scoring 47 runs in those games.

Kolten has batted eighth 42 times this season.  The team has won 27 of those games (.643) and scored 4.95 runs per.  Diaz hit second a lot early in the season.  His 24 starts there are the second most on the team.  St Louis scored a lot of runs in those games (5.58), but only won 11 of them (.458).

Of the three other players that have made at least 10 starts batting eighth, the team has done the best with Grichuk (12-5, .706, 5.65 rpg).  They are 7-5, 5.08 with Pham and 8-11, 4.42 with Garcia.

With the allowing of another first-inning run yesterday, the Cards have now trailed at some point in 15 of their last 16 games.

With the Cubs coming off a sweep of the Reds, Chicago will be the fourth of the last five opponents the Cardinals will play that has won its previous series.

Taking the Coors Cure

As hoped – for one day at least – Coors Field in Colorado has proven the cure for the common hitting slump.  The Cardinal team that managed 16 runs in the 8 games before heading for the mountains has now scored 15 runs in two games at altitude.  Last night was a fairly typical Coors slug-fest, a 10-5 Cardinal win (box score) that featured 15 runs, 26 hits and 5 home runs.

Randal Grichuk sparked the offense with three hits.  He has hit in 7 of his last 8 games, hitting .357 and slugging .607 in those games (5 singles, 4 doubles and a home run in 28 at bats).  Grichuk is now hitting .319 in September with 4 home runs and 12 runs batted in in 19 games.

Jedd Gyorko hit a big home run to open up a little breathing room.  He also doubled.  He has had two hits in each game in Colorado, and has hits in five of his last six games.  Over those last 21 at bats, Jedd has 4 singles, 2 doubles and last night’s homer – a .333 batting average and a .571 slugging percentage.  The home run was his third of the month and twentieth of the second half.

Yadier Molina slapped two hits in his third consecutive game, stretching an overall hitting streak to 8 games.  He is 11 for 28 (.393) in those games.  Yadi is wrapping up a surprising second half in which he has hit .348 (72 for 207).

Adam Wainwright was the starting pitcher and winner, but his exploits at the plate overshadowed his pitching.  Adam went 2 for 2 with a double and 4 runs batted in.  Adam has hit in 3 of his last 4 games, going 5 for 8 with 2 doubles and 7 RBIs in those contests.  In the season’s second half, Waino is a .280 hitter (7 for 25) and a .520 slugger (he has 3 doubles and a home run).

Even Coors Field hasn’t been enough to restore Brandon Moss’s bat.  He drove in a run with a fly ball, but was otherwise 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts.  Brandon is now 6 for his last 75 (.080) with 2 home runs and 29 strikeouts.

Jhonny Peralta is now hitting .213 for the month (10 for 47) after his 0 for 4 last night.

After allowing the Rockies 5 runs on 12 hits, the team ERA for September rises to 4.06, now with a .282 batting average against.  They have only 8 quality starts in the first 19 games this month.

Wainwright’s batting exploits turned out to be critical, as Adam – the pitcher – didn’t make it through the sixth inning again.  In his four starts in September, Adam is 3-1, but with a 4.88 ERA and a .312/.375/.548 batting line against.  Adam has gotten 26 support runs in his 4 September starts (more than a fourth of which he has driven in himself).

During the season’s first half, Adam made 8 starts on four days of rest and 8 starts on five days.  He was 6-0 with a 4.35 ERA on four days, and 2-4 with a 4.17 ERA on five days.  Since the All-Star Break, Adam has made 7 starts (including last night) on four days of rest.  He is 2-3 in those games with a 5.63 ERA.  He has made 4 starts on five days during that same span, going 1-1 with a 4.98 ERA.

Trevor Rosenthal finished up the game.  This inning wasn’t as crisp as his first outing since his return from the DL, but I got the feeling he was just trying to throw strikes and get the game over.

That being said, the former closer has now appeared in 23 games (pitching 19.1 innings) in non-save situations, after appearing in 19 save situations – accounting for 16 innings.  His ERA in save situations is 3.38 with a .246 batting average against.  He is at 6.52 in non-save situations with a .345 average against.

Trevor was also appearing after three days of rest.  He has now pitched 24 times this season on more than one day of rest.  In those games, Trevor has pitched 19.1 innings with an 8.38 ERA and a .345 batting average against.  In the 16 games that he’s pitched on no rest or one day of rest, Rosenthal has a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings.

After watching pitchers Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto get game-winning hits in consecutive games against them, the Cardinals have done the same to the Rockies in the first two games of this series.  Wainwright’s game-winning double followed on the heels of a game-winning double by Carlos Martinez in Monday’s game.  Wainwright now has 4 game-winning hits this season.  In this century, no Cardinal pitcher had ever had more than 2 in any previous season.

The record home run pace that the Cardinals were on has cooled a bit of late.  Two home runs last night brings them to 212 in 151 games – a 227 home run pace.  This was the sixtieth time this season they have hit multiple home runs in a game.  With eleven games left, they are two home runs short of the 214 that the 2004 Cardinals hit.  That team had 67 multi-homer games.  This year’s team would have to finish with quite a rush to equal that mark.

Martinez and Bullpen Hold Off Colorado

In the first 3½ innings of last night’s game, it looked like it might be a typical Coors Field game, with seven runs already scored.  The pitchers took over after that, and only one more run was added over the last 5½ innings.  Rockies rookie pitcher Tyler Anderson pitched better than his numbers show, but Carlos Martinez and five relievers had just enough to get the Cards past Colorado, 5-3 (box score).

As Carlos has approached and surpassed his career high of innings, his general performance has started to fray a bit.  In three starts at the end of August, Carlos looked like he was on the cusp of becoming that next great pitcher.  In starts against Houston, New York and Milwaukee, Carlos pitched 21 innings allowing 3 runs on 11 hits.  His 1.29 ERA in those games was coupled with a .153 batting average against and a .222 slugging percentage against.

In 4 September starts, Martinez has managed 2 quality starts.  His 3-1 record is somewhat offset by his 3.75 ERA and .305 batting average against.  He has been our most dependable starter since the All-Star break.  In his last 12 starts, he has 7 quality starts, a 7-2 record and a 3.60 ERA.

The Rockies were a particular challenge last night.  Of the 23 batters to face Carlos, only 4 swung at his first pitch.  Martinez threw only 10 first-pitch strikes to the 19 who didn’t offer at his first pitch.  Moreover, with the 49 swings that they did take at Martinez’ offerings, they fouled off 27.  Carlos had four separate at bats that lasted at least 7 pitches, and 7 others that went 5 or 6 pitches.  The Rockies were thus able to drive up his pitch count (102 pitches for 5 innings), draw some walks (3) and get some pitches up in the zone to hit (5 hits).

Half of Martinez’ 6 strikeouts came on called third strikes.  All of these came in a four-batter stretch in the second and third innings.  Two of Carlos’ victims – Gerardo Parra and Charlie Blackmon – watched curve balls drop in for strike three.  Through the end of August, 42 of Martinez’ 137 strikeouts were called out (30.7%).  Nine of the 16 he’s struck out this month (56.3%) have looked at strike three.

Zach Duke was probably the most heroic of the bullpen brigade that held onto the win.  After Matt Bowman put two on in the sixth with a double and a walk, Duke came in to extinguish the threat by getting Blackmon to fly to short right.  He then pitched a perfect seventh.

Zach has allowed runs in only one of his last 16 appearances.  He has also stranded 10 straight inherited runners, and 18 of the 21 he’s inherited as a Cardinal.  Over his last 16 innings, Zach holds a 1.13 ERA and a .151 batting average against.

Zach ended his evening striking out MVP candidate Nolan Arenado.  Arenado went down like so many before him against Duke, swinging over the top of that curveball that loops in the neighborhood of the lower outside corner.  In his brief Cardinal career, Zach has 22 strikeouts.  Only 3 of them have been caught looking.

Kevin Siegrist pitched the ninth, as closer Seung-hwan Oh had pitched three innings over the previous two days.  He gave a run on one of those home runs that is a fly-ball out in any other ball park.  Still, it took him 32 pitches to work his way through 6 batters.  During the month of September, Kevin is throwing 4.58 pitches per batter faced.  The team average is 3.79.

Coors did help the offense jump a little – although 5 runs on 11 hits isn’t awe inspiring.

Matt Carpenter responded with a couple of singles.  He has hits in his last four games, with two hits in two of them.  He is 6 for his last 16 (.375).

Yadier Molina picked up two more hits.  Yadi has back-to-back two-hit games as part of a seven-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .391 (9 for 23).  Yadi is now 70 for 202 (.347) since the All-Star break.

St Louis has now won three games in a row.  Since August 20, the Cards have had only one previous three-game winning streak, September 4, 5 and 6.  They promptly lost seven of the next ten games.

Sustaining hot streaks has been a significant challenge for this team.  All of St Louis, I think, has to take a wait and see attitude about this.  We’ve been teased by this team before.  They will need to finish this series strong – and probably play well this weekend in Wrigley – before those of us who have followed this team all season will start to believe that they are finally making their move.