I confess that the loss was disquieting. And, yes, disappointing. Riding a six-game winning streak and earning wins in 16 of their last 21 games – and with Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta scheduled to pitch against them in the last two games of the series – you would have hoped that the Cardinals could have opened this very nice homestand taking some advantage of the fact that Chicago had turned to an emergency starter with a spotty big league history.
That would be Eddie Butler – yes, THE Eddie Butler – who absolutely dominated an offense that had looked unstoppable for most of the last few weeks. Eddie walked off the mound after six innings of 2-hit, shutout ball on his way to a 3-2 win (box score). Along the way, all of the lusty hitting that had been headline stuff in Atlanta and Miami completely withered before the glory that is Eddie Butler.
Even though neither hit left the infield. Aledmys Diaz was one of the few Cardinals not whitewashed by Butler’s brilliance. His two-hit game was his second in a row. In 10 games this month, Aledmys is hitting .356 (16 for 45) and he is hitting .389 (14 for 36) in the 8 games since being moved to the sixth spot in the lineup.
Dexter Fowler celebrated his return to the lineup with an 0-for-2 with 2 walks – one of which was erased when he was picked-off first. Dexter left Miami with a couple of big pinch-hits, but is still just 3 for 14 (.214) for the month of May, and .231 for the season overall.
Among the many victims of Eddie Butler’s blazing fastball was Matt Carpenter’s six-game hitting streak. In the 30 plate appearances previous to last night, Matt had put on quite a show with 3 singles, a triple, 3 home runs, 9 walks, 7 runs scores and 7 runs batted in. His batting line for the hitting streak was .333/.533/.857.
Jedd Gyorko also lost a hitting streak last night. His was seven games long, during which he hit .357 (10 for 28).
Kolten Wong made it through the Atlanta series with a career-long 13-game hitting streak intact. He has since started to come back to the pack. His 0-for-4 last night was his second hitless game in his last three, and Wong now has just 3 hits in his last 26 at bats (.120).
Whatever other disappointment may be connected with last night’s loss, Mike Leake continues to be the best surprise of the season so far. With another six-inning, two-run performance, Leake – who still leads the NL in ERA – has thrown seven consecutive quality starts. And he has stood up against all comers. In addition to the Cubs, Leake has also stymied top offenses in Washington, Milwaukee and Cincinnati twice. Mike has been all we could have hoped for.
Once again, Brett Cecil has not.
Brett gave up another run. He has now allowed a run in 4 straight games covering 2.2 innings. The home run he served up was the second in those 2.2 innings. And with the hit allowed, Cecil has now given up at least one hit in 7 straight games – a total of 11 hits over 4.1 innings.
I’m not calling for Cecil’s head. He’s a veteran pitcher and it’s a long season, etc. But right now, he’s a batting practice pitcher, and I can’t imagine bringing him into an important situation until he fixes whatever is wrong.
Jonathan Broxton pitched the eighth inning. He walked a batter (his third straight game with a walk), but pitched an otherwise uneventful inning.
Broxton is now unscored on over his last 6 games, accounting for 5.1 innings. He’s given 7 hits in those innings, but all have been singles.
There was no win or save at the end of this one, but Kevin Siegrist pitched another perfect frame in the ninth. Siegrist has now throw perfect innings his last three times out – striking out 4 along the way – and is now unscored against over his last 9 games (8 innings) in which he has walked 1 batter and struck out 9.