When he hit it, there were few who believed it would be the only offense of the game. Perhaps the only runs scored by the home team that day. But over the 7 games the St Louis Cardinals faced off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the last 10 games the Dodgers had made a habit of giving early runs only to scratch back and win the game – most of the time handily.
On this day, however, veteran Cardinal right-hander Adam Wainwright had all the answers. He silenced the Dodger bats for 6 innings and slashed a 2-2 pitch over the left-field bullpen to account for the only runs either team would score that day as the Cards held on for a 2-0 win (box score).
Home run hitting aside, the turnaround in the season of Adam Wainwright is one of the most heart-warming of the season, so far. Three games into the season, Adam was 0-3 with a 7.24 ERA. Even after an almost great start against Miami on May 9 – where after allowing just 1 run through 5 innings, he was pulled with the bases loaded and no one out in the sixth only to watch the bullpen allow all of the runs – he was left with no quality starts through 7 starts and a 6.37 ERA.
Now he had hot hitting teams Chicago, San Francisco, Colorado and Los Angeles coming up, there wasn’t a lot of optimism to be found (and I confess that I was privately one of the doubters).
Less than three weeks later, Waino has not only beaten all of those teams, he has done so in dominating fashion. Over his last four games against all those scary offensive teams, Adam has allowed 1 solitary run over 26.1 innings (0.34 ERA) allowing just 16 hits. In fact, when Adam drove in 2 with his home run, that swing accounted for more runs than the total he’s allowed through his last four starts.
This is storybook stuff.
More Offensive Woes
Obviously, the offense still isn’t perking along. With the Wainwright home run, St Louis has now scored 19 runs over its last 8 games (2.38 per game).
Too Many Two Strike Counts
Mostly through their own over-aggressiveness, this team is finding itself in an almost constant two strike count. Across all of baseball (courtesy of baseball reference), batters end up in two strike counts 51.7% of the time. Last night, 23 of the 34 Cardinal hitters ended up in two strike counts (67.6%). Only four (11.8%) hit the first strike they were thrown.
They did finish with 9 hits in this one, and a couple of the hitters aren’t looking quite so lost at the plate.
Jedd Gyorko answered a mini-slump with three hits, including a double.
Jedd’s hits included one on a 2-0 pitch. Hitting that first strike is a big key for Jedd. Last year he hit .408/.460/.922 when he hit that first strike. This year, so far, his line is .425/.477/.825 when he hits that first strike. His single was the only hit that Cards had all day off the first strike.
Gyorko’s double off the left-field wall was his tenth of the season. He hit 9 all of last year, and has never hit more than 26 in a season.
Paul DeJong had the only other hit that mattered on the day, as he singled in front of the Wainwright home run. DeJong has been a shot in the arm for the ailing offense. Playing in just his fifth big league game, Paul has hit safely in four of them. His average, to this point, is .400 (6 for 15) with a .733 slugging percentage as half of his hits are for extra bases.
Yadi added another 0 for 4. Since the end of his 15-game hitting streak, he is just 2 for 15 (.133).
Aledmys Diaz almost had a hit fall in, but finished 0 for 3. Diaz is now hitless in his last 11 at bats, and is hitting .200 (5 for 25) over his last 7 games.
Aledmys finished all three of yesterday’s plate appearances in two strike counts, and has been in 18 two strike counts in his last 26 plate appearances (69.2%). In those 18 PAs, Aledmys has hit .111 (2 singles in 18 at bats).
In his impressive rookie year, Diaz only found himself in two strike counts 45.4% of the time, and hit .266/.330/.394 with 4 home runs when he did find himself in those counts. Aledmys surprising loss of discipline is the primary reason he is sloughing along at .254.
So, yesterday Stephen Piscotty was thrown out in one of the lamest steal attempts I’ve seen in a while. He also almost hurt himself sliding into third. He has now already been thrown out on 5 of 7 steal attempts and has had other misadventures on the bases. I get the desire to be more athletic and aggressive on the bases. There are a few of our team members (Piscotty, Matt Carpenter, Gyorko, etc.) who should probably approach base-running activities with a more safety-first mindset. The Cards have run into an awful lot of easy outs on the bases, and they almost always involve the same handful of players who are trying to be more aggressive than their abilities would suggest.