By the time Yadier Molina came to the plate in the second inning with Jose Martinez standing at second (and no one out), St Louis was already down 3-0. They were also riding an 11-game streak of hitting .193 (17 for 88) in RISP opportunities (RISP = Runner(s) In Scoring Position).
Beginning with Molina’s single, St Louis would string together 4 straight hits with runners in scoring position as they sprinted into the lead, 4-3. In the recent nine-run inning against Chicago, they had five consecutive RISP hits – mixed in with several walks.
But as it turned out, they were just getting started. Two innings later, they succeeded in 5 of 6 RISP chances – including Jose Martinez’ first career grand slam, as the Cards put up another nine-spot in a surprising flash-flood of offense – on their way to a convincing 13-4 victory (box score).
By game’s end, St Louis had put together their season high in both RISP at bats (19 – previously they had managed 18 in an 8-1 win against Washington on June 30) and hits (9 – previously they had managed 8 such hits against Miami in a 14-6 win on July 3).
In the aftermath, the Cardinal clubhouse exuded more confidence than we’ve seen recently. But before we consider the offensive woes cured, let’s see how they manage against a more legitimate pitching staff in Kansas City over the next four days.
Still, even if only for one afternoon, it was nice to have a laugher.
After a recent downturn, Paul DeJong was given a day off. He has rebounded strongly. He went 3 for 5 yesterday, and has hits in 6 of his last 12 at bats.
Kolten Wong was in the middle of both big innings, as he also finished the afternoon 3 for 5. Kolten has now hit safely in 6 of his last 7 games, going 10 for 27 (.370) in those games.
Kolten was 1 for 2 in his RISP at bats yesterday. He has been one of the club’s best in these opportunities, hitting .293 (17 for 58) in these moments. He is 5 for 13 (.385) since the break with ducks on the pond.
Martinez’ grand slam was the centerpiece of the offensive evening. His other hit may actually have been more important. He began that second inning with the double that ignited the four-run inning that gave the team the lead.
Jose has been a second half fire-plug. He has only played in 12 of the last 23 games – making just 6 starts and getting only 32 plate appearances. But he’s turned those plate appearances into 3 singles, 1 double, 3 home runs, 6 runs scored, 8 runs batted in, 9 walks and 1 sacrifice fly – a batting line of .318/.500/.773. That kind of production will keep your name on the lineup card.
Molina was also a central figure in both big innings, on his way to a solid 2-for-4 afternoon. Yadi has hit in 5 of his last 7 games, hitting .409 (9 for 22) in those games and slugging .727 (1 double and 2 home runs). Yadi is having another very profitable second half, hitting .310 with 3 home runs since the All-Star break.
As mentioned earlier, Yadi had the first of the team’s 9 hits with runners in scoring position yesterday. Of all regulars, Molina leads the team, hitting .311 (23 for 74) in RISP opportunities.
Pitchers in RISP Situations
In contrast to the Cardinal success, Cincinnati was just 1 for 6 in RISP situations (that one hit, of course, being Joey Votto’s three-run homer). Since the All-Star break (3 starts) that is the only hit Adam Wainwright has allowed in 14 RISP at bats (.071).
Lance Lynn has been even better. The 18 second half batters to have RISP at bats against Lance have 1 single to show for their efforts (.056). For the season, batters are hitting .156 (12 for 77) against Lance in RISP situations.
Michael Wacha has had similar success, holding batters to just 3 for 19 (.158) with runners in scoring position since the break. His season batting average against in these situations is a very good .233 (21 for 90).
Having less success in the second half with ducks on the pond are Carlos Martinez (6 for 21 – .286) and Mike Leake (12 for 26 – .462). This is unusual for Martinez, who usually excels in these moments. For the year, his average against in RISP situations is .189 (20 for 106). For Leake, this has been kind of a year-long struggle. Batters are now hitting .300 against him (30 for 100) with runners in scoring position.
After a couple of shaky outings, Matthew Bowman is getting back on the beam. After pitching yesterday’s ninth inning, Matthew has put together five consecutive scoreless outings (3.2 innings) during which he has surrendered just 1 hit. He has pitched in 12 games in the second half (7.2 innings) with a 2.35 ERA and a .222 batting average against.
St Louis has now gone seven straight games since the last time they scored first in one of their contests.
When we lost on Friday, it marked the twenty-first time this season that the Cards had lost the opening game of a series. Eleven times, now, the team has fought back to force a rubber game. With last night’s victory, they are 5-6 in those games.
Yadier Molina ended the Cardinal fifth by swinging through a 1-2 pitch from Lisalverto Bonilla. Leading off the bottom of the eighth inning, Scooter Gennett swung and missed a 2-0 pitch from John Brebbia. In between those two swings, there were no swinging strikes. There were 7 called strikes, and 19 pitches fouled off, but the next 22 consecutive batters saw 72 consecutive pitches without one being swung at and missed. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before.