Inherit the Wind Entry #11: Publicity Pictures

Photographer John Lamb (R) and Director Mark Neels (L) set up a publicity shot.
Photographer John Lamb (R) and Director Mark Neels (L) set up a publicity shot.

It’s Sunday, May 29th.  We are 11 days away from opening night and John Lamb is in for a visit. And today we’re taking pictures.

John does all the photography for Clayton Community Theatre and several other groups.  When you come, you will see his pictures on display in the “lobby.”  Those aren’t the pictures that he’s taking today, though.  He is here to take “publicity pictures” and “head shots.”

First, the head shots.  We all file past him and get an individual picture taken.  These actually will be on display in the lobby – come to think of it.  You’ll see a close up of each of us with our name underneath.  But the action shots that you will see will be shot later.  John will come back during one of the dress rehearsals and take pictures of the actual show.  Sometimes he comes twice.

Publicity shots are a different animal.  Several of the principles will be posed in – what we hope will be – intriguing shots.  Nothing that comes out of this will be very much like the actual show.  You may see some of these in newspapers in coming days.

On the plus side, publicity picture day gives us a first glimpse of some of the costumes.

Here is the Judge:

Judge Tom
Judge Tom

And the counsel for the defense:

Henry Drummond - the devil himself!
Henry Drummond – the devil himself!

And then there is Rachel.

Rachel the Reverend's daughter looking innocent.
Rachel the Reverend’s daughter looking innocent.

Rachel might be as close as this show has to a protagonist – in the classic sense.  None of the other main characters really change much – their individual existentialist moments not withstanding.  In general, it is actually the townspeople of Hillsboro who make the major character journey of the play.  But Rachel is the kind of focal point of everything that goes on with the rest of the town.

And while all of these pictures are being taken, the rest of us wait:

While publicity shots are happening, here's what the rest of us are doing -- waiting.
While publicity shots are happening, here’s what the rest of us are doing — waiting.

We understand, of course.  It’s all part of the process.  It is funny though.  A process that began several weeks ago with a lot of waiting, has returned to waiting.

After the pictures came the runthrough.  Less and less the cast members are watching the show from the seats and more and more we’re spending the show backstage.

This means more waiting

Actors do a lot of this - waiting to go on.
Actors do a lot of this – waiting to go on.

And more waiting:

More actors waiting to go onstage.
More actors waiting to go onstage.

Tech week is coming up, so there is more waiting ahead.

Cards, Martinez Shut Out Brewers

Big games from Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday backed a dominating performance from Carlos Martinez in a 6-0 Cardinal win (box score).  The team’s fourth shut out of the season.

One of the basic problems resolved by Carlos yesterday was not only not walking people, but not walking them with no one out.  Previously this month, Carlos had faced 45 batters with no one yet out in the inning and he walked 7 of them.  Only three of them scored, but they set up two big innings against him – a 3-run fifth by the Dodgers and the 6-run second inning by Chicago.  Even the walks that didn’t come home to roost directly, still set up stressful innings.  He gave up three no-out singles yersterday, but made them hit the ball, got a few double plays, no walks, and kept the pitch count and stress level low.

The other big favor he did himself was getting the last out of the inning.  In his excellent April, opposing batters hit .206 against Carlos with two outs (7 for 34).  For most of the month of May, that third out has been agonizingly illusive.  In the Cubs big inning against him, 5 of the 6 runs scored after two were out.  For the month, up until yesterday, batters hitting with two outs went 10 for 30 (.333) against Martinez, driving in 8 runs, including 3 game-winning runs.  Three other batters walked, bringing the on base percentage against Martinez to .429 with two out.

Yesterday, Alex Presley’s second-inning single was the only two-out noise the Brewers managed in the eight innings Martinez worked.  Quite a difference.

As for Trevor Rosenthal, he still can’t seem to make an appearance without granting that two-out walk.  Yesterday, it was Kirk Nieuwenhuis.  Trevor has now faced 13 batters this month with two outs and walked 4 of them.  Add in his 3 hits allowed, and batters enjoy a .538 on base percentage against Rosenthal with two outs in May.

As you look at Matt Carpenter’s numbers, you always wonder if he gets too patient at times.  Batting with nobody out in an inning in April, Carpenter hit .226 – less than an ideal figure from your leadoff hitter.  He did walk 9 times, so his on base percentage was .400 (which is an excellent number for a leadoff hitter).  He didn’t walk in any of his three at bats yesterday with no one out, and only has 3 no-out walks for the month.  But his two hits brought his average to .340 and his slugging percentage to .723 with nobody out in May.

Beginning with his third-inning home run against Washington’s Gio Gonzalez last Saturday, Matt Holliday has 8 hits in his last 11 at bats.

His home run (hit with two out in the seventh) was his second in his last 12 plate appearances, his sixth of the month, and his ninth of the year.  Three of the six in May, and four of the nine have been hit with 2 outs.

The only time Holliday was retired was the only time he hit with nobody out – he struck out in the first inning with two runners on.  Matt is only 5 for 26 this month (.192) when batting with nobody out.  In April, Matt hit .353 with nobody out.

Going back to his pinch-single on Sunday, Aledmys Diaz is now three for his last six.  All of Aledmys’ plate appearances came with less than two outs.  For the season, Aledmys hits .364/.380/.628 when batting with less than two outs.  With two out, Diaz is 12 for 51 (.235) with no home runs and 4 runs batted in.

With four more strikeouts yesterday, Brandon Moss has now struck out six straight times and 8 times in his last 11 plate appearances.

Yadier Molina now has one infield hit to show for his last 21 at bats.  Beyond that, he is 6 for his last 53 (.113) and has grounded into 4 double plays in his last 10 double play opportunities.

Just when Randal Grichuk seemed on the verge of turning his season around, he’s fallen into a 2-for-22 skid.

Cardinal batters hit .367 (11-for-30) yesterday when there were less than two outs.  They were only 1 for 9 once Milwaukee got the second out of an inning.

From the “Just Like Old Times” department, Martinez’ effort gives the Cards 4 quality starts in their last five games – a first for 2016.  This happened for the first time last year in the first five games.  On their way to 103 quality starts last year, the pitching staff had two streaks of five consecutive quality starts, two streaks of six games, and streaks of seven, eight and thirteen consecutive games with quality starts.

Cards Whipped in Washington but Wacha a Positive

Lost in the carnage of the Sunday afternoon blowout (box score) was a return to form by Michael Wacha and some nice grinding at bats from some of the hitters.

Matt Holliday has been among the team’s better hitters all season when going deep into an at bat.  Matt had two, 5-pitch at bats yesterday afternoon, getting a single in one of them.  He is now 10-for-25 (.400) this season in at bats of five-or-more pitches.

Prior to yesterday afternoon, Brandon Moss had only extended a plate appearance past seven pitches twice all season.  He drew a 9-pitch walk against Wily Peralta on April 14, and struck out on eight pitches against Jon Moscot on April 17.  Yesterday he battled Stephen Strasburg to eight pitches twice, homering in the fourth and striking out in the sixth.

Moss’ home run was the 69th this season for the Cardinals.  They have now hit as many in 51 games this year as they had at last year’s All Star break after 89 games.

Jedd Gyorko had the games longest plate appearance, grinding out a 9-pitch walk in the eighth.  It is the third time this season that a Gyorko at bat has lasted nine pitches, and he has now walked in two of those.

Gyorko’s two hits, though, both came on the first pitch of an at bat.  Jedd is now 6 for 18 (.333) when hitting the first pitch.

Nothing much came of it, but Matt Carpenter also put together an 8-pitch at bat (eventually flying to center in the third).  Three of his five plate appearances lasted five pitches or more.  For the month of May, 58 of Carpenter’s 105 plate appearances (55.2%) have extended to at least five pitches.  Even though Matt was 0-for-5 yesterday and is down to .241 for the season, he is still a very tough at bat.

For the game, 17 of the 39 Cardinal plate appearances lasted a least five pitches (43.6%).  Against a pitcher like Strasburg, even when your at bats are sound, you still may not end up with a lot to show for them.

Perhaps the greatest positive of an otherwise disappointing game was a return to form by Michael Wacha against a very tough lineup.  Nearly 40% of the batters he faced (9 of the 23) pushed their at bat to 5 or more pitches.  This has been an area of difficulty for Wacha this season.  Up until yesterday afternoon, the batters that have pushed him to more than 4 pitches in an at bat hit .314/.415/.471 against him.  Yesterday, Washington was 0-for-8 with a walk when the at bat lasted more than four pitches.

The game began to slip definitively away on Jonathan Broxton’s first pitch in the seventh.  The danger of everyone suspecting that Jonathan will be bringing that first pitch fastball is that if he mislocates, the hitter will more than likely be ready for it.  The league is now 5 for 9 against Jonathan’s first pitch (including a double, a triple, and now a home run).  All of those extra bases have come this month, as batters are 4 for 5 against Broxton’s first pitch in May.

Ramos’ home run off Tyler Lyons (the seventh he’s surrendered in just 24.2 innings) came on the first pitch.  Five of those home runs have been hit this month (in just 16 innings), three of them on the first pitch.

Inherit the Wind Entry #10: “Everybody Take Ten.”

So, what does everyone do on break?  Act One is over and Act Two is coming up.  In between, we have ten minutes to check the baseball score (Cards losing 2-1), grab a snack, or do other stuff.

What is break time without Facebook?
What is break time without Facebook?

Yes, yes.  Where would any of us be without Facebook.  I expect that at some distant point in the future, directors will call “take ten,” and the entire production company will collapse where they are and open up their devices.  (I actually haven’t checked with any high schools.  This may already be happening.)

There's always something to do in the light booth.
There’s always something to do in the light booth.

This is Nathan Schroeder.  He is a past president of this organization and our technical director.  He is also a multiple-award-winning light designer and – for this show – a cast member (he plays Meeker).

And while he’s waiting for rehearsal to begin again, he spends his ten minutes in the booth.

Mark Ables and Aaron Mermelstein shoot the breeze.
Mark Ables (L) and Aaron Mermelstein  (R) shoot the breeze.

Mark Abels, of course, is Brady.  Sitting to the left is Aaron Mermelstein, who plays the mayor of Hillsboro.

Aaron has been on stage with us a few times before.  He did “Oscar and Felix” and “Room at the End.”  Aaron, by inches, is transforming the mayor into something of a comic character, and it’s a delight to watch.  Nothing about what he’s doing is outside of the character.  But Aaron is finding the humor kind of hidden inside of the mayor.  There is always a sense of inspired lunacy when Aaron is on stage.

And speaking of inspired lunacy:

Dan McGee brushes up on a number.
Dan McGee brushes up on a number.

Dangerous Dan McGee spends his ten minutes reviewing old sheet music.  This might be for an audition, but not necessarily.

All of life is a kind of non sequitur.  Anything that he may be doing or saying at this moment may or may not be connected to the thing he was doing or saying just ten seconds ago.  The book that you can’t see there because of the glare is about Greek mythology.

I believe that this is Dan’s first show with us.

Break is over.  It’s about ten after eight and this very large, diverse and interesting cast is filtering into places for Act Two.  Gotta go.

Inherit the Wind Entry # 9: Interview with the Steve Garrett

CCT is grateful and very pleased to have Steve Garrett with us in the role of Reverend Brown.  In a recent rehearsal break, he gave me a couple of minutes to chat about his experience.

The Reverend Brown gets carried away during his prayer meeting.
The Reverend Brown gets carried away during his prayer meeting.

Joe: Inherit the Wind is your first show with Clayton, right?

Steve Garrett: First show with Clayton, yes. 

Joe: Enjoying the experience so far?

Steve Garrett: Love it.  The people . . . I’ve never seen such great people.  With a cast this size, especially.  You would think you wouldn’t get along with somebody over something.  But everybody’s been just fabulous, as far as I’m concerned.

Joe: And Mark is a lot of fun to work with.

Steve Garrett: Yes he is.  I’ve worked with him before he’s brilliant.

Joe: Where did you work with him?

Steve Garrett: KTK.  He cast me at an Arnold theatre group first.  We did “And Then There Were None.” – an Agatha Christie.  And that’s the first time I met him.  And then we acted together in Dracula.  He was not Dracula, of course. 

Joe: That’s right he was Renfield.

Steve Garrett: Oh yes.  Great role.  And he ate it up.  And the flies.

Joe: Is that why you auditioned here? Because Mark was directing? Or is it the play?

Steve Garrett: I love the play.  Actually I was trying to get a lawyer role – I think everybody want these roles.  I’ve tried a couple other times, and I had mentioned to Mark sometime earlier that I had auditioned for this character.  And he remembered that, and he said “why don’t you come audition,” so I did.

Joe: Is it a hard role to do?

Steve Garrett: To me, those kind of roles are easier, because there’s nothing subtle – well, I mean there is some subtlety.  I think actors like these kinds of roles  – you know, “Look at me! Look at me!”

Joe: The script doesn’t leave you in the dark about who this guy is.

Steve Garrett: It’s certainly fun to play.  And I love it.

Joe: Yes, I can tell.  You’re all over it.

Steve Garrett: Yeah, it’s really fun.  I just love theatre and theatre people. 

Joe: Does Reverend Brown have an existential moment?  A moment when he questions himself?

Steve Garrett: I think when Brady confronts him, in my mind I’m thinking “you know, I never thought of that.  Why am I doing this to my daughter? I’ve . . .I’ve gone too far, and maybe I don’t . . . maybe I shouldn’t be as certain as I am.”  I think he does, yes.  He kind of gets lost in his own deal.

Joe: Like all of us when we go too far we get caught up in our own momentum.

Steve Garrett: That’s what it seems like to me.  And Mark is directing it that way.  And, you know how Mark directs.  You pretty much get a perfect picture of what he wants.  And I’m pretty happy, so far, with the way its coming out.  And I love the crowd.  It feels like I’m in an amplifier.  It helps me feel like, “hey, maybe I can do this.”

Steve Garrett chats about playing Rev Brown
Steve Garrett chats about playing Rev Brown

Piscotty’s Strike and Strikes from Garcia Enough to Top Nationals

By the way, Max Scherzer is a heck of a pitcher and he was dominant most of the night last night.  At the end of the game, St Louis finished with only 4 hits and 8 strikeouts.  But a pair of lightening strike home runs (including a Stephen Piscotty grand slam) turned the 4 hits into six runs. They also got lots of ground balls off the arm of Jaime Garcia and made just enough plays behind him to even the series with Washington with a 6-2 win (box score).

It wasn’t necessarily a thing of beauty.  Piscotty’s homer was the only hit in 21 at bats from the hitters occupying the third through eighth slots in the Cardinal batting order.

The Cards were 1 for 13 last night when they hit with 2 strikes (.077), but they were almost as bad hitting early in the count.  Through all of baseball, batters who hit before they get the second strike on them hit .337 and slug .558.  St Louis last night managed 3 hits in 17 at bats (.176) when hitting before they got into 2-strike counts.  They slugged .529 in those at bats, though, because two of the three hits left the building.

Over all of major league baseball, once batters get two strikes on them, they end up striking out 41.2% of the time.  Brandon Moss had three, 2-strike at bats last night and struck out twice.  For the month of May, Moss is striking out 62.2% of the time that he gets two strikes on him (23 strikeouts in 37 such plate appearances).  This figure leads the club.  Of the players who hit on a semi-regular basis, Jeremy Hazelbaker (55.2) is the only other Cardinal over 40% this month.  Moss also leads in this category for the season – as he is now up to 57.1% (44-of-77).  Hazelbaker’s 56.7% ranks a pretty close second.

The hardest to get strike three past is Aledmys Diaz.  Seventy-eight times this season he has seen strike two, but has only seen strike three 17 times (21.8%).  Yadi Molina is a close second, striking out only 22.2% of the times that he gets 2 strikes on him.

When Jaime Garcia is throwing that sinking fastball into the lower corners of the strike zone – as he was last night – it puts the batter in a bind.  You don’t want to let Jaime get ahead of you, but if you swing early in the count, then you’ll be hitting his pitch.  The Nationals chose to be aggressive and hit the first strike for much of the night.  The ones who did were only 1 for 11 (.091) – with the only hit being Bryce Harper’s grounder that bounced up the middle to lead off the sixth.  Meanwhile, Jaime retired 11 on ground balls and just 2 on fly-balls.  All major league batters average .346 when they put the first strike into play.  Last night, both Garcia and Scherzer made early count hitting uncommonly difficult.

Across all of baseball, 51% of plate appearances end with the batter having two strikes on him.  Kevin Siegrist went to two strikes on two of the three he faced in his one inning last night (striking them both out).  For the season, now, 64.5% of the batters who face Kevin (49 of 76) end up with two strikes on them.  That ranks him third in the Cardinal bullpen behind Seung-hwan Oh (73.26%) and Trevor Rosenthal (72.6%).  After getting to two strikes on 3 of the 4 batters he faced last night, Matt Bowman has now gotten two strikes on 30 of the 49 (61.2%) that he has faced this month.

Siegrist, however, is better at getting strike three past the batter.  With his two strikeouts last night, 55.1% of the time that Kevin gets two strikes on the hitter, he’s going to strike him out (27-of-49).  Oh gets the strikeout 47.9% of the time, Rosenthal 47.2%, and Bowman 34.7%.  Tyler Lyons strikes them out 56.8% of the time that he gets them to two-strikes, the highest percentage on the staff.

By the way, Lyons finally did give up a two-strike hit.  And, yes, it was a home run.  Colorado’s Trevor Story went over the wall with a 2-2 pitch from Tyler on May 19th in a game St Louis won 13-7.  Opposing batters are now 1-for-43 (.023) with 25 strikeouts when Lyons gets two strikes on them.

While scoring 6 runs last night, the Cards were 2 for 2 with runners in scoring position and left only one runner on base.

Jaime Garcia’s effort – following the good performance from Mike Leake the night before – gives the Cardinals consecutive quality starts for the first time since May 10-11, when Leake and Garcia beat the Angels of Los Angeles in consecutive games, 8-1 and 5-2 respectively.    That was 15 games ago.

The Cardinals hit two home runs in a game for the 18th time in 49 games this season.  This is exactly half the number of multi-home run games the team had all of last year.

It also brings the 2016 team total to 67 in the first 1,690 at bats.  It took the 2015 Cardinals 88 games and 2,946 at bats to reach 67 home runs.  Mark Reynolds broke a scoreless tie with his second-inning solo shot off of AJ Burnett on July 11th.  That game was a long way from over, though.  Pittsburgh would win, 6-5 in 14 innings.  This, by the way, was the series before the All Star break.

St Louis went into last year’s All Star break with 69 home runs in 89 games.

Leake’s Strong Effort Wasted in 2-1 Loss

Mike Leake turned in his fourth consecutive quality start (7 innings 2 runs), but it wasn’t enough.  Only three swings in the game changed the scoreboard, one each by the Cardinals Aledmys Diaz, the Nationals Bryce Harper and the Nationals Danny Espinosa.  Three solo home runs added up to a 2-1 Washington victory.  Leake in his last three starts has now allowed only 3 runs in 20 innings(1.35 ERA)  – all on solo home runs.  Before last night, Leake shut out Arizona for 7 innings and allowed just a home run to Seager in 6 innings against the Dodgers.

Through his first four starts of the month, batters weren’t terribly aggressive against Mike Leake, and didn’t have a lot to show for it when they were.  Only 28 of the first 101 batters he faced (27.7%) swung at his first pitch, and they only hit .192 (5-for-26).  Last night, Washington was noticeably more aggressive.  Whether it was a game plan or the nature of the team, 11 of the 28 to face him swung at his first pitch (39.3%).  For the most part, they didn’t have any better success – except for the at bats by Harper and Espinosa.

Approaches may be changing against Seung-hwan Oh.  In April, 40 of the 50 batters he faced took the first pitch.  Six of those batters drew walks, but the rest hit only .091 (3-for-33).  The 10 who swung had better success.  They got two singles and hit .200.

Last night, one of the three batters that Oh faced (Ryan Zimmerman) took a hack at the first pitch he saw.  For the month of May, now, 16 of the 47 he’s faced (34%) have swung at that first pitch.  The results haven’t been any better, though.  First pitch swingers are 2 for 16 (.125) this month (including Zimmerman, who grounded out), while takers of the first pitch (including Bryant Wednesday afternoon) are hitting .200 (6-for-30).

Randal Grichuk didn’t see any results last night, but he certainly looks like he’s taking more disciplined at bats.  Both times up last night, Ross and then Papelbon started him off with fastballs just off the plate outside.  Grichuk took both.  He would ground out in the ninth, but in his sixth inning at bat, his patience got him a hanging slider on 1-1 that he fouled off, and then another slider on 2-2 that he almost drove out of the park.  Randal is still hitting just .188 (16-for-85) in at bats where he takes the first pitch.  When he swings at the first pitch, Randal is a .306 hitter (19-for-62).

In 93 plate appearances in May, Yadier Molina has swung at the first pitch thrown him 35 times (37.6%).  This is a fairly aggressive rate – all of major league baseball swings at the first pitch of an at bat 28.3% of the time.  When Yadi swings at the first pitch this month, he’s a .294/.314/.412 hitter (10-of-34 with his only home run of the season).  When he doesn’t, his average fades to .204 (10-for-49).  Last night, Molina took first-pitch sinkers out of the strike zone in the second and fourth innings, lining out to second the first time and then grounding to second the second time.  He struck out with 2-on and nobody out in the seventh – his only plate appearance swinging at the first pitch.

Yadi is now 5 for his last 39 (.128).

Kolten Wong put together, arguably, the toughest at bat of the day when he led off the third inning, fouling off five of the nine pitches of the at bat before finally grounding to second.  Setting this up was a boarder-line strike called on a first-pitch sinker that might have been just outside.  Two pitches later, Kolten got that slider up and fouled it off, leaving him in a 1-2 hole, and putting Wong in a defensive position for the rest of the at bat.

For the season, Kolten Wong is hitting .286 when he swings at the first pitch of an at bat (8-for-28), but only .220 (18-for-82) when he doesn’t.

Last night, Cardinal hitters ended up just 2 for 20 (.100) when they took the first pitch of the at bat. For the most part, the Cardinal hitters didn’t get a whole lot to swing at.

After Grichuk’s walk-off homer on Monday night, there was some belief that that might have been an igniting moment for the team.  They have lost all three games played since then.  After going 12-12 in April, St Louis is now 12-12 in May.

Cards Suffer Loss as Comeback falls Short

While, in many ways, the 2016 season has started below expectations – depending, I suppose, on what your expectations might have been – one area where the team has been doing very well is bouncing back from losses.  Before yesterday’s game, St Louis had been 14-7 this season (8-2 in May) in games after a loss.  Even though they couldn’t extend that success yesterday, they made a spirited comeback.

Matt Adams has only played in 18 of the 22 games the Cardinals have played after losing their previous game (and started just 10), but throughout the season, so far, no one has responded better.  With 3 more hits yesterday, Matt is now hitting .405/.468/.881 with 5 home runs the day after a Cardinal loss.  He has 17 hits in 42 at bats.  He is 10 for 19 (.526) with 3 doubles and 4 homers this month alone in games after a loss – slugging an acceptable 1.316.

As with most other hitting categories since last year’s All-Star break, Stephen Piscotty’s name has been at the top of the team’s leaderboard.  He played 26 games after Cardinal losses last year, hitting .351 with 4 home runs and 16 runs batted in.  He had 2 more hits yesterday and is hitting .359 this year (28-for-78) in games after a loss.  This total includes a .395 average (17-for-43) this month.

Such losing streaks as the Cardinals have endured this season mostly happened in April, where they opened the season with a 3-game losing streak and later suffered through a 4-game skid.  During these struggling times, one of the most absent bats belonged to Randal Grichuk.  In games after a loss in April, Randal was just 4 for 38 (.105).  He has been at the center of the May rebound in this category.  With two more hits – including a home run – yesterday, Randal is 13-for-41 with 2 doubles and 4 home runs this month in games following a loss.  His line is .317/.364/.659.

Yadier Molina’s arc has gone the other way.  An April hero in games after a loss (he was 11-for-32, a .344 average), Yadi, 0-for-4 yesterday, is only 7 for 39 (.179) this month when the Cards are trying to rebound from a loss.

In a trend that will continue tonight when Mike Leake takes the mound, St Louis has only had three different starting pitchers this month pitch after a loss: Leake (4 starts, 3-0, 2.08 with the team winning all four), Adam Wainwright (4 starts, 2-0, 3.24 with the team winning all four) and Carlos Martinez (3 starts, 0-3, 7.56 ERA).  Carlos was 5-2, 3.57 when pitching after a loss last year, and was 2-0, 0.60 in April.  Who would have believed in April that in May our rotation would be “Wainwright and Leake then chances are bleak”.

Seung-hwan Oh has now pitched 23 games for us this year.  Fourteen of those appearances have come after a Cardinal loss.  After serving up the telling home run to Bryant yesterday, he has now allowed six runs in 13.1 innings in those games (4.05 ERA).  In his other 9 appearances, he has allowed no runs and 2 hits in 11.1 innings.

Kevin Siegrist has pitched in 12 of the 22 Cardinal games after a loss so far this year.  He has now allowed 1 run in 12.1 innings on just 6 hits and 18 strikeouts.  He is 3-0, with 1 hold, an 0.73 ERA, a .143 opponent’s batting average and has stranded all 6 runners inherited.

In spite of Martinez’ recent implosions, the Cardinal pitching staff has most closely resembled its 2015 self when trying to bounce back from a loss the day before.  They have cobbled together 12 quality starts, have allowed only 2 of 17 inherited runners to score, and a registered a 3.28 ERA in these games.  In the other 25 games (which includes the season-opening game), the Cards have managed 9 quality starts, have gone 10-15, and have allowed 11 of 25 inherited runners to score.  The team ERA in those games is 5.15.

The Cardinals have surrendered 20 or more runs in each of the last two series.  Arizona scored 20 in winning two out of three and the Cubs also took 2 out of 3, scoring 24 runs in the process.  The only time that happened to the Cardinals all year last year was in September as they were starting to wear down.  The Cubs (again) won two of three in Busch (9-0, 8-5 and 3-4) from September 7 – 9.  The Cards then went into Cincinnati where they lost the first three games of a four game series 0-11, 2-4, and 1-5 before winning the last 9-2.

This was also the first time this season that St Louis has lost a series after winning the first game.  They are now 5-1 in series where they’ve won the first game.  St Louis was 26-3-3 in series last year when they took the opener.

With three more home runs yesterday, St Louis has now played 47 games, taken 1,629 team at bats, and hit 64 home runs.  Yesterday afternoon was the 17th time this season they have hit multiple home runs in a game (something they only achieved 36 times all last year), and the eighth time they have hit as many as three in a game.  All last year, the team managed 3 or more home runs in a game 8 times.

Home run number 64 of 2015 flew off the bat of Mark Reynolds, a 2-run, ninth-inning drive off of Cub reliever Neil Ramirez.  This homer, however, only reduced the final score to 7-4 in a loss to Chicago.  That game, by the way, was Jake Arrieta’s ninth win of that season – although in that case, his record was 9-5 and the game was played on July 7th as the Cardinals’ 83rd game of the year.  Reynolds’ at bat was the team’s 2,802nd of 2015.

Cards Keep Losing to Winning Teams

I do admit that this year’s edition of the St Louis Cardinals is trying it’s very best to convince everyone that they are a pretty mediocre team.  With last night’s spanking at the hands of the Cubs, St Louis is now 7-14 against winning teams and 17-8 when playing losing teams.  The curious picture this paints is of a team light years better than any of the major league teams that sport losing records, but not worthy of being on the field against any team that wins more than it loses (except Philadelphia, who most experts believe to be an early season mirage).

An important insight into this stat is that the situation has been looking much better lately.  After losing seven of eight to the Pirates, Cubs and Nationals in April, St Louis is 6-7 against winning teams so far in May.  Not a record-setting pace by any means, but at least a competitive mark.

Matt Adams is doing what he can to resolve the first base issue – at least for the moment.  He carries a .301/.363/.516 line into this afternoon’s action.  And, he is doing it against winning teams.  With his 2-for-3 with a walk performance last night, Big City has now played in 17 of the 21 games we’ve played against winning teams (starting 10).  He is now 14 for 44 (.318) against these clubs, his hits including 4 doubles and 3 home runs (.614 slugging percentage).  He has been even stronger this month against the quality opponents he’s faced, going 8 for his last 23 against them (.348) including 2 of the doubles and 2 of the home runs (.696 slugging percentage).  It was Adams’ 2-run seventh-inning home run that forged the tie on Monday night against these same Cubs.

Randal Grichuk was among those who disappeared in the April contests against winning teams.  He had 2 singles in 22 at bats (.091) and struck out 11 times in those games.  He is one of several who have raised their games against these guys during May.  He hit the walk-off homer Monday night and had a single, double and run batted in last night.  He has now played in all 13 games we’ve played this month against winning teams (starting 10) and is hitting .286 (12-for-42) with some pop (3 doubles, 2 home runs and a .500 slugging percentage).  He also gave them a momentary, 4-3 lead with an eighth-inning RBI single against Pittsburgh on May 7th.  The Pirates would come back to tie that one up before Matt Carpenter walked it off with his 2-run homer in the ninth.

Carpenter was 0-for-2 last night before exiting the game.  Matt was only a .244 hitter against winning teams last year, hitting 11 home runs.  So far this year, Matt is 15 for 73 against winning teams (.205), the second lowest batting average on the team when playing against quality opponents.

The only regular struggling more against winning teams is Matt Holliday.  Zero for two last night, and hitting .234 for the season, Matt is now 8 for 46 this month (.174) with a .196 slugging percentage (as one of the hits is a double) against the better teams.  His only RBI this month against a quality opponent was the walk-off single that beat Philadelphia 5-4 on May the 4th.  (Philadelphia currently has a better record than the Cards at 25-21).  For the season, Holliday is hitting .197/.256/.263 in 82 plate appearances against teams that have winning records.

Jeremy Hazelbaker was 0-for-2 after taking over for Holliday last night.  Jeremy has had some great and not so great moments against winning teams.  With now just 8 hits in his 37 at bats against them – but remembering that 5 of those hits have been for extra-bases, including 3 home runs – Jeremy’s line against winning teams sits at .216/.256/.514.

Kolten Wong was actually one of our most dependable hitters against winning teams last year as he hit .294 against them with 5 home runs and 6 late, game-changing hits.  He is only a .217 hitter against them so far this year (10-for-46) including a .185 average (5-for-27) against them this month after his 0-for-3 last night.

Even though these guys have done better this month, offense is still very sporadic against the better teams.  Three late runs last night brings then to 52 in the 13 games they’ve played against them this month (4.00 runs per) and just 70 for the year (3.33).

In the first half of 2015, Michael Wacha faced 11 winning teams.  He threw 8 quality starts, won 7 of 8 decisions and held them to a .217 batting average and a 2.45 ERA.  He faced 6 more after the break, managing 2 quality starts, a 1-3 record and a 5.34 ERA with a .287 batting average against.  In his five starts so far this year against winning teams, Michael is 0-4, 6.49 with one quality start.

Michael – whose struggles are deeper than the opponent he’s facing – has had the bad luck to struggle while making four starts this month against winning teams.  Before last night’s thumping by the Cubs he was pounded 8-4 by the Dodgers on May 13th and the Pirates 10-5 on May 8th.  He also made his last very good start this month against a winning team, losing a 1-0 game to Philadelphia on May 3rd.

Carlos Martinez – who starts this afternoon – has also had more than his share of trouble recently against winning teams.  He is 0-3, 5.40 in three starts this month.  He did, of course, beat Chicago with seven strong innings back in April.  That 4-3 win was our first of the season against teams with a winning record.

Inherit the Wind Entry 8: Nearly a Runthrough

It’s Monday, May 23 and almost all scripts are out of hands.  The anticipated runthrough almost happens, but we fall one scene short.  Not an issue.  We are polishing as we go.  Scene by scene, the show is beginning to take its final shape.

Directors Mark & Darrious enjoying the show. All that's missing is the popcorn.
Directors Mark & Darrious enjoying the show. All that’s missing is the popcorn.

After weeks of rehearsing the pieces in isolation, it’s a little compelling watching as all the pieces fit together.  (Among other things, it’s at about this point in the process that actors start to figure out how long they will have between scenes).  (There actually has already been one runthrough of the show – it just didn’t happen tonight.)

One of the things the audience will remember about this play is that it is very loud very often.  The crowd scenes will bring a lot of that, but there will be other moments of individual conflict that will also be loud.  A lot of the characters in this piece find themselves more than a little upset at various points in the story.

Matthew Harrison Brady (Mark Abels) is the White Knight grilling a witness. Surely he could never lose his cool! Could he?
Matthew Harrison Brady (Mark Abels) is the White Knight grilling a witness. Surely he could never lose his cool! Could he?

But as impressive as – and actually more important than – the theatre shaking moments are a series of exceptionally quiet moments that connect the dots of theme and plot.  After the tumult of the prayer meeting there is a very soft exchange between  Brady and Drummond.  Rachel and Bert have a heartbreaking moment of betrayal before the contentious court room scenes.  After the testimony scene is over and at the very end of the show the scenes that had begun in much sound and fury end in profound quiet.

Perhaps not the highest court in the land, but certainly the highest bench.
Perhaps not the highest court in the land, but certainly the highest bench.

It is in these moments where these very public and larger than life characters are found to be only human and surprisingly vulnerable.

All of the play’s important business happens in these very still moments.  Critical to our success is our execution of the pianissimos as well as the fortissimos.