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.