It was a 2-0 Cardinal lead as last night’s game turned into the sixth inning. A walk, a hit, a squeeze bunt, and another single pushed another two runs across, building the Cardinal lead to 4-0.
After a bunt and a foul out, the inning threatened to end there. Then, suddenly, Jose Martinez drove a two-run double and Paul DeJong scored Martinez with a single. And with that, St Louis had put up 5 runs in the sixth – cushioning their 9-2 victory over San Francisco (box score).
The Cardinal offense hasn’t always been a work of art of late. Through the month of September, they are hitting .244 as a team, with just a .399 slugging percentage. But they are still scoring 5.48 runs per game this month. They have had a knack for the big inning.
So far this season, St Louis has just 15 innings in which they have scored 5 or more runs. Three of those have come in the last 14 games. They have had 4 more 4-run innings in those games, and 3 three-run innings. In the first 142 games of the season, St Louis totaled 72 innings of three-runs or more – about one every other game. Over the last 14 games, St Louis has fashioned 10 such innings – nearly three every four games. They have averaged right at 6 runs a game in those 14 games – although they have hit just .257 and slugged .398 in those contests
They have shown, of late, an impressive killer instinct – something this team hasn’t had a lot of in recent years. They have had games where they have been dominated early but have roused themselves with a breakthrough inning later on. Of their three 5-run innings referenced above, one came in the sixth, another was the seventh, and the third was a 6-run eighth. Of the four recent 4-run innings, two of those came in the eighth inning. So did one of those three-run innings.
A club that can be consistently dangerous late in games could make quite a run in the playoffs. If they can get there.
Jose Martinez was in the middle of the offense again. With two doubles and two runs batted in, Jose has now had three 2-hit games in his last five. Since the All-Star Break, Martinez is hitting .316 (61 for 193).
Jose’s game-breaking double came off of right-hander Pierce Johnson. One might wish that the right-handed Martinez might do a bit more damage against lefthanders, but you certainly can’t complain about his ability to hit righties. With that double, Jose is hitting .324 (45 for 139) since the break, and .311 (123 for 395) for the season against right-handers. Those numbers lead the team in those time frames.
Does where you bat matter? Probably not. Still Yadier Molina – with his two hits last night – is hitting .296 (8 for 27) since he took over the seventh spot in the order 7 games ago.
One of Yadi’s two hits last night came off Andrew Suarez – the lefty that started the game for San Francisco. Yadi is now 19 for 57 (.333) against lefties since the break.
Harrison Bader now has a little hitting streak going. With his 2-for-3 last night, Bader has hits in 6 straight games, batting .412 (7 for 17) with 2 doubles and 5 runs batted in during the streak. He is slugging .882 in those 17 at bats.
Bader’s double came off the lefty Suarez. Organizationally, the Cards have had trouble finding right-handed hitters who could really hit left-handers. Bader might be one of those guys. Since the break, Harrison is hitting .326 (15 for 46) against them, with a .587 slugging percentage (6 doubles and 2 home runs). He is a .306/.383/.541 hitter against them with 5 home runs and 14 runs batted in in 111 at bats for the season.
Yairo Munoz drove in the game’s first run with a second-inning single off the lefty. Although he doesn’t play regularly, Munoz has hit lefties as well as anyone on the team since the break. He is 13 for his last 37 (.351) against them with 7 walks (a .455 on base percentage).
On the pitching end, it was Miles Mikolas again. Miles has been the beacon of stability in an otherwise tempest-tossed pitching staff. Mikolas tied for the league lead in wins with his 17th, and there was nothing scuffling about it. Miles tossed 7 innings allowing 1 earned run on just 2 hits, no walks, and 8 strikeouts.
Over Miles last 4 starts, he has twice as many wins (4) as he does walks allowed (2). He has thrown 71% of his last 407 pitches for strikes, and holds a 2.81 ERA and a .230 batting average against in those outings.
Miles is 7-1 in the second half, with a 3.19 ERA. The starting pitching in general has been top-notch in the second half. They have combined to go 24-15 with a 3.46 ERA and a .246 batting average against.
Right-handed batters were only 1 for 9 against Miles last night, and 2 for 13 against all Cardinal pitchers. All season, the Cardinal staff has been one of baseball’s best against right-handers, holding them to a .239 batting average, with Mikolas leading the way holding them to a .198 average.
John Brebbiaa allowed a couple of hits, but no runs. He has allowed 1 run over his last 11.1 innings (an 0.79 ERA). In 15.2 innings since the break, John’s ERA is 1.72.