Enigmatic Cardinals Watch Another One Get Away

The storied St Louis National League franchise has been, shall we say, enigmatic this season.  And never more enigmatic than when they play at home.  And pretty much at their enigmatic best last night.  In the finale of their four-game, home-and-home against Kansas City, St Louis hit two more home runs, drew seven walks, drove the opposing starter from the mound after 4 innings, and received another quality start from their own starter without any subsequent disaster from the pen.

But, they managed only one hit other than the home runs, ran themselves out of their most promising inning, went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position, made three errors and two other plays that could have been errors, and struck out 12 times as they conjured a 4-2 loss (box score) out of a game that was theirs for the taking.

It’s hard to call this the most mystifying defeat of the season.  After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that – in consecutive starts – Wainwright, Wacha and Martinez combined to allow just 1 run over 21.2 innings of three consecutive Cardinal losses.  But this one was certainly mystifying enough.

Since the emotion-driven sweep of the Cubs in Chicago that seemed certain to turn the club in the right direction, the enigmatic Cards are 2 and 5 and have given back most of the ground they made up in Chicago.

Since the emotion-driven sweep of the Pirates in Pittsburgh capped a season-best five-game winning streak that seemed certain to turn the club around, they have lost 10 of the last 15 and lost two more games in the standings.  All this and we’re not quite to the halfway mark.  I don’t know how much more enigmatic they can be, but I get the feeling that this season will not be for the faint of heart.

Perhaps the best news out of the surprisingly feeble offensive show last night was a second two-hit game from Jhonny Peralta.  Jhonny has 4 hits in his last 8 at bats.

With Greg Garcia on first and one out in the seventh innings, Matt Carpenter flew out.  He thus avoided grounding into a double play in his 33rd straight DP opportunity.  Depending on whether you consider Matt Adams a regular, Carpenter is the hardest to double up among our regular players this season.  He has bounced into 2 in the 42 opportunities he’s had to do so (4.8%).  Adams is 2 for 46 (4.3%).

Carpenter, of course, retains the title of being the club’s most discriminating hitter when it comes to swinging at the first pitch of an at bat.  He took the first pitch all four times last night, and has swung at only 44 first pitches all year (13.3%).  Aledmys Diaz is the second most selective on the team (25.4%).

Carpenter, in fact, only swung at 5 of the 23 pitches thrown to him last night.  Carp has only swung at 90 of the last 295 pitches thrown him (30.5%).  For the season, swings at 37.3% of the pitches he sees.  Aledmys Diaz is second again in this category, although at 46%, it’s a rather distant second.  Thirteen of last night’s pitches to him were balls.  This season, 41.5% of the pitches thrown to Matt are out of the strike zone.  All of these are reasons why Carpenter sees a team-leading 4.28 pitches per plate appearance.  The only other semi-regular or better on the team who is seeing at least four pitches is Matt Adams (4.07).

Kolten Wong’s brief five-game hitting streak ended last night.  Kolten hit .316 during his streak (6 for 19) and has looked better at the plate since his recall, but still doesn’t have a major league extra base hit since he doubled off Zach Grienke back on May 22 – 67 at bats ago.  Kolten ended June with a .227 average for the month (10 for 44).  He was hitting .222 when he was sent down.

Through the end of May, Kolten had only put the ball in play on 37.8% of his swings.  For the month of June, 40 of his 76 swings (52.6%) put the ball in play.  This was the highest ratio on the team last month.  Three of his five swings last night put the ball in play – although with little to show for it.

Partially because he fouled more pitches off during those first two months, Kolten saw 4.10 pitches per plate appearances through the end of May.  He saw the team’s fewest pitches per plate appearances (3.31) in June after getting just 13 in his 4 PAs last night.

Matt Holliday was hitless in four at bats and now has 1 hit in his last 13 as his average begins to trend back down.  He is 10 for his last 53 (.189), and finished June with a .224 average for the month.  When he did hit, he did so with some pop – 6 home runs and 16 RBIs.

Through his first 234 plate appearances this year (during which he hit .265), Matt swung at 46.6% of the pitches he saw (and just 33.8% of first pitches thrown him).  When he swung, he missed only 17.4% of the time, while putting the ball in play 43.3% of the time.  Over his last 59 plate appearances (with its .189 batting average), Matt has swung at 55% of the pitches thrown him (44.1% of first pitches), missing on 26.1% of his swings and putting the ball in play just 36.5% of the time.

Matt Adams is on an 0-for-11 streak after going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts last night.  He finished June with a .238 average after hitting .364 in May, losing steam as he went.  Matt had only 4 hits in his last 31 at bats in June (.129) while striking out 11 times.

Adams didn’t offer at the first pitch in any of the four times he came up last night.  During the month of June, St Louis had three players who swung at fewer than 20% of first pitches – Carpenter, 12.3%; Diaz, 16.5% and Matt Adams at 19.4%.

Both of Adams’ strikeouts were on swinging third strikes.  All of his last eleven strikeouts, and 24 of his last 25 have been swinging.  He had been called out on strikes seven times in his first 22 strikeouts this season.

Adams swung 8 times last night and put the ball in play twice.  For the season, he only puts the ball in play on 31.9% of his swings.

Adams historically doesn’t take many strikes.  During the season’s first two months, only 25.5% of the pitches he took were called strikes by the umpire.  He took 8 pitches last night and had 5 of them called strikes.  For the month of June, 35.8% of the pitches he took were called strikes.

For the month of June, Adams saw more pitches per plate appearances (4.28) than Carpenter did (4.25).

Greg Garcia’s first mini-slump of the season corresponds to the precise time the Cards need him to play while Diaz recoups.  He was 0 for 2 last night and is 1 for his last 13.  Month-by-month, the enigmatic Garcia hit .600 in April, .538 in May, and .172 in June.  After striking out only 3 times in his first 26 at bats, Greg has fanned 9 times in his last 26.

When Garcia took a called third strike with one out in the ninth, he became St Louis’ twelfth and final strikeout victim of the night – and the only one to take a called strike three.

Mike Leake throws the fewest pitches per inning among the starters – just 14.71.  He cleared 7 innings last night on just 102 pitches (14.57 per).

Home run prone all year, Morales home run was the only one that Tyler Lyons surrendered in 11 innings to the 38 batters he faced in June.  This was in spite of the fact that Tyler was the second most fly-ball prone pitcher on the staff in June, as his 64.3% fly ball ratio trailed only Kevin Siegrist, who saw 66.7% of the batters who put the ball in play against him, put the ball in the air.

Tyler threw 19 of his 24 pitches for strikes.  For the month of June, he threw strikes with 67.7% of his pitches – second only to Oh (67.9%).

After hitting multiple home runs only 36 times all last year, the Cardinals have now already had 28 multiple home run games this year.  Through 78 games and 2,701 at bats, Cardinal batters have launched 106 home runs.

Through 78 games in 2015, St Louis possessed 62 home runs.  They wouldn’t hit home run 106 until August 27 in Arizona, playing in game #127.  Tony Cruz victimized Rubby De La Rosa with a lead-off homer in the second that increased the Cardinal lead to 2-0 in a game they would eventually win 5-3.  This was team at bat # 4,290.

Cards Can’t Get a Lead for Martinez, Lose Again to KC

Carlos Martinez shut out Kansas City for 6 innings last night, but was saddled with his third straight no decision as the tail spinning Cardinal batsmen could never get him a lead.  It was Martinez’ third straight no decision, despite the fact that Carlos has only allowed 1 run in the 20 innings he’s pitched in those games.  It took 12 innings, but the Royals eventually prevailed 3-2 (box score).

This is a continuation of the team batting slump that dates back to the beginning of the Houston series that started the home stand before this.  The Cards did finish with 10 hits last night, but it took them 12 innings and 46 at bats.  St Louis has lost 9 of 14 games since the beginning of the Houston series.  They are hitting .228 as a team and scoring 3.86 runs per game.  With one day left in June, the team batting average is down to .246 for the month.

Perhaps the nicest single moment of the evening was the game-tying home run that Stephen Piscotty struck in the bottom of the tenth.  Piscotty is hitting .331 this season when he’s up with the Cardinals either trailing by a run, tied, or ahead by no more than two runs.  His 58 hits in 175 at bats includes 15 doubles, a triple, and 8 of his 9 home runs.  He has 34 of his 40 RBIs in these critical moments of the game and is slugging .566 with the game thus on the line.

Over these 14 games, St Louis has collected 19 home runs, but Piscotty’s was only the fifth hit while the Cards trailed in the game.

Matt Holliday has hit some home runs since the beginning of the previous home stand (4 to be exact), but now has just 10 hits in his last 49 at bats (.204).  He staggers into the last day of June with a .235 average for the month, although with a .481 slugging percentage.  Matt does have 6 home runs and 16 runs batted in this month.

His bat has been most missed in just the kind of game played last night where neither team ever trailed by more than one run.  Over the last 14 games, when the game score has been a one-run lead either way, Matt is only 4 for 36 (.111) – although 3 of those hits have left the yard.  This has been the pattern all season.  Through his 0-for-3 last night, Holliday is hitting .204 while the game is within a run either way.  But he has hit 8 home runs and driven in 32 runs in those at bats.

Hitless last night, Tommy Pham is down to .190 (4 for 21) since his return from the DL.

When Tommy struck out leading off the twelfth inning with his team down 3-2, it dropped Pham to 0 for 9 on the season when he bats with the Cards behind.  He is 4 for 12 (.333) when he bats either ahead or tied in the game.

Matt Adams had a particularly tough evening, going 0 for 6 with 3 strikeouts.  His is another bat that we haven’t heard much from since the start of the Houston series.  Hampered by back spasms, Matt has only played in 9 of the last 14 games, starting 6.  He has 4 hits, 1 walk and 9 strikeouts in his last 27 at bats (.148 batting average and .172 on base percentage).  One of those hits did leave the park, but Matt has only driven in 2 runs in the team’s last 14 games.

Adams also had opportunities to help bring the Cards from behind.  He struck out in the eighth inning with the tying run on first and one out.  He ended the game with a twelfth inning fly-out with the Cards trailing 3-2.  This month Matt has come to the plate 19 times with his team behind.  He has 2 singles (1 of the infield variety) and 4 strike outs.  His batting line this month with the Cards trailing is .105/.105/.105.

Greg Garcia’s remarkable early season start has started to slow.  Zero for five last night, Greg is just 1 for his last 11.  He is 5 for 27 (.185) for the month of June.

The improved Cardinal pitching this month has given the struggling hitters a better chance to get the team back into the game than they’ve had in previous months.  In April, 21.9% of Cardinal plate appearances came with the team trailing by more than one run.  In May that happened 28.6% of the time.  In June, the Cards have trailed by more than one run just 15.8% of the time.

Carlos Martinez wrapped up as good a month as a pitcher has had around here for a long time last night.  With 6 more scoreless innings, Carlos finished giving us 34.1 innings through 5 June starts, allowing just 5 runs on 26 hits – and just 1 home run.  His ERA for the month was 1.31 and was accompanied by a .208 batting average against.  He won only 2 (losing none), but that number could have been so much better.

In those 34.1 innings, Martinez only pitched with a lead in 10 of them.  He also trailed for only 3.2 innings.  Of the 137 batters he faced in June, Carlos faced an astonishing 62% of them with the score tied.  For the season, an embarrassing 45% of the batters that face him have done so with the score tied.

Fortunately, tied ballgames are when Carlos does his best work.  In 41.2 tied-score innings this season, Martinez has a 2.16 ERA and a .216 batting average against.  Of the 174 batters that Martinez has faced with the score tied this season, Jarrod Dyson’s fourth inning double was only the third extra-base hit he’s surrendered, and only Adrian Gonzalez has hit a home run this season against Martinez with the score tied.

In 20.2 innings in June with the score tied, Martinez’ ERA was an eye-catching 0.44.  For the entire month, the only lead he surrendered in a tied ballgame came in Seattle on a grounder to third by Dae-ho Lee.

He did surrender a lead against San Francisco on June 5 – a home run by Jarrett Parker momentarily flipped a 1-0 Cardinal lead into a 2-1 Giant lead in a game St Louis (and Martinez) went on to win 6-3.  Since he had a lead so rarely this month, it’s understandable that he might occasionally forget what to do with one.

Kevin Siegrist walked a batter but gave no hits in a scoreless seventh.  Opposing batsmen are just 4 for 27 (.148) against Kevin when he pitches in a tied game.

Tyler Lyons only faced one batter, but got a fly-out to end the eighth.  Lyons hasn’t pitched a lot in June (6 games and 10 innings with one game to go), but he has been encouragingly effective when called on.  He has allowed only 2 runs this month (1.80 ERA) on just 3 hits (.097 average against).

Tyler stranded both of the runners he inherited from Jonathan Broxton last night. So far this season, Tyler has stranded 11 of 12 inherited runners.

Matthew Bowman pitched a hitless, scoreless ninth with a one-run deficit.  For the month, opposing batters are 1 for 13 against Matt when he pitches with the Cardinals trailing in the game.

Seung-hwan Oh has only walked 3 batters (1 intentionally) in 12.1 innings this month.  All three have been in the 2 innings he’s pitched since becoming the presumptive closer.

There was no opportunity to demonstrate this last night, but all month the Cardinals have had the most inexplicable problem holding leads.  For the month, Cardinal pitchers have pitched with a lead for 78.1 innings, during which they have sustained a 5.17 ERA and a .297 batting average against.  In 139 innings while the game is tied or St Louis trails, the pitching staff holds it together to the tune of a 2.59 ERA and a .218 average against.  Some of this damage gas come when St Louis has had a substantial lead, but the numbers are worse when the game is close.  With one game left in June, St Louis has pitched with a lead of no more than three runs for 56 innings this month with an ERA of 5.79 and a batting line against of .316/.370/.483.

Carpenter Continues to Carry Cards to Victory

Two walks and two extra-base hits from Matt Carpenter, and five runs batted in without a hit turned out to be enough last night as St Louis ended its eight-game road trip with an 8-4 victory over Kansas City (box score).

We’re pretty much out of accolades for Matt Carpenter, who was the main cog in the offense last night.  Of his 28 hits, now, this month, 15 have been of the extra-base variety to go along now with 20 walks.  With two games left in June, Carpenter’s June totals sit at 5 home runs, 18 runs scored, 14 runs batted in, and a .368/.500/.711 batting line.  Stretching back to the last two games in May (when Carp went 8 for 10 against the Brewers) his line is even more astounding at .419/.528/.802 over 86 at bats.

His home run that led off the fifth was the fifth time this season that he has homered as the leadoff batter in an inning.  Carpenter is hitting .330 this season (35 for 106) when he leads off an inning, with a .585 slugging percentage as the hits include 10 doubles and a triple.  His OBP when leading off an inning this season is .403.

Zero for four last night, Jhonny Peralta’s hitless skid has reached 18 at bats with 7 strikeouts.  He is down to .208 in his first 72 at bats since returning from the DL.

Yadier Molina was the only other Cardinal starter to go hitless last night (0 for 4).  June has been a difficult month for the Cardinal catcher.  With two games left in the month, Yadi has just 15 singles and 3 doubles to show for 75 at bats this month.  He’s driven in 7 runs all month, so far, while walking 4 times and grounding into 4 double plays.  His June batting line reads .240/.278/.280.

Yadi led off the fourth inning by flying out to right.  He also led off the sixth doing the same thing.  Over the last three seasons, Yadi has been a .288/.324/.422 hitter when leading off an inning.  This month, however, he has just 5 hits and a walk for the 23 innings he’s led off – a .227/.261/.273 batting line.

Last night’s effort wasn’t Michael Wacha’s best of the month, but he still turned in a solid effort, holding a hot-hitting Royals team to 4 runs and 9 hits over six innings.  May was a much needed rebound month for Wacha.  In 5 starts he was 2-1 with a 3.34 ERA and a .227 batting average against.  It washes out some of the bitterness of his 0-5, 6.75 May.

Jonathan Broxton delivered another 3-up-3-down inning.  He is unscored on in 13 straight appearances covering 12 innings.  He has allowed only 2 singles in his 11 innings in June, resulting in an .061 batting and slugging average against.

Seung-hwan Oh, in his first action as St Louis’ presumptive closer, made things more interesting than they needed to be – loading the bases on two singles and a walk in the ninth.  Still, he got out unscathed and now has allowed just 1 earned run over his last 14.1 innings covering 15 games (an 0.63 ERA).

Inherit the Wind – Final Entry

By 7:00 Sunday night we were home.  Minimal sets are a gift.  The show was over by about 4:15 and the set was essentially down by 5:30.  The final weekend was history.

Under the most normal of circumstances, closing a show is a bittersweet moment.  These circumstances were far from normal, so emotions were probably a little higher than normal.  Big casts have a little different flavor than small casts.  With a cast and crew of more than forty, we kind of felt like a small (or maybe a mid-sized) army.  And Mark Neels was our commander.

Mark Abels reporting for duty.
Mark Abels reporting for duty.

The second weekend began with the return of Mark Abels.  His was the offstage drama that transformed this production into the stuff of Urban Legend.  Abels – the original Brady – ended up doing two of the ten performances, with Mark Ables handling the other eight.  He came back for the second Friday, but afterward decided that the part was strenuous enough that it would be unwise to continue.

Matthew Harrison Brady meets Harry Truman.
Matthew Harrison Brady meets Harry Truman.

Here is Mark Neels made over as a Harry Trumanesque Matthew Harrison Brady.  This is a play that carries personal significance to him.  It is ironic, poetic and a little serendipitous that this necessity should arise in this particular production.  Mark was equal parts thrilled at the opportunity and saddened that Mark Ables – who also considered this a bucket list role – was unable to make the performances that he had worked so hard for.

Meeting our Public
Meeting our Public
Jazmine Wade leading the choir.
Jazmine Wade leading the choir.
Brush up rehearsals are serious business.
Brush up rehearsals are serious business.

These last two pictures are from the final brush-up.  As sometimes happens in brush ups, a fair number of people weren’t there, so the mood was a little light and we had a little fun with the run through.

Regarding the picture of Jazmine.  She had a “thing” going with Mrs Krebs.  I was trying to get her “I’m watching you” hand gesture, but I was too late.

Mark Neels has a hammer (well, a gavel, anyway).
Mark Neels has a hammer (well, a gavel, anyway).

A final picture.  After strike and before everyone went their way, it was time to give gifts .  I came too late to see what Darrious got.  Mark Neels gets a gavel.  One that comes with a host of memories.

Offense Muted Again in Loss in KC

During what is still an OK road trip, the Cardinal offense has had its moments of explosion – hitting six homers on Sunday and putting together a 5-run inning against the Cubs.  But those temporary lightning bolts have masked what is really an extended team batting slump that spreads back to the beginning of the most recent, 0 and 5 home stand.  Over the 12 games beginning with the 5-2 loss to Houston on June 14 and extending to last night’s 6-2 loss in Kansas City (box score) the Cards have hit just .227 and are scoring 3.67 runs per game.  They have lost 8 of those games.  Remove Sunday’s slugfest from these totals, and St Louis is hitting .208 and scoring 3.00 runs per game in the other eleven games.  The team batting average for the month of June is down to .247.

After bouncing a foul ball off his face last night, Aledmys Diaz (who doesn’t seem to be badly injured) will probably not be in tonight’s starting lineup – making that foul ball the only thing that has slowed Aledmys on this road trip.  After another 2 for 3 performance gives him 5 doubles in the last two games, Diaz is now 12 for 25 with seven extra base hits – including 2 home runs – on the trip.  Diaz has also walked 6 times and driven in 8 runs over the last 7 games.  His batting line for the road trip is an impressive .480/.594/.920.  After struggling through the early part of the month, Aledmys has lifted his June batting average to .275 and his on base percentage to .385.

Diaz’ second hit (and second double) came in the sixth inning.  For whatever reason, the fifth and sixth innings have been Aledmys’ innings this year – and especially this month.  With June almost in the books, Diaz has hit a fairly soft .275 through the first four innings (11 for 40 with 9 singles and 2 doubles).  From the seventh inning on Aledmys has hit just .136 (3 for 22).

But the 23 times this month he has come to the plat in the fifth or sixth innings, Aledmys has produced 2 singles, 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 10 runs batted in, 4 walks (1 intentional) and one hit-by-pitch.  His batting line is .444/.565/1.111.  For the full season, he isn’t much below that, hitting .410 in the fifth and sixth innings (25 for 61) with 7 doubles, 6 home runs, 15 runs batted in and an .820 slugging percentage.

Matt Holliday’s bat has suddenly spurted to life.  In his last 8 at bats, Matt has 1 single, 2 doubles and 2 home runs.  Matt has now knocked 4 over the boards and driven in 10 since the beginning of the last home stand (41 at bats).

Matt Carpenter’s most recent five-game hitting streak came to a close last night.  Carpenter hit .333 during the streak and slugged .952 as 6 of his 7 hits went for extra bases – including 3 home runs.

With an 0 for 4, Stephen Piscotty’s slump has sunk to 2 for his last 22 (.091).  Since the beginning of the last home stand, Piscotty has hit .182 with 1 home run and 4 runs batted in; and for the month of June he is now below the Mendoza line at .197 (15 for 76) with 2 home runs and 8 runs batted in.

Stephen’s night included groundouts in his last two at bats in the sixth and ninth.  Since the beginning of that disastrous last home stand, Piscotty has one infield single to show for his 18 at bats after the fifth inning.

Jhonny Peralta did hit a couple of balls pretty well last night, but his 0 for 3 leaves him hitless in his last 14 at bats with 5 strikeouts.  Jhonny is 7 for 44 (.159) since the start of the last home stand and has slipped to .221 in the 17 games since his return from the DL.

Jhonny’s strikeout ended the first inning.  Since his return, Jhonny’s games have started slowly.  He is now 2 for 15 (.133) in the first or second inning.

Brandon Moss’ meteoric June is beginning to come back to earth a bit.  He’s 2 for his last 11 and 8 for 35 (.229) since the beginning of the last home stand.  Six of the eight hits have been for extra bases (including 2 home runs).

Jedd Gyorko hasn’t been able to give the struggling offense much momentum either.  He is just 3 for his last 28 (.107).  He did hit one home run in Seattle, but has fallen to .156 for the month and .224 for the season.

Tommy Pham hit two of the Sunday home runs, but has only two other hits in his first 19 at bats since his return (.211).  He has made four consecutive starts in center field and it looks like he’s going to get a chance to play regularly for a while.

In last night’s fourth inning, Royal pitcher Danny Duffy set the birds down 1-2-3 on 10 pitches.  With June almost over, St Louis has managed just 6 hits in 67 at bats (.090) this month in the fourth innings of their games.  The Cards have scored just 1 fourth inning run for the month (scoring on an RBI single by Adams back on June 7) and only 28 for the year.

For the bulk of the season, St Louis has earned a reputation for late-inning offense.  They are hitting .283 as a team after the sixth inning, scoring 152 late runs in 75 games.  Over their last 12 games, they have hit .161 after the sixth inning, scoring 9 runs.

Since tying the century’s longest streak of quality starts, the Cardinals have endured three consecutive disastrous starts.  The best start of the three was Jaime Garcia’s messy 5.2 innings on Sunday which resulted in 5 runs and ten hits.  The other two starts saw Mike Leake unable to finish the fourth, giving 5 runs and 9 hits in 3.1 innings, and then Adam Wainwright giving six runs in the first two innings last night.

Almost lost in the disappointment of last night is the fact that Kansas City didn’t score after the second.  This is getting to a fairly dependable pattern this month.  When the pitching staff has been vulnerable, it has been so early.  Through the first four innings this month, the team ERA has been 4.30 with opposing batsmen hitting .276.  Once past the fourth, the pitching staff generally regains its footing.  From the fifth through the eighth innings, the team ERA falls to 2.45 with a .207 batting average against.

Cards Add Six More Home Runs in Victory in Seattle

For four innings yesterday, St Louis was watching a repeat of the same irritating script that had played during the first two games in Seattle.  The Cards were trailing 3-1, behind a shaky starting effort and a frustrated offense that had been 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.  Then the flash-mob offense showed up and put four on the board in the fifth with three doubles, a triple and an error.  Over the last five innings they hit six home runs to end up with an 11-5 victory (box score).

Everybody joined in on the 17-hit attack, but the afternoon especially belonged to the top three in the order.  Matt Carpenter, Aledmys Diaz and Matt Holliday combined to go 9 for 17 with 4 doubles, a triple, 3 home runs and 5 runs batted in.  The team slugged .978 for the game.  The top three spots slugged 1.412.

After his 3 for 6 day, Matt Carpenter has elevated his season batting line to .300/.419/.585.  For the month of June, now, Matt is 26 for 69 with 13 of those hits for extra bases, including 4 home runs, 12 RBIs and 18 walks.  His line for June (with four games left) is a scorching .377/.506/.696.  This, of course, is a continuation of a longer hot streak, dating back through the birth of his daughter.  Carpenter has hit safely in 19 of his last 21, batting .430/.536/.797 in his last 79 at bats.

Aledmys Diaz’ bat has sprung back to life on the current road trip.  Scuffling through a so-so June until he arrived in Chicago, Diaz is 10 for his last 22 with 5 extra-base hits (3 doubles and 2 home runs).  In his last 6 games he has 8 runs batted in and 6 walks.  His line for the road trip is .455/.586/.864.

Farther down in the order, Brandon Moss had his second two-hit game in his last three games.  Brandon is 7 for his last 21 with 5 of the hits going for extra-bases.  His line is .333/.462/.714 while getting hits in 5 of the 6 games during this road trip.  Like Carpenter, his June just keeps getting louder and harder to ignore.  Brandon has now played in 17 of the 21 June games so far (starting 15), during which he is hitting .350 (21 for 60) and slugging .833 (4 doubles, 2 triples, 7 home runs and 13 runs batted in).

One of Brandon’s hits was a two-out single.  He is now 7 for 20 (.350) this month with two-outs and (with 4 home runs) slugging .950 in those at bats.  Both numbers are team-bests for the month.  For the season, Brandon is a .290 hitter and a .783 slugger when batting with 2 outs.  His slugging percentage leads the team, as ten of his 16 home runs have come with two outs.  He also leads the team with 21 two-out runs batted in.

The concerning aspect of yesterday’s game was the pitching – specifically Jaime Garcia and Kevin Siegrist.

Garcia, who lasted only 5.2 innings allowing 5 runs, has seen his June ERA rise to 5.40 with a .347 batting average against.  Jaime has contributed just 28.1 in his five starts this month.  Going back over his last 8 starts, Garcia has totaled 42.2 innings and 3 quality starts.  He has served up 64 hits in those innings, with a 5.70 ERA.

During April, Jaime was extremely effective getting that first out of the inning.  The 48 batters who faced him with no one out in the inning hit .195.  In May, that average soared to .293.  So far in June, batters at the plate with no one yet out are 22 for 51 (.431) with 3 home runs and a .667 slugging percentage.  One of those home runs came yesterday off the bat of Nelson Cruz.  Seattle was 5 for 11 against Jaime with no one out yesterday, with three of the hits being for extra bases.

Both of Garcia’s walks came with 2 outs.  Of the 8 batters he’s walked so far this month, 5 have come with two outs.  For the month of June, the batter’s on base percentage against Garcia with two out in the inning is .395 (it’s .412 over the last two starts).

When Kevin Siegrist struck out Kyle Seager with a runner at second and no one out in the seventh, Kyle became the twelfth strikeout among the 36 batters who have faced Kevin this year with no one out.

On the other hand, Franklin Gutierrez’ three-run homer that tied the game with two-outs in the sixth was the third home run hit off of Siegrist in 9.1 innings this month and the sixth in 30.1 innings this season.  Two of the three this month, and 4 of the 6 this season have come with two out.

Jonathan Broxton stretched his scoreless streak to 12 straight appearances covering 11 innings.  Broxton has now faced 35 batters this month, allowing 2 singles and 3 walks while hitting one.  His June batting line against is .067/.176/.067.

With their second six-home run game of the season, the Cards have now hit 101 home runs in 74 games and 2,560 at bats.  This was the fifth time this century St Louis has hit 6 home runs in a game, and the second of those to come this season.  Prior to this season, the last 6 home run game came on July 15, 2007.

Through 101 games in 2015, the Cardinals had totaled 79 home runs.  Number 101 didn’t fly until August 23 in San Diego in team game number 123. Stephen Piscotty provided the blow in the seventh inning of the Cardinals eventual 10-3 win.  It was Piscotty’s third of the season (in team at bat number 4,170).  Piscotty would also get his fourth before the game was over.

Even though St Louis salvaged the Sunday game, they still dropped the series, 2 games to 1.  After losing three of the last four, they have now played 24 series this season, winning 12, losing 10 and splitting 2.

A Theme Loss as Bullpen Can’t Hold Lead in Seattle

The bigger recurring theme (late inning bullpen issues) will make the headlines, but a smaller, nettlesome theme was also in play last night in a disappointing loss to Seattle (box score).  A bases-loaded walk and a 2-run error were all that prevented a fifth shutout of the season.  St Louis finished the evening with 4 hits.  Going back to the beginning of the last home stand (9 games ago, now), the Cards are hitting .208 and scoring 3.00 runs per game (and many of the runs that they have managed have been more the product of luck than production).  The hitting woes have become pretty general all through the lineup.

Maybe Matt Holliday’s day is a kind of microcosm of the offense over these last 9 games.  He was 0 for 4 again, and is now just 3 for his last 26 (.115).  But, he did drive in what was at the time the go-ahead run (yes, I know it should have been a double play – work with me here).  Even though he only has 3 hits over these last 9 games, he now has 5 RBIs in those games.

Holliday’s June batting average slides to .207.

Matt doesn’t have a hit in an at bat that’s lasted more than 3 pitches since he singled on the fifth pitch from Jon Niese in the third inning of the June 12 game in Pittsburgh.  He is 0 for 13 after the third pitch since.

The June of Brandon Moss continues.  Of the four hits the Cards had last night, Brandon had two – both doubles.  For the month, Brandon Moss is now hitting .365 (19 for 52) with 7 homers, 12 RBIs and a .885 slugging percentage.

After starting the season 2 for 11 when hitting the first pitch, Brandon – who doubled on a first pitch last night – is now 3 for his last 7 when hitting the first pitch (2 doubles and 1 home run).

Aledmys Diaz has put together much better at bats of late, but another 0 for 2 last night leaves him at .235 for the month.  With 2 more walks last night, Aledmys has 10 for the month and 3 hit-by-pitches, so his on base percentage is a very good .354.

All of Aledmys’ four plate appearances last night lasted at least four pitches.  This includes the 8-pitch walk that tied the game in the eighth.  For the season, Diaz has had 20 plate appearances that have lasted more than six pitches.  Five of those have come in the last 9 games.

Stephen Piscotty, after another hitless game, is now hitting .203 for the month of June, and .188 through his last 32 at bats.

His hot start notwithstanding, Jhonny Peralta’s average has now dipped to .246 after he was also 0 for 4 last night.  Since the beginning of the last home-stand he is 7 for his last 37 (.189).  The home run he hit against Lackey on Monday accounts for his only run batted in in the last 9 games.

Yadi Molina drew a big walk to “ignite” the three-run eighth that looked – for a moment – like it might win the game.  A walk opened the rally and a walk and an error capped it.  There’s your theme.  That’s what our offense is reduced to these days.  When he wasn’t walking, Molina was 0 for 2.  He has 4 hits in his last 29 at bats (.138) and is hitting .219 in June.

Yadi did put together his longest at bat of the year – a 10-pitch battle against LeBlanc in the fifth inning that ended with a tapper back to the mound.

Jedd Gyorko got the start at first base when Matt Adam’s back turned up a little ouchy.  He contributed an 0 for 2 to the hitting woes.  Jedd is now scuffling along at .167 (4 for 24) for the month of June.

Of the five batters who hit the first pitch thrown to them, only Brandon Moss managed a hit with a fifth-inning, opposite field double.  St Louis is 31 for 88 (.352) this month when hitting the first pitch, including 6 doubles and 9 home runs – adding up to a .727 slugging percentage.

St Louis finished the game 3 for 12 (.250) when the at bat lasted three pitches or less, and 1 for 18 (.056) if the at bat extended past three pitches.  Since the beginning of the last home stand, St Louis is hitting .359 with a .692 slugging percentage when they hit the first pitch thrown to them.  If they don’t put that pitch in play, the average slides to .184.

On the good side of last night’s pitching news is Carlos Martinez, who went seven innings allowing one run.  Denied the victory, he is nonetheless 2-0 this month with a 1.59 ERA and a .184 batting average against.

Going back to his May 30 start in Milwaukee, Martinez is looking more and more like the dominant pitcher the organization hoped he would be.  He has: not allowed more than six hits in any of the games (allowing only four hits in 3 of the 5 starts, including last night); allowed 5 runs total in the 5 games (and 3 of those came against the Giants on June 5); surrendered only 1 home run over those last 36 innings (to Parker in the Giant game); left the game with a lead all five times (he could easily be 9-5 on the season) but saw the bullpen surrender his last two leads; sustained a 1.24 ERA in these games.

The longer the at bat against Carlos the better for him.  Last night, all the hits he allowed came within the first four pitches of the at bat.  The 10 batters who saw more than that went 0 for 9 with a walk.  During his four June starts, 12 batters have hit his first pitch – they have six hits.  The other 96 batters are hitting .140/.219/.151.  For the season, batters who don’t get either Carlos’ first or second pitch are relegated to a .164/.276/.201 line.

Also very good again last night – with another 1-2-3 inning – was Seung-hwan Oh.  Through his last 14 appearances, covering 13.1 innings, Oh has allowed 1 walk and 1 earned run (0.68 ERA) while striking out 18.  If there is a change at closer, Oh seems to be the likely choice.

Long at bats don’t generally prosper against Oh, either.  With two last night, (Cano struck out on the fourth pitch of his at bat and Cruz flew out on the fifth pitch of his), 124 batters have now seen three or more pitches from Oh in an at bat this year.  They are hitting .138/.194/.181 with 51 strikeouts.

And then there is Trevor Rosenthal.  On June 3, as he came on to pitch the ninth against San Francisco with the Cards trailing 2-1, he had a 2.12 ERA over 18 appearances.  Beginning with his bad ninth that submerged any real chance of a comeback that night, Rosenthal has managed to finish only seven innings in his last 11 outings.  His 14.14 ERA over that period includes 13 hits, 8 walks and 2 hit batsmen – 23 baserunners in 7 innings.  The batting line against him has been a very humbling .406/.548/.625.

The walk was a torturous, seven-pitch affair, and perhaps “thematic” of what’s going on with Trevor right now.  Of the 42 batters faced this month, one third have extended their at bats to five pitches or beyond.  None of them have hits, but half of them have walks.  Knowing that Trevor is struggling with his command gives hitters a pronounced edge early in the count when they can get ahead and wait on a fastball.  Last night, Seager’s double came on the second pitch and Lind’s home run on the third (albeit that pitch was a change-up).  Between pitches two and four of this month’s at bats, Rosenthal is being hit to the tune of .571/.609/.905, allowing 12 hits (2 doubles, a triple, and Lind’s homer) in 21 at bats with one walk and one hit batsman.

What’s next?  It’s hard to imagine they’ll keep letting Trevor close – at least in the short run.  A team can’t keep hemorrhaging runs in the ninth.  In the longer view, though, it’s unlikely that Rosenthal has suddenly become a terrible pitcher.  He’s struggling right now, but still throwing with good stuff.  As with Wainwright, Leake and Wacha before him already this year, Trevor will get it figured out.  I just don’t think they can afford to let him figure it out in the ninth inning.

The quality start was the thirteenth in a row for the Cardinal pitching staff – tying last year’s staff for the longest this century.  It was the fifteenth in 19 games this month.  So there is a positive theme.

A couple other “themes” of note:

After winning their first three, St Louis has lost six straight interleague games.

Six of the Cardinals’ last 7 games have been one-run affairs.  They are 2-4 in those games.  They played only 12 one-run games in the first 65 games of the season (winning only 4).

Random Stats: Managing Strike Counts

So much of what occurs between batter and pitcher hinges on the pitcher getting that second strike.  Up until strike two is thrown, major league batters are hitting .341/.401/.568.  Once that second strike occurs and the threat of the strikeout is in play, those numbers fall to .173/.244/.271 (major league totals courtesy of baseball reference).  Overall 51.2% of plate appearances reach the two-strike stage, and once that happens the batter then has a 41.2% chance of striking out.  Some players manipulate these situations better than others.

Matt Carpenters’ reputation as a two strike hitter has been a little overblown for most of the last couple of seasons.  For 2014 and 2015 (counting playoffs) Carpenter hit in two strike counts in 841 plate appearances, with a .214 average.  This season began similarly.  For the first two months of the season, Carp ran his count to two strikes 124 times, hitting .239.  Remembering that the major league average is only .173 when the batter has two strikes on him, this is to be considered a good two strike average, but not lofty number one might think.

His 72 June plate appearances include 38 in which he hit with two strikes.  In those PAs, Matt has amassed 5 singles, 5 doubles, a home run (against Jason Hammel on a 3-2 pitch), 4 runs batted in and 6 walks.  This adds up to a .344/.447/.594 line.  That will make a reputation.

Aledmys Diaz is hitting .243 (9 of 37) with two strikes this month (which is better than most).  Three of the 9 hits have been infield hits.  For the season, Aledmys is holding on to a .270 batting average with two strikes.  Of the 31 two-strike hits that Diaz has had so far this year, 9 have been of the infield variety.  Diaz strikes out just 27% of the times he gets two strikes on him.  When you can run like Diaz, there is a significant advantage in avoiding a strikeout and putting the ball in play.  Aledmys’ numbers suggest that he understands that.

With Diaz, getting to two strikes is dangerous enough.  This month, Diaz has hit the first strike thrown to him 13 times – getting 3 singles and 2 home runs.  For the season, Diaz is hitting .375 (21 for 56) when he hits the first strike.  Eleven of those hits have been for extra bases (5 doubles and 6 home runs), resulting in a .786 slugging percentage.  These are the highest percentages on the team for hitting with no strikes.

Matt Holliday has always been ready to hit that first strike if it’s to his liking.  Over the previous three seasons, Holliday has hit that first strike to the tune of .344 with 23 home runs.  His April average followed suit, as he hit .350 (7 for 20) with 2 more home runs.  For whatever reason, he hit only .188 in May (6 for 32) when hitting the first strike (with 1 home run).  If there was an issue, it seems to be fixed.  June finds Matt hitting .357 (5 for 14) with 2 home runs when he has no strikes on him.

Last year, Yadi Molina hit .290 when he had no strikes on him and .338 when he batted with one strike on him.  Over the last three years, he carried a .331 average in over 400 plate appearances when hitting in one-strike counts.  Thus far in June, Yadi is hitting .444 in zero-strike counts (8 for 18) and .059 (1 for 17) when batting with one strike on him.  This comes on the heels of a .154 May (4 for 26) when hitting with a strike against him.

In April, Brandon Moss hit .206 with two-strikes on him (7 for 34 with 2 home runs).  He followed that by hitting .122 (5 for 41 with one home run) with two strikes in May.  So far in June, Brandon is 7 for 25 (.280) with two strikes.  Five of the hits are for extra bases – 1 triple and 4 home runs.  The entire team has only hit 6 two-strike homers this month. His .840 slugging percentage (this month) with two strikes compares very favorable to the .271 major league average.  For the season, Brandon has 7 of the 19 two-strike homers the Cardinals have hit.  The second highest total is Matt Carpenter’s 5.  Moss is still hitting just .190 for the season with two strikes on him, but also has a .440 slugging percentage.

Stephen Piscotty is a tougher two-strike hitter than many may realize.  His .230 average (28 for 122) is significantly better than the league average, he strikes out slightly more than one third of the times he gets two strikes on him, and 18 of his 29 walks this year have come on 3-2 pitches.

So far this month, hitters facing Johnathan Broxton in no-strike and one-strike counts are 0 for 14.  Hitters in two-strike counts are 2 for 13.  For the season thus far, batters hit .184 against Johnathan (9 for 49) when they hit with less than two strikes on them, and .189 (10 for 53) once they get that second strike.

Jaime Garcia is slated to get the Sunday afternoon start against the Mariners.  His June has been shaky thus far, with 1 win, 2 losses, a 4.76 ERA and a .337 batting average against.  There may be an adjustment underneath all this.

In April, Jaime got two-strike counts on 50.8% of the batters he faced (they hit .103).  In May, that rate dropped to just 41.5% (who hit .156 against him).  Through his 4 starts in June, Jaime is getting to two strikes only 35% of the time (with a .235 average against).  Increasingly, batters are hitting Jaime earlier in the count, to take advantage of this disparity.  When Jaime gets two strikes on you, you become a .153/.225/.234 hitter.  If you can get him before then, you become a .337/.394/.453 hitter.

When you see numbers like this, it makes you wonder.  Mike Leake hasn’t walked any of the 80 batters he’s faced this month.  When he’s gotten two strikes on a batter, they have just 5 singles in 37 at bats (.135).  But batters who hit him before he gets to strike two (which would include hitters expecting fastballs early in the count) are 19 for 39 (.487) with 3 doubles, 4 home runs and an .872 slugging percentage.  His old teammates in Cincinnati were 8 for 14 with 3 doubles and 2 home runs when they hit against him with less than 2 strikes.

Batters this month are 0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts against Tyler Lyons when they get two strikes on them.  For the season, hitters with two strikes are 2 for 50 (.040) against Tyler with 28 strikeouts (in 52 plate appearances).  His 53.8% strikeout ratio once he gets you to two strikes is the highest on the team.  Kevin Siegrist is second at 50% even.

Twenty-six of the 38 batters (68.4%) that have stood in against Seung-hwan Oh this month have fallen into two strike counts (where they have hit .115).  For the season, Oh is getting to strike two a fairly astonishing 72.7% of the time (104 out of 143).

Kevin Siegrist hasn’t given up a two-strike hit since the Dodgers’ Cory Seager jumped a 1-2 pitch for a home run back on May 15.  The last 23 unfortunate batters that have found themselves in that situation against Kevin are 0 for 20 with 3 walks and 11 strikeouts.

One Streak Continues, One Ends as Cards Sweep Cubs

Michael Wacha’s gem gave the Cardinals a streak of 12 straight quality starts.  His efforts, a big play by Brandon Moss in left field, a missed play by Anthony Rizzo at first, and a 5-run sixth inning padded the way for a 7-2 victory (box score) and a sweep over the Cubs in Wrigley.  It also brought an end to his personal 7-game losing streak.

It is only the third time in this century that the Cards have strung together that many consecutive quality starts.  The longest was a 13-game streak last year.  In last year’s streak, Cardinal starters were 7-1 with a 1.58 ERA.

The other such streak this century occurred from April 24 through May 5, 2010.  The rotation was Wainwright, Brad Penny, Kyle Lohse, Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia.  That streak began in San Francisco after Garcia had lost a 4-1 game to San Francisco.  Wainwright also lost the next day to Barry Zito, but allowed only 2 runs in 8 innings.  The final there was 2-0.

St Louis went on to win 8 of the next 11 before the streak ended with Lohse on May 6.  Kyle was bounced after 4 innings giving 5 runs on 9 hits in an eventual 7-2 loss to Roy Halliday and Philadelphia.

Over the last 12 games this year, Cardinal starters are 5-2 with a 2.19 ERA.  The team ERA in those games is 2.43 with a .221/.282/.300 batting line against.

Wacha has authored 3 of those quality starts, allowing less than four hits in 2 of them.  Over his last 21.1 innings, Michael has permitted 12 hits, only three of them for extra bases (1 double and 2 home runs).  His ERA for those starts is 2.11, while opposing batsmen are hitting .164 and slugging .260 against him.  In 4 June starts, Wacha is now 1-1 with a 3.08 ERA.

Through the first two months of the season, batters who didn’t swing at Michael’s first pitch went on to hit .299 against him (50 for 167).  This month, those batters are hitting just .183 (11 for 60) against him.  Of the 24 Cubs he faced yesterday, 19 took the first pitch.  Their yield was 3 hits and 2 walks.  Not much, but they fared better than the five who swung (they were 0 for 5).

For the season, Wacha has only walked one of the 113 batters who have swung at his first pitch.  Wacha walked the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson in the second inning of the Friday, May 13 game after Peterson had fouled off the first two pitches.

Tyler Lyons contributed another efficient inning last night.  With the starters pitching 82.1 of the last 111 innings, work for the long man has been kind of scarce.  This was only his second game in the last twelve.  Lyons, however, has been solid lately.  He has pitched 16 innings over his last 10 games with a 3.38 ERA.

Throughout his up and down career, Tyler’s success can almost unfailingly be predicted by his first pitch.  Coming into this season, the 463 batters who let that pitch go have hit .225.  The 165 that have offered at the pitch were hitting .296.  This year, that disparity has been even more pronounced.  The 42 swingers are hitting .325/.357/.700.  The 75 takers are slashing .176/.240/.338.  It’s understandable that batters would swing at his first pitch an aggressive 35.9% of the time.

Finishing up the game, Johnathan Broxton is now unscored on in his last 11 games covering 10 innings.  Over his last 14 games covering 12 innings, Broxton has been touched for 6 hits and 3 walks with a 2.19 ERA.  He has stranded 6 of the last 7 runners he’s inherited.

The first 27 batters that swung at Broxton’s first pitch this season hit .360 (9 for 25) with 4 extra base hits and a .640 slugging percentage.  The last 12 that have done so are 0 for 11 with a sacrifice hit.

After allowing Chicago just two runs and three hits, the team ERA for June slides to 3.25 with a .234 batting average against.

Rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz wrapped up a very nice series against the Cubs with 3 hits, including a home run yesterday.  For the series, Aledmys was 6 for 11 (.545), drove in 3 runs and saw 73 pitches in 14 plate appearances.

Stephen Piscotty continues to fight through the toughest month of his big league career so far.  After yesterday’s 0 for 5, Piscotty sits at .217 for the month of June.

For the season’s first two months, Piscotty prospered in at bats where he swung at the first pitch thrown him.  He was 23 for 63 (.365) in those at bats with 4 home runs and 17 runs batted in.  His slugging percentage was .603.

Some of his June struggles may be a result of over-aggressiveness.  So far this month, Stephen is swinging at 39.1% of the first pitches thrown him.  The major league average is just 28.3% of first pitches swung at.  During his prosperous April and May he swung at the first pitch 30.9% of the time.  He offered at the first pitch twice in his 5 plate appearances yesterday, grounding out both times (against Arrieta in the fourth and Edwards in the sixth).  In June, when swinging at the first pitch, Piscotty is now 5 for 26 (.192).

Yadier Molina – who rarely strikes out – did so 3 times yesterday and 4 times over the last two games.  He has only 1 hit in his last 5 games (20 at bats).  Yadi’s batting line for the month of June is a disappointing .226/.262/.274.

Yadi has always been aggressive on the first pitch thrown to him.  Since the 2013 season, Yadi has offered at the first pitch thrown him 41.2% of the time.  He’s been extra-aggressive this month, as he has swung at the first pitch almost 50% of the time (31 of 65).  For the season, Yadi hits .297 when he swings at the first pitch and .232 when he doesn’t.

With 9 hits in 38 at bats yesterday, the Cardinal team batting average for the month has slid to .247.

The Cardinals, as a team, are somewhat more aggressive on the first pitch than most teams.  They’ve been swinging at 32.5% this year.  Yesterday afternoon, though, they took a more patient approach against Arrieta, swinging at only 25.6% of the first pitches thrown them.  The approach paid off.  They only hit .250 in the at bats where they took the first pitch, but they elevated Arrieta’s pitch count, and collected 4 of their 5 extra base hits in those more patient at bats.

When they did swing at the first pitch, they were only 2 for 10.  For the season, Cardinal batters are hitting .291 when they swing at the first pitch.  In the month of June, that average is only .234.

The 14 runs scored in Chicago were more than the Cardinals scored in the entire five-game home stand (10). In fact, the seven they scored yesterday equaled the run total for the entire Texas series.

Wainwright, Bullpen Hang On Again

For the second consecutive night, St Louis seemed poised to spit up a 3-run lead.  But for the second consecutive night, the Cardinals got just enough from their bullpen to hold onto a gritty one-run win, this time 4-3 over the Cubs (box score).

Adam Wainwright, with bullpen help from Johnathan Broxton, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal all took turns inviting a Cub comeback, but for the last two days, the Cards were just a notch tougher.

Stephen Piscotty is beginning to emerge from a mild swoon.  With 2 hits yesterday, Piscotty is hitting .385 (5 for 13) over his last four games.

After an impressive return from the disabled list, Jhonny Peralta has run into a dry patch.  Zero for four last night, Jhonny has just 3 hits in his last 5 games (20 at bats) for a .150 average (although he did hit a very important home run Monday night).

Yadier Molina is now 1 for 15 (.067) over his last four games.  His average (which is back down to .265 for the season) has dropped to .246 for the month of June (on 14 hits in 57 at bats).

Kolten Wong is now hitting .231 on his return from Memphis.  He is 3 for 13 after his 0-for-3 last night.  For the month, Kolten has 4 hits (all singles) in 22 at bats (.182).  He did walk for the first time this month last night.

When Jason Hammel placed a 94 mph fastball on the outside corner to Wong in the fourth inning, it was the only first pitch strike Kolten saw all day.  He bounced it to second for a 4-6-3 double play.  Increasingly, pitchers are having success against Wong when they throw first pitch strikes.  He has just 2 hits this month in his 15 at bats that have begun with strike one (.133).  Last year he hit .262 when the at bat began with a strike.

A little uncharacteristic for the Cubs, their pitchers threw ball one to 17 of the 35 Cardinal batters last night.  Those batters only managed 4 hits, but three of the four went for extra bases – including the two home runs.  For the season, St Louis is hitting .263 when their at bat begins with ball one, but 95 of their 224 hits have gone for extra bases, leading to a .469 slugging percentage.

Adam Wainwright struggled more than in any of his first three starts this month, yet walks away with his first victory of June.  He has quality starts in all four of them and holds a 2.36 ERA and a .191 batting average against this month.  He has 6 quality starts in his last seven, going 3-1 with a 2.72 ERA.

When Adam walked Jason Heyward in the first inning after getting ahead of him 0-1, and then walked Chris Coghlan in the third after being ahead 0-2, it marked the first two walks from Adam this month after throwing strike one to the batter.  Of the 94 batters Adam has faced this season to whom he has thrown a first pitch strike, only 8 have worked him for an eventual walk.

After Wainwright threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 27 he faced, the bullpen kept the anxiety high, throwing ball one to 5 of the 10 they faced.

Coghlan also walked against Jonathan Broxton in the seventh on four pitches.  Of the 15 batters that Broxton has walked this year, 12 of them have started the at bat with ball one.  When Broxton misses with his first pitch, the on base percentage against him is .400.

When he came back to throw a first-pitch strike to Heyward, Jason became the nineteenth batter this month to get a first-pitch strike from Broxton.  Of the 19, only one has managed a hit.  Pittsburgh’s Kang solved him for a one-out single in the tenth inning on June 10th after having fallen behind 0-2.  Broxton, of course, got the last two batters to send that game on to the eleventh.

When Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist both grounded out against Kevin Siegrist, it dropped the season batting average against Kevin to .111 (7 for 63) when he throws a first pitch strike.  The batter he fell behind last night – Anthony Rizzo – ended up walking.  The 43 batters that Siegrist has thrown a first-pitch ball to have a .297/.372/.703 batting line against him.

Trevor Rosenthal hang onto another save, although, with a hit and a walk allowed, it was another high-wire act.  The 39 batters that Trevor has faced this month hold a .367 batting average and a .513 on base percentage.

Rosenthal threw first-pitch balls to 3 of the 5 he faced last night.  He walked one of them (Baez on a 3-1 pitch) but got the other two (Almora striking out on a 2-2 pitch and Szczur grounding out on a 1-0 pitch).  Trevor’s enduring problem all season has been when he’s thrown first-pitch strikes.  He got Contreras swinging on an 0-2 pitch, but lost Russell to a single, also on an 0-2 pitch.

For the month of June, batters have a .273/.579/.273 line when he throws ball one, and a .421/.450/.579 line when he throws strike one.  For the season, those numbers read .226/.500/.226 with ball one, and .302/.353/.460 with strike one.

Last night was the third straight game in which the Cardinals have hit more than one home run.  It is their third such streak of the season.  The other two streaks both reached four games before ending.  St Louis now has 26 multi home run games this season, after accomplishing that feat only 36 times all last season.

The season home run tally now stands at 93 after 70 games and 2,411 at bats.  After 70 games in 2015 St Louis had 58 home runs.  They didn’t manage their 93rd until game number 116 and at bat number 3,920 on August 15th.  Randal Grichuk opened up the scoring that day in an eventual 6-2 Cardinal win with a first-inning drive against Miami lefthander Brad Hand.