Garcia Out Duels Lackey as Cards Hang On to Beat the Cubs

Jaime Garcia battled through 6.2 gritty innings and a couple of home runs held up in 3-2 win (box score) against the division-leading Cubs.

Jaime Garcia’s second consecutive quality start was the tenth in a row for the Cardinal pitching staff.  This is only the fifth such streak the Cards have enjoyed this century.  They put together streaks of 11 in a row from April 23 – May 4, 2003; 10 in a row from August 7 – 17, 2007; 12 in a row from April 24 – May 5, 2010; and the century’s longest 13 game streak last year from June 23rd to July 6.  During the streak, the team ERA has been at 2.42 with the starters contributing a 1.96 over those games.

Twenty of the 29 Cubs that Garcia pitched to last night (69%) didn’t get deep enough into the count against him to see ball two.  For the season, 66% of all batters he’s faced see at most one pitch out of the strike zone from him.  In general, hitting behind in the count against Jaime is difficult, so batters tend to be aggressive with him.

But hitting early in the count is no bargain either.  The Cubs had only 3 infield hits and a hit batsman to show for their quick at bats.  The 9 batters that hung around long enough to see at least ball two went 3 for 7 with a double and two walks.  For the season, the batting line against Garcia when you don’t get to ball two in the count is .225/.235/.322.  If you can work him deep in the count without falling behind, your line improves to .341/.487/.451.

Since serving up a three-run homer to Bryant in St Louis, Seung-hwan Oh has pitched very well.  Even including his messy eighth the other night against Texas, he has allowed just 1 earned run in 12 innings (0.73) over his last 13 appearances, walking 1 and striking out 17.

Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras managed what few batters this month have against Oh – they worked him to a full count.  Previous to last night, the only time Oh had gone to a full count on a hitter this month was to Cincinnati’s Adam Duvall back on June 8th.  He struck out.  Last night Bryant flew out and Contreras bounced into a critical double play on 3-2 pitches from Oh.

Trevor Rosenthal worked into more trouble last night before holding onto the save.  Between hits, walks and hit batsmen, 10 of the last 13 batters he’s faced have reached base.  Closing has become an extreme sport in St Louis.

Whether his short vacation to Memphis fixed anything or not, time will tell.  But Kolten Wong did respond with a couple hits yesterday – taking one to left.  Kolten has hit in both his starts since his return, and is 3 for 10 since his recall.

Matt Carpenter’s 12-game hitting streak came to an unceremonious end last night, as he struck out twice and flew to the track in left (a drive that would be well out of the park when the wind is blowing out).  He finished the streak with 41 at bats, 12 singles, 6 doubles, 1 home run, 9 runs scored, 7 runs batted in (including 2 late, game-changing hits), 13 walks and 4 strikeouts.  His batting line for the streak was a healthy .463/.593/.683.  Half of the games were multi-hit games.

While Matt contributed no hits to last night’s victory, he did walk both times he got into three-ball counts.  So far this month, Carpenter has pushed 19 of his 63 plate appearances to three-ball counts.  He has walked in 15 of them and has an .895 on base percentage this month in three-ball counts.  For the season, when Matt Carpenter works his way into a three-ball count, his line is .375/.713/.775.  Few batters in the league today can work a count like Matt Carpenter.

Matt Holliday is now 2 for his last 18 (.111) covering his last six games after his 0-for-3 last night.  Sixteen games into June, Matt carries a .220 average for the month.  He, nonetheless, has hit 3 home runs, driven in 7 and drawn 6 walks.

Matt worked his way into 2 three-ball counts last night, walking once and striking out the other time.  While not as lofty as Carpenter’s average, Holliday now carries a .653 on base percentage this year when the count against him reaches three balls.

Yadier Molina drove a pitch to center that – on other days – would have left the yard.  But that was as close as he came to a hit in 4 at bats yesterday.  Molina’s average is starting to tilt back down (he is now 1 for his last 11).  None of his at bats even reached ball two.  For the month of June thus far, 44 of his 56 plate appearances (79%) are over before he gets to ball two.

St Louis lost two more base-runners last night, including having Carpenter thrown out stealing.  The Cards are 2 for 8 this month stealing bases.

Both home runs hit last night were hit before John Lackey threw a pitch out of the strike zone (Moss hit an 0-2 pitch and Peralta jumped the first pitch of his at bat).  St Louis has hit 20 home runs in the first 16 games of this month – 13 of them before seeing ball one in the at bat.

For the season (courtesy of baseball-reference) St Louis leads all of baseball in batting average at .312 on three-ball counts.  Boston is the only other team over .300 at .306.  St Louis also has the highest team on base percentage in those counts at .626.  Three other teams are over .600 (the Cubs at .609, Boston .607 and Washington at .603).

Chicago collected 4 infield hits last night.  That is now 14 infield hits against the Cardinals in their last 6 games.

While St Louis leads the league in hitting in three-ball counts, the pitching staff has been nearly unhittable this month in those counts.  Opposing batters in June have 10 singles in 65 at bats (.154) when they get into three-ball counts.  For the season, the Cardinal average against in these counts is just .212.

St Louis now has five one-run victories this season, with three of them coming against the Cubs.  These wins represent all of their victories against Chicago so far this season.

The home runs by Brandon Moss and Jhonny Peralta bring to 25 the number of multi-home-run games for the Cardinals this season.  Again, they had only 36 such games through all of 2015.  The current season totals are 69 games, 2,379 at bats, and 91 home runs.

It took the 2015 team until their 111th game on August 9th before they hit their 91st home run.  Matt Carpenter did the honors against Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson – a three-run, seventh-inning drive in team at bat #3,781 that turned a 3-1 Brewer lead into a 4-3 Cardinal lead in a game the Brewers would come back to win 5-4.

Winless Home Stand Takes on Historic Proportions

Even if they should try, I don’t think it’s possible for the Cards to put together thirteen games that are more a microcosm of their season so far than the last thirteen.  This is especially true of the just-ended, agonizing home stand.

Let’s go back.  It’s Saturday, June 4.  The Cards have lost two in a row, dominated by Milwaukee’s Zach Davies (3-1) and San Francisco’s Johnny Cueto (5-1).  At that point, they are 1 game over at 28-27 and 11 behind the Cubs.

This game starts off poorly.  Michael Wacha isn’t awful, but he’s not missing too many bats.  He surrenders single runs in 4 of the first 5 innings.  Jeff Samardzjia, meanwhile, has been mostly cruising.  He’s allowed three isolated singles through his first four innings and takes a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth.  Thirty-one pitches and two home runs later, this is a tie game.  The Giants hit three line drives in the top of the sixth with nothing to show for it.  Piscotty and Adams go back-to-back off Jeff S in the bottom of the inning, and St Louis is on its way to a dramatic 7-4 victory.

Carlos Martinez gets the ball on Sunday against Jake Peavy, and the story line is very similar.  Down 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Cards respond with another 4-run uprising (all small ball this time), to take a 5-3 lead on the way to a 6-3 win.

The brief home stand is over and it’s off to Cincinnati.  Mike Leake is solid in his return to Cincinnati – for three innings.  Then he begins to, well, leak.  A three-run homer by Adam Duvall keyed a four-run fourth, and a solo shot by slugging Billy Hamilton keyed a two-run seventh that drove Leake from the game.

Down 6-1 after seven, the Cards “flash-mob” offense mounts a furious rally.  They score three in the eighth, two on a Peralta double.  A two-run triple by Carpenter in the ninth ties the game, and leaves St Louis with the lead run at third with only one out.  Until Cincinnati challenges the play at third and – after review – Carpenter is called out.  The rally fizzles and Joey Votto serves Kevin Siegrist with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.

They followed what was arguably the most irritating loss of the season to that point with their longest winning streak of the season to date, taking the last two in Cincy and sweeping the Pirates in Pittsburgh.  The streak included a four home run day in Cincinnati; a game-winning single from Molina in the eighth inning of the last Cincinnati game, a heart-stopping, six-run, twelfth-inning rally that led to a 9-3  over the cursed Pirates, and a 5-1 conquest of long-time nemesis Francisco Liriano.

During the streak, they played dynamic, compelling baseball.  They finally pushed to more than three games over .500, they finally beat Pittsburgh, they won two series against winning teams – even winning one of those series at home.  With the season more than one-third over, a very good team gave every indication that its pieces were finally falling into place.

The St Louis Cardinals then immediately followed their longest winning streak of the season with their longest losing streak of the season (5 games and perhaps counting).  They lost all five games at home, losing all three games to Texas by one run.  They lost in ways that defy explanation.  They lost a mind-numbing seven runners on the bases – two thrown out at home, one at third, and four at second – including Molina and Fryer both thrown out stealing second and Piscotty thrown out at second trying to advance on a short passed ball.

The pitching staff surrendered 10 infield hits over the five game home stand after allowing just 55 over the previous 63 games, saw their 3 errors turned into 4 runs, a missed force at second become 2 more and a passed ball become 2 more.  Along the way, I think they lost every single replay challenge.

They end the 13 games almost where they began, 2 over .500 and 12.5 games back.

And all that is not the most frustrating part of the lost home stand.  The entire losing streak occurred even while the Cards are on a streak of nine-straight quality starts.  My records only go back to the beginning of the century, so I can’t say that this has never happened to the Cardinals before.  But I do know that in this century (covering the last 2,784 games, including playoffs) that they have never lost five straight games where they got quality starts – although they did come close.

Last year, as a matter of fact – in the middle of a streak of 13 straight quality starts, they did lose four of them in a row (and about this same time of the season).  On June 30 2015 Lance Lynn held the White Sox to 1 run on six hits through six, but left the game a 1-1 tie as Chris Sale was doing the same thing to St Louis.  Chicago finally took that one in the eleventh inning on a home run from the immortal Tyler Flowers.

John Lackey followed with 7 good innings allowing 2 runs the next night, but that was enough to lose him that game.  Five late runs against Maness and Choate made the final score 7-1.

By the next day (July 2) the White Sox were gone and San Diego was in.  Tim Cooney got the start, gave the Cards 6 solid innings (3 runs on four hits), but the Cards could only score 3 against the Padres Tyson Ross.  This would also be an eventual 11 innings loss, Will Venable hitting the 2-run homer that decided it.

The next night, Michael Wacha gave us another great start, allowing 1 run in seven innings.  But the Padres Andrew Cashner matched him and Rosenthal was tagged with the loss in the ninth (a game-winning single off the bat of Jedd Gyorko).

The nonsense came to an end the next day (July 4), with another quality start.  Carlos Martinez yielded 1 run in 6.2 innings, but also left the game tied.  This time, though, the Cards got the late run on a Jhonny Peralta sacrifice fly in the eighth.

More history was made in the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday games.  Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez combined to pitch 21.2 innings in those games, allowing a total of 1 run.  That St Louis lost all three of those games is a level of futility seldom achieved on the major league level.  Again, my records only go to the beginning of the century, but until last weekend the fewest runs the starting pitching had allowed in three consecutive losses was 4, from June 17-19, 2008 losing all three to Kansas City (2-1 in spite of Joel Pineiro allowing just 1 run in seven innings; 3-2, in spite of 7 innings of 1-run ball from Braden Looper; and 4-1 to Zach Greinke in spite of five innings of 2-run ball from Brad Thompson).

During the home stand, the starting rotation threw 34 innings with a 1.59 ERA.  They allowed 8 runs (6 earned).  The bullpen yielded a 7.36 ERA during those games, allowing 11 (9 earned) in 11 innings.

For the month, the starting rotation now has 11 quality starts in 15 games and a 3.27 ERA.

With the scorching hot Texas team in the rear-view mirror, and the unstoppable Cubs up next (and with Pittsburgh no longer qualifying as a winning team) it’s about time to review our season numbers against winning teams.

Matt Carpenter continues his excellent June.  With two hits and two walks Matt finished the lost home stand with 8 hits and 6 walks in 21 plate appearances (a .533 batting average and a .667 on base percentage).  His line for June is now .422/.552/.622.

In the six games the Cards have played against winning teams this month (three each against San Fran and Texas), Carpenter has 11 hits in 18 at bats – a worthy .611 batting average.  Mix in 7 walks, and his on base percentage rises to .720.  Among regulars, Carpenter carries the highest batting average on the team against above .500 clubs.  In 80 plate appearances over 19 games, Matt is hitting .281 against them with a home run and 4 runs batted in.  He also has 14 walks in those games for an on base percentage of .405.

Brandon Moss contributed a home run on the home stand (in the first Houston game), but that was his only hit in 11 at bats over the last five games.  Brandon is 9 for 45 (.200) against winning teams this year, although three of the hits have been home runs.

Kolten Wong is back in town during the home stand, and drove in a big run with a hit in the second Texas game.  It was his only hit in 6 at bats during the home stand.  Wong is now 2 for 15 (.133) for the month of June.

He is also just 2 for 12 this month against San Fran and Texas.  Kolten has played in 18 of the 22 games we’ve played against winning teams this year, getting 49 at bats in those games.  He has driven in 1 runs and is hitting .204 against them.

This was Mike Leake’s fifth start (and third quality start) of the season against a team with a record of at least .500.  He carries the best ERA on the staff against these opponents (3.55), but is still just 1-3.  Jaime Garcia will be making his fourth start of the season tonight against a quality opponent.  He is 1-2 with a 3.93 ERA.  The other starters are Wainwright, 1-1, 4.05 ERA, 2 QS in 3 starts; Carlos Martinez, 2-3, 4.42 ERA, 3 QS in 6 starts; and Mike Wacha, 0-4, 6.08 ERA, 2 QS in 5 starts.

After walking no one and allowing two home runs in 6 innings yesterday, Mike Leake has now walked just 14 batters but given up 14 home runs in 14 starts and 87.2 innings this year.

For the season, now, St Louis is 7-15 against teams currently at or above .500

Jonathan Broxton pitched the last 1.1 innings of the home stand with no further damage.  He has pitched 8 scoreless innings this month, allowing just 2 hits and 1 walk.

Although in a losing effort (box score), St Louis recorded two more home runs yesterday.  They have now put together 24 multiple-home-run games, already within 12 of the number of times they managed that all of last year.  The team totals now are 68 games, 2,347 at bats and 89 home runs.

Last year, after 68 games, they had 55 home runs.  Home run #89 took 3,707 at bats over 109 games.  Randal Grichuk hit it off of Milwaukee’s Tyler Cravy in the fifth inning of an August 7th game that St Louis would go on to win 6-0.

Cards Drop One Run Game to Rangers

Last night’s loss (box score) played on some themes that are already becoming all too familiar.  It was another home loss (we are now 15-19 at Busch III), another poor offensive performance at home (we are now averaging 4.44 runs per game at home vs 6.22 on the road), another loss in the first game of a series, (now 8-14 in first games), another loss to a winning team (now 7-13).  And another loss in a one run game (now 4-9).

The one run games speak, I think, to toughness.  These are clearly not cases where the talent of one team overwhelms the talent on the other side.  Usually in tight games like these, mental toughness prevails.  Last year’s team played 55 one run games (about one third of their schedule) and won 23 (.582 winning percentage).  This year’s team has had a losing record in one run games every month so far, losing 4 of 5 in April, 3 of 5 in May, and now 2 of the 3 played so far in June.  Previous to last night, St Louis lost in Cincinnati 7-6 on June 7th after a furious rally tied the game in the ninth, and then beat Cincinnati 3-2 two nights later.

The only offensive pulse last night came from leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter, who contributed 2 singles and 2 walks.  Even as the team batting average for the month sinks to .249, Carpenter continues to put together a sensational month.  He now has 16 hits in his 40 at bats this month, including 5 doubles and a home run – good for 7 runs batted in.  He also has 9 walks for the month.  His June batting line so far is .400/.510/.600.

The two singles now make Carpenter 4 for 10 in the 3 one run games played this month.  His previous 2 hits were doubles.  Mix in his 3 walks, and his batting line in one run games this month is remarkably similar to his over line for the month – .400/.538/.600.

Aledmys Diaz has slipped to a soft .196 for the month of June after another 0-for4 last night.  His 9 hits (in 46 at bats this month) are 7 singles, 1 double and 1 home run.  Six walks and a couple hit-by-pitches has pushed his on base percentage to .309.

Diaz is now 1 for 12 (.083) in the three one run games the Cards have played this month and a soft .182 hitter (7 singles and 1 home run in 44 at bats) in the 13 we’ve played this season.

Matt Holliday’s 0 for 4 leaves him at .214 for the month of June, with 2 home runs and 5 runs batted in.  He has hit just .091 (1 single in 11 at bats) in the one run games in June, and over the season is hitting .208 with a home run and 7 RBIs in one run games.

Stephen Piscotty was also hitless last night (0 for 3).  His June average is also under the Mendoza line at .190.  He is now 2 for 10 in the June one run games.

Stephen was one of the principle heroes of our one run games last year.  He hit .329 in the 20 that he played in, hitting a couple of home runs, driving in 12 runs – including 4 game winning hits and 3 late, game-changing hits.  He began this year in similar fashion, hitting .324 (12 for 37) in the one run games of April and May, driving in 7 runs in the 10 games.

Yadier Molina’s has now played in 12 of the 13 one run games the Cards have been involved in.  His average in these games is just .200 (8 for 40) and his slugging percentage just .275.  At the height of his career, Molina was one of our toughest hitters in one run games.  From 2007 through 2009, Yadi hit .292 in 109 one run games.  Since the end of the 2013 season, Yadi has a .237/.283/.319 batting line in 101 one run games.

Another hitless night from Randal Grichuk drops him to .114 for the month (4 for 35) and .206 for the year.  He has played in all three one run games this month, going 0 for 10.  For the season, in one run contests, Grichuk has hit 2 home runs – including a walk-off game winner against the Cubs – but is only 5 for 47 (.106) overall.  Last year he hit .276 with 5 home runs and a .528 slugging percentage in 39 one run games.

After another strong performance last night, Michael Wacha seems clearly on the rebound.  He now has quality starts in 2 of his 3 June outings and has lowered his ERA to 3.20 and his batting average against to .214 for the month.  Now if we can just score a run for him.  Four of Wacha’s starts this season have turned into one run games.  Michael has delivered quality starts in 3 of the 4, churning out a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings.  He is 0-2 in those games.

In his young Cardinal career, Wacha has made 26 starts in one run games.  He is 3-7 in those games, with a 2.88 ERA.  There were four of those games that he left with a lead only to have the game lost by the bullpen.

Taken as a whole, the bullpen has probably been the best aspect of our one run games.  They have turned in a 1.66 ERA in 38 innings over the 13 contests.  The starters have given just 78.2 innings with a 5.03 ERA.

Managing the Count; Looking for Comfort Zones

In 38 plate appearances this month, Brandon Moss has only put himself ahead in the count in 10 of them (28.9%).  Pitchers that fall behind him should beware.  He is 5 for 9 this month with 4 of the hits going for home runs.  For the season, Brandon is a .365/.529/.962 hitter when ahead in the count (19 for 52 with 9 home runs).

Brandon’s growth this season has come when even in the count.  In April, Brandon was only a .143 hitter (3 for 21) when hitting in even counts.  That improved to .231 in May (6 for 26).  He has been hitting .500 (5 for 10) so far this month in even counts.

In his hot April, Jeremy Hazelbaker rarely found himself behind in the count.  That happened to him just 31% of the time (22 of 71 PAs).  He hit .095 (2 for 21) when he was behind, but .429 (18 of 42) when he was at least even in the count.  Four of his 5 homers in April came when he was at least even in the count.

Since April, Jeremy has been behind in the count in 35 of his 64 plate appearances (54.7%).  In his 29 plate appearances when he was even or better in the count, Jeremy still carries a .308 average (8 for 26 with 2 home runs) and a .538 slugging percentage.  But he has managed only 3 hits – all singles – in the 35 at bats that have found him behind in the count (.086).  Jeremy hasn’t been ahead in any of his 11 plate appearances so far this month.

No one on the team stands as ready to jump the first pitch as Randal Grichuk.  Seven of his 36 plate appearances this month have ended on the first pitch, and he is now hitting the first pitch thrown to him a team-leading 17.6% of the time (39 of his 222 plate appearances).  Those at bats have worked out very well (.395/.385/.763 with 3 home runs).  The problem is that if the pitcher survives the first pitch, Grichuk drops to a .166 average (27 for 163).

Matt Adams hit behind in the count almost 40% of the time in April (19 of his 49 plate appearances).  He only hit .167 (3 for 18) when he was behind in the count, and ended the month hitting .244 overall.  He hit behind in the count only 29% of the time in May (21 of 73), so even though he only hit .238 when behind in the count, he still hit .364 in May (with 4 home runs and a .652 slugging percentage).  In June, so far, Matt is behind in the count 43% of the time (18 of 42).  He is still hitting .300 this month, though, because he has been much better hitting behind in the count – he’s 5 for 18 (.278) with his first home run of the season when behind in the count.  His home run against Samardzjia came on an 0-1 pitch.

Aledmys Diaz has struck out the last five consecutive times the count has gone to 2-2 on him.  For the season, in 27 plate appearances when the count has gone to 2-2, Diaz is hitting .296 (8 for 27) with 7 strikeouts.

Adam Wainwright has struck out 21 batters in 20 innings this month.  Seven of the 21 have struck out on 0-2 counts.  Adam only had 6 strikeouts on 0-2 pitches for the season’s first 2 months.  0-2 is a curveball count.  He doesn’t always throw the curve on 0-2, but the batter always has to fear it.

In April, when Jaime Garcia had hitters in even counts, he allowed only 8 hits (all singles) in 38 at bats (.211).  Since April, opposing batters have gotten much more comfortable against Jaime in those counts.  In June, so far, those hitters are 11 for 26 (.423) with three of the hits leaving the park (a .769 slugging percentage).  Over the last month and a half the even-counts batting line against Jaime has been .362/.373/.603.

Dating back to the sixth inning of the May 26th game against Washington, the last 14 batters that have hit Mike Leake’s first pit have 2 singles, 2 doubles and 2 home runs.  Dating to that same inning, the last 11 batters who have hit his 1-1 pitch have 4 singles, a double and a home run.

One advantage that Matt Bowman gives himself is that he consistently works ahead in the count.  Of the 14 batters he’s faced this month, he has only been behind 2 of them when the at bat ended – serving up a home run to Milwaukee’s Martin Maldonado on a 2-1 pitch on June 1st, and getting Gregory Polanco to bounce into a game ending double play in Pittsburgh last Friday, also on a 2-1 pitch.  For the season, batters who hit ahead in the count against Bowman hit .364/.481/.636, but only 25.7% of the batters he faces get themselves into that situation.

Michael Wacha has pitched behind to 20 of the 49 batters he’s faced so far this month.  Five of the 20 have walks, but none of them has managed a hit off him.

Astros Hand Cards Second Straight Loss in Sweep

Tomorrow night will be the fifth time in 13 games this month that the Cardinals will have to respond to a loss.  The results of the first four games after a loss this month have been mixed.  They followed a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee on June 1st with a 5-1 loss to San Francisco on June 3rd before snapping the streak with a rousing 7-4 win against the Giants the next night.  After a walk-off 7-6 loss to Cincinnati on June 7th, St Louis began their 5-game winning streak with a 12-7 win the next night.  But after Houston snapped the streak on Tuesday, the Cards answered with a disappointing 4-1 loss last night (box score).

During those four after-loss games, the pitching staff surrendered 20 runs (and at least 4 in each game).  Bullpen issues have been a recurring theme.  They have allowed 9 runs in the 12.1 innings they’ve pitched in those four games.

For the season, though, this is a situation where the club in general – and the pitching staff in particular – has done very well.  St Louis is 18-11 (.621) with a 3.33 team ERA when rebounding after a loss.  Last season, St Louis was 18-14 (.563) at the All-Star break and 37-24 (.607) for the season after losing the game before.

After a dreadful May, Yadier Molina is bouncing back in June.  Since breaking an 0-for-21 with an eighth-inning single on June 5th, Yadi has 13 hits in 29 at bats (.448).  His slump hasn’t hampered his aggression any.  In his last 31 plate appearances, Yadi has swung at 63% of the pitches thrown him (59 of 93).  This splurge has bounced his June batting average to .310 and his overall average back up to .278.

Matt Carpenter was the other offensive highlight from last night.  His 2-for-4 extended his hitting streak to 9 games and 11 of his last 12.  Over the 9 games and 34 at bats, Matt has 8 singles, 5 doubles, 1 home run, 7 runs batted in and 7 walks.  This adds up to a batting line of .412/.512/.647.  Over the 12 games, Matt carries a .458 average and a .771 slugging percentage.  Thus far, Carpenter is hitting .368 in the month of June.

Carpenter played in all 11 April games the Cardinals played after losing the game before.  He only hit .205 (8 for 39) in those games.  Over the last month and a half, Matt has played in 15 games following a Cardinal loss.  In those 52 at bats, Carpenter has contributed 9 singles, 5 doubles, 4 home runs and 12 walks – a .346/.469/.673 batting line.

Brandon Moss’ 0 for 4 night ended his 7-game hitting streak.  He hit .433 (13 for 30) and slugged 1.033 during the streak, hitting 5 home runs in the 7 games.  Brandon is putting together what must be the best June of his career.  He is currently hitting .389 (14 for 36) with 6 home runs and a .972 slugging percentage.

Brandon’s struggles after a loss are not surprising.  Moss has played in 28 of the 29 games St Louis has played after losing the game before.  He is now hitting .217 in those games (18 for 83 with 29 strikeouts).

In spite of his 6 hits in the last two games against Pittsburgh, June has not been a good month so far for Matt Holliday.  He has only 3 other hits, and after his 0-for-3 last night, is down to .237 for the month.

Holliday has played in 3 of the 4 Cardinal games-after-loss this month.  He is 1 for 10 in those games and is hitting .221 (21 for 95) this season after a loss.  That being said, 4 of those hits have been home runs.  His 17 RBIs is the second highest on the team in games after a loss (Piscotty has 18), and 5 of those RBIs have given the Cards a lead they never surrendered.

Since the end of the Cincinnati series, Matt Adams has cooled a bit.  After striking out twice in an 0-for-4 game yesterday, Adams is just 2 for 18 (.111) with 8 strikeouts in his last four games.

Aledmys Diaz drew two walks last night (one intentional) but went 0 for 2.  He now has 4 hits over his last 27 at bats (.148).  His last extra-base hit was an RBI double off Jake Peavey in the sixth inning of the June 5th game against San Francisco.  Diaz has offered at only 40% of the pitches thrown him (56 of 140) and missed an uncharacteristic 23% of the pitches he’s swung at (13 of the 56) since that double.

After a torrid start to his career, Diaz is hitting .214 so far in June (9 for 42).

In the four after-a-loss games the Cardinals have played this month, Aledmys is only 3 for 15 (.200).  But one of those hits was the big three-run homer against Samardzija and the Giants on June 4th.

Not to be forgotten in the disappointment of last night’s ending is another ace-like start from Adam Wainwright (7 innings, 4 hits, no runs).  Cast adrift on a sea of inconsistency early this year, Adam has now delivered 3 consecutive quality starts and 5 of his last six.  He is 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA over his last six starts and 40 innings, ringing up more strikeouts (35) than hits allowed (30).  For his 3 starts in June, Adam’s ERA has dropped to 1.80 (through 20 innings).  His batting line against is a miniscule .167/.247/.182.

Last night was also the sixth time that Adam has taken the mound after a Cardinal loss.  He’s given us quality starts in all 6 games, going 2-1 with a 2.54 ERA and a .238/.288/.280 batting line against.  Adam has always been this pitcher after a team loss.  His last healthy season in the rotation (2014) he was 13-4 with a 2.08 ERA in those situations.  For his career, Adam has given us 79 quality starts over the 114 times he’s started after a team loss.  His record in those games is 61-28 with a 3.19 ERA.

Kevin Siegrist has now served up 5 home runs in his last 18.1 innings.  Since allowing no runs on only 2 hits through his first 7.2 innings this season, he has given 9 runs on 16 hits since.  His ERA since April 24 is 4.42.

Trevor Rosenthal has been touched for 12 hits, 8 walks and 8 runs over his last 9 innings.  The 26 batters who have faced Trevor so far this month are hitting .300 against him with a .462 on base percentage.

A team can overcome a lot of adversity and still put together a championship season.  But losing games late is one thing that can’t be overcome.  If the back of our bullpen is going to start to leak, they will take the rest of the team down with them.

Since contributing to the seventh-inning meltdown in the May 29th game against Washington, Jonathan Broxton has been a model bullpen citizen.  After cleaning up the ninth for Rosenthal last night, Broxton has pitched 7.2 innings in his last 8 games, allowing no runs and 2 hits.  Most encouraging, only 1 walk in those innings.

Last night’s game was the first of the season where the official temperature was over 90 degrees (it was 95 officially).

St Louis is now 15-16 on the season when playing teams that had lost their previous series (the Astros had lost 2 of three in Tampa Bay and had been 2-5 on their road trip until landing in St Louis).  St Louis has now played 10 series against teams that had lost their previous series.  The Cardinals have won only 3 of them, losing 5 and splitting the other 2.

Inherit the Wind Entry #14: Opening Weekend

And suddenly its opening weekend.  By degrees, the outside temperature is approaching the 97 degrees it’s supposed to be inside the courthouse.  The theater is comfy cool for the audience, but the dressing rooms not so much.

Before the audience shows up, Nada and Ellen are on the job getting things ready.

Ellen Schroeder at the box office.
Ellen Schroeder at the box office.

Earlier in this series, I talked about some of the unsung heroes that every theatre company relies upon.  At CCT, the Schroeder’s are the unofficial first family.  Nathan has been a two-term president of the group, is the long-time technical director and light-designer.  He is also the principal light hanger.  Ellen assists Nathan in all of the above and takes notes during the meetings.

She also is always at the box office.  Here she is getting things ready for opening night.

This is Nada Vaughn

Nada Vaughn setting up the displays.
Nada Vaughn setting up the displays.

Among her many tasks are the displays in the lobby.  Here is a sampling:

Goodness there are a lot of people in this cast.
Goodness there are a lot of people in this cast.

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Everything you need to know about the Scopes trial.
Everything you need to know about the Scopes trial.

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Who knew that the theater would be such a newsy place?

We opened on Thursday – a good show without much incident with a decent sized house.

Then came Saturday night.

The opening scene dissolves into scene two.  The townspeople filter in, setting up tables, bringing food, etc.  Matthew Harrison Brady is about to arrive and the entire town has turned out to welcome him.  The entrance of the newspaper woman Hornbeck only adds to the circus atmosphere.

Finally the moment is at hand.  But the entourage is missing.  We look over to the stage left entrance expecting to see the mayor, who does come on stage, but alone.  He walks directly to the audience and asks: “Is there a doctor in the house?”

And with those seven words, the entire production was completely transformed.

As he waited in the wings to make his triumphal entry. Mark Abels (portraying Mr Brady) began to experience severe medical distress resembling a heart attack.  I do not know exactly what the issue was, but the upshot of it was that Mark would not be able to go on.

Next for him was a visit from the paramedics and a few nights in the hospital.  I am given to understand that a stint was implanted and he has been cleared to return this weekend.  We were all relieved to hear that his recovery went well.  That was the good news.

But the question remained, “what to do about the show?”

I suppose we could have cancelled the production – at least the rest of that opening weekend.  But we did have another option available to us – Mark Neels, our director who stepped into the role:

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This was a Friday night picture.  For the Saturday and Sunday shows he had a legitimate costume and enough makeup to make him look like Harry Truman.  I thought for sure that I got a picture of him in that get-up, but apparently not.

The shows Friday (we started over from the top), Saturday and Sunday went surprisingly well.  As tightly rehearsed as a production of this magnitude is, you would think that the loss of a crucial element would have some kind of domino effect down the line.  But it didn’t happen.  Mark went on with a script of course, but the production didn’t visibly falter.

Credit, of course, to Mark Neels.  As the director he was very familiar with all the particulars (entrances, blocking, etc.).  But this isn’t at all a simple thing to undertake.  He didn’t make a big deal of it – and neither did we – but there was more than a little courage involved in stepping into a part this demanding.

Credit, also, to the rest of us for going on without blinking.  To a man we had complete confidence that Mark would do just fine.  That made it easier for us.

After the Sunday show, CCT held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic.  After a physically and emotionally draining opening week, it was a welcomed relief to relax and enjoy the company.  Some pictures follow.

Don't try this at home! These are trained professionals.
Don’t try this at home! These are trained professionals.

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The Annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic
The Annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic
Sarah Hart and Mark Choquette.  They did most of the work at the picnic.
Sarah Hart and Mark Choquette. They did most of the work at the picnic.

Home Struggles Continue as Winning Streak Ends

What the rest of the homestand will hold is unknown at this point.  The Cardinals lost the first game of the last road trip, but still came home 5-1.  It is nonetheless disappointing that – riding the emotion of the sweep of the Pirates – they would open the home stand being thoroughly outclassed, 5-2, by a heretofore struggling Houston club (box score).  Midway through June – and with 64 games played in the season – St Louis is still under .500 (15-17) at their home ballpark.

After two dynamic games in Pittsburgh, Matt Holliday suffered through another long day at Busch.  After another hitless effort (Matt was 0-for-3 last night), Holliday is now hitting .193 here this year (21 for 109) with 4 homers and 14 runs batted in.  He is a .333/.402/.610 hitter on the road with 7 homers and 22 runs batted in.  He started off as well as ever in April, getting 11 hits in 39 at bats (including 4 doubles and 3 home runs) for a .282/.333/.615 line.  Since the end of April, Matt has 10 hits (7 of them singles) in 70 at bats at home.  His post-April line is .143/.241/.214.

Yadier Molina is another one who got off to a hot start here.  Playing in 10 of the 11 April home games, Yadi hit an authoritative .471 (16 for 34) and slugged .676 as the hits included 5 doubles and a triple.  In his 21 home games since, Yadi has hit a very soft .153 (11 for 72).

Since his grand slam opened up the game against Scherzer and Washington back on May 27th, Stephen Piscotty has floundered a bit.  Hitless in 4 at bats last night, Piscotty is now just 9 for his last 45 (.200).

After amassing a surprising 13 hits in his first 23 at bats, Greg Garcia is just 2 for his last 14.

Sixty-four games into the season, St Louis has played 32 games at home and 32 on the road.  Offensively, they are hitting for a higher average (.274 – .261), a higher on base percentage (.348 – .327), more home runs (46 – 41), and a higher slugging percentage (.463 – .450) during their road games.  They are scoring 6.22 runs per game on the road and 4.78 runs per game at home.  Perhaps the offense – which has become a predominantly home run hitting outfit – isn’t as suited to its home park as teams of the past have been?

Jaime Garcia’s start was better than some of his recent outings.  Still he has lost four of his last five decisions with a 5.93 ERA over his last 6 starts.

Jaime lost 2 of his 3 home starts in April, but pitched very well (2.66 ERA, .129/.228/.171 batting line, 26 strikeouts in 20.2 innings).  He also lost 2 of 3 May home starts, but less impressively (5.02 ERA, .298/.355/.333, 8 strikeouts in 14.1 innings).

Of his 13 starts so far, Jamie has allowed 0 earned runs in 3 of them and 2 earned runs in 3 of the others.  Of the remaining 7 games, last night was the only time Garcia has made it into the seventh inning.

Matthew Bowman is still not trusted with very high-leverage situations, but he’s been mostly proficient in the assignments given him.  Over his last 9 games, Matt has allowed 3 runs and 10 hits in 14 innings (1.93 ERA).

Tyler Lyons has pitched on the road 9 times so far this year, totaling 11.2 innings.  He has served up 4 homers (3.09 per 9 innings) with a 6.94 ERA.  With his spotless inning last night, Lyons now has 17 innings in 9 home games with a 2.65 ERA.  He has still given up homers (3), but seems to profit from the extra space he has to work with at Busch.

With his excellent start Saturday night in Pittsburgh, Carlos Martinez is now 4-1, 1.78 on the road.  At home so far this season, Carlos is 3-4, 4.95.

Much of the home-turf difficulty defies easy explanation.  Thus far, the pitching staff has thrown 288 innings here and 281.2 innings on the road.  The batting line against them on the road is .248/.310/.403 with 34 home runs served up.  At Busch, those numbers are .244/.303/.370 (yes, opposing hitters are slugging just .370 against us at Busch) with 27 home runs.  Yet, the team ERA is decidedly lower on the road (3.83) than at home (4.34).

The two runs St Louis did score last night came on two more home runs.  It was the twenty-third time this year that Cardinal hitters have hit multiple home runs in a game – something they achieved only 36 times all last year.  The season total is now 87 in 2,222 at bats over 64 games.  They had only hit 49 through 64 games last year.

The eighty-seventh home run of 2015 flew off the bat of Matt Carpenter.  He picked on Cincinnati reliever JJ Hoover, hitting a game-tying drive in the eighth inning of a game St Louis would win 4-3 in 13 innings on August 5th.  It was team game number 107 and represented St Louis’ 3,636th at bat of that season.

At 2:18 this was the fastest game of the season, so far.  The previous low mark was the 2:20 that it took Zach Davies to dismiss us, 3-1, back on June 1st.  At 89 degrees, it was also the warmest game of the year so far.  The previous high temperature occurred in Washington on May 28th when the Cards took a 9-4 decision in 87 degree heat.  I predict this record won’t stand very long.

Random Stats with Runners on Base

Following up a bit on the RISP numbers from yesterday, let’s consider how fortunes change depending on whether there is a runner on base or not.

As we approach the mid-point of June, Matt Adams’ continues to look re-born as a hitter.  This uptick is becoming evident in every aspect of his game – including hitting with runners on base.  A good hitter with no one on (.284/.338/.500), Adams has been a force with runners on base.  He now has 25 hits in 62 at bats (.362) with 10 extra base hits – good for a .623 slugging percentage when hitting with runners on.  His 8 home runs break out as 4 solo home runs, 3 two-run homers and 1 three-run shot.

As with everything else, Matt has gotten better as the season has gone on.  In April he was a solid 7 for 25 (.280) with runners on.  Since then, he has hit .409 (18 for 44) with runners on base.

The change in Matt Carpenter’s approach to an at bat can be fairly clearly seen in this split.  His batting average rises considerably with runners on base (.303 vs .275), but even more evident is the shift in power numbers.  Of his 38 hits with the bases empty “only” 17 have been for extra bases.  Of his 23 hits with runners on base, 17 have also been for extra bases.  His complete line with runners on base reads .303/.421/.711 vs .275/.387/.471 with the bases empty.  His 10 home runs are: 5 solo homers, 1 two-run shot, and 4 three-run homers.  For all of 2015, Matt had only 3 three-run homers.

This gulf was considerably wider last year.  Matt, the leadoff hitter for most of the year, was a rather pedestrian .249/.344/.467 with the bases empty, and .316/.406/.580 with any runner on.  As long as Carpenter shows this this kind of separation, there will always be talk about moving Carp lower in the order.  Last year he hit with the bases empty 65.6% of the time.  He is up with the bases empty 62.5% of the time this year.

Even as Aledmys Diaz’ season corrects from his sensational April, he continues to respond with runners on base.  In April, Diaz hit .459/.474/.784 with the bases empty and .382/.432/.676 with runners on.  Since then, Aledmys has hit only .244 (20 for 82) with the bases empty, but has continued to hit .286 (18 for 63) with runners on base.

Aledmys has 8 home runs so far this year: 6 with the bases empty and 2 with two runners on.

Randal Grichuk was especially dangerous last year when hitting with runners on base.  He was 37 for 127 (.291) with 12 doubles, 3 triples, and 9 home runs.  He slugged .646.  As with all else, that dimension has been absent so far this year.  In 104 plate appearances with a runner on base, Grichuk is hitting .221 with 2 home runs.  Of Randal’s 8 home runs so far, 6 have been solo homers.  The other 2 have come with one runner aboard.

Matt Holliday’s tale of two seasons finds him at the end of April hitting .300/.417/.500 with the bases empty, but only .200/.243/.514 with runners on.  Since the end of April, Holliday has struggled noticeably with the bases empty (.211/.231/.434).  But he is now 21 for his last 60 (.350) with runners on base with 3 home runs, a .533 slugging percentage and a .451 on base percentage.  Eleven of his 13 walks since the end of April have come with at least one runner already on base (one of those intentional).

Holliday’s 11 home runs show 6 solo drives, 2 two-run homers and 3 three-run homers.

Stephen Piscotty’s remarkable RBI season is even more stunning when broken out by runners on base.  Stephen is only a .259 hitter with 4 home runs when batting with the bases empty.  Put one runner on, and his numbers slide up slightly (.267/.353/.317) on 16 hits in 60 at bats that includes 1 home run.  In 32 plate appearances with 2 runners on, Piscotty is 16 for 28 [not a misprint], 4 doubles and a home run for a .571/.625/.821 line.  He has 4 at bats with the bases loaded, during which he’s delivered 3 hits, including the team’s only grand slam home run so far this season.

This pattern showed in 2015 as well, although not quite to the extent as it’s shown in 2016.  He hit .279/.348/.500 with the bases empty; .299/.349/.442 with one runner on; .393/.406/.607 with two on; and he went 3 for 6 (all singles) with the bases loaded.

Team home run leader Brandon Moss has hit 8 of his 14 with no one on base, 3 others with one runner on, and 3 with two teammates aboard.

As a team, St Louis is hitting .319/.371/.577 with two or more runners on base.  This includes going 17 for 50 with the bases loaded (.340).

St Louis had 15 three-run homers all last year.  They have 19 already this year.

In April, the 74 batters at the plate against Jaime Garcia with no one on base hit just .143/.270/.190.  Once a runner reached base, the 56 batters to face him saw those numbers increase to .255/.304/.353.  Since April, 90 batter have faced Jaime with the bases empty.  They have hit .268/.333/.451.  During that same span, 78 batters have faced Garcia with at least one runner on.  They have hit .329/.364/.384.

As an aspect of his struggling April, Mike Leake allowed 15 hits in 49 at bats against him with runners on base (.306).  Since then, batters are only 16 for 66 (.242) when hitting against Mike with runners on.  Of the 12 home runs clocked against Mike this season, 9 came with no one on base.

In April, Carlos Martinez was almost unhittable once he placed a runner on base.  Batters hit .108 (4 for 37) against him that month.  So far in June, batters are having similar difficulties (.190 on 4 for 21) against him when hitting with runners on base.

But, for whatever reason, pitching with runners on base was a significant part of his difficult May.  Batters facing Martinez with a runner on that month hit .315 against him (17 of 54). With the bases empty, they only hit .232 (16 for 69).

Michael Wacha’s nasty month of May is even more closely connected to letting innings slide out of control once a runner got on base.  That month, he faced 74 batters with no one on base.  They hit .188 (13 for 69).  But once a batter reached against Wacha, the following batters hit .394 (26 of 66).

Thus far in June, Michael has been more settled.  Batters hitting with the bases empty are 4 for 24 (.167) and 5 for 18 (.278) when they hit with a batter on.

The improvement in Adam Wainwright’s season has been almost entirely in his ability to keep runners off base.  In April, batters hit .339/.381/.576 with the bases empty and .314/.387/.510 with at least one runner on against Wainwright.  Since the end of April, batters are still hitting .316/.349/.408 against Adam with a runner on, but have dropped to .217/.256/.348 with the bases empty.  So far in June, opposing batters are 2 for 31 (.065) against Adam with the bases empty, but 5 for 14 (.357) with a runner on.

Scoring Change: Aledmys Diaz Gains a Hit

With June almost halfway over, a scoring change has recently been announced that changes the box score of the May 25th game against Chicago.  With two out in the sixth inning of that game, Aledmys Diaz reached on what was originally scored an error by third baseman Tommy La Stella.  Diaz then scored on Matt Holliday’s subsequent home run.  This error has now been changed to an infield hit, so Diaz gets the hit, la Stella loses the error, and pitcher Adam Warren gets tagged with an extra hit and an extra earned run.

A 6-for-11 RISP Night Eases Cards Sweep of Bucs

The RISP abbreviation stand, as most of you know, for Runners In Scoring Position – (scoring position is second or third base where they can score on most singles).  A few years back, this team set some records for proficiency in this category, and we are flirting with history again this year.

After the 8-3 win last night (box score), the current winning streak has now reached 5 games and 7 out of 8.  Since their 4-game losing streak that ended the month of April, the team has won 23 of their last 38 games – the longest mostly consistent streak so far this season.

Matt Holliday was a very big hammer over the last two games of the Pirate series, drilling three hits in each game.  Holliday has played in 36 of the last 38 games, starting 34.  His home run yesterday was his eighth in the last 38 games.  He is tied with Brandon Moss for the club lead over those games.

Through the end of April, Holliday was one of the team’s least productive hitters with runners in scoring position.  Matt had managed only 4 hits in his first 24 RISP at bats (.167).  Since then, Holliday has delivered 11 hits in his last 30 RISP at bats.  Four of the hits have been for extra-bases (2 doubles, 2 home runs), and he’s driven in 16 runs (5 of them game-winners).  Matt has also walked 9 times with runners already in scoring position.  His RISP batting line since April is .367/.513/.633.  Holliday lined a single to left with runners at first and third last night to push the Cardinal lead to 2-0.

Yadier Molina (with three hits last night) has now hit in 3 of his last 5 games, with all three being multi-hit games.  Yadi now has 9 hits in his last 18 at bats.

Yadi’s night included going 2-for-2 with runners in scoring position.  He is now up to .333 on the season (17 for 51).

Stephen Piscotty broke a short dry spell with a couple of doubles, bringing his average back up to .308 for the season.  He has played in 35 of the last 38 games (starting 34).  During those games, his .326 average leads all regulars.  Matt Adams has hit .351 during that span, but falls 12 plate appearances short of qualifying as a regular.

Stephen had one of the team’s 11 RISP at bats last night and stung an RBI double.  Piscotty has been other worldly with runners in scoring position this whole season.  His RISP batting line is now .519/.574/.722 on 28 for 54 hitting.

Not joining in the fun last night was Jedd Gyorko.  Hitless in five at bats (including 2 strikeouts and a double play), Gyorko is now hitless in his last 14 at bats and has seen his season average fall to .225.  He is hitting .226 (14 for 62) over the team’s last 38 games.

The 6 for 11 night raises the team batting average with runners in scoring position to .314 this season (171 for 545).

Mike Leake had a small melt-down one start ago against his old team in Cincinnati, but overall Mike has been a huge part of the Cardinal turnaround.  Last night was his sixth quality start in his last 7 outings.  He is 5-1 in those games with a 2.66 ERA.

The Pirate series wrapped up with two 3-up-and-3-down innings from Broxton and Siegrist.

Jonathan Broxton continued a fairly steady trend with his hitless, scoreless inning last night.  Unscored on in his last seven games and over his last 10 games, covering 9.1 innings, he has allowed 3 runs on 6 hits.  Kevin Siegrist has also pitched 9.1 innings in his last 10 games, allowing now just 2 runs on 5 hits.  Siegrist has appeared in 17 of St Louis’ last 38 games, pitching 16 innings with a 2.25 ERA and a .193 batting average against.

While much has gone very well for the Cards over their last 38 games, pitching with runners in scoring position remains a sore spot.  Pittsburgh went 2-for-5 against Leake last night.  That makes 86 hits in the last 298 RISP at bats (.289 avg) against the Cardinal pitching staff.

Another two-homer night last night brings to 22 the number of games this season that St Louis has hit more than one home run (this happened 36 times all last season).  Sixty-three games and 2,190 at bats into the season, the birds have already collected 85 home runs.  It took the 2015 edition 105 games and 3,560 at bats to hit 85 home runs.  Then as now, it was Randal Grichuk doing the honors.  Last year, he picked on a Colorado lefthander named Yohan Flande.  The home run was a two-run drive that broke a scoreless tie and sent St Louis on to a 3-2 win on August 2nd of last year.

Wacha, Carpenter & Wainwright Among Heroes of Extra-Inning Win

There are games – many of them, actually – when baseball transcends the numbers it leaves in its wake.  Last night was one of those games.  Nothing can adequately quantify Carpenter’s heroic home run, the heartbreaking blown save, the impossible game-winning double from Wainwright, the finishing strike from Brandon Moss.  Each of these occurrences is headline material.  When this all happens in the same game, the emotion of the day rather dwarfs the numbers.

That being said, the 12-inning, white-knuckle ride that was the 9-3 Cardinal win (box score) did extend a few notable trends.  Most gratifying, it was the team’s ninth victory in the last 13 games.  And these have been gritty, grueling victories against good teams (Washington, San Francisco & Pittsburgh) and a lesser Cincinnati team that put up three spirited battles against the Cardinals.  These were the stick-to-your-ribs kind of victories that you can mount a pennant run on.  But I’m getting ahead of myself a little.

This recent resurgence has been fueled equally by the pitching and the hitting.  Wacha’s 7-inning effort was the eighth quality start in the last 13 games.  Meanwhile, the 9 runs means that St Louis has scored 78 runs in their last 13 games – 6.00 runs per game.  The balance has been very good and the heroes plentiful.

As the Cardinals have ground through this tough series of games, Matt Carpenter continues to be the heavy lifter.  Yes, he hit the three-run homer that flipped the score in the eighth inning, but he also had 2 walks to go with his 2 hits as his season OPS rises to .955.

Over the last 13 games, Matt has been pretty torrid.  He now has 20 hits in his last 50 at bats (.400), 12 of which have been for extra bases (although last night’s home run is the only homer in the group).  He has driven in 10 runs during his last 12 games and carries a .720 slugging percentage during this streak.

Earlier this season, Matt went through some struggles against right-handed pitching.  In April he managed only 14 hits in 66 at bats against them.  The hits were 7 singles, 2 doubles, 2 triples and 3 home runs – and he also worked 10 walks and 3 HBP – so his line against right handers (.212/.338/.439) wasn’t as bad as it might have been.  Since the end of April, though, righties haven’t been able to keep him off base.  In his last 99 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, Carpenter has amassed 12 singles, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, 20 runs batted in and 17 walks for a line of .383/.485/.765.  His line against them for the season now reads .306/.419/.619.

Brandon Moss capped the twelfth-inning explosion last night with a stake-in-the-heart two-run homer.  Brandon has forced his way into regular playing time by hitting .364 (12 of 33) and slugging .970 (the hits are 5 singles, a triple, and 6 home runs) during that span.  He has played in only 10 of the last 13 games – and started just 7 of those – but has driven in 9 runs in those games (the third most on the team behind Adams’ 11 and Carpenter’s 10).

Moss’ home run was his team-leading 14th of the season.  All have been hit off of right-handed pitchers, as were all 4 that he hit last year after coming to St Louis in a trade.  According to baseball-reference.com, Brandon has only hit 16 of his 124 career home runs against left-handers.

Jhonny Peralta has hit the ground running on his return from injury.  Even though his hits last night were infield hits, he still has 6 hits in his first 15 at bats (.400) and half have been for extra bases (2 doubles and a home run).  He has driven in 5 runs in 4 games (only 3 of which he’s started) and is slugging .733 early on.  It’s good to have him back.

Jhonny went 2-for-4 against the right-handed pitchers he saw last night and is 5 for his first 10 against them this season.  At last year’s All-Star Break, Peralta carried a .313 batting average against righties with 6 home runs and 36 runs batted in.  From that point on he hit a soft .252 against them, his 41 hits (in 163 at bats) being 35 singles (3 of the infield variety), 4 doubles and 2 home runs.  He drove in just 19 runs against right-handers and slugged just .313 against them after the break.

Randal Grichuk’s endless summer of struggle continues.  Hitless in 4 at bats last night, Randal is 6 for 46 (.130) while his team has been winning 9 of 13.

Grichuk’s night included two fruitless at bats against left handed relievers.  One of the more agonizing aspects of his stubborn slump is his inability to hit left-handers. Those at bats topple him to 1 of his last 14 against lefties and leaves him at .172 (10 for 58) with 1 home run and a .259 slugging percentage against them for the season.

The two lefthanders in the Pirate bullpen held the Cards hitless in 5 at bats.  For the season, St Louis is hitting .275 against right-handed pitching and .245 against lefties.  The team slugging percentage against lefthanders has quieted to just .387.  Against righties, the Cardinals are still carrying a .482 team slugging percentage.

In the fourth inning of the May 29th game in Washington, Michaels Wacha served up a game-winning single to National’s right-handed hitting catcher Wilson Ramos.  At that point of the season, right-handed batters were hitting .319 against the Cardinal right-hander (47 for 147).  From that precise point on, Wacha has allowed 3 hits to right-handed batters in their last 30 at bats against him (.100).  Of the last 17 he faced last night, the only one to reach was Jordy Mercer, who walked – and later scored – in the fifth.

To this point, opposing managers have found no advantage sending left-handed batters against Seung-hwan Oh.  Gregory Polanco did hit the ball well against him last night (a lineout to center), but with the out, lefties now hit .136 against Oh in his brief major league career.  He has allowed 8 hits (7 singles and 1 double) in 59 left-handed at bats against him for a .153 slugging percentage.  Nineteen of the 59 have struck out.

Matthew Bowman has also been better than expected against lefties.  Polanco was also the only lefty Bowman faced, and Matthew got him to bounce into the game-ending double play.  Lefties are 5 for 30 (.167) against Bowman this year.

Whether right-handed or left-handed, the Cardinal pitching staff has been hurt infrequently by left-handed batters.  Jaso’s fifth-inning RBI single was the only hit allowed to a Pirate left-hander in 8 such at bats last night.  For the season, opposing left-handed hitters have been saddled with a .232/.305/.380 line by Cardinal pitching.

The one crease in the forehead caused by last night’s effort is the blown save by Trevor Rosenthal.  As the Cards have fought their way to victory over these last two weeks, they’ve had to do it in spite of their closer in several occasions.  With the run allowed last night, Trevor has served up 4 in his last 5 innings.  The two walks last night give him 6 in those 5 innings.

The only lefthander that Rosenthal faced last night was pinch-hitter Matt Joyce, who walked to load the bases with one out for the top of the order.  Trevor has now walked 4 of the last 10 lefties he’s faced, and 10 of the 40 to face him this season.

He then promptly struck out Sean Rodriguez.  Of the 48 right-handed at bats against Trevor this season, 21 have ended in strikeouts.

Adam Wainwright – the hitter – now has 6 hits on the season and is hitting .261.  All 6 hits have been for extra bases (4 doubles, a triple and a home run).

After the 2015 Cardinals finished with just 36 games in which they hit more than one home run, the 2016 Cardinals – just 61 games into their season – have now accomplished this 21 times.  Just 2,118 at bats into the season, St Louis has hit 82 home runs.  Home run #82 in the 2015 season wasn’t hit until Matt Carpenter served one against Colorado’s Kyle Kendrick leading off game #103 – on July 31st.  The Cards used that blast to springboard to a 7-0 victory behind Michael Wacha (then 12-4).  The at bat was #3,477 of the year.

Last night’s game was not only the season’s longest in innings, but – at 4:16 – also in time.  On May 12th the Cards and Angels took 3:56 to conclude a 12-10 Cardinal victory.