A funny thing happened on the way to a sweep against the Milwaukee Brewers. A change-up specialist named Zach Davies completely unplugged the Cardinal offense and carried Milwaukee to a 3-1 win (box score). Along the way he threw cold water on several hot hitters – and also on a couple of drowning ones.
Perhaps as disconcerting as the result, was the ease with which Davies dismissed the league’s top scoring offense. He didn’t seem to break a sweat. In the best game of his young career, Zach Davies dominated the Cards like they were high-schoolers.
Stephen Piscotty’s 0-for-3 ended his brief 5-game hitting streak. During the streak, he actually hit less than his season average (.316 vs .318) as he managed only one hit in each of the last four games of the streak. He did, however, draw four walks, so his on base percentage was .435. Even after being kept off base yesterday, his season on base percentage is .395. Piscotty was 6 for 19 with a home run and 6 runs batted in during the five games.
Jeremy Hazelbaker has struck out (swinging) six times in his last seven plate appearances. He has 2 hits (both singles) in his last 23 at bats (.087) with no walks. He has struck out 11 times in those at bats, and has only gotten to a 3-ball count once during that span (and to a 2-ball count just one other time). The game is going very fast for Jeremy right now.
Jeremy led off two innings yesterday, striking out in both the fifth and eighth innings. Jeremy was 6 for 16 (.375) when leading off an inning during his torrid April. He was just 2 for 12 (.167) leading off in May.
Yadier Molina – after another 0-for-3 yesterday – is now hitless over his last 11 at bats, and has one infield hit to show for his last 28 at bats. He is now 6 for his last 60 at bats (.100). The hits are 4 singles, a double and his only home run of the season – a .167 slugging percentage.
Molina has grounded into double plays in 5 of the last 11 times he’s been to bat in double play situations, including 3 of the last 4.
Kolten Wong’s latest tailspin has him with 2 hits (both singles) in his last 24 at bats (.083). Kolten’s last RBI came on May 11th in Anaheim. His RBI single in the second inning off Matt Shoemaker gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead on their way to a 5-2 win. That was 51 at bats ago – although he only had runners in scoring position in 8 of those at bats.
Brandon Moss’ ninth-inning home run was his team-leading tenth of the season. (It came, off course, after Davies was done for the day.) It was also the team’s seventeenth leadoff homer this season. Cardinal leadoff hitters are carrying a .272/.351/.479 line through the first third of the season, as nearly half of their hits (51 of 116) have been for extra bases. Fifty-two percent of the time the Cardinal leadoff hitter reaches base, he comes around to score. The batting line for Cardinal leadoff hitters last year was .254/.318/.411. They only hit 36 leadoff home runs in all of 2015.
Other than Moss, the only other time St Louis put its leadoff hitter on base yesterday was Matt Adams, who singled leading off the second. Nothing much came of that as Hazelbaker followed with a strikeout and Molina with his double-play. Cardinal leadoff hitters have been very good this season, but Davies had an answer for everything yesterday.
When Jaime Garcia failed to pitch the sixth inning yesterday, it was only the second time in the last seven games that the Cardinal starter didn’t qualify for a quality start. That seven game stretch does include last Sunday’s 10-2 blowout loss to Washington, but 7 of those runs (on 8 hits including 3 home runs) came in the last two innings in an uncharacteristic bullpen melt-down. Subtracting those two innings, the Cardinal pitching staff carries a 2.64 ERA, a .209 batting average against, and a .247 opponent’s on base percentage for the just-concluded road trip.
At two hours twenty minutes, yesterday’s game was the fastest of the season so far. Arizona’s Rubby de la Rosa dispatched us 3-0 on April 28 in a game that needed only 2:25 to complete.