Tag Archives: Arenado

Pitching Duels on Tap in Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s starting pitching was all but untouchable as they hosted their division rivals from St Louis for a three-game mid-week series that ended yesterday.  Freddy Peralta joined co-aces Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes to make life generally miserable for a Cardinal offense that was feeling pretty good about themselves as they got off the plane.

Fresh off a convincing sweep of the Colorado Rockies, the Cards ran into a buzz-saw in Milwaukee.  For 19.2 innings, that trio dominated the St Louis hitters, allowing just 2 runs on 9 hits (8 singles and a home run).  While they walked 3 (and hit another), those guys struck out 27 St Louis batters, backing their 0.92 aggregate ERA with a .134/.183/.179 batting line against.

That being said, none of the Brewer starters earned a victory in the series, and Burnes – who allowed 1 run in 5 innings – was tagged with a loss.  As St Louis heads to San Diego to open a three-game series there, they do so having taken two of the three in Milwaukee (6-1 in 11 innings, 1-4 and 2-0) because their starting pitching was just a shade better.

While not as flashy (they only managed 16 strikeouts), the Cardinal trio of Kwang Hyun Kim, John Gant and Jack Flaherty threw 16.1 innings against the Brewers giving just 1 earned run – an 0.55 ERA.

Two playoff teams from last year who are currently sitting first and second in their division, these are two teams who believe that their pitching staffs are equal to any occasion.  If pitching duels are not your thing, perhaps you should skip the rest of the games between these teams this year.  The first game went 1-1 into the eleventh.  The second game went 1-1 into the bottom of the eighth.  The finale was a 1-0 game going into the ninth.  The series, perhaps, should have come with a warning: for purists only.

These two teams have now split their first six games, with each winning a series in enemy territory.  St Louis’ current three-game lead aside, this is shaping up to be a very tight (and probably low-scoring) race to the end.

Cards Press On

Of greatest encouragement to Cardinal fans is the pitching staff’s ability to sustain these high-level performances.  They hold a 2.83 team ERA during the month of May.  They have allowed only 4 home runs all month, and the .197 batting average against them is augmented by a .282 slugging percentage.

Over the last 22 games, Cardinal starters hold a 2.19 ERA.  Batters are hitting just .202 against them.

Best With the Bases Loaded

The lone real drag on the pitching staff is its propensity to walk (and hit) batters.  What opposing offenses can’t manage by hitting the ball against them, St Louis pitchers are inclined to do to themselves with free passes.  In 105 innings this month, Cardinal pitchers have walked 54 and hit 6 others.

One of the outcomes of all of this is a league-leading number of bases-loaded situations.  In 38 games, Cardinal pitchers have dealt with 61 bases-loaded situations – nearly two a game.  That figure stands as the most in the National League.  In the eleventh inning of the first game, Alex Reyes faced Jackie Bradley Jr. and Billy McKinney with the bases loaded.  Both struck out

For all of the struggles that put them into these situations, the St Louis pitching staff has responded in enviable fashion.  Opposing batters are hitting just .111 (5-for-45) in those at bats (the lowest average in the league).  Not only are they one of just 4 teams not to allow a grand slam so far this year, they have surrendered just 2 extra-base hits (both doubles) with the bases loaded – a .156 slugging percentage, which, along with their .418 OPS with the sacks jammed, is also the best figure in the league.

The total picture, of course, isn’t complete perfection.  While hits in these moments have been few and far between, St Louis pitchers have also issued 8 bases-loaded walks (also most in the league), hit 3 others, allowed 5 sacrifice flies, uncorked 3 wild pitches – and even committed a balk.

In a way, it’s kind of been a microcosm of the Cardinal season.

Gant

Johnny Gant has kind of been the poster boy for the Cardinal pitching staff.  In matters of contact and runs allowed, Gant has had an exemplary season – especially recently.  Over his last 4 starts, Gant has an 0.89 ERA with a .197 batting average against.  Yet – even though he has been in the rotation the entire season and hasn’t missed a start, John hasn’t pitched enough innings to be a qualifying pitcher (and his season-long 1.83 ERA would have him in the top 5 in the league right now).

His nemesis has been walks.  He walked 3 more in 5 innings on Wednesday, and has walked 16 in his last 20.1 innings.  Gant has authored 26 unintentional walks in 34.1 innings – 6.82 per game.  Consequently Gant has completed six innings just once this year, leaving a lot of innings for the bullpen.

For the season, Gant has pitched with the bases empty only 49.0% of the time – and those batters have a .395 on base percentage against him.

Flaherty

While I’ve seen him sharper, Jack Flaherty completed his second consecutive scoreless outing (he had thrown seven scoreless against Colorado in his previous effort).  Jack now has 4 consecutive quality starts as part of a seven-game winning streak.  In 43 innings over his last 7 games, Jack has been touched for just one home run while compiling a 1.47 ERA and a .174 batting average against.

Cabrera

His struggles against Philadelphia now well behind him, Genesis Cabrera is starting to settle in again.  His last five appearances (covering 6 innings) have been scoreless, and he’s allowed 1 single to the last 22 batters to face him.  Even so, he also continues to invite trouble, as he has walked 4 of those batters and only 52 of his last 90 pitches (58%) have been strikes.

Reyes

Alex Reyes faced 14 batters in 3 busy innings against Milwaukee.  When Manny Pina led off against him in the bottom of the ninth Thursday afternoon, he became the only one of the 14 to bat against Alex with the bases empty.  He drew a lead-off walk.  Even taking into account the 7 runners he’s inherited across his various appearances, and the fact that both extra innings he started began with a runner on base, Alex has pitched to only 32 of his 84 batters faced with the bases empty – just 38.1%.

Home Run Dependency

The 9 runs that St Louis scored in the series were the fewest they have scored in any series so far this year.  (The 5 they allowed were the second fewest.  In an early season sweep in Miami they allowed just 3 runs).  Six of the nine runs scored on home runs.

For the season, 86 of St Louis’ 170 runs have come via the home run – 50.6%.  The National League average is 41.7%.  This over-reliance on the home run is a contributing factor to St Louis’ inconsistencies on offense.

Arenado

When Nolan Arenado’s eight-game hitting streak ended on Wednesday, he responded with 3 hits – including the game’s only run batted in – to start another yesterday.  Nolan is 16 for 46 in May (.348) with a .609 slugging percentage (4 doubles, a triple and 2 home runs.

DeJong

Paul DeJong went 0-for-6 in Milwaukee before his rib injury sidelined him.  He has hit in only one of his last 6 games, going 2-for-20 (.100) in those games.  His average for the month of May has dipped to .205 (8-for-39).

Bullpen Home Run Watch Ends

Coming within a few days of a full month without issuing a home run, the Cardinal bullpen (in the person of Ryan Helsley) was finally taken deep (by Milwaukee’s Avisail Garcia) in Wednesday’s eighth inning.

The bullpen homer-less streak reached its twenty-fourth team game (23 with a bullpen appearance) and ended after 72.2 innings, 253 at bats, 305 plate appearances and 1252 pitches.

Up until that point, Helsley – who has been much praised in this space – had not allowed an extra-base hit all season before serving up a double and the home run on back-to-back pitches.

A Sidenote: Four innings earlier, Garcia demonstrably disagreed with a third strike call – throwing both arms in the air and engaging in an extended debate with home plate umpire John Libka.  I have seen players tossed for less.  It would be interesting to know how close Avisail came to getting ejected four inning before he would become one of the game’s heroes.

NoteBook

St Louis is now 1-and-5 in rubber games.

The series averaged 3:31 even per game – exactly what the last game took.  Considering the low scoring nature of the games, it’s a little surprising that this series was the longest by average time of any series so far this season.

The Cards are now 5-3-1 in series when they win the first game.

San Diego – who took two-of-three from Colorado – will be the fourth consecutive Cardinal opponent to have won its previous series.

Arenado’s single re-gained him the team lead in game-winning-hits.  He pulls back in front of Paul Goldschmidt, 6-5.

Thursday’s shutout was the fourth authored by the Cards in their last 11 games.

St Louis had just one at bat with the bases loaded in Milwaukee, and now have just 3 in the month of May.  They had 20 bases loaded at bats in April.

My Designated Hitter Rant

Every year now, baseball purists in the National League are continuously threatened with the permanent infliction of the designated hitter.  Last year, I responded with an extensive rant against the DH.  While trying to update that document, I managed to delete it.  So, I have re-written it here.  The hope is to set forth a reasonable argument for keeping the DH far, far away from National League parks.  I encourage you to read it and pass it along to other like-minded fans of this great old game.

Any Lead Will Do

With one out in the top of the first inning on Saturday, Colorado’s Ryan McMahon lined a double down the right-field line.  It was a watershed moment on two levels.

In the first place, it was the first extra-base hit allowed by a Cardinal pitcher in 84 at bats.  If that wasn’t enough, it drove home Raimel Tapia from first base, giving Colorado a 1-0 lead.  In three games last weekend, in what has become something of a house of horrors for the Rockies, this would be their only lead of the weekend.

And it wouldn’t last long.

Cardinal starter Carlos Martinez would strand McMahon at second, retiring Charlie Blackmon on a grounder and Garrett Hampson on a fly ball.  Of the 108 Rockies who would come to the plate last weekend, these would be the only two to bat with a lead.

Batting against Colorado’s Chi Chi Gonzalez in the bottom of the first, the top of the Cardinal lineup made short work of the lead, as singles from Tommy Edman, Dylan Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt quickly tied the game.  St Louis would tack on two more before the inning ended, putting the Cardinal pitching staff back in its comfort zone – protecting a small lead.

Even though the Saturday game turned into a sloppy affair (as far as the pitching was concerned), the weekend sweep (5-0 on Friday) (9-8 on Saturday) and (2-0 on Sunday), followed the pattern of most of the Cardinal wins going back to April 20.  Over the last 19 games, St Louis is 13-6, supported by the starting rotation’s 2.42 ERA and .201 batting average against.  Against Colorado, the rotation finished with a 2.21 ERA and a .169 batting average against.

On display throughout the series, though, was just how difficult it is to take a small lead away from the Cards once they’ve gotten ahead.  For 13.2 innings during the weekend, St Louis nursed leads of one, two or three runs.  Although they flirted with disaster in many of those innings (they gave 8 walks), the team ERA with those small leads was 1.32, combined with a .130 batting average and a .152 slugging percentage.

It was evident against Colorado, but the pitching staff has been doing this all season.  For 97.1 innings so far, St Louis has clung to small leads of no more than three runs.  The team ERA in these innings is 1.66, with a .156/.264/.207 batting line (and, yes, some significant stress has been added by 41 walks and 8 hit batsmen).

A hallmark of the pitching staff in the early months of 2021 is that they have generally done their best pitching during the game’s tightest moments.  This would be a very productive trend to hold on to.

Flaherty

Jack Flaherty came two outs away from winning the season opener.  Alas, although his offense put up 11 runs for him, Jack gave 6 of those runs back and couldn’t scuffle through the 5 innings necessary to qualify.

Since that shaky outing, Jack has been every inch the elite pitcher the Cards have been expecting him to be.  In six starts since then, Jack is 6-0 with a 1.70 ERA.  He has pitched at least 5 innings in all of the games, throwing at least 6 in five of them.  He went seven scoreless in the Friday game, allowing just 3 hits.

Over his last 37 innings, the 141 batters who have faced him are hitting .172 and only have 6 extra-base hits – just 1 of them a home run – for a .234 slugging percentage.

Over the course of his seven starts, Flaherty has yet to face a single batter trailing in the contest.  Jack has pitched 11.1 innings with the game tied without yet giving up the first run.

Martinez

The starter in the Saturday game, Carlos Martinez scuffled through five innings to get the win.  Even though his streak of quality starts ended at three, Carlos, nonetheless, won his third game in a row – and now hasn’t allowed a home run in five straight starts.

Wainwright

With 8.1 innings of shutout baseball, Adam Wainwright was the star of the Sunday game.  It was his third quality start in his last 4 games.  Waino holds a 2-1 record, a 2.40 ERA, and a .198 batting average against over those starts.

Helsley

The Rockies broke through against both Giovanny Gallegos (who allowed runs in the Saturday game for the first time in a long time) and Alex Reyes (who gave up his first run the year – also, of course, in the Saturday game).

Ryan Helsley, however, keeps plugging along.  Appearing twice in the series, Ryan retired 4 of the 5 batters he faced (he allowed a walk) while picking up a save in the Sunday game.

Ryan has allowed one hit over his last 6.2 innings, and holds an 0.69 ERA over his last 13 games (13 innings).  He has allowed only 5 hits over those innings, holding opposing batsmen to a .122 average.  Ryan has yet to allow an extra-base hit this season.

Carlson

Dylan Carlson stretched his hitting streak to seven games, getting two hits in each game of the Colorado series.  Dylan finished the series 6 for 10, and is hitting .476 (10-for-21) over the course of his hitting streak.  Carlson currently sits at .367 (11-for-30) for the month, and .355 (22-for-62) since moving to the second spot in the batting order.

Arenado

Nolan Arenado is also riding a seven-game hitting streak after a very solid series against his old team.  Nolan was 4 for 12 (.333) with 2 doubles and yesterday’s home run.  Nolan is 9 for 25 (.360) with 2 doubles and 2 home runs (.680 slugging percentage) during his streak.  He is up to .364 for the month of May, with a .697 slugging percentage.  His 12 hits (in 33 at bats) include 3 doubles, and a triple to go with the 2 home runs.  He has driven in 8 runs in the 9 games this month.

During the series, Arenado was 2-for-3 when batting with the score tied – his hits were a double and the home run.  For the season, Nolan is a .343 batter (12 for 35) when he hits in a tie game.  Half those hits have gone for extra-bases (3 doubles and 3 home runs), giving him a .686 slugging percentage in those at bats.  He has 7 RBIs – including 5 game-winning hits – when the game is even.  Nolan is the first Cardinal to reach 5 game-winning hits this season.

Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt had hits in 4 of 9 at bats over the last two games of the series, leaving him 4-for-13 (.308) for the series.  Paul has looked much more locked in during May.  He is hitting .355 (11-for-31) and slugging .581 (1 double and 2 home runs) this month.

Recent Scoring Change (for those keeping score at home)

In the fifth inning of the April 29 game against Philadelphia, Andrew Knizner blooped a hit into center field in front of the on-charging Odubel Herrera.  On the dead run, Herrera tried to catch the ball on the short hop, and couldn’t handle it cleanly.  Knizner took advantage and hustled into second ahead of the throw.  Originally ruled a hit and an error, the scorers have decided that Andrew would have made second regardless (Odubel was falling as he caught up to the ball), so Knizner gets awarded a double and the error on Herrera disappears.  (And change the unearned run that Andrew eventually scored to an earned run against Aaron Nola.)

NoteBook

The attendance on Saturday (13,425) was the largest of the year – helping the series against Colorado to average 13,401.7 (also the highest of the season so far).

Exactly what the attraction of the Rockies is, I can’t say.  But it certainly wasn’t the weather.  Sunday’s game temperature of 48 degrees was the coldest since opening night in Cincinnati checked in at 37 degrees.  The entire series averaged 57.3 degrees – the coldest since opening weekend here against Milwaukee was also played in 57.3 degree average temperatures.

Friday’s win gave the Cards victories in 5 of their last 6 opening games of series.

Their win on Saturday made St Louis the first team in the National League (with San Francisco) to 20 wins.

Alex Reyes (as mentioned) was touched for his first run of the season on Saturday.  He also struck out 3 in 1.2 innings.  The second of those strikeouts (Dom Nunez) was the one-hundredth of Alex’ career, coming in just 89.1 innings.

St Louis scored first in two of the three games, and have now done so in 8 of their last 10.

In the seventh inning of the April 16 game in Philadelphia, J.T. Realmuto jumped a fastball from Kodi Whitley and launched it for a two-run homer.  That was the last home run served up by the Cardinal bullpen.  St Louis relievers have had their moments of weakness – mostly caused by control problems.  But they are also on a remarkable run of 22 games, 64.1 innings, 227 at bats, 273 plate appearances and 1132 pitches since the last home run they allowed.

My Designated Hitter Rant

Every year now, baseball purists in the National League are continuously threatened with the permanent infliction of the designated hitter.  Last year, I responded with an extensive rant against the DH.  While trying to update that document, I managed to delete it.  So, I have re-written it here.  The hope is to set forth a reasonable argument for keeping the DH far, far away from National League parks.  I encourage you to read it and pass it along to other like-minded fans of this great old game.

No Clear Front-Runners So Far

If you were to ask me how the Cardinals are doing against winning teams, then I would have to tell you that the answer would depend on which day you ask.  Records against winning teams are one of my litmus test numbers – it’s the stat that, to a large extent, defines what your actual strengths and weaknesses really are.

Much of the murkiness of the beginning of the Cardinal season derives from the uncertainty of the level of the competition they have faced so far.  Every single team they have played has been at or above .500 at some point of the season.  Granted, for Miami you have to go back to April 17 when they were 7-7.  Still, that was after a 1-6 start.  Cincinnati got off to a 6-1 start and has faded since.  Pittsburgh was 12-11 as recently as April 27.  From an 8-12 start, Washington’s recent four-game winning streak pushed their record to 12-12 on May second.

For all of the various ups and downs, as play began on this morning of May 7, only three of the Cardinal opponents so far had managed at least as many victories as defeats – the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies (both 17-15) and the New York Mets, who escaped with a split of their four-game series in St Louis and stand at 13-13.

But the shades-of-grey nature of the Cardinal early season isn’t unique to them.  All over baseball, parity is the norm.  In fact, while they have hardly been world-beaters, at 18-14 the Cardinals are tied with San Diego for the National League’s second-best record – a half-game behind the surprising 18-13 San Francisco team.

Going into the season, we all knew who the super-teams were supposed to be.  But 32 or so games into the season, none of the seeming-invincibles have managed any kind of separation from the rest of the league.  Of the hyped teams of the pre-season, the Padres have done the best with that 18-14 record.  The defending champion Dodgers are 17-15.  Atlanta is a surprising 15-16.

None of this is suggesting that these teams will finish with mediocre records for the season.  With still 130 games left, everyone, I think, shares similar expectations for them.  But the longer these teams hover around .500, the more emboldened teams like San Francisco become.

Baseball’s best record belongs to the Boston Red Sox.  At 19-13, they are only one game better than the Cards.

The four games against the Mets are a sort of microcosm of St Louis’ performance in their 14 games against .500-or-better opponents.  They managed to split the four games against New York, hitting for a decent enough average (.261) but scoring only 13 runs (3.25 per game); and the starting pitching – frequently dominant during the early season – struggled mightily against the Mets.  They managed only 18 innings, walked 12 batters in those 18 innings and hit 2 others while sinking to a 5.50 ERA.  The entire staff walked 25 Mets in 32 innings.

In two series against Philly and one each against the Mets and Brewers, the numbers are very similar.  To go along with a 6-8 record, St Louis is scoring just 3.43 runs per game, while receiving a 5.24 ERA in 68.2 innings from the rotation.

At least the areas that need improvement are pretty obvious.

Arenado

With a couple of fortunate hits against the Pirates sparking his resurgence, Nolan Arenado has started to heat things up.  He was 5-for-13 (.385) in the series with a .615 slugging percentage, and through the first 6 games in May, Nolan is 8 for 21 (.381).  The hits include 1 double, 1 triple and 1 home run.  Nolan has driven in 7 runs in 6 games in May with a .667 slugging percentage.

Edman

The Mets were the latest team that has been less than successful in slowing down Tommy Edman.  Tommy hit in each game of the series, and finished 6 for 16 (.375).  Tommy’s hits included 2 doubles and a triple – good for a .625 slugging percentage. 

Edman has started off May with a .400 batting average and a .600 slugging percentage.  He is 10 for his first 25 this month, with 3 doubles and a triple.  Going back to the end of April, Tommy has hit safely in 8 of his last 10 games, hitting .366 (15 for 41) over that span.

Edman has been the team’s most consistent against the .500 teams.  In the 14 games, he carries a .310 batting average (18 for 58).

O’Neill

Tyler O’Neill has launched a few home runs recently, even pushing his average as high as .270 at one point.  But he was 1-for-9 against the Mets, and is hitting just .214 on the season (6 for 28) against the .500 or better teams he’s faced so far this year.

Gallegos

Giovanny Gallegos contributed a couple of perfect innings in two appearances against the Mets.  So far in May, opponents are 9-up and 9-down with 4 strikeouts against Gio – who has been as dominant as they come recently.  Gallegos has thrown 8 scoreless innings over his last 7 appearances.  The last 25 batters to face Gallegos have managed one single and one hit batsmen, while 9 others have struck out – a .042/.080/.042 batting line.

Giovanny has pitched 6.1 innings against the Phillies, Brewers and Mets, giving no runs, two singles and no walks.  He has 9 strikeouts in those innings.

Helsley

If not quite as dominant as Gallegos, Ryan Helsley has been on quite a roll of his own.  He worked two of the games against the Mets, retiring 4 of the 5 batters he faced (he allowed a walk).

Over his last 11 games, Ryan has been touched for 1 run in 11.1 innings, allowing just 5 hits and striking out 13.  During those innings, his ERA has been 0.79 with a .135 batting average against.

In 5.2 innings against the .500 teams, Ryan has allowed 1 run on 2 hits.

Webb

Tyler Webb was just starting to settle in.  After a shaky first few outings, Tyler had gone 4 appearances and 2.2 innings without allowing a run.  Then, he went 9 days without an appearance between April 19 and April 28.  He’s been a bit of a mess since then. Allowing runs in all of his 4 appearances, and allowing 2 runs in each of his last 3.  Over his last 2.2 innings, Tyler has been battered for 7 runs on 4 hits and 7 walks.  The last 19 batters he has faced hold a .579 on base percentage.

NoteBook

A problem earlier in the season, St Louis has now scored first in six of their last 7 games.

Until the second game of the Wednesday doubleheader, St Louis had held the lead at some point in eight straight games.

The bullpen has allowed 6 of their last 11 inherited runners to score.

With no extra-base hits on Thursday, the team slugging percentage, once again, slips below .400 to .398.

My Designated Hitter Rant

Every year now, baseball purists in the National League are continuously threatened with the permanent infliction of the designated hitter.  Last year, I responded with an extensive rant against the DH.  While trying to update that document, I managed to delete it.  So, I have re-written it here.  The hope is to set forth a reasonable argument for keeping the DH far, far away from National League parks.  I encourage you to read it and pass it along to other like-minded fans of this great old game.

Tipping their Caps Again

Almost certainly Zack expected to get him with the 0-2 pitch.  Cardinal starting pitcher Adam Wainwright had chased the first curve thrown to him by Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler, and now that he was set up Zack must have thought that one more curve would do it.

But Adam laid off the pitch, so Wheeler came back with a fastball – 98.6 MPH worth – on the outside edge of the strike-zone.  Certainly a good enough pitch to put away the Cardinal pitcher.  But this was the third away-fastball that Adam had seen in the at bat, and he was ready for this one, scorching it down the right-field line.

Alas, Waino’s liner wouldn’t find a soft place to land.  The 100.9 mph shot was right at first-baseman Rhys Hoskins (who would be a foil all day for Wainwright).  Rhys caught it before the camera could catch up to him to end the third inning.

For the evening, Wheeler would face 27 Cardinal batters, striking out 9 of them, and walking 3.  Of the 15 batters that would actually put the ball in play against Zack, Waino’s liner was the only ball hit with an exit velocity of 100 miles-per-hour.

Make no mistake.  Zach was very good.  According to Statcast, in his 114-pitch effort – which saw him reach a top speed of 99.5 mph – Wheeler only threw three pitches over the middle of the plate.  There wasn’t much opportunity for the home team last night.

Granting all of that, however, last night’s 2-1 loss to Philadelphia (box score) is just one more iteration of the dominant story line of the early season – the inconsistency of the Cardinal offense.

Although there have been sporadic outbreaks, this was the ninth time in the last 14 games that St Louis has failed to score at least 4 runs.  Over those 14 games, they are hitting just .233 with an OPS of .679.

The Cards have been tipping their caps quite a lot lately.  Last night was the fourth time in the last 8 games that St Louis has lost a game in which they surrendered fewer than 4 runs.

There are, of course, still 140 games left, and frankly it’s even too early to get frustrated.  But the longer the brownout endures, the more entrenched this narrative becomes.

Goldschmidt and Arenado

As might be predicted, when the heart of the lineup endures a significant slump, the rest of the offense is likely to struggle as well.  It can’t be much of a surprise, then, that the team’s consistency problems are directly connected to drop-offs from offensive pillars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.

Goldschmidt contributed 3 hits (including a home run) to a 12-5 rout of Washington on April 19.  In six games since then Paul has 24 plate appearances that have resulted in 2 singles, 1 double and 1 walk – a .130/.167/.174 slash line.  Over the last 14 games, Goldy is hitting .193 in 57 at bats with just 2 walks – a .220 on base percentage.

Three of Paul’s four plate appearances last night began with ball one.  He was 0-for-3 in those at bats, and is now 1-for-16 (.063) the last 18 times the pitcher didn’t throw him a first-pitch strike.

After his 0-for-3 last night, Arenado is hitless in his last ten at bats since an RBI single in the third inning of Saturday’s game.  He is hitting .189 over his last 53 at bats.

In contrast to Goldschmidt, all of Nolan’s at bats began with first pitch strikes.  He is now 2 for his last 29 (.069) when the pitcher throws a strike on the first pitch.  Forty-nine of his plate appearances this season have started with first-pitch strikes.  Arenado is hitting .191 in those at bats.

Molina

Yadier Molina saw first-pitch strikes all three times up last night.  This brings his season total to 53 first-pitch strikes in 71 plate appearances – 74.6% (by far the highest ratio on the team).

Williams

With another hitless evening (0-for-2) Justin Williams is still in his 0-for-12 skid – not an optimum time for this if he wants to stay in the lineup after Harrison Bader returns.

Justin began his at bat in the eighth fouling off a fastball.  He ended up striking out in the at bat.  It was his only plate appearance of the evening in which he was thrown a first-pitch strike.

For the season, Justin has seen a first-pitch strike in 35 of his plate appearances.  They have resulted in 4 singles (one an infield hit), 1 home run, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts and a double-play grounder for a slash line of .152/.200/.242.

Wainwright

When the Cards scratched for a run in the top of the ninth, it became just the fourth run scored for Adam in his five starts this year while he has been the pitcher of record.  That’s one way to start the season 0-3 even if you’re pitching pretty well.

NoteBook

At just 2:22, last night’s game was the quickest of the year so far.  The previous quickest was the 2:33 that it took to beat Cincy 2-0 on Saturday night.

As spring draws on, the temperatures are starting to rise accordingly.  Last night’s game was also the Cards warmest of the season so far – although at 75 degrees, that record won’t last long.  In their last game in Miami (April 7) the game-time temperature was 74, which had been the previous high.

St Louis was the last team this season to play a one-run game.  Last night was the Cards’ fourth one-run game in their last six (they have lost 3 of the 4).

My Designated Hitter Rant

Every year now, baseball purists in the National League are continuously threatened with the permanent infliction of the designated hitter.  Last year, I responded with an extensive rant against the DH.  While trying to update that document, I managed to delete it.  So, I have re-written it here.  The hope is to set forth a reasonable argument for keeping the DH far, far away from National League parks.  I encourage you to read it and pass it along to other like-minded fans of this great old game.