It’s an understatement to say that the Cardinals play hot in September baseball. Those who have watched the Cardinals for years just know that’s the way it is. That’s why when you’re predicting who’s going to make the postseason, it’s rather hard to bet against the Cardinals, even when they’re a few games down. Something about this club just turns an extra cylinder with the calendar turns to the last month of the season.
It’s the same reason (only in reverse) why you see clubs like the Brewers, Reds and Pirates in a slide during September baseball. Although, the Brewers aren’t in a slide, so much as a complete freefall. I would be so frustrated if I were a Brewers fan.
The Cardinals are currently 6-1 in September this year and have gone 58-29 in September since 2011. The Cardinals know how to crank it up in September and luckily, for us Cards fan, this year has been no different.
We all know that winning in the postseason is about getting hot at the right time. The Cardinals are getting hot. The question now will be if they are able to keep that pace going up through the rest of September and into October. All I know is that this team has been fun to watch lately. It seems that every piece of the puzzle is starting to finally click together.
There are 19 games left and the Cardinals have a 4 1/2 game lead in the central. I like those numbers.
Here’s an article that sums up exactly how good the Cardinals are year after year, even when they haven’t necessarily been all that good this season.
Finally in 1st,
I mentioned a few posts ago that the Cardinals have been stuck around .500 ball and with the loss to the Cubs tonight, this continues. Here’s a breakdown of the Cardinals win / loss record by month.
March / April – 15-14
May – 15-12
June – 14-13
July – 13-11
August – 14-12
While every month the Cardinals have been over .500, no month have they been more than 3 games over the .500 mark. Before tonight’s game, they were 3 games over for August and had a chance to go up to 4 or 5 games over tomorrow. But once again, the Cardinals have failed to get on a roll. They’ll win 3 in a row, but then they’ll promptly lose 3 in a row.
The Cubs seem to always step it up when they play the Cardinals, but .500 against a last place team is not acceptable. The Cardinals desperately needed to win at least 3 of 4 from the Cubbies. Now, that they have dropped the first one, they have the extremely difficult task of trying to take a doubleheader.
I’ll be at the 1st game tomorrow and I’m super excited that my favorite player, Yadier Molina is back and I will be able to watch him play. Watch for me on TV!
Let’s take 2 from the Cubbies tomorrow,
Don’t look now but the Cardinals seem to be actually on a roll. Don’t confuse this with the team getting hot. Yes, they’ve won 3 in a row and 6 of their last 7, but I wouldn’t necessarily call the way the Cardinals have been doing it, “getting hot.” 4 of their last 6 games, including, their last 3, have all been 1 win margins. Most of that has come from wins in the late innings, including the walk-off variety, because they have dug themselves in a hole in the early innings, or blew the save.
Nevertheless, a win is a win and the standings only show the wins, not how it happened. I’m just hoping that these squeaker wins will truly spark the Cardinals into getting themselves going on all cylinders. A lot of the pieces seem to be right there: Adams has begun to heat up again, Descalso is producing off the bench, Yadi has begun to catch again and Wacha’s rehab is going well.
If by September, the Redbirds can get going in the way I know they are capable of, the central division could easily be in reach. Of course, the Brewers will have to help out, as they have been going like a team who is ready to win it all. Hopefully with their 5 game winning streak, they have peaked a little too soon and we’ll see them slip into 2nd before long.
For now I’ll just take the wins, however we can get them.
A win’s a win,
Last night, Carpenter had quite a game. He went 3-4, including a home run with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. He ended up being just a triple shy of the cycle. I have thought for awhile that Matt Carpenter was the most likely Cardinal to be the next to hit for the cycle and last night I thought he might do it. Unfortunately, the Cards were just one batter short of getting him up a 5th time to try for it. He seems the most likely candidate because of his ability to hit for power, the speed necessary to get the triple and getting a large number of at-bats, per game, due to being a leadoff hitter.
However, shockingly, the leader of the Cardinals in triples is another Matt……………………Matt Adams. Really? Adams? He’s super quick over at 1B. That play he made yesterday easily saved the game, but he’s not what I would call “speedy.” He’s a big dude and he just doesn’t get around the bases fast. Yet, there he sits at the top of the list with 5. He beats out the extremely speedy Peter Bourjos by 1. Of course he also has about twice as many at-bats as Bourjos.
Just for fun, the last Cardinal to hit for the cycle was another leadoff hitter, Mark Grudzielanek back in 2005, the only season he was with the Redbirds.
I think that almost a decade later, it’s time to see another Cardinal make it happen. Who’s your pick to be the 21st Cardinal to hit for the cycle?
MattyCarp for cycle,
Ok, so it’s only a 3 game winning streak. Maybe nothing to get too excited about yet. But I feel that in the last few games the Cardinals are playing with a tad more hunger. Granted, their first win against the Padres was the result of Shane Robinson’s arm / questionable call combo that had me climbing the walls. But, at least the hitting seems to be getting more on track. Adams is starting to contribute in big situations again and Taveras even had a nice little pinch hit tonight.
But still it’s only a 3 game winning streak. As nice as it is, until I see a 7 or 8 game winning streak, or heck….even just going 7-3, or 8-2 in the next 10 games would be nice. Because here’s the problem. The Cardinals are 13-12 since the All-Star Break. If they should lose tomorrow, they will be right back at .500 ball. They have been at .500 ball for awhile now. It’s just not so noticable because most of the teams around them are in the same boat. In fact, the next two teams after them in the division (Pirates and Reds) are 5-5 in their last 10. .500 ball is not going to win the division and it’s certainly not going to be enough to sustain them in postseason play.
We all know that it’s not always the best team in baseball that celebrates in October. It’s the team that gets the hottest at the right time. And that’s what I’m hoping to see from the Cardinals. A little spark, something that says they are on the verge of getting hot and ready to compete in October. What’s scary is that the Brewers are starting to look like that “hot” team more and more. They’re that team that battles back and even if they’re done, you feel they’re going to come back and take it, just like that did tonight vs. a good LA team.
So it’s only a 3 game winning streak. But here’s hoping it’s that spark.
Time to get hot,
There’s no doubt about it – the Redbirds are struggling right now. Not “it’s time to hit the panic button struggling,” but struggling nonetheless. No matter what they do these days, they seem to fall just a bit short. And it’s frustrating to watch.
Yesterday, they were foiled by good defense and Stanton’s 2 homers to lose by a run. Today, a decent outing by Wainwright is spoiled, as they get shutout. Adams, is slumping big time and struck out to end 2 games in a row. It’s frustrating.
I have to remind myself that back in 2006 the Cardinals did everything they could to not make the postseason before catching fire and winning it all. The main difference this time is not having that big bat that you know is just going to come through. For years it was Albert and even last year Beltran always seemed like a sure thing. Holliday has been on a tear, but he’s such a streaky hitter that you never know how long that will last. Taveraz hasn’t materialized into that big power bat yet either.
Once again, as I mentioned in a previous post, as a normal bench player (Mark Ellis) got the start, he went 2 for 3. But ask him to get a hit of the bench? Impossible. The same as been true for Descalso, Jay, when he was hitting off the bench and so many others.
Bad mangerial move of the day: putting in Adams to pinch-hit for Taveras.
There’s two problems with this. You say you’re giving Adams a “mental and physical break,” by giving him a day off. He got the physical break, but not the mental one. In fact, it was probably made worse. He had already struck out to end the game the day before. So basically unless he homers, you are setting him up to fail again. It doesn’t matter that he had no control of the rest of the game. What he’s going to be thinking about tonight was ending two games in a row via the K.
The second problem is Taveras. Both he and Adams are left hitters. So by subtituting one lefty for another, you are flat out telling Taveras, you don’t have the confidence in him coming through in a big situation. And of course, we don’t, but don’t tell him that! There’s no other explanation for that move unless you think Adams is more likely to get the big hit.
Every game I think, maybe this is when they break out of their slump. But it just hasn’t been happening. And unless something magical happens, I’m just not having my normal confidence in this team making a long post-season run. At least without Wacha and Molina returning pronto. Their hitting, their pitching has all been mediocre. I’ll give them credit for their defense.
It just feels like the whole team has been in a funk and it’s time for them to snap out of it real fast!
Break the slump,
The Cardinals got killed in the first two games this series and finally came back and took the last one. All of that you know, so no need to go into all of that. But I do a have a few random thoughts about this series. So, in no particular order, here we go…
1) 3 starters aren’t enough
Part of the reason we got killed the first two games, besides the O’s being super hot right now, is that we had shaky starting pitching. They have their moments, but overall, Wainwright, Lynn and Miller and reliable. In a short series, that’s fine. But in a 7 game series, you need one more guy. Right now, we have the possibilities of Lackey, Masterson and Wacha. Each of these 3 have question marks for different reasons. This needs to get straightened out ASAP.
2) We have to get better off the bench
A lot of these guys will do okay when you plug them into the starting lineup, but when they come in off the bench, not so much. In their defense, there is nothing harder than sitting cold on the bench for 2 hours and then have to come in and swing at a 95 MPH fastball off the other team’s best reliever. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what they’re getting made millions to do and they need to get it figured out.
3) Yadi has to get well pronto
Most of Yadi’s worth is not measured by his offensive number or the number of runners he throws out, as good as both of those things are. It’s measured on all the guys who didn’t dare run on Yadi’s arm who have no problem going now. It’s measured by how he handles his staff, the pitches he calls and the leader he is on the diamond. Cruz and Pierzynski are doing fine in the offensive category. But they don’t strike the same fear in the hearts of runners. And you have to wonder that if Molina is behind the plate, do the Cardinals get blown out like that? Maybe. But there’s simply no way to know.
4) The Cardinals have to start playing like a playoff team
There’s this stigma that AL teams are better than NL teams. Of course, that’s not always the case. But in this series, it really seemed like a bunch of rookies trying to play with the big boys. The Cardinals looked outmatched in every way until this final game. What was the difference this last game? Look no further than the team RISP. The Cardinals have not been scoring a lot of runs this year. And the first two games, every time the Orioles, threatened, they delivered. In this game, Lynn kept them at bay.
Cardinals team RISP = 7 for 16 Orioles team RiSP = 2 for 13
5) Instant replay
This is more funny to be than anything. Buck Showalter motioned several times that he wanted the headset to talk to the guys who reversed the out call at 2nd base. Matheny said something similar about a week ago. “If they’re not going to give me the headset to yell at that guy, then it’s going to be someone on the field.” I’ll be honest, you need a good manager / umpire fight every now and again. As long as it doesn’t get carried away, it’s part of the game.
Conclusion: Everyone takes it for granted that the Cardinals are going to make it to the postseason every year. And my money is on them making it rather than not. I think until they show differently, the division is always theirs to lose. But they also need to get on a roll. It’s a little scary to still be 2 games out with just a little over a month to play. I don’t want to win the wild card; they need to win the division. One game for everything is too stressful.
Hope to see better results in Miami,
Well, this was a pretty forgettable game. Masterson dug us into a 5-0 early that we just couldn’t climb out of. This was Masterson’s 2nd start for the Redbirds and it was as pitiful as the first start, except this time the Cardinal bats didn’t bail him out.
But here’s the thing about Masterson. He has some incredible sink to his pitches. Even his fastball has big-time movement on it. You saw that in the first inning when after getting into a bases loaded, no out jam, he escaped by striking out the 4 and 5 guys and then inducing a ground out. Unfortunately, he continue to get himself in trouble and he wasn’t able to pull the Houdini routine again. His Kryptonite is not being able to get the ball over the plate. In just the two innings of work, he walked 3 and hit one guy.
Granted, he’s only a few starts removed from the DL. So we will have to see if he can right the ship. (Anyone else missing Dave Duncan right about now?) At the very least, I’m hoping he can at least keep us in ballgames until we can get Michael Wacha back.
The bottom line is this: losing 12-2 is never fun, but whether you lose by 1 or 10, a loss is a loss. So with this blowout, we lost 1 game in the standings, not 5 games. If we can come back and take the next 2 of 3, this game won’t bother me at all. On the other hand if we get swept, I will….well, I don’t know what I’ll do, but it won’t be good.
Ask and you shall receive?
In my last post, I said I wanted to see vintage Wainwright and the offense to continue to bust loose. And this is exactly what happened. It wasn’t exactly from the guys I expected, but I will definitely take it! Wong went deep TWICE, which was a nice little added bonus in this rubber match that was solid all the way through.
Star of the game has to go to Adam though. In the 7th inning, he had 2 on and 2 outs with the very dangerous and brand new Red Sox acquisition at the plate, Yoenis Cespedes. Matheny came out to the mound, but I was confident he wasn’t going to take his ace out. This is where LaRussa would drive me mad. He would have yanked Waino without batting an eye.
Matheny told him….well who knows what. The announcers speculated it was, “Get ’em out with the breaking ball.” In any case, once he had 2 strikes on Cespedes, I was ready for the big, sweeping curve. And I got it. Cespedes was frozen, as somewhere Carlos Beltran was saying, “I feel your pain, buddy.” It was beautiful.
Here’s a look at both of the K’s. The Cespedes one you will have to click on to see.
Equally beautiful was the raw show of emotion from Wainwright after the K. I never think there’s a reason to show up the other team, looking at their dugout or pointing at them. But I need to see the guys on my team show that they are passionate about the game. This is what I think drives fans nuts about Matt Holliday sometimes. He is always non-expressive (minus his mini-tirade on the called third strike a couple days ago). Matheny even got passionate in the dugout and I love seeing that. Obviously, you don’t want to let the emotions overtake you or become bigger than the game, and cause you to not play up to your potential. But in a situation that big, I enjoy seeing the same emotion from these guys that I am expressing at home as a fan.
The only downside is a win from the Brewers keeps us once again 1 game back.
Love that curve ball,
This was one of those games that was painful to lose, but there’s not a lot to be upset with. Kelly simply outpitched Miller. Honestly, my only complaint is wondering where that Joe Kelly was when he was still suiting up in a Cardinals uniform.
But these games happen. That’s why we play 162 of them.
Luckily, the Crew lost as well, so we didn’t lose any ground to them. Rosenthal blew a save for his 6th loss of the year, but since he’s also leading the league in saves, I’m giving him a pass.
Tonight’s game is HUGE. Wainwright has been very hit and miss this year. He has a lot of wins, but when he loses, he loses BIG. Usually, that only happens when he’s not right. I’m hoping that’s not the case and it’s just a fluke. I’d love to see a vintage Waino outing coupled with a lot of offense. Holliday has been really heating up. And coupled with the offense we are getting from Pierzynski, Adams, and even Jon Jay, things are definitely looking up for our Redbirds.
But it starts with a big win tonight!
Come on Waino,