The Cards’ Last Stand

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Here we are, Cardinals fans.  Nearing the end of another amazing, intriguing, emotionally draining and all together viciously entertaining season of baseball.   For me, no other sport stirs up my emotions and drives me insane quite like the game of baseball.   Maybe it is the way they play it.  Maybe it is just the experience I have watching it and the memories that bleed into the present day.   Casual fans and non followers look at me in disbelief at how screwed up I can get watching baseball.  My dad, wife, and a few of my friends have the ability(and YES it is an ability) to simply watch, turn it off and move on.  I carry every loss around like a bad habit and break down every win.  It’s what I do.   It doesn’t matter if I find a job in sports journalism or driving a forklift in a warehouse(I can tell you which one is more likely), I will always come here and dish my take.  Whether you agree or not, all I ask for is that you appreciate and respect it.  I know only one way.  Blunt and unfiltered.

Here’s where my mind is on the eve of Game 6 of the 2013 World Series-

  • Pitching to David Ortiz is futile.  A man with a .742 batting average and who is known for delivering crushing blows to opposing teams doesn’t deserve a strike to be thrown his way, so my memo to Cardinal pitching is, outside…outside…outside.   Throw it to the backstop or roll it up to Yadi Molina.  Don’t let Ortiz help send you home unless you are flying home to a parade and a trophy awaits you.
  • Offense, light it up please.  The time is now to create one of those 2 out running scoring barrages.  The best offense in the NL needs to show up once in this World Series.   Don’t let Boston have all the fun.  We have scored 13 runs in 5 games in this series, and one came on an obstruction call that will paint Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks in odd baseball history for years to come.   Simply put, our bats haven’t produced more than 5 runs and have been held to 1 run twice.  That’s just not acceptable.  Let me say this. The Cards approach is bizarre.  Against a powerful hard throwing guy we will be patient.  Against a soft tossing hurting pitcher, we will be over aggressive and help him out.  When it comes to hitting, approach is everything.   Tonight, John Lackey is going to be firing that 94 mph fastball towards the strike zone.  He isn’t crafty like Jon Lester.  He dishes it up there and hopes you are stupid or ill-equipped to handle it.   Tonight, be aggressive.  Stop staring at called third strikes.  It’s bad for your resume.   Go for it.  Show up.  Destroy this Red Sox team in front of their own fans and put the pressure back on them in Game 7.   Their pitching is good but not this good, guys, so go after them.
  • Giving Michael Wacha a lead is important.   The kid can loosen up and fire more fastballs if he knows the bats have his back.  We have asked this kid to be Rambo this postseason.  Go into enemy territory and rescue the team from expected death.  Wacha has been amazing and will be World Series MVP if we pull this off.   He has been absolute NAILS for the entire postseason and he deserves a 4-0 lead for his month long efforts.  The Red Sox got one big hit from Ortiz in Game 2 off Wacha and that is it in 6 innings.   My feeling is an unconventional one in that Wacha will adjust more to their lineup than they will to him.
  • David Freese, do something with you life.   The pride of IMOS and St. Louis past glory needs to deliver a hit tonight.   For the love of baby jesus, take the ball to right field.   Be your old self.   Be the guy from 2011 or 2012.  Those guys were good hitters.  This 2013 nonsense needs to stop.  Freese could be playing his final game for the Cards.  Get over it, ladies.  He is arbitration eligible and will probably want too much to come back.   True or not, make tonight count Freese.  You have done little in this postseason worth remembering.  If you become lethal, this lineup looks pure doom for Boston’s pitching.
  • Here is something I can’t get out of my head.  Mike Matheny didn’t help himself by allowing his loyalty to burn him in this series.  I love the guy and most of his moves are good but his roster moves this postseason are amateurish.  You are facing a powerful team with a very good left-handed basher and you don’t load up your pen with lefties.  Here is my problem.   Ortiz has gotten to Randy Choate’s slow toss pitching and burned Kevin Siegrist’s high octane heat.   This is where Sam Freeman comes into play.   He has decent heat on his fastball and has a sweeping slider/cutter that moves away from lefties.   He could have been the ideal matchup for Ortiz but no, instead, we have Shelby Miller and Edward Mujica riding the bench and soaking up roster spots.   This is where loyalty needs to be broken for logistics.  He is hurting his bench as well, with a good pinch hitter in Tony Cruz being off limits due to his catching insurance behind Yadi.    A smart move would have been adding Rob Johnson to the roster so Cruz can be used in a pinch hitting role.  Instead, we have limited options in our bullpen and bench.  Thanks Matheny for being loyal but you failed here.   The inclusion of Shelby Miller and Edward Mujica on the roster takes away two valuable fresh players from this team.  Instead of strengthening his roster with worthy players, Mike Matheny got sentimental.
  • Shane Robinson needs to start tonight.  He hits RH pitchers very well and at this moment, is the best option for CF.   He plays better defense and is hitting just as well as Jon Jay.  I could root for the speed demon redemption seeking Kolten Wong to start at second, but I won’t get greedy.  Start Sugar Shane.
  • What has went wrong this series?  A few things.  The little things that pushed our locomotive forward all season are starting to show signs of wear and tear. Once unbreakable relievers Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist are capable of getting rocked suddenly. David Freese is incapable of getting a big hit. Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso can’t buy hits.  Lester has been better than Wainwright this series.  Our RISP has dropped dramatically.  Utility players like Johnny Gomes and David Ross have beaten Cards pitching at bad times.  The flipping point to me is still Lance Lynn being pulled for Seth Maness to face Gomes in Game 4.  Since then, it has been a fight.

We can only hope the delay in the trip to Boston last night had more to do with bat retrieval than mechanical failure. This team has barely hit. We haven’t put on display a barrage of hits yet in this series.   Defense and pitching wins games, but tonight the Cards bats need to provide a little magic in order to support their rookie pitcher and save the series.

Will the Cardinals offense show up or will we fall short of greatness?

If we fall, ladies and gents it has been fun. Every season it seems I make new friends and build great conversations through my doses, activity on twitter and facebook. Sports can be the greatest connective tissue in life.  Thanks for mixing it up and reading.

Go Cards!

-Dan L. Buffa

@buffa82 on Twitter

PHOTO CREDIT-THE GUARDIAN

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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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