Tag: UCB Blogs

Hand Me the Shovel on Jake Westbrook

No matter what happens in this game, 7-5 Cards in the 6th inning, I can tell you one thing.   Jake Westbrook doesn’t deserve to be in this rotation any longer.   Today, he helped himself in a 6 run 2nd inning in pushing his team out to a 7-0 lead against the Brewers in a rubber match.  He ran into trouble in the 3rd and gave up a 3 run bomb to Aramis Rameriz, a registered Cardinal killer.  Why Jake felt the need to pitch to Rameriz even with 2 runners on will befuddle my mind for a long time.   In the 5th inning, after getting 2 outs, Westbrook regressed and gave up 2 more runs.  You see the leaks here and the problems.  It’s not hard with a guy like Westbrook.   He is bad news.   His elbow could be bothering him or he could just be breaking down.   A sinker baller can only stay around for so long before they learn another pitch to prolong their career or they just go away.   Westbrook’s return in 2013 was held in question by me last winter because of our young arm supply.  Then we lost Carpenter and Garcia and Jake was needed.  We didn’t resign Kyle Lohse and inserted 4 rookies into rotational stints this season.   The rotation is a big question mark because right now, this set isn’t a big threat in a postseason series.   Waino is your guy, Kelly is hot, but after that it gets worrisome.  Lynn is talented but has a bad mental makeup and blows leads.   Taking away his run support is like taking away a gunman’s firearms.   Shelby Miller is holding steady but may succumb to a pitch count or shoulder issue before we know it.   He gives you 5-6 innings every time out and avoid the big inning.  Then you have Westbrook.

In my mind, there’s no way Matheny can move forward with him in this rotation.  These games mean too much.  Every single one counts.  We may not catch Pittsburgh so we could be contention for another wild card game.  There are less than 35 games left.  Things are going to start speeding up.  Westbrook is a pitcher that requires so much finesse it gets to be a weight on the shoulders just to get him ready.  He can’t pitch on the road, especially in PNC Park or Great American Park.  He needs lots of pre game prep.  He is a 30 something pitcher who has the body of a 50 year old when it comes to pitching.  He can’t pitch in this rotation any more and he won’t be a good bullpen guy either, as we saw against LA at Busch.  Sure, he could condition himself for a different role but is he or his body in any shape to do so?  Ask yourself that question.  What is Jake’s role on this team if not in the rotation?  Dismiss it as long as you can but sooner or later you think, in what spot other than a 10 run blowout do you put Jake into a game?  We saw what happened with a 7-0 lead today?  This was the final hair and in the long run may end up being best for the Cards.   Hit the wall with Westbrook now instead of down the road in September.

Options?

*Insert Michael Wacha into the spot.  He can at least give you 5th starter production if not more.  His upside is insane if he gets the chance and his work out of the pen suggests his mental makeup is stronger than before.  You have nothing to lose by giving Wacha the reins and letting him go.  He’d have two more wins if it weren’t for bullpen malfunction.

*Tyler Lyons isn’t fit for a starting role.  He looks good as a long man in the pen and his 4 straight losses in the rotation doesn’t make one think he can suddenly turn it around.

*Carlos Martinez is extremely talented but not ready to give the rotation meaningful innings.   He looked unfit in his start against the Dodgers at Busch.  He will be a 2014 candidate.

*Look at Lohse or Dan Haren on the waiver wire.  I will say this.  Lohse has looked good for 2 months.  He knows Busch, has a shorter contract, and could give this rotation a real boost.  A lot of money comes off the books in 2014.   Lohse can be afforded and has suddenly figured out how to pitch in the MLB and be very good.   If Milwaukee dangles him, think about it.  Give me 3 good reasons why not.  He is a proven playoff pitcher.  He could be a boost.  Dan Haren has also been very good as of late and returning to the Cardinals may help his career and the team.  These are 2 guys who could be 3rd spot starters in a good rotation and could help the team without losing your entire farm system.   This isn’t Jake Peavy or Cliff Lee.   Lohse and Haren would cost the Cards but not a ton of prospects or money.   With one of these guys, I see a deadly rotation.  Without them, you are depending on a little luck.  Just my take.

Feel free to fire back, discuss and break it down.  I love interacting with fellow Cards nuts.  Back to the game.  Thanks for reading.  Seth Maness is in and trying to hold a 7-5 lead against a Brewers team smelling blood.  If he can hold it, Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica will follow.  Nothing is certain in this game.

-Dan Buffa

@buffa82 on Twitter

film-addict.com

United Cardinal Bloggers

Six Things About the Cardinals

The Cards lost an ugly one in Milwaukee, so here I am right after laying out the deck.  These aren’t warning bells yet a simple reminder of things to consider as we approach the final month of the season.   The Cardinals are a dangerous team but one with inconsistencies and weak spots.  We are the approaching hitchhiker to the playoffs that can be picked off by the right sniper.   They always make a fan nervous because it’s a 162 game season and day to day mood swings are normal for an authentic baseball fan.  Here are some things to think about, admire and remember.

1.  Starting Rotation notes.  Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook are trouble seekers.    Depending tomorrow on Westbrook to win the series is like calling up your most depressed and anti-social friend to be your wingman for a potential double date.   I don’t care if Lynn has 13 wins because his record and overall stat sheet is bloated and misleading.  He strikes guys out but also likes to walk guys at horrible times and blows leads like its going out of style.   Westbrook is a declining veteran who might have one more contract with a team left before he becomes that painful to watch back of the rotation guy.  Wait a minute…he already is that.  Oops.  Westbrook is the tired broken down horse that needs a bullet in September.   Lynn is more troubling because there are wrinkles of greatness in his facade yet he lets his mental setup crack very easily.   Crash Davis may be needed to deal with Lynn’s 2 cent head.  He looks lost every time something doesn’t go his way.  Lynn is flashy but inconsistent and gets worse in the second half.  He can lose another 20 pounds and he will still be the same pitcher.  He’s kept the weight off yet this is a mental problem.  In his last 7 starts he has ran into one BAD inning every game.  That’s not good at all and probably won’t change.  I’ll always attach Lynn to Game 6 of the 2012 NLCS when he had that horrible inning that let the Giants get a huge lead.  He is a big inning meltdown artist.   So is Westbrook.   In my book, Joe Kelly is a more effective if less flashy starter than Lance Lynn.   Give Kelly Lynn’s run support and see their records change.  Without Kelly, the Cards would be further out of this race.   Waino and Kelly have been solid.  Shelby Miller has been a typical fireballing rookie but his head and mental makeup is a lot better than Lynn’s.  Miller is just in love with dictatorship on the mound, trying to blow away every hitter.  That will improve with years.  Lynn will not improve.  He will give you that fast start and shiny record but when the games start to really count, Lynn will come up short and limp.   He is offseason trade bait.  The rotation isn’t set for a playoff run.  Changes need to be made.  Michael Wacha needs to be considered for a spot if Lynn/Westbrook continue to trend down.  The crazy theory is looking into Kyle Lohse(winner tonight and a victim of horrid run support himself) for a waiver claim.   It’s not pretty but Lohse is pitching great and is comfortable in the division and in Busch.  He has 2 more years but seems to have figured something out the past 2 seasons.  His ERA is solid and with a better team would have over 10 wins. The Brewers may not do it but they aren’t going to contend inside this suddenly strong division in 2014 or 2015.   Its not even a decent possibility but if Mozelaik can look into it, he should.  The Cards are treading water, getting no heavy innings from their starters and seeing the bullpen start to crack.   What happens in 2 weeks of consistent 5-6 inning starts with the usual Waino 7 inning performance?   Where are the options?  Carlos Martinez is out there but the team seems to think of him as a bullpen arm.   Wacha is here but needs to be re-routed.  Keep an eye on this bunch.  Hoping the Cards rotation will figure things out if like hoping you can make it through a run without shitting your pants.   Don’t bet on it.

2.  Kolten Wong, everyone.   After going hitless in his first two games, Wong has 5 hits and 3 stolen bases in his last two games.   The young gun can fly on the basepaths and is getting the green light to steal and that adds a whole other dimension to this team.   David Freese went 0-4 tonight and isn’t doing himself any favors.   The better Wong performs the more Freese will sit down.   Wong could have easily had a 4 hit night if the 9th inning line drive doesn’t strike the pitcher’s hand.  He is quick, fresh, and spreads the ball around.  He is exactly what this streaky offense needed.  A kick in the ass.  Wong will be benched tomorrow because Mike Matheny thinks Freese can hit Tony Gorzelanny but he needs to seriously push David for starts.  It’s nothing personal to the Freese faithful but unless he goes on a terror, the bench will be his friend.

3. I don’t find the time or need most nights to trash Mike Matheny.  It’s important to remember he is a 2nd year manager.   He had no minor league experience and spent the years before 2012 wearing a suit, talking to Pat Parris and being Mo’s wingman.   Keep that in mind.   This isn’t a direct defense.  Just expect the guy to make some boneheaded decisions that mirror Tony La Russa and a young raw leader.   He bunts way too much, makes lots of pitching changes, extends a fierce loyalty to all his players and leaves it all on the table.   He is blunt, candid and John Wayne tough.   I respect the hell out of the guy and will admit he has a lot to learn at this level but for any sane sports soul in St. Louis calling for his dismissal, I have nothing but contempt for you.  He is a young skipper.  Give him time.  He didn’t get a rebuilding team to lead.  He got an annual World Series contender to drive.   It’s not an easy gig and most nights I cut him more slack than the players.  Matheny time over.

4.  I did like the Cardinals lineup and our depth was on display again.   Without our two best offensive players in Matt Carpenter(leader in hits, runs scored, doubles triples, finely trimmed facial hair) and Allen Craig(RBI machine), our lineup was formidable.   Wong in the #2 hole is great and Holliday, Beltran and Molina is a nice wrecking ball of producers.  If you have to rest 2 All Star’s, this lineup makes it feasible.   However, let’s not do it again.   Matt Adams has been a much better pinch hitter this year than starter and Jon Jay doesn’t need to be back in that leadoff spot when he has been killing pitching in the 6th hole.

5.  Pete Kozma has 3 hits in August.  That is why he will sit a lot of games.  I don’t care about his better defense over Descalso at short.   He has to get more hits or it’s like having 2 pitchers at the bottom of the lineup.   He hasn’t produced anything lately except for the go ahead hit on getaway Sunday against the Cubs at Busch Stadium on August 11th.  One of his 3 hits.

6.  Matt Holliday has simply cooled off.   In his last 5 games, he is 1-19.   The average is back down to .283.   Stop making comments about him hitting in the 3rd or 4th hole.  He was good in the 4th spot with Albert in 2010 and 2011.  He was good last year in the #3 spot.  He came off the DL on July 27th and was hitting good.  He isn’t hitting horribly.  Getting bad luck line drives caught and getting out in front of pitches.   He can hit in either spot and produce.  He is a streaky hitter who recovered his season with a 3 week hot stretch.  Hopefully he catches fire again soon.

That’s all I got.  This Dose of Buffa on the Cardinals has reached it’s conclusion.  Nice to see Yadi Molina collect 4 hits last night and a pair tonight to get back to .336.   His bat is required to make the lineup run.   Come back tomorrow for more thoughts that hopefully involve talking about a series win.

Goodnight,

Dan Buffa

-Film-Addict.com

-www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com

-@buffa82 on Twitter

-Listen in at redwolfrollcall.com tomorrow at 4pm for my hit on the Cards

Sinking The Pirate Ship and Its Effect

What does one series win mean for a team?   For the Cardinals, it was the difference between being 2 games out today or 4 games out of first place.   It was premature for any Cardinals fan to think the Pirates would lay down after being outlasted by the Birds on Tuesday night 4-3.   Francisco Liriano came out last night and shut the team down on 94 pitches, scattered a few hits and made short work of our team.   The Pirates were back to 3 games up and took a 4-0 lead today early on.  How would the Cardinals react?

The crazy thing about the Rogues in red is that they are so streaky and can fall asleep at the wheel so easily.  The Cardinals can look so confounded by a pitcher after seemingly getting back on track.  Liriano is so pushover but seeing the team muster zero energy against him was frustrating for any Cards fan with a pulse.  Losing is one thing.  Ghost walking is quite another.   I remember the first series of the season where the Cards were playing San Francisco and Matt Cain shut them down the first two times through the order.  We were losing and on our way to a shutout.  Suddenly, we scored 9 times in the 6th inning and routed the Giants and ended up beating Cain again later in the year.  That’s our offense in a nutshell.   Power lacking, no need to steal, magnificent with RISP but streaky as a plate of Mexican food’s durability to cold temperatures.  We are down yet not out.  We are hitless and suddenly, like today, get 5 runs on 6 hits off A.J. Burnett, erase a 4-0 lead and take a lead.   Following the Cards is as rough as it gets.  We know this team will compete every single year.  We know they will dominate early on, sputter in June, nearly collapse in August and finally find their footing.  Heading into tomorrow action’s against the Cubs on August 16th, is that finally the time this team finds their feet and makes that push.   Let’s look at the schedule.

6 game road trip against The Cubs and Brewers.  Two painfully bad teams looking to play spoiler.  Jake Westbrook takes the mound tomorrow for the first time in 9 days to find his sinker and right his own ship.

Next, a pivotal home stand against the Braves(revenge) and the suddenly closing in on the division lead Reds.  3 games apiece.  The Cardinals have been good at home lately and need to keep that up.  The Dodgers and Cubs series losses withstanding, the second half has seen this team make Busch a comfort and not a hazard.

The end of the month closes with a road trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.  CRUCIAL games at the start of the final push.  We come home and face the Pirates at BUSCH for the last 3 times in 2013.  These are nine games that can’t be wasted.

After the Bucs leave, we get the Brewers here for 3 and the Seattle Mariners for 3 games to finish interleague action.  Yes, we may face Mr. Felix.  Knowing our ability against great RH pitchers, we will shell him for 5 runs.

The last road trip of the season takes us to Colorado for a potentially hazardous 4 game set in the middle of the month and finally to Milwaukee one more time.  We got 9 games with the rough Brewers who don’t have Ryan Braun anymore and are very beatable.

The season comes to an end with the Nationals and Cubs at home for 3 apiece.  Two under .500 teams that will be hungry to spoil.   Watch out.

The last 40 games won’t be easy but there are a lot of matches against less than .500 clubs which overall the Cards thrive on this season.   The Braves, Reds, and Pirates won’t be easy at all but hopefully with the callups, renewed energy and maybe a waiver deal in there somewhere, the Cards will be ready to finally put their foot down and roll.  This team didn’t spend 3 months with the best record in baseball for no reason.  We don’t lead the Majors in run differential for no reason.  We don’t own the most runs scored, 3rd best rotation ERA and best batting average in the NL for no reason.  We are strong, formidable and now ready to push.

What else about the Birds?

*Kolten Wong is finally being called up.  He will meet the team in Chicago.  He was ripping up AAA pitching and was our 1st round draft pick last year.  He will push David Freese for playing time with Matt Carpenter either starting at 2nd or moving to third for Wong.  This is good news.  A fresh set of legs and a speedy basepath guy, Wong can hit the ball to all fields.  He is a welcome addition.  He isn’t Oscar Taveras, but he will do.  I don’t expect him to start every day, but look for him to get in there at least 3-4 times a week.  This also provides a valuable bench bat in Freese late in games.

*I like Freese.  He’s a good hometown kid and has given the team a bargain barrel of production at third base.  He was a World Series hero and will always have that.  He was an all star in 2012.  However, this is a business and you have to keep hitting on one year deals.  Wong is young and ready,and Freese looks misguided and over-matched at the plate.  He will have to earn his at-bats.  The Cards know this is their time.  That is why they called up Wong.  Team needs a bump.

*The Matt Holliday haters and critics won’t like this but he has been on fire since he returned on July 27th.  He has been consistently hitting and taken his average from .268 in late July to .294 today.   In his last 10 games, Holliday is hitting .457 with 8 RBI, 16 H, and more BB than K.  On Thursday, he had two go ahead hits.  The man is thrashing the ball and that includes a MLB leading 27 double play balls.  Most of those come when Holliday scorches a one hopper to a fielder.  That’s not an excuse but only a mere detail.  Holliday is a typical 2nd half slugger.  He starts slow, finishes strong and laughs at his critics.  Maybe some people still want Carl Crawford’s 24 million dollar tag here instead of watching him lead off in LA.  Jayson Werth anyone?  Holliday, even at 17 million, is a bargain bat and will finish with his strong expected numbers.  He gets hot when the team most needs him and that is in the last two months of the season.  Shit on his defense but please don’t compare him to Chris Duncan.  Holliday doesn’t have a good arm, makes the occasional bad play, but only has 3 errors and makes most plays.  He is here for his bat and right now, that’s red hot.

*I will buy into the theory of Matt Carpenter’s bat leading this offense up or down.  On this homestand he is hitting .413 and collected 8 hits in 15 at bats against the Pirates.  He is hitting .315 with a league high 40 doubles.  He reached base 5 times in Thursday’s comeback win.    The guy is having a fantastic season and has reheated after a slow start to the second half.

Beating the Pirates with 2 walkoff wins was huge for a number of reasons.   Mainly, it gave this team revenge for a horrible 5 game series in Pittsburgh that upended the Cards and rerouted their season.   If we lose this series or get swept here, the rest of the season looks pretty dim.  You have to take advantage of head to head battles because of the two game swing of each contest.  The Cards didn’t wilt and grabbed their two biggest comeback wins of the season.   Today, down 4-0, in the 5th, the game looked sealed until we started hitting.  The one thing you can count on with this 2013 team at the plate is timely hitting.

MVP of the Pirates series-The BULLPEN.   Fired 7 scoreless frames on Tuesday, 3 scoreless on Wednesday and delivered 6 innings on Thursday and allowed a single run.   16 innings in the series and 1 run allowed.   Superb performance from the pen.   Edward Mujica has calmed the scares that arose in July with brilliant work in August.  He throws strikes, keeps the ball down and barely walks hitters.  His walk on Thursday was his 2nd since April.   Ridiculous control.  Mujica fired 3 consecutive 2 inning games the past 4 games.  Man is a horse and on our side.

What’s next?  Cubs at Wrigley for 3 games.  NEED to dominate and start strangling the Pirates and Reds in the central.   Pittsburgh gets the tenacious D-Backs for 3 this weekend, a team that may play a role in the wild card standings.  Lot of season left, the road doesn’t look so dark now and with the arrival of Wong, the Cards may be finding their way.   Having a guy named Yadi Molina back may also help.

That’s it.  I have to watch another movie before I hit the bed.  4 movies this week, blogging, article writing for film-addict, job applying.  All in a week’s work.  I don’t stop writing.  EVER!  Craft is always fresh and the material, via my Redbirds, is always in front of me.

Thanks for reading,

Dan Buffa

-Film-Addict.com

-@buffa82 on Twitter

-United Cardinal Bloggers

-Red Wolf Roll Call on Wednesdays at 4 p.m.

The Unbreakable Fight of The Cardinals

Sometimes it’s easy for baseball teams to fold and call it a season.   After 110 games and the grueling pace, a team can show signs of wear and tear.   The genuine thrill of baseball is keeping a consistent positive vibe for 6 months and 162 games.  Day in and day out, you must compete.  There is barely a break in the season.  No 6 day wait or 48 hour grace period.  If you lose bad one night, there’s a good chance the sun will rise the next morning and you will have a chance to redeem yourself.  Baseball is a romantic and bittersweet sport to follow.  It begins in the spring, when everything is growing and blossoming.  It ends at the dawn of winter, when everything starts to die and get cold.  We are in the middle of August, and if one thing is for certain, the 2013 Cardinals aren’t dying anytime soon.  They are simply surviving and waiting for their chance to dominate.  They won a 14 inning battle with their new rival, the Pittsburgh Pirates, last night.   Several teams win extra inning battles.  Some do it twice a week.  The Cards don’t win a lot of extra inning games nor have they walked off much this year.  They don’t come back after the 8th inning.   Last night was the first win the Cards had after trailing going into the ninth since last October’s Game 5 electrifying comeback against the Washington Nationals.  You can say they were due.

How did they do it?  Well it wasn’t easy and involved more peculiar managerial tactics and moves and gave any fan the resignation that this game was going to end up a loss.   The Cards were down 3-0 early, before the stadium of Busch could fill up.   Adam Wainwright gives up his runs early and settled down.  He threw 126 pitches and finished 7 innings, which seemed like overzealous performance until you realized the game was going to last 7 more additional innings.   Waino was tough and a general as usual.  He didn’t let up and welt in the summer sun like Jake Westbrook can do on occasion after an early assault.  Waino gave his team a chance to win.  Several times this season, Waino has pitched well and deserved better.  You don’t have 13 wins with a 2.71 ERA for no reason.

The Cards got back into the game with a 2 run 6th inning.  After loading the bases, David Freese grounded into what seemed like his 40th double play.  While it scored 1 run, Freese didn’t register any lower on my “Get your shit together” scale.   He has had a troubling season plagued by inconsistency unseen beforehand.  Jon Jay got the big hits tonight, and stroked a run scoring single to make the score 3-2.  Jay, the past 10 days, has been a breath of fresh air since his switch back to the more comfortable 6th or 7th spot in the order.  While this season has seen his batting average hit as low as .251, Jay has become an unlikely RBI man in the order.  Sure, he won’t throw anybody out at home plate, but he makes fine catches in centerfield and plays the game fundamentally sound.  He has made the CF question for 2014 a bit more interesting.  He played a part in the 14th inning rally as well.

Always lost in a big Cards win is the performance of the bullpen.  It wasn’t majorly discussed after the game that they threw 7 shutout innings and gave the sputtering offense extra chances to win the game.  Trevor Rosenthal, Edward Mujica, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Sam Freeman combined to hold the Pirates at bay and turn the Pittsburgh lineup into cold brittle wood shavings for the last half of the game.  The Pirates only managed 4 hits after the 2nd inning.  The MVP of the night was easily the Cards bullpen, an underrated facet to the 2013 surge.

Yes, the night will go down as the event where left fielder Starlin Marte dropped a routine fly ball in the 9th and allowed the Cards to keep playing, giving way to the Wrench, Allen Craig, having the chance to tie the game with an RBI single.  For all the people yelling at Carlos Beltran for running into an out, I think he was doing that to ensure that the tying run scored.  Only reason I can see for that.  Yes, he did that on his own.

Yes, Mike Matheny loves his bunts.  He felt the need to make Jon Jay bunt in the bottom of the 10th after the first two reached and a pinch runner took over for Matt Holliday, whose ankle twisted returning to first on a pickoff attempt.  Why bunt there?  Jay had 3 hits already and has handled the bat very well on the homestand.  This is where I don’t see eye to eye or even chin to chin with Matheny.  He has one of the hottest hitters in the lineup give an out to the other team.  If you bring in a pinch runner for Holliday at second base, let him stay there and see if Jay can stroke another single and win the game.  Instead Jon Jay bunts, they walk  pinchhitter Adron Chambers(the eventual hero), get Kozma to strike out and Daniel Descalso flies out. Threat over.

When Holliday left, that was a big bat leaving the lineup.  and you saw the effect of that move in the later innings.   Nobody envisioned Seth Maness with two chances to win the game, but when David Freese(double switch) and Holliday leave the game before everyone else, your lineup gets weaker.  Holliday had a mild ankle sprain and the x-rays didn’t reveal a break, so there was reason for his departure.  Freese isn’t a hot hitter, but not sure I’d take him out so soon.   Tony La Russa did this too.  Took the big bullets out of his lineup like he knew the game wouldn’t go 14 innings.   Extra innings are special because pitchers don’t just pitch and position players do all sorts of things and heroics.

The Cards have tasted the bitter tinge of bad luck in their month long struggles.  Line drives being caught.  Defensive shifts hurting them.  None hurt more than when Matt Adams came up in the 8th inning last night with a chance to tie the game and lined a sure single towards right field.  10-15 feet into the outfield, Neil Walker made a leaping catch.  That is the way it goes when your team is struggling.   You don’t get the breaks, bounces or easy routes.  You fight for everything and earn it all.

So when Jon Jay slapped a single off the glove of the shortstop to start the 14th inning, stole second, and eventually scored on Chambers’ base hit to left field that saw Jay barely miss the tag of Russell Martin at home plate, I didn’t feel the need to apologize to the baseball gods.  The Cards have endured a lot of bumps and bruises along the way this season and have earned the right to get a little lucky the next 2-3 weeks.  Look at Seth Maness inducing his 14th double play in the 13th inning after Andrew McCutchen stood at third base with nobody out.  Look at Marte’s drop.  All this points to maybe the Cards starting to get the breaks.

On Thursday, they get the biggest break when Yadi Molina returns from the disabled list, right knee ready to go.  Without Yadi, the team has been in pure survival mode.   Yadi means so much to the confidence of this team, the pitching staff, the shutdown of the running game and the overall mindset of this team.  He can also hit .330 and drive in runs.  Without him in the lineup, our group looks a little exposed towards the bottom of the order.  Having Yadi back will help a ton.   Getting our navigator leadoff man Matt Carpenter back on track will help the run scoring flow again.

Tonight, we get a tough lefthander in Francisco Liriano.   He beat us up in Pittsburgh two weeks ago which means there is a score to settle.  It would be stupid to think the lasting effects of the loss won’t have an effect on the Pirates going forward.  They may not fall off the map but their team and bullpen were drained last night.   They had a chance to put us down 4 games.  Instead, the Cards are back 2 with a chance to get more and look hungry.   That is why it is hard to count out the Redbirds.  Too many head to head matchups with the Pirates and the lacking presence of Yadi on the field.  Like I said, this team is in survival mode.  When Yadi gets back, it may be on to domination mode.    One thing is always for certain with this team.  We are always up for a fight.

Until next time,

Go CARDS!

-DLB