Bernie’s Daily Redbird Review: All Hail Yadier Molina! Plus, Cards Score Two Touchdowns And A Field Goal

The Daily Redbird Review…

Hey, it was challenging to keep a tidy box score last night.

And that’s a good thang…

FIRST PITCH: After lagging through a 1-6 stretch of ugly ball, the Cardinals got rolling again, taking out their frustration on the visiting Pirates in a 17 to 4 slumpbuster at Busch Stadium. If you were on the St. Louis side of this game, fan or player, a good time was had by all. With the win the Cardinals are 22-16 and trying to keep pace with the Cubs and Brewers. The Cubs have won 10 of their last 11 games, and the Brewers have won seven in a row and 11 of 14.

BASEBALL HERO: So many Cardinals contributed to this splurge of offense, in a football-game score, it’s hard to choose one guy. But when it’s close, always go with Yadier Molina. Three hits, three runs, two runs batted in. He just missed a grand slam homer in the fourth, hitting the ball 380 feet and off the wall in right field. But it only went for a single, with one run scoring. Odd play. However … Molina leads all major-league catchers with 27 RBIs this season, and has the most hits with 39. He’s tied for first among catchers in doubles and is third at the position in slugging percentage (.437.) Oh, yeah and he leads all MLB catchers in games started and innings caught. He’s  only 36 years old. Just a pup. Incredible.

TURNING POINT: With such a blow-out final score, it’s easy to forget that the Cardinals actually trailed 1-0 in this game going into the bottom the the second inning. That’s when the Cardinals went off and took off. An RBI double by Molina, a two-run double by Dexter Fowler and an RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt made it 4-1 and the thumping was underway.

HEY, YOU DID GOOD: Let’s just praise the lineup up and down. Every starting position player scored at least one run, and seven drove in at least one run. Amazingly the Cardinals had 30 plate appearances and 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position, the most by any team in a a game this season. And the Cards’ 11 hits with runners in scoring position was the most by a team in a game so far this year. It’s kinda crazy when a team has 30 plate appearances with runners in scoring position — and only 20 plate appearances without a runner in scoring position. It’s also crazy to score 17 runs without hitting a homer. The 17 runs were the most scored by the Cardinals without the benefit of a home run since they piled up 18 runs against the Braves on Aug. 22 of 2008.

LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha gave up nine hits, four runs and a homer in his 5 and ⅔ innings. It’s a shame that Wacha only lasted long enough to get 17 outs on a night when his teammates got him 11 runs in the first four innings. Among 119 major-league starting pitchers that have thrown at least 35 innings this season, Wacha ranks 99th with a 5.35 ERA and 108th with a 5.48 Fielding Independent ERA. And Wacha’s 13 percent walk rate is the fourth worst among MLB starters. Just really ridiculous that this team had to turn to the bullpen so early.

SECOND GUESSING SHILDTY: After the Cardinals scored a touchdown to make it 17-4 in the eighth, I thought he should have gone for the two-point conversion. … but on a more serious note: did Shildty really need to use John Gant and John Brebbia in this game? I know Gant hadn’t pitched in a few days — Sunday at Wrigley Field, to be exact — but I don’t think he needs work.

GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: Well, he filled out the lineup card and that worked out pretty well. That isn’t me being snarky, either. The thing is, Shildt would be the first to say that he enjoyed the show — watching the Cardinals put runner after runner on base and scoring runs

BREATHLESS: The Cardinals sure did take a lot of laps around the bases last night. Good game for their cardio. And their batting averages.

NL CENTRAL: Cubs 22-13 … Brewers 23-16 … Cardinals 22-16 …Pirates 17-17 … Reds 16-22.

A NOTE ABOUT THE PIRATES:  It’s a well-managed, well-coached team. (Much respect to the Pirates from this corner.) And they have a strong pitching staff when healthy — and that’s an issue right now. But pitching and dugout leadership aside, the Pirates are offensively challenged. The Bucs are ranked 23rd with 81 wRC+ meaning that they’re 19 percent below average offensively. This takes into account the team slugging percentage (.375, 25th), and home runs per game (0.88, 28th.)

ON DECK: The second game of a four-game series matches Adam Wainwright against the Pirates’ Trevor Williams. Game time of 7:15 on Fox Sports Midwest.

Thanks for reading!

-Bernie