Presenting your Daily Redbird Review …
One more day before Albert Pujols comes home…
One more day before Mike Trout plays his first game at Busch Stadium…
FIRST PITCH: With the Cardinals offense snoozing against Marlins pitching for the second consecutive night, Paul Goldschmidt jolted the Cardinals from their drowsiness with a big-boom solo walk-off homer in the 11th inning to lift the home team to a 2-1 victory. The Cardinals received a tremendous start from Daniel Ponce de Leon in this game; more on that later.
HOW ABOUT SOME HAPPY TALK? The Cardinals have won seven of their last 10 during the soft-serve portion of their schedule; all 10 games have been played against the Marlins or Mets … the Cardinals are 12-7 since May 30 … and 10-7 in June … that 10-7 mark is the best in the NL Central so far this month… by beating up on vulnerable opponents — as they should — the Cardinals have pulled to within two games of the first-place Cubs in the NL Central … the Brewers dropped to second place, a half-game behind the Cubs, after losing 8-7 on Wednesday, getting swept in a three-game series at San Diego… Brewers have lost five out of their last six.
BASEBALL HERO: Goldy’s 453-foot home run was important for a few reasons. His blow won the game — and made sure the Cardinals didn’t walk off the field as losers who wasted excellent pitching from “Ponce” and the bullpen. The homer gave the Cardinals a chance — with a win Thursday night — to take three out of four from the Marlins. And it hasn’t been a good season for Goldschmidt — not by his standards, anyway. In 53 plate appearances with runners in scoring position he’s batting .222 with a .244 slugging percentage and .584 OPS. And he’s tied for 109th among MLB hitters with 30 runs batted in. The Cardinals need more big hits from Goldy.
TURNING POINT: After the Marlins got to Carlos Martinez for three consecutive singles to tie the game at 1-1 in the eighth, Andrew Miller entered the game with runners on second and third and got pinch-hitter Cesar Puello on a ground out to end the inning. With the Cardinals’ stagnant offense wheezing again, the Marlins probably would have won the game with a hit there against Miller. But he put doused the threat.
HEY, YOU DID GOOD: Ponce de Leon was outstanding, allowing only two hits and a walk with six strikeouts in his six shutout innings. In six major-league starts over the last two seasons, Ponce has a 2.10 ERA, 2.64 FIP and a 27.7 percent strikeout rate.
Ponce de Leon symbolizes the bizarre, incomprehensible lack of personnel judgment by the Cardinals’ front office.
Here’s a team with serious rotation issues that won’t give a spot to a drafted-and-developed starting pitcher, Ponce, who has impressed nearly every time he’s made a big-league start. This borders on insanity. It’s absolutely bananas.
— In his MLB debut, first baseman Rangel Ravelo produced a key two-out single in the bottom of the sixth, putting runners on first and third and keeping the inning alive for Dexter Fowler’s bloop RBI single.
— After Carlos Martinez blew a save opportunity in the eighth, the combination of Andrew Miller, Jordan Hicks and John Gant combined to work 3 and ⅓ innings without giving the Marlins a hit or a walk.
— Gant was credited with the victory and leads MLB relievers with seven wins. He’s 7-0 with three saves and a 1.58 ERA and ranks sixth in among MLB relief pitchers in Win Probability Added. Gant, obviously, is having a terrific season.
— In his last six games Dexter Fowler has three homers, 10 RBIs and a .625 slugging percentage.
LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: The Cardinals went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Over the last two games against Miami pitching, the STL hitters have scored two runs in 20 innings, batting .125. And 20 of their 64 at-bats have ended in a strikeout. The futility was on full display in the bottom of the 10th when the Cards had the bases loaded and no outs and couldn’t score. Harrison Bader struck out, and Marcell Ozuna hit into a double play.
Bader is batting .224 with a 31 percent strikeout rate against RH pitching this season.
SECOND-GUESSING SHILDTY: He could have gone with Ponce de Leon for one more inning which would have put less stress on the bullpen. But honestly, not a big deal.
GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: It didn’t generate much offense, but I liked his idea in shaking up the lineup by not starting Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong and Goldschmidt. When an offense is this bad, it makes sense to give a seat to tired players and try and catch a spark with some fresher hitters.
BREATHLESS: Still can’t believe this team is only two games out of first place. But at some point the Cardinals will have to play good teams again, and they’re 17-21 this season against opponents with winning records.
ON DECK: Adam Wainwright returns from a rest on the injured list (hamstring) to make Thursday’s 6:15 p.m. start against the Marlins. Miami is starting lefty Zac Gallen, a rookie making his MLB debut. Gallen, a Cardinals’ prospect, was part of a four-prospect package sent to Miami for Marcell Ozuna before the 2018 season.
Thanks for reading …