Presenting your Daily Redbird Review:
FIRST PITCH: The Cardinals lost to Milwaukee 5-3 Wednesday in a rain-shortened game, with the home team failing to sweep the three-game series. The Cardinals missed a splendid opportunity to shove the Brewers into a deeper hole in the NL Central.
The Brewers ended their streak of losing six in a row to St. Louis. The Crew was able to get out of town with a three-game deficit in the standings; a STL victory would have left the Brewers five games out in the NL Central race.
On top of that, the Brewers were demoralized by losing four of the first five games on a six-game road trip to Washington and St. Louis.
By avoiding the sweep, the Brewers got a boost in positivity as they head home for a six-game stay at Miller Park that will bring in the Diamondbacks and Cardinals.
“It’s a nice win, for sure,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell told reporters after the win. “It was a tough trip. We had some games that were a little deflating, I’d say. But we ended on a good note. We go into an off day on a good note and an important homestand on a good note.”
The Cardinals and their manager gave the Brewers a lift.
Sure, the Cardinals won the series and that’s positive. But the Redbirds didn’t maximize a chance to inflict more damage on the Brewers. This was a whiff.
BASEBALL HERO: Not in this game, not for the Cardinals. And and that’s a shame. As the immortal Ernest Hemingway once observed: “As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.”
Well, Papa. I agree. It was sort of necessary to have a hero last night and the Cardinals didn’t come through.
BLAME GAME: Much respect to Adam Wainwright, who took complete ownership of the loss with his unmerciful evaluation of his own performance. Waino gave up four runs in the first inning and five runs (and four walks) overall during his five-inning struggle.
“I’m disappointed that I came here into a big series and had one of my worst outings of the year,” Waino told reporters. “There’s no excuses. Obviously, you can put that whole game on me. I set the tone from the first inning on. When you put up a four-spot in the first, you’re putting your team behind the eight-ball and that’s what happened.”
TURNING POINT: Right away you could see that Wainwright was off form, and working without the competitive benefit of a good fastball. Top of the first, the Brewers had a run in and were still threatening.
At times a starting pitcher can survive a poor first inning by limiting the damage and then sharpen up after that. But Waino couldn’t dodge big trouble. He served up a three-run homer to Mike Moustakas that gave the Crew a 4-0 lead. That’s exactly what the downbound Brewers — and their young starting pitcher Adrian Houser — needed.
HEY, YOU DID GOOD: A short list:
1. The top two lineup spots combined to reach base four times in eight plate appearances. Leadoff man Dexter Fowler went 1 for 3 with a walk and drove in a run. Kolten Wong, who batted second, had a single and a walk.
Wong batting second? Giving the team’s best and most versatile hitter an opportunity for more plate appearances? Wow. Mike Shildt must have been dizzy — perhaps the St. Louis heat? — when he filled out the lineup card.
2. Relievers Junior Fernandez and Tyler Webb followed Wainwright and held the Brewers scoreless over the final three innings. (The rain delay began after the Brewers took their at-bats in the eighth. There was no further action. )
3. Yadier Molina went 1 for 3 with an RBI.
LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: A longer list here:
1. Wainwright. Not trying to pile on here. I was surprised only because he’s been so excellent when pitching at Busch Stadium. Before this outing against the Brewers, Wainwright had a 2.16 ERA in 11 home starts this season.
2. The Cardinals scored nine runs in Tuesday’s win over the Brewers. Naturally, they followed up by scoring only one earned run against a shaky Brewers’ pitching staff.
Houser came into the game with a 5.28 ERA and an .850 OPS allowed when used as a starting pitcher this season. And the Cardinals did little against Houser. When the Cardinals score a bunch of runs in a game, their bats often go quiet in the next game.
3. Paul Goldschmidt, batting third, didn’t do anything with the opportunities presented by Fowler and Wong. Goldy went 0-for-4, and is batting .232 with a .270 OBP and .406 slugging percentage in August.
4. Matt Carpenter went 0 for 3 and struck out three times. Going back to his pinch-hitting appearance in Tuesday’s win, that makes four consecutive strikeouts by Carpenter. He had a big miss in the sixth inning, fanning with runners on second and third with one out and the Cardinals down by two runs.
5. Harrison Bader struck out to end that sixth inning, stranding the runners on second and third. And Bader didn’t have one of his better games defensively.
6. The Cardinals’ defense has been terrific this season — but not last night.
SECOND-GUESSING SHILDTY: The manager could have used Tommy Edman as a pinch-hitter for Carpenter to handle an important plate appearance against Milwaukee LH reliever Alex Claudio in the bottom of the sixth. Since returning from the IL, Carpenter is 9 for 46 (.196) with a 30 percent strikeout rate. And in 51 plate appearances vs. LH pitching this season, the switch-hitting Edman is batting .306 with a .510 slugging percentage and .844 OPS.
Shildt explained that he didn’t want to leave his bench short by slotting Edman into the game in the sixth inning. OK. Shildt was probably of the mind to use Edman later in the game for a matchup against nasty Brewer lefty reliever Josh Hader. OK.
Bottom line: with a major storm front about to move in, and an almost certain rain delay on the way, Shildt didn’t jump on a real-time opportunity to tie the game. He waited for another opportunity, a later opportunity, that never materialized. He waited for an opportunity that was, pardon the expression, washed away.
(And isn’t the same manager who aggressively pinch-hit for an effective starting pitcher, Michael Wacha, in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game?)
GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: Moving Wong to second in the batting order. But that was just a little attaboy pat on Wong’s head by Shildt, who obviously will plug his guy, Edman, (.299 OBP) into the second spot … this, after failing to plug his guy, Edman into Wednesday’s game for Carpenter with a chance to tie the game.
BREATHLESS: The Cubs blew two leads but survived to overtake the Giants on Wednesday night, winning 12-11. The Cubs moved back into first place, a half-game ahead of your Cardinals. The Cubs are a preposterous 43-19 at Wrigley Field this season. The Cubs will go for a three-game sweep of the visiting Giants today at 1:20 pm. Day ball!
STRANGE AND BORDERLINE DELUSIONAL QUOTE: “I think we’re in a good spot,” Cubs shortstop Javy Báez told reporters who cover the team. “We’re actually not paying attention to other teams. It looks like they’re paying attention to us. But we had up and downs, and we’re just trying to get that out of the way and just keep going.”
Oh, so the Cubs never check the outcome of games played by the Cardinals and Brewers? Don’t look at the scoreboard? Don’t check scores online in the morning? But the Cardinals and Brewers are obsessed with the Cubs? This dude got some wires crossed along the way.
ABOUT THE RAIN and the umpires’ decision to call it a game after 7 and ½ innings.
— Shildt was disappointed by the decision to stop playing without resumption. “Of course. Absolutely,” he said. “We wait an hour. Didn’t get an opportunity to finish a game we fought and scratched and clawed and felt like we were definitely in and felt really good about winning, quite honestly.”
First of all, the Cardinals didn’t scratch and claw. Sorry but this did not rate among their most intense, locked-in performances.
— Second, shortstop Paul DeJong referred to te umpires’ decision as “kind of bogus.”
— Third, here’s an honest assessment from Wainwright: “We were lucky to play as long we were. We had our chances. But that first inning cost us the game.”
ON DECK: The Colorado Rockies move into Busch for a four-game series that begins tonight. The erratic Miles Mikolas (4.30 ERA) starts for the Cardinals against Rockies RH German Marquez (12-5, 4.71 ERA.)
Colorado is 58-69 this season and trail the first-place Dodgers by 25 and ½ games in the NL West. The Rox have been awful on the road with a record of 25-40.
The Rockies, of course, put up plenty of artificially inflated numbers inside their Coors Field driving range. But they are among the very worst teams in the majors, offensively, on the road.
This season among the 30 teams Colorado (in road games) ranks 28th in OBP (.291), 28th in slugging (.391), 29th in batting average (.235), 29th in OPS (.683) and 29th in wRC+ at 26 percent below league average.
Different picture at home. At Coors Field the Rockies are batting .306 with a .367 OBP, .530 slug and .898 OPS. Yep, that’s right … there’s a 215-point disparity in the Rockies’ home-road OPS splits.
Cardinals gotta win at least three of the four games, or this series is a failure.
Thanks for reading …