Bernie’s Daily Redbird Review: After A Rare Night of Bad Pitching, The Cards Look To Close Out A Positive Homestand

Good morning. Here’s your Daily Redbird Review:

FIRST PITCH: The Cardinals lost a wild one at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night, succumbing to the Giants 9-8 despite making two impressive comebacks in the game.

This was an especially tough loss, considering that the Cardinals erased a 4-0 San Francisco lead to tie it, and charged back from a 7-3 deficit to take an 8-7 lead.

Before Wednesday night’s failure, the Cardinals were 21-0 this season when scoring eight or more runs in a game. That included a 3-0 mark when scoring exactly eight runs in a game.

That said …

The Cardinals are 5-2 on the homestand and can make it 6-2 by defeating the Giants this afternoon. The goal today is simple: just win the series. Take three out of four from the Giants, just as you won three of four from the Reds over the weekend. And then head out to the road on a positive note. Beginning Friday night, the Cardinals will play three at Pittsburgh, followed by three at Colorado.

Because the Cubs and Brewers were off on Wednesday, both teams picked up a half-game on the Cardinals. The Cards go into Thursday’s game with a 2 and ½ game lead over the Cubs, and are 6 and ½ ahead of the Brewers.

DAILY PLAYOFF ODDS REPORT: According to FanGraphs the Cardinals have a 58.2 percent probability of winning the NL Central and an 88.6 percent shot at making it to the postseason. The Cubs have a 40.1 percent crack at the division title, and an 80.4 percent likelihood of getting into the playoffs.

BASEBALL HERO: First baseman Paul Goldschmidt delivered in a big way on two separate opportunities. First, he ripped his first triple of the season to bring in two runs and put the Cards into a 4-4 tie in the fifth. And Goldy gave the Cardinals an 8-7 lead with a two-run double in the sixth. After knocking in only three runs in his previous eight games, Goldy cashed in four RBIs in two innings on Wednesday night. With only 23 games to go in their regular season, the Cardinals need more of that from Goldschmidt down the stretch.

BLAME GAME: The Cardinals’ predominant strength is run prevention, a consistently positive factor that’s carried them to a 78-61 record and first place in the NL Central. But the pitching and defense weren’t up to standard in the 9-8 loss to the Giants.

After starting pitcher Michael Wacha gave the Cardinals two scoreless innings while pitching on short rest, a parade of St. Louis relievers worked the final seven innings and allowed nine runs, six earned. The damage included 13 hits, four walks and three homers.

Shortstop Paul DeJong made a costly error with two outs in the sixth; that kept the inning live for a three-run homer by Brandon Crawford that gave the Giants a 7-4 lead … earlier in the game, center fielder Harrison Bader missed on a diving catch but wasn’t charged with an error.

TURNING POINT: There were a bunch of them, but we’ll just go with the most obvious: the two-run homer by Kevin Pillar off Cards reliever Giovanny Gallegos in the top of the eighth that proved to be the winning blow.

HEY, YOU DID GOOD: Goldschmidt … Wacha … Yadier Molina doubled to extend his hitting streak to 11 games … DeJong banged his 25th homer of the season.

* Tommy Edman scored after doubling in the third, and drove in a run with a triple in the sixth. In 124 plate appearances since the beginning of August, Edman is batting .303 with a .331 OBP and .437 slug. Against LHP over that time (30 plate appearances) Edman is hitting .414 with a .433 OBP, .690 slug and 1.123 OPS.

* Kolten Wong went 2 for 4 and scored a run; in 47 plate appearances this season as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup Wong is batting .366 with a .435 OBP, .634 slug and 1.069 OPS .

LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: Let’s go to the list…

1. Marcell Ozuna was hitless in five at-bats and went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position. Ozuna has only one RBI in his last eight games. And over his last seven games Ozuna is 2 for 27 with no extra-base hits, eight strikeouts, and just one walk …

2. Relievers Tyler Webb, Dominic Leone and Gallegos each gave up a home run. The three homers yielded by the STL bullpen was unusual; until Wednesday night the relievers had given up only three home runs in the previous 22 games, four homers in 29 games, and five longballs in 34 games.

3. Webb was really bad as the first reliever in the game following Wacha’s two innings. Webb was ripped for three hits, a walk, a homer and four earned runs in only one-third of an inning.

4. Gallegos has a 4.91 ERA in his last eight appearances, and has given up a homer in each of his last two games. However: Gallegos looked nasty after allowing the homer, and struck out three Giants in his 1 and ⅓ innings.

5. The Cardinals had a chance to tie or win the game in the ninth, but with two runners on base Harry Bader struck out swinging.

DON’T BE TOO HARD ON THE PITCHERS: It was just one of those stink-bomb kind of games. What are you going to do? It happens. But the Cardinals have given up nine or more runs in a game only 13 times this season; that’s the second-lowest total by a National League pitching staff. Let’s be reasonable here. Given the recent jam-packed schedule and the extreme demands put on STL pitchers, a clunker was inevitable.

SECOND-GUESSING SHILDTY: Wacha threw 38 pitches through two innings and was pulled even though (1) the general plan was to have him go about 50 pitches; (2) he breezed through the second inning; and (3) Wacha told Shildt that he felt great after the second inning and could continue.  But I’m not really critical of the decision. We have no idea what would have happened if Wacha went out for a third inning. Either way, it was going to be a bullpen-heavy game.

GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: Going into Wednesday, this is what I thought: with Wacha pitching on short rest, I actually liked Shildt’s strategy of having the bullpen ready to roll early, because it was the only way to deal with the overall set of circumstances. But if multiple relievers have lousy performances in the same game, it won’t be a smooth evening of baseball.

ON DECK: The Cardinals will lean on Dakota Hudson, who has a 3.14 ERA in 14 home starts this season, for today’s series finale. The Giants are starting a 22-year-old rookie, RH Logan Webb, who has a 3.52 ERA in three MLB starts. His ERA in two road starts is 4.66. Small sample but Webb has struggled against RH batters so far (.357 average, 1.007 OPS.)

Thanks for reading …

-Bernie