By Dan Buffa
Doing game recaps can be boring unless you put a juicy spin on the action. Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel have made an artform out of it for a fair part of their career but I have to make it roll off the fingertips differently. I have written commentary for most of my days so when I need to break down a game; I like to have a little fun with it. Here are the good, bad and the ugly of the Cardinals 3-2 win in 12 innings last night in which a rotation hot streak continued, the Cards got key defensive plays and pulled out a win.
*The rotation hot streak continued with Michael Wacha's six innings of shutout ball. Before taking a Matt Adams foul ball off his throwing arm while sitting in the dugout, Wacha threw 88 pitches and kept the Diamondbacks in check. He is starting to mix in his curveball and slider to go with his fastball and changeup. It was a good quiet party of revenge for Wacha, who suffered the worst start of his career last June against Arizona. He could have went 7 innings but the foul ball and resulting elbow contusion didn't allow it. Wacha will be fine for his next start.
*Allen Craig had a hand in the game winning hit and also reached base 5 times. After looking lost against journeyman starter Bronson Arroyo on Tuesday night, Craig had three singles, 2 walks, and a pair of RBI. It's so hard to put your finger on Craig because he looks great for a 3-4 games and then he tails off with a horrible game. Wednesday, he looked strong and got back to his old self and drove in some runners in scoring position. Welcome back Allen. Now stay put. The lineup depends on Craig coming through in those key spots.
*Jason Motte came back and was sharp, pumping gas and pitching 1.2 innings in a tight extra inning game. A great relay throw from Daniel Descalso prevented Motte from giving up the go ahead run, but Motte gave the team solid work in his first night of action. The best thing is the passion seen with Motte. He jumps around, rubs his beard constantly, screams into his glove and is a genuine live wire out there.
*The throw from Matt Holliday and the relay throw from Descalso was a thing of beauty in the 10th inning. Paul Goldschmidt started acting like himself and drilled a double into the corner. Holliday, having a stellar year in left, scooped it up and fired a strike to home plate to nail a pretty fast runner in Ender Inciarte. Those are the kind of things that happen when a team is playing well. Things go right. We can dump criticism on DD for his bat, his shaky defense but you can't doubt the man's arm strength.
*Jon Jay failed to get a hit with 1 out and the bases loaded in the 10th but made an outstanding catch in left center field to save the game for the second time. Jay isn't a solid overall outfielder but he can make the occasional great play.
*Yadi Molina threw a man out from his knees, Benito Santiago style. Molina has thrown out 6 straight runners attempting (cluelessly) to steal a bag on him. Wacha wasn't paying attention to the runner and Molina nabbed him. You don't see that every day.
*The 4-5-6 hitters in the Cardinals lineup went 8-13 with 4 walks. Adams raised his average to .316 with 3 three hits. Molina added two hits to get his average to .335. They both have 55 hits on the season. When the middle of the lineup does that well, it's a shame your team only scores 3 runs. Let's call this a half good/half bad comment.
*The bullpen was strong. Trevor Rosenthal pitched a scoreless 9th inning. Seth Maness got the win with a scoreless 12th. Pat Neshek continued his stellar month with a scoreless frame. The unit gave the team 6 innings and only allowed 2 runs. Motte's return is going to solidify this group as a threat. When you have five capable arms(Neshek, Motte, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez, and Rosenthal) who can pitch in the late innings and do it well, it's a scary scenario for opposing teams.
*Carlos Martinez wasn't sharp and gave up the only two runs of the game for Arizona in the 8th inning. Martinez isn't looking too sharp these days and this could be a sign that the young man is destined for the rotation. When a pitcher is stretched out over 5-7 innings, he can flirt with his pitches and mix them better. I still see Martinez as a starter before the season is over, especially with Neshek's effectiveness and Motte's trustworthy skill set. Let the kid fly Mike.
*Withholding that amazing throw, Descalso was 0-5 at the plate with a strikeout. The man's average plummeted to .152 and he simply isn't getting it done. I don't see him lasting all season long simply because his role on the team has greatly diminished. His bat is missing and his defense(overall) is a minus for a defender.
*Kolten Wong finally had an off night at the plate, going 1-6 with 2 strikeouts. Matheny will probably start Mark Ellis tonight and that is probably the right call. The kid started five games in a row and could use a day off. I like Ellis to get 1-2 starts a week to ease Wong into being an everyday player. Then again, I wouldn't cry foul if Wong was right back in there today.
*Line drives at Wacha aren't a good thing. He snarled a line drive in the second inning on the mound before taking it off the elbow in the 6th inning. Someone put this kid in protective custody between innings.
*News on Joe Kelly isn't promising. The rotation is doing very well this past week, but that doesn't mean I want to see Kelly never come back. At the very least, he can help a drained bullpen and give them sure innings. He is potential trade bait if he puts together a solid month. Kelly is a true asset to this team with his versatility and hearing Jim Hayes tell us there is no timetable for his return is sad news. Hopefully, he picks up a baseball and throws off a mound soon. This is the first serious injury in his entire career, so there is no blueprint for the way this man's body reacts. You are officially on Joe Kelly Hamstring watch.
That's all for now folks. Come back this week for more recaps, analysis and commentary from this corner of South City St. Louis.
Dan Buffa is an sports writer for Sports Rants. He is also a contributor to KSDK.com and Arch City Sports while writing for his own website, Dose Of Buffa. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @buffa82.