By Dan Buffa
ST. LOUIS - Good afternoon, ladies and gents; let's talk Cardinals baseball.
Last night, the team escaped a potentially soul crushing loss in Kansas City by finding some late inning ignition from the offense. Thankfully, the Birds snapped a horrible 2-7 streak and got back on the winning side of the game.
Every time the Cardinals lose a game, the fanbase gets more frustrated and creeps towards the ledge. They do this while forgetting that in the last two championship seasons, the team played horrible months of baseball. It's going to be all right, folks. Having said that, let's look at the good, bad and the ugly of last night's victory because a W in the standings can't hide everything.
*Adam Wainwright. He shouldn't have been taken out of the game in the 9th inning with two runners on and a 2-0 lead. He is the only man on this pitching staff who can have over 105 pitches, put the tying runs on base and have the chance to pitch out of it. That's because he is Adam Wainwright, a perennial Cy Young candidate and a bulldog pitcher who won't back down. Mike Matheny made the move and unleashed the bullpen on the game, with mixed results. Wainwright lost a win and took another shot to his testimony in September for Cy. Voters love wins and these kind of nights make me scream at my television. If there is one guy who can pitch his way out of trouble or fall on the sword trying, it's Wainwright. He and Michael Wacha are on another planet when it comes to the rest of this rotation. While Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Jaime Garcia break our hearts or stir up our medication dosage, Waino and Wacha are absolute nails on the mound. Next time, Mike, leave Adam in and trust your ace.
*Matt Carpenter. Since May 19th, the man has been on fire. He has taken his average from .265 to .307 and put on a clinic last night with his 5 hits and 2 RBI, including the game winner. Much has been made about moving Carp out of the leadoff spot, and it simply doesn't make sense for a lot of reasons. Carpenter gets on base and at a feverish pace. He can knock a guy in but he draws walks, works the count and reaches base at a .395 clip. Why mess with that? When the rest of the lineup gets going, this will be a moot point.
*Pat Neshek and Sam Freeman. While Trevor Rosenthal (coming soon in the bad section) blew the save, these two did a fine job in getting shutting the Royals down and allowing their manager to be a part time genius. Freeman just needs innings because he has a live arm and can benefit the bullpen greatly as the season progresses. His arm is relatively fresh. Neshek has been great so far this season and overcame a hiccup on Tuesday. Nice win and save here from two unlikely box score candidates.
*Trevor Rosenthal. This wasn't a great night for Matheny to give the young closer a dose of confidence. It's not a bright idea to put your struggling closer into a 2-0 game with the tying runs on base already. You don't confidence when you walk into a room that's already burning. Rosenthal followed suit and walked the leadoff hitter before surrendering a ground out RBI and a first pitch single RBI to the hot hitting Escobar. He has now blown 3 games after starting the season with 10 straight saves (with lots of 9th inning tension), Rosenthal has blown 3 saves in 9 chances. While he has shown signs of climbing out of his rut, the constant in his struggles remains control. His walks are way up this season and if that doesn't go down, you will see a change in closer. This team can't afford to lose any more games late.
*Jhonny Peralta. Sure, he has 9 home runs and has shown some much needed pop from the shortstop position. A few throws at the first baseman's feet withstanding, his defense has been better than expected. However, Peralta hasn't hit a home run since May 20th and has almost as many strikeouts (43) and he does hits (48). His slugging percentage is barely respectable and he is takes so many horrible at bats. For 53 million (a number he will measured by until the end), I expect more. Crank it up Jhonny.
*Mike Matheny's Hook. He didn't have to go get Adam Wainwright. He nearly cost the Cards another game when he interrupted a sharp performance. Waino had struck out the leadoff hitter in the 9th, who reached when Yadi Molina couldn't smother it. A soft single to left field put two runners on but Matheny should have let his ace and the best pitcher in baseball handle it. Ugly. Here's to hoping Matheny bought Carpenter a steak after the game for saving it.
*Runners left on base. The Cardinals left 12 runners on base and allowed a superb Wainwright start to be close in the later innings. The RISP percentage was going to regress back to normal in 2014 but this is just intolerable. The team leads the National League in runners left on base. Pathetic.
One can only hope the Cards leave the ugly out of the picture when they take on the Royals tonight. Thanks for digesting this latest Dose of Buffa.
Dan Buffa is a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @buffa82.