The St. Louis Cardinals had a rough Monday. That’s about as gently as it can be said. Their Tuesday wasn’t much better until they sent Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo back to the dugout.
Arroyo, who was perfect through five innings, pushed through the Cardinals very similar to the way Barry Zito shuts them down: slowly. Arroyo’s curveball clocks in, on average, at 73 mph with his fourseam fastball landing in the 87 mph range, according to data from Brooks Baseball.
After almost two full passes through the lineup, Daniel Descalso busted up Arroyo’s perfect game with a line-drive double (almost triple) into the right-field corner. From there, the Cardinals bats came to life.
Since there was so much to take away from Tuesday night’s win, I decided to break it down with bullet points so everything gets its fair shake.
Lynn looked masterful through the majority of his outing. He kept hitters on their toes and managed to make the big pitches.
After trying to expand use of his off-speed pitches in his first outing of the season, Lynn stuck mostly to his fastball on Tuesday and it did the trick. He struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced and 10 overall.
His velocity was good, but his control was the key to his success. He managed to paint the corners of the strike zone and still get hitters to chase what was out of the zone.
The Cardinals got exactly what they wanted from Lynn on Tuesday evening.
With Allen Craig at first base, Matt Adams knew he would need to be able to come off of the bench to get playing time in 2013.
So, in his first pinch-hitting appearance he drove a 68 mph curveball over the wall in right center for a pair of RBI to get the Cardinals on the scoreboard.
Prior to Adams’ bomb, the Cardinals hadn’t gone deep since the series finale in Arizona on April 3, when Yadier Molina took one to left center in the seventh inning to give the Cardinals the lead.
Small ball has worked well for the Cardinals during the brief home run drought.
The Cardinals, 3-2 during the six-day window, had only eight of their last 42 hits turn for extra bases.
For a team considered, in recent years, to be home run heavy, to turn those into 29 runs during the period is an accomplishment.
At least so far, the formula seems to be working considering they just took a series from the reigning world champion San Francisco Giants—they have the opportunity to do the same to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Can they keep that going?
Some may have cringed when Mike Matheny called out Trevor Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs on Tuesday evening after Monday’s implosion, but it was the right call.
The longer they wait after Monday’s outing, the harder it can be to get beyond it. Think of it like riding a bike: If you don’t get up, dust yourself off and ride again quick, you may never.
The need for Rosenthal and Boggs to return to form is stronger than ever now that...
The Jason Motte situation looks serious
After a visit with Dr. George Paletta on Tuesday, the Cardinals received news they hoped they wouldn’t hear. Paletta said that Motte has a small tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.
For now, the team is opting to wait a few more weeks before determining the next step. If it heals, no surgery. If it doesn’t heal, he could have Tommy John surgery as early May.
Not only would that put him out for 2012, but possibly a substantial portion of 2014 as well.
As I mentioned earlier, the Cardinals need their bullpen to step up. The talent is there, but it takes a little time to adjust to role changes.
Leadoff hitters on base
Another big part of the Cardinals formula for success has been getting runners on base and into scoring position quickly.
In each of the 6th, 7th and 8th innings Tuesday evening, the lead runner got on base—and twice into scoring position.
Good situational hitting like that haunted the Cardinals in 2012, but if early signs are any indication, they appear to have improved in this aspect of the game.
Sure there are areas where the Cardinals need to improve—most importantly, getting more innings from their starters. Six innings may be considered a quality start, but it certainly wears down your bullpen when that’s the daily quota.
As time goes on, some of these issues will correct themselves.
As I mentioned earlier, be patient.