Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Molina, Cardinals defeat Brewers 8-5 following late game rally

It certainly hasn't taken the star catcher very long to get back into the groove of things following his minor stint on the disabled list. Yadier Molina went 4-for-5 at the plate and finished with one-RBI as his St. Louis Cardinals rallied for six 2-out hits in a row in an 8 to 5 victory at Miller Park on Monday night in a regular season Major League Baseball contest.

After seeing their 4-2 lead disappear in the bottom half of the seventh-inning once starting pitcher Shelby Miller exited the ball game, St. Louis scored four runs of their own in the top of the eighth, taking the lead for good at 8-5. Matt Carpenter singled to center to drive in Daniel Descalso following an RBI single off the bat of Matt Adams to score the rookie-infielder Kolten Wong to tie the game up.

Wong, the Cardinals speedy utility man that made his MLB-debut on Friday afternoon in Chicago, finished the game with his first-two career hits as well as stolen bases and helped light a spark that this team desperately needed. He beat out infield singles in both the sixth and eighth innings, leading to his stolen bases. With Milwaukee leading 6 to 5 in the eighth, Kolten hit a chopper to the third baseman Aramis Ramirez but beat the throw as ruled by first-base umpire Marty Foster, in what was a hectic game from the start between two division-rivals.

Both Carlos Beltran and Jon Jay homered for the Angry Birds, making it the first time this season that Jay homered on consecutive days. St. Louis totaled 16 hits on the night -- with seven of them coming in just the eighth (six with 2 outs).

Jonathan Lucroy played a good game for the Brewers on Monday, as he finished 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs. Ramirez, who is a long-time division-rival for the Cardinals, hit a home run to deep left in the bottom of the seventh in what was the go-ahead run at the time before the eruption in the next half-inning.

Shelby Miller fanned eight batters in his 5 1/3 innings pitched, but ultimately got a no-decision as he gave up two runs on five hits with four free bases. Michael Wacha ultimately blew the win for Miller as he pitched an inning and gave up three runs on four hits but earned the win to improve to 2-0 on the year. Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings before Edward Mujica earned his 32nd save in 34 opportunities.

Milwaukee starter Marco Estrada pitched six innings and also recieved a no-decision. He gave up four runs on eight hits with four strike outs before Brandon Kintzler gave up four runs on six hits in 2/3's of an inning to earn his first loss on the season to fall to 3-1.

The Cardinals improved to 72-52 overall and kept pace with the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates to stay just one game out of first. The Brewers on the other hand, fell to 54-71 and following a Cubs win over the Washington Nationals, fell into last place in the National League Central division. The two teams will play the second of the three game series at 7:10 pm on Tuesday night.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cardinals look to continue winning ways in Milwaukee (Off. Lineup)

1. Matt Carpenter (Third Base) .312 Batting Average
2. Carlos Beltran (Right Field) .300 Batting Average
3. Matt Holliday (Left Field) .285 Batting Average
4. Allen Craig (First Base) .310 Batting Average
5. Yadier Molina (Catcher) .328 Batting Average
6. Jon Jay (Center Field) .273 Batting Average
7. Kolten Wong (Second Base) .000 Batting Average
8. Pete Kozma (Shortstop) .223 Batting Average
9. Shelby Miller (Starting Pitcher) .105 Batting Average

Shelby Miller (11-8, 2.97 Earned-Run Average)
Marco Estrada (5-4, 4.71 Earned-Run Average)

A Look Ahead at the Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers three game series

St. Louis Cardinals (71-52, Second Place in the National League Central division) 1 Game Behind
Milwaukee Brewers (54-70, Fourth Place in the National League Central division) 18.5 Games Behind

Three Game Series in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Miller Park
Cardinals lead the season series between the two 8 games-to-2 games (9 games remaining)

Monday, August 19th -- 7:00 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
Shelby Miller (11-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (5-4, 4.71 ERA)

Tuesday, August 20th -- 7:00 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
Lance Lynn (13-6, 3.89 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (8-8, 3.17 ERA)

Wednesday, August 21st -- 12:45 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
Jake Westbrook (7-8, 4.35 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (3-4, 2.95 ERA)

Cardinals take 4 of possible 6 games against division opponents

On a week that the St. Louis Cardinals began three games behind the first-place leading Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central division title race, the team seen the return of their heart and soul in starting catcher Yadier Molina -- and following two wins in each of the three-game series', starting this new week clean, the team is now just one game out.

Just as the baseball world was beginning to say that the 2011 World Series champions were looking to go on a major downslide, the team once again stepped up with adversity starring them right in their face and did what this franchise almost always seems to do -- fight back until they can't fight it any more. St. Louis earned two extra inning victories against the Pirates in which they had to come back after the ninth-inning, making it their first two wins of the 2013 season after trailing after eight-innings of baseball.

Not many teams have faced injuries to the magnitude that this seasons team has so far, but considering them, they have done a great job battling around it. Despite the lengthy time that the ball club has spent struggling as of late, entering Monday night's series-opener against the last-place Milwaukee Brewers, they are one game behind the Pirates for the division lead -- and own a 1.5 game lead over the Cincinnati Reds for the number one Wild Card spot and 6.5 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the last and final playoff spot; so while it isn't an insurmountable lead; it is still somewhat of a cushion.

The Cardinals will open up a three-game series at Milwaukee beginning tonight and will end the week with a four game series at home inside Busch Stadium against the MLB-leading Atlanta Braves.

St. Louis Cardinals Baseball: 71 Wins, 52 Losses (.577 Winning Percentage)
[1 Game Behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for First Place in NL Central division]
[1.5 Games ahead of Cincinnati Reds for Wild Card lead/6.5 Games ahead of Arizona for final spot]

Game 118: (Game 1 of 3 in the Series)
Pittsburgh Pirates 3, at St. Louis Cardinals 4 [14 innings]

Game 119: (Game 2 of 3 in the Series)
Pittsburgh Pirates 5, at St. Louis Cardinals 1

Game 120: (Game 3 of 3 in the Series)
Pittsburgh Pirates 5, at St. Louis Cardinals 6 [12 Innings]

Game 121: (Game 1 of 3 in the Series)
St. Louis Cardinals 0, at Chicago Cubs 7

Game 122: (Game 2 of 3 in the Series)
St. Louis Cardinals 4, at Chicago Cubs 0

Game 123: (Game 3 of 3 in the Series)
St. Louis Cardinals 6, at Chicago Cubs 1

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beltran starting for the Cards in series opener against Pirates (Lineup)

Pittsburgh Pirates (70-47, First Place in the National League Central division)
1. Starling Marte -- Left Field
2. Neil Walker -- Second Base
3. Andrew McCutchen -- Centerfield
4. Pedro Alvarez -- Third Base
5. Russell Martin -- Catcher
6. Garrett Jones -- First Base
7. Andrew Lambo -- Right Field
8. Jordy Mercer -- Shortstop
9. Charlie Morton -- Starting Pitcher

St. Louis Cardinals (67-50, Second Place in the National League Central division)
1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base
2. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field
3. Allen Craig -- First Base
4. Matt Holliday -- Left Field
5. David Freese -- Third Base
6. Jon Jay -- Center Field
7. Tony Cruz -- Catcher
8. Pete Kozma -- Shortstop
9. Adam Wainwright -- Starting Pitcher

Pitching Matchup:
Charlie Morton *Pittsburgh* (4-3, 3.88 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright *St. Louis* (13-7, 2.66 ERA)

National League Central Division Standings

1. Pittsburgh Pirates -- (70-46, --)
2. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS -- (67-50, 3 GB)
3. Cincinnati Reds -- (66-52, 4.5 GB)
4. Chicago Cubs -- (52-66, 18.5 GB)
5. Milwaukee Brewers -- (51-67, 19.5 GB)

(updated through official standings at 9:17 pm CT on 8/13/13)

Molina, Cardinals looking to turn things around in the final months

Despite an ultimately fast start to the first couple of months to the 2013 Major League Baseball, second year manager Mike Matheny and the St. Louis Cardinals are in a slump as we speak -- but as not only Cardinals fans know, but even the casual fans, if there is one team that has proven over and over again to overcome adversity, this team is certainly it.

Injuries have plagued this team it seems all season long as they have seen numerous key players land on and off the disabled list, but it certainly isn't an excuse. For a team that has been without their starting closer (Jason Motte), a future hall of fame starter (Chris Carpenter), as well as others including MVP canidate (Yadier Molina), a break seems to be something that the Birds just cannot catch.

Entering tonight's battle at Busch with the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates, the Yadi-less Cardinals are three games behind their opponent for first-place and will be looking for revenge as just a week ago the Pirates won 4-of-5 at their home ball park to take first place away. The Cardinals enter the series at 67-50 overall, while the Pirates are 70-47.

The team currently holds one of the two wild card spots with a sizeable lead of 7.5 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but just by 1.5 games over another division-rival, the Cincinnati Reds. The way that things stand now, the National League Central holds 3 of the 5 playoff spots for the National League with just 51 games remaining until October baseball begins.

Molina, who is currently on the disabled-list, was seen working out this afternoon and could make his return to the ball club on Thursday afternoon, which is when he becomes eligible to return. In 98 games this season, Yadi is batting a team-best .330 with 8 home runs and 54 RBIs while being the heart and soul for this team.

Allen Craig is soundly having MVP-like numbers this season as well though, as he is batting .319 with 11 home runs and 87 RBIs in 113 games. Matt Carpenter became a first-year All-Star this season as he is becoming a very good table-setter for the team. Carpenter is batting .308 this season with a team-high 139 hits and has drove in 57 runs with 9 home runs. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are having solid seasons as well, as Holliday enters tonight with a 9 game hitting streak and is batting .485 in the month of August. On the season though, Beltran is hitting .305 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs while Holliday is batting .290 with 15 bombs and 59 RBIs.

The pitching has had a large part to do with the success the team has had so far as well and while they have slowed down just a bit, they are still putting the team in a position to win on a consistent basis. Team ace Adam Wainwright has slowed down a bit as of late, but even now he still has put together another ace-like performance. In 24 starts this season, he is 13-7 with a 2.66 ERA while leading the team in strike outs with 156.

Shelby Miller has put together a great season so far as well, as he is 11-7 with a 2.89 ERA and all across the board is among the top rookie starters number wise and has 132 strike outs himself. Lance Lynn put together an amazing first half, but since has slowly started to taper off despite still having good numbers. In 24 starts, Lynn is 13-6 with a 3.79 ERA through 149 2/3 innings.

The rookies have done an excellent job this season along with the bullpen, and ultimately are a large part to the teams great start. Guys such as Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, John Gast, and Tyler Lyons have all made starts that resulted in wins so far this season -- while the likes of Tyler Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Kevin Segrist and Keith Butler have all had pretty big roles from the bullpen.

One guy that you have to mention though, who highlighted one of the teams biggest question marks entering the season, is Edward Mujica. When the news broke out about Jason Motte, whose season ended before it even started, the team had no closer. 6 months later, Mujica has proven to be one of the best closers in the league and has played a huge role. In 33 save opportunities, he has saved 31 and has allowed just ten runs through 49 2/3 innings with an ERA of 1.81.

To make it short and sweet, the Cardinals have an awful lot of baseball left and as well know, anything can happen. The team is three games out of first place with just over 50 games remaining and will be getting their team leader in Yadier Molina back in just a few days. All that can be said at this moment and time, as La Russa used to say, this team needs to leave it all out on the field and play a hard nine every single night.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kelly, Cards look to end Kershaw, Dodgers road win streak (Lineups)

St. Louis Cardinals (65-46, Second Place in National League Central division)
1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base -- .305 Batting Average
2. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field -- .302 Batting Average
3. Allen Craig -- First Base -- .321 Batting Average
4. Matt Holliday -- Left Field -- .278 Batting Average
5. David Freese -- Third Base -- .273 Batting Average
6. Jon Jay -- Center Field -- .260 Batting Average
7. Tony Cruz -- Catcher -- .234 Batting Average
8. Pete Kozma -- Shortstop -- .235 Batting Average
9. Joe Kelly -- Starting Pitcher -- .231 Batting Average

Los Angeles Dodgers (62-49, First Place in National League West division)
1. Carl Crawford -- Left Field -- .279 Batting Average
2. Mark Ellis -- Second Base -- .273 Batting Average
3. Adrian Gonzalez -- First Base -- .297 Batting Average
4. Yasiel Puig -- Right Field -- .379 Batting Average
5. Andre Either -- Center Field -- .269 Batting Average
6. A.J. Ellis -- Catcher -- .256 Batting Average
7. Juan Uribe -- Third Base -- .256 Batting Average
8. Nick Punto -- Shortstop -- .247 Batting Average
9. Clayton Kershaw -- Starting Pitcher -- .137 Batting Average

Starting Pitching Matchup:
Joe Kelly (2-3, 3.10 Earned Run Average) vs. Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 1.87 Earned Run Average)