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Five things about the Blue Jays Series

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The Cardinals wrapped up their series against the Blue Jays last night, closing it out with a pair of wins in a doubleheader. The Cardinals are now 11-11 this year, on pace to go 81-81, just a little off my 92 win prediction for the season. They find themselves in third place in the NL Central just 1.5 games behind the Cubs. After 22 games last year, the Cardinals were 12-10 and 4.5 games behind the Cubs.

Here are some of my thoughts on the series.

Offense is good, but…

The Cardinals scored 19 runs against the Blue Jays in their three game series, going off for 14 of those in yesterday’s double header. When looking at the numbers, it’s easier to talk about players who didn’t hit well over the series. Of the most troubling may be the Cardinals’ 2-3-4 hitters struggling at the plate in a series where the rest of the offense was going off. Aledmys Diaz hit .091, Matt Carpenter hit .250, and Stephen Piscotty hit .222.

Notably, Greg Garcia hit .800 in the series, and he along with Dexter Fowler, Matt Adams, and Yadier Molina got on base in at least 50% of their at bats.

But it’s worth remembering that the Blue Jays have the worst record in baseball.

… The defense isn’t

The Cardinals committed four errors in Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays and somehow, amazingly they were still in it until the end. They had two more errors in the first game on Thursday. And as much of a farce as official scorekeeping is in Major League Baseball today, if you’re getting tagged with errors at home, you know you’re screwing up.

At the end of Tuesday’s game, the same old mistake bit them.

In extra innings, Aledmys Diaz fielded a ball and hurried the throw and threw it away. We can talk about whether Jose Martinez should have come off the bag to ensure he caught it (he should have) or whether Matt Carpenter or Matt Adams would have gotten it (I bet at least Adams would have), but this is the same kind of mistake that Diaz was making early last year. When he gets in a hurry, he makes mistakes. He has to learn to keep his head on his shoulders in those situations.

It really makes you wonder just how good the Cardinals would have been last year and could be this year if they can figure out how to not make the little mistakes.

Carpenter back at third base

Matt Carpenter started at third base in the second game of yesterday’s double header, which I honestly didn’t realize until way too late in the game. Matt Adams started at first base and as most of Mike Matheny‘s most bemoaned lineup choices, ended up paying off as Adams went 3-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs. As soon as the Blue Jays went to the left handed reliever though, Matheny went for Jedd Gyorko and moved Carpenter back to first.

How this looks going forward will be interesting, especially considering how hot of a bat Gyorko has started the season swinging. Defensive metrics love him at third base too. This is about the time of year that Adams got hot last year too. In late April, early May he was probably the most dangerous hitter in the Cardinals’ lineup. Carpenter may have hit a walk off grand slam in yesterday afternoon’s game, but as I mentioned earlier, he’s still not hitting quite as well as he should. And what should that mean if both Gyorko and Adams were hot at the same time?

Just when you thought Wainwright was getting right

While I tempered my excitement with the fact that Adam Wainwright was pitching against the team with the worst record in baseball, I’ll admit that it was nice to see him pitching well over the first four innings. He’s having to work as hard as ever to get outs, but he was actually getting outs. That is, until the Blue Jays hung four runs on him in the fifth inning. He did come back out in the sixth and shut down the Jays, but that one inning was his only blemish as he threw pitches in the seventh inning for the first time this season.

He threw 10 or fewer pitches in two of the six full innings he threw, something he had done only once before this year in 18 full innings. It’s a positive sign for perhaps the most lost pitcher in the rotation.

Bullpen doing work

Matthew Bowman might have allowed his first two runs since last September, but he’s still one of the Cardinals’ three best relievers over the past two weeks, joining Trevor Rosenthal and Brett Cecil.

Overall through the Blue Jays series they were strong, throwing 12.2 innings over the three games and allowing just three earned runs. The defense didn’t help them out as they were tagged for a pair of unearned runs, but their 0.95 WHIP over the course of the series was very good.

Rosenthal was throwing fire last night too. BrooksBaseball had two of his twelve pitches clocked at over 102 mph. I can’t say I’ve seen that kind of velocity out of him in a long time.

Bonus: Flipping the script

So over the first 11 games of the season, the Cardinals’ results looked like this:

W-L-L-L-W-L-L-L-W-L-L-L

At that point, they came home to play the Pirates and literally flipped the script and since their results have looked like this:

W-W-W-L-W-W-W-L-W-W

I prefer the second.

Jon Doble has been writing about the St. Louis Cardinals since 2010. You can follow him on Twitter at @JonDobleRBD, find him as R27 at RedbirdTalk.com and you can hear him co-host The UCB Podcast every fourth Wednesday night of the month. Redbird Dugout is a member of the United Cardinal Bloggers.

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