As my Dad told me last night, “I was expecting a Wild Card Game, not a wild Cards’ game.” Major League Baseball’s first Wild Card Game, certainly lived up to the wild factor. The 94 win Atlanta Braves were facing off against the 88 game St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field on Friday evening with a National League Divisional Series berth on the line.
Facing off for the game was the Braves’ Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57) and the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86).
Medlen was the starter of note, because the Braves had won 23 consecutive games that Medlen had started, dating back to May 29, 2010. The streak was interrupted by Tommy John surgery and he started this season in the bullpen for the Braves.
Lohse was the quieter of the pair, despite being one of the top pitchers in the National League all season. He led the Cardinals’ rotation in ERA this year. A rotation that was the fourth best in baseball. He had also never won a playoff start going into this game, having a career postseason ERA of 5.12 in 31 2/3 innings. Last year during the Cardinals’ playoff run, he allowed 11 runs in 12 2/3 innings.
Early Wednesday morning the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers. In doing so, the knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs and clinched the second Wild Card for the St. Louis Cardinals. What that meant is that tonight’s game because the first meaningless game that the Cardinals have played since the 2010 season finale.
Adam Wainwright was supposed to start this game, however, with it being a meaningless game he was held out. Instead, he is penciled in to start Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series against the Washington Nationals.
In his place, the organization’s #1 prospect Shelby Miller got the nod and the opportunity to make an impact out of the rotation.
Last night Mike Matheny was left with a choice. Do you leave in Daniel Descalso to face Pittsburgh Pirates’ closer Joel Hanrahan? Or do you pinch hit using Skip Schumaker.
We all know the outcome. With Carlos Beltran on first with two outs, Matheny elected to leave Descalso out there and he hit a line drive to center field to end the Cardinals’ 21st loss in 1-run games.
Normally things like this may not make much news. However, when you have Skip Schumaker on the bench, hitting .314 on the season and finally playing slightly plus defense at second base, why aren’t you playing him? Why is Descalso out there? There are many reasons why Schumaker would have been the better choice over Descalso. Continue reading
Who will stay and who will go is probably the question on a few players’ minds right now. The St. Louis Cardinals are due to activate Lance Berkman before tonight’s game against the Atlanta Braves, which means that they need to open up a spot on the 25 man roster. Any of the team’s bench players could find themselves on the block. Even pitchers may not be safe according to a few things I’ve read that claim the team is considering going with 11 pitchers for a little bit.
To lead off, I think going with 11 pitchers would be a really bad idea. The way Mike Matheny has utilized the pitching staff, we could probably exist that way for awhile. However, one or two bad starts by the rotation in a row, or a long extra innings game, and you’ll find yourself chasing your tail making roster moves for the next couple weeks (as once you demote a player he has to stay in the minors for at least 10 days).
The Cardinals are hitting the meat of their schedule with a 3 game set against the Braves (my preseason pick for World Series Champions) and then next week with the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. All three teams are quality opponents who will provide the Cardinals tough challenges. Going undermanned in the pitching staff could end up being a costly mistake.
Yesterday I tackled my April Grades for the Cardinals’ position players and today I will tackle the grades for the Cardinals’ pitching staff and the manager. Chris Carpenter is still out and we’ve kind of forgotten that he even exists with how great the staff has been so far in 2012.
Manager Mike Matheny – Matheny was my #1 choice to take over for Tony La Russa after he announced his retirement. We’ve long heard about his potential as a manager. However, I didn’t really like that he had zero managerial experience. It’s something I held heavily against Jose Oquendo. But I felt that Matheny always had the ability to be a good manager, and so far he has been.
It’s hard to take over for a probable future Hall of Fame manager, but he has and he’s done it by making it into his own team. Over the last few years, I felt that the Cardinals had strayed from that “Play Like a Cardinal” ideal and become flat with their on field play. This year, I see some excitement. I see some of that baseball that I recall seeing earlier in La Russa’s tenure coming back. It’s a fun time to be a Cardinals’ fan. Grade: A.