St. Louis: Three Days, Two Losses, One Rainout

Daniel ShoptawAnalyst IApril 20, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 17: Starting pitcher P.J. Walters #62 of the St. Louis Cardinals, making his Major League debut, delivers the ball against the Chicago Cubs on April 17, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The problem with day games when I have other responsibilities that keep me from watching them is that the games seem like they never happened.  They are just recaps and numbers and you don't get a feel for how the team is going.  It'll likely be Wednesday before I get much of a chance to see this team again and it feels very strange.

Thankfully, I'm a blogger, which means I don't actually have to have any knowledge to talk about a topic.  Let's hit these last two games before discussing some issues that have come out of them.

Both of these losses to the Cubs have had the frustrating come-from-ahead quality that we saw out of this team last year.  Friday would have fit in well with 2008, as the Cards allowed a two-run home run to Alfonso Soriano in the bottom of the 8th to erase their lead and send them on to defeat.

When you give up such a homer, you have to expect to get the Goat tag, so I'll assign it to Chris Perez.  However, if I hadn't set the standards and limited it to players on the field, this one could be a Tony LaRussa game.

The fact that Trever Miller is not good against right-handed batters is not a secret.  It's not one of those things that you really have to dig and use advanced sabermetrics stats to see.  Right-handers have slugged almost 100 points higher against him in the last three years than lefties have.  He's a LOOGY and needs to be used that way. 

So why does LaRussa have him face the heart of the Cubs order, three of which are right-handed batters?  The first one, Derrick Lee, made some sense as there was a lefty behind him.  But continuing to stick with Miller after he got out Micah Hoffpauir was asking for trouble, trouble that answered the call.

There is little doubt, however, who the Hero was.  Ryan Ludwick went 3 for 5, hit two homers, and drove in four.  You have to figure he'll be back to full-time pretty soon.  Nice to see such a strong start for him.

Wish I'd been able to see how PJ Walters looked in his career debut.  His line isn't all that impressive—three runs in four innings—but on a day where Carlos Zambrano gave up seven in seven innings, looking at the box score may not be the best way to judge how that went.  With the rainout on Sunday, the fifth starter won't be needed for a little while.  Hopefully Walters will get another crack at it.

Saturday's game was a little less frustrating, since the Cards took a lead, lost it, then battled back to tie.  Anytime you get into the ninth or extras on the road, you can't get too worked up about it (unless you had a big lead late) because any mistake can lose the ball game for you.  It only takes one swing when you are the home team in extras.

Ironically, the same thing I just took LaRussa to task for (letting the lefty guy face righties) he did to end the Saturday game, but when you hit the 11th, it's not like you have a lot of options.  And, honestly, if you had to have one of those guys face a righty lineup, I'd rather it be Dennys Reyes.

Even though, if you read the game story, you might go with Kyle Lohse, I think I have to go with Rick Ankiel and his 0 for 6 day.  It sounds like a couple of those could have been hits and that the manager thinks Rick could be coming out of it, but 0 for 6 just doesn't happen that often and when it does, it's not good.

Heroically on Saturday, you'd look to Ludwick again.  The only person with two hits, he drove in two runs....right now, he's the team MVP after two weeks.

So a team that had no off days the first two week now gets two with Sunday's rainout.  It wouldn't be surprising to see a few things juggled today.  In fact, it's already started, as the rotation has been moved around. 

Todd Wellemeyer, who was pushed back to Sunday's game with the Chris Carpenter injury/Walters call-up, moves to Tuesday night's opener with the Mets.  Lohse stays on Wednesday, while Adam Wainwright goes in the series finale on Thursday.

With the rainout, it looks like David Freese might get a reprieve.  When there were discussions about adding a 13th pitcher due to the worn-out pen, Freese looked like the most likely to return to Memphis now that Josh Kinney was sent down for Walters.  With two days off, that's much less likely to happen.

It's a wild week of work and I'm not sure where blogging will fit into it, but I should be back tomorrow to take a look at the Mets series as well as any moves that get made today.

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