Welcome To The Redbird Review.
I’m your host, Bernie.
Behind the expert craftwork of lefthanded starter Kwang Hyun Kim and a golden-oldie moment from Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals upset the San Francisco Giants 5-3 on Monday at Oracle Park.
For the Cardinals, this day in the sun was a nice bounce-back from the disappointing, four-game, Rocky Mountain Low series at Colorado.
Monday’s merriment was an unexpected delight, because the Giants came in with a best-in-show 53-31 record, had a 26-11 home mark, had won 11 of 15 against NL Central opponents — and were pounding away on offense by ranking second in the NL in runs and first in homers, slugging percentage and OPS.
Presumably the Giants’ hitters will decide to suit up for the final two games of the series. If that’s the case Adam Wainwright (Tuesday) and Johan Oviedo (Wednesday) will have to fend them off.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, traveled to the Bay Area with a frightful road record, a largely futile offense, and the NL’s third-poorest record since May 14. But the wanderers from St. Louis upended the dungeness-cocktail cart and got themselves a soothing win.
And after the Cardinals erupted and exploded for five runs and defeated No. 1 San Francisco starter Kevin Gausman, I think it’s time for the Cardinals to extend the contract of batting coach Jeff Albert. For some reason Albert has had a target on his back.
THE OVERVIEW: I can’t believe it … the Cardinals (40-42) had a good day; Carpenter messed around and got a triple-double. (A triple that scored two runs.) I don’t know if Carpenter went to Fat Burger after the game, but that would have been Ice Cube’s advice. The Cardinals have won five of their last eight games … or, if you prefer, they’re 6-4 in the last 10.
STANDINGS CHECK: The Cardinals actually picked up a game on the first-place Brewers, who lost their second in a row Monday and face an assignment against Mets starter Jacob deGrom on Tuesday night. The fourth-place Cardinals are 9 games out of first in the NLC, and moved up a bit in the wild-card watch, creeping to within 7.5 games of a ticket to ride.
THE OFFENSE: Under the resilient command of Coach Albert, the fellers scored 5 runs or more for the eighth time in the last 34 games. They were no-hit for six innings, only to strike for five runs thereafter.
In the first six innings STL hitters went 0 for 16 with two walks and six strikeouts and did not come close to scoring a run. Over the final three innings the Cards unburdened themselves against Gausman and two relievers by going 7 for 14 with two walks, a hit batter and two strikeouts. The visitors got their runs on a two-run triple from Carpenter, an RBI single by Arenado, an RBI infield single by Harrison Bader, and a sac fly from Jose Rondon.
TIP O THE CAP TO MATT CARPENTER: He’s been the object of the most invective directed at a Cardinals’ player this season. (Carlos Martinez may disagree.) Carpenter’s overall numbers are terrible this season, with a slash line of .182/.314/.311 for a .625 OPS.
That said, he’s been making fine contributions to a needy offense since late May. Not that I would expect anyone to notice or actually give the dude some credit. But in his 73 plate appearances since May 25, Carpenter is batting .258, has a terrific .370 onbase percentage and has a solid slugging percentage of .387.
I don’t see a damn thing wrong with Carpenter’s .757 OPS over the team’s last 39 games. Here are the top five OPS figures among Cardinals with at least 70 plate appearances since May 25:
- Tyler O’Neill, .949
- Paul Goldschmidt, .791
- Matt Carpenter, .757
- Nolan Arenado, .752
- Dylan Carlson, .681
THE STARTING PITCHING: I covered this subject in a column written for “Scoops” earlier today, but the Cardinals have received good work from their starting pitchers over the last eight games.
- Combined 1.79 ERA.
- Kwang Hyun Kim: two starts, one earned run, 12 innings, ERA of 0.75.
- Carlos Martinez: two starts, two earned runs, 9.1 innings, 1.93 ERA.
- Wade LeBlanc: two starts, one earned run, 10 innings, 0.90 ERA.
- Adam Wainwright: one start, eight innings, two earned runs, 2.25 ERA.
- Johan Oviedo: one start, six innings, three earned runs, 4.50 ERA.
OK, now here’s your obligatory small-sample qualifier: it’s only eight games, and seven were against teams with losing records. Still, nice work. I have no idea if it will last, or for how long.
BULLPEN CONCERNS? In a recent stretch of games Alex Reyes, Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera have combined to make 10 relief appearances: three each by Reyes and Gallegos and four by Cabrera. In 9.2 combined innings they’ve allowed 11 hits, 12 earned runs and nine walks (with 12 strikeouts.) Plus, Gallegos has been popped for two homers, and Cabrera hit a batter. Collectively the three intimidators have an 11.17 ERA in the 10 appearances, most of which came against Colorado or San Francisco. (The numbers also include two appearances made by “Cabby” last week vs. Arizona.)
What does it mean? Manager Mike Shildt trusts them a lot, uses them a lot, and pushes hard in the quest to protect leads or lock in a late-game tie. Shildt’s trust factor with other relievers is much lower. I understand that. I also hope that Shildt doesn’t do the Matheny thing and break these guys down.
Mozeliak would be wise to shop for a reliever that Shildt can turn to and trust. The last thing the Cardinals need is to have Reyes, Gallegos or Cabrera come up with sore arms. Am I overreacting? Probably. But only because I’ve watched this same kind of movie too many times.
WORDS ON DYLAN CARLSON: In his last 40 games the rookie outfielder is batting .221 with a .301 OBP and .364 slug for a .664 OPS.
He’s played a lot of ball: tied for the team lead with 84 games, and a close third with 351 plate appearances. I think young DC will benefit from some rest during the All-Star break.
In his 12 games as the leadoff hitter, Carlson is batting .229 with a .302 OBP and .354 slug. The overall MLB onbase percentage for the leadoff spot is .336. The Cardinals have a leadoff .316 OBP, which ranks 23rd among the 30 teams.
The team’s overall OBP is .300, which ranks 27th in the majors. This continues to be a substantial problem that frequently sludges the offense.
Thanks for reading…
Check out Bernie’s sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen live online and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com … the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.
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For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.