SWEEP! All of the Cardinals misfortunes have ended with the coming of June, May was an anomaly, #Timetofly, this team is on track, LET’S GO! I kid, I kid, it’s funny how a fan’s emotions can swing so easily in the game of baseball with one good series against a division rival. Excellent starting pitching, a thing that has eluded the Cardinals for much of the season, was the catalyst in the three game sweep with excellent starts from Mikolas, Flaherty (rain shortened), and Wainwright. Fowler and Wong and Carpenter all had strong showings at the plate, three guys that have been slumping. Shildt had an interesting Sunday, leaving Wainwright in for 128 pitches while facing Bryant and Rizzo with the game on the line (more in the notes) but then rescued a struggling Hicks with John Gant. Now we will see if the Cardinals can carry this momentum over into the remainder of the month and right what seemed like a sinking ship in May. Are they the team they were before May, the May team, or somewhere in between? Onward to some notes:
- One of the beauties of baseball is maneuvering and managing with your favorite team. I absolutely WOULD NEVER have left Wainwright in for 128 pitches, especially to face Bryant and Rizzo with the game on the line. Now, because it worked, was it smart baseball or was it a foolish gamble? This is the debate now or in any game when a move works that may not have been the popular one.
- Conversely, I thought it was an excellent move to bring John Gant in relief of Hicks yesterday. Even if Gant would have coughed up the lead, I think it was the needed move at the time. In fact, i wish Shildt would actually use the versatility of his bullpen to create more of a by committee approach. On any given day, I wouldn’t mind seeing Hicks, Brebbia, or Gant on the mound in the 9th, and maybe even Miller if there are lefty matchups. This would allow Hicks to sometimes get in games in the 7th and 8th and effect the ballgame before the 9th inning.
- In response to my question above in the series summary, I think the Cardinals are in between the two extremes we have seen so far. I don’t think the Cubs sweep means we are a team about to go on a tear and win 22 out of the next 30. I still see too many problems. Even in the Cubs series, the offense still had some stalled moments in Games 1 and 3. But I also don’t think they are the team they were in May, that was some kind of horrendous stretch.
- Nice series for Wong, but this has been the arc, flashes of brilliance and then periods of mediocrity. He is clearly very talented and I hope he puts it all together.
- Goldschmidt and Carpenter are on the cusp, which if it happens could lead to a very nice month. DeJong, on the other hand, needs to find something. He doesn’t seem to be expanding his zone which is great, but he’s missing some hittable pitches in recent days.
- It is nice to have a very capable backup in Wieters, and I hope Knizner gets his fair shot at some starts as well while Yadi is out. He’s a good looking hitter.
- I know the tendency will be to go all apeshit over Waino’s performance and declare anyone else as a hater of a great Cardinal, but Wainwright has been very good at home all season. On the road it is the opposite story. Can you win with that? Overall I think most fans, including me, would say he has been a pleasant surprise but let’s not go overboard.