April 2011

Saturday lineups from Atlanta

Cardinals:

1. Jay RF
2. Freese 3B
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Rasmus CF
6. Laird C
7. Descalso 2B
8. Greene SS
9. Westbrook P

Braves:

1. Prado LF
2. Heyward RF
3. Jones 3B
4. McCann C
5. Uggla 2B
6. Freeman 1B
7. Gonzalez SS
8. McLouth CF
9. Beachy P

-M.

Friday tidbits: Lots of little stuff

* Ryan Theriot is back in the lineup, but batting seventh. TLR said he wanted to ease Theriot back a little bit, in case his timing is off after missing three games. TLR did not say, but I noted, that Theriot is 0-for-9 against Tim Hudson.

* David Freese is out of the lineup tonight but expected to be back in tomorrow. Yadier Molina is in tonight but expected to be out tomorrow. Tomorrow is a 1 p.m. ET start following a 7:30 night game.

* Despite his recent DUI arrest, Derek Lowe is still slated to start for the Braves in Sunday afternoon’s series finale.

* The Braves called up former Cardinal Joe Mather on Friday.

* Fernando Salas and Trever Miller are likely unavailable tonight, while Jason Motte and Miguel Batista both rate as “maybes.”

* Ryan Franklin may be the best fit for the Cards’ long-relief job for the time being, TLR said Friday.

* Allen Craig is set to begin a rehab assignment at Springfield tonight.

* I asked TLR about batting Freese second in Houston, and he said it was at least in part because the Astros have pitched Rasmus well. He said that even if Freese had been in the lineup tonight, Rasmus would still be back in the 2 spot.

And, finally, the playlist:
Buffalo Tom, “Don’t Forget Me”
TV On The Radio, “Killer Crane”
Jason Isbell, “Alabama Pines”
Drive-By Truckers, “Mercy Buckets”
R.E.M., “Oh My Heart”

-M.

Friday lineup from Atlanta

1. Punto 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Molina C
7. Theriot SS
8. Descalso 3B
9. Carpenter RHP

-M.

A few stats

I wrote an off day story today on the Cardinals’ offense, and I squeezed a few cool stats in there. It should be up within an hour or so at Cardinals.com, and hopefully you’ll read it.

However, the story had to be a story, rather than simply a list of stats.  So a few of the numbers ended up on the cutting room floor. But that’s one of the reasons for having a blog, is as a place to put stuff that ends up not making it onto the main site.

So, herewith, a few stats I find interesting about the 2011 Cardinals offense thus far. Not necessarily predictive, but explanatory…

* With RISP and two outs, they are first in the NL in batting average, first in OBP, second in SLG, first in hits and first in RBIs.

* In the first six innings, they are first in AVG, first in OBP, second in SLG.

* Overall, they’re seventh in pitches per plate appearance. But in the first six innings, they’re third.

* They’re seventh overall in P/PA (something I address in the story), and yet they’re also swinging at the first pitch the sixth-most often.

That last one, I think, reflects what TLR wants and what they’re doing. When you GET something to hit early in the count, jump it. If not, grind out the at-bat.

-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, April 24

Note of the night: It appeared as though we might get a few extracurriculars on Sunday night, but they never materialized. And according to the interested parties, they weren’t as close as perhaps it seemed from the press box or the stands.

When Yadier Molina went deep in the sixth inning, he celebrated with some… vigor. He raised an arm in the air, and he hustled around the bases in a manner that couldn’t help recalling Brandon Phillips’ spring around the bases two nights earlier.

Cardinals fans were delighted, Reds fans were chagrined, and I tweeted at the time that perhaps Molina might ought to hope that he didn’t hit again — the implication being that the celebration might garner him a fastball in the ear.

So, what do you know, but two innings later, Molina faced Aroldis Chapman. And the first pitch from Chapman sailed well in on Molina. Warnings were issued, and anybody with a sense of the recent history between these two clubs couldn’t help drawing some conclusions.

Except… those conclusions may have been wrong. Molina, for one, said he saw no ill intent in Chapman’s pitch.

“I don’t think so,” he said when I asked him about it. “I don’t think so. I don’t know. I don’t think they did [try to hit me]. But if he did do, I don’t care. We got the win.”

TLR didn’t really have much to say about the warnings, though he seemed to imply that they weren’t really shocking to him.

“[Umpire] John Hirschbeck knows what he sees,” the manager said. “This guy is as veteran as anybody umpiring. … The catcher moved in and he threw the ball inside. You can’t read minds. But he had probably the best view for it, and that’s what he called.”

At least one person on the Reds side said they didn’t really take any umbrage over Molina’s celebration, though. And besides, they pretty clearly thought they still had a chance to win the game — loading the bases on a hit-batter would be kind of silly if you were still trying to win. If they thought that game was out of hand, the pitcher likely would have been someone other than Aroldis Chapman.

Is it POSSIBLE that the pitch from Chapman was a purpose pitch? Sure, it’s possible. But based on people I talked to on the Cardinals side, based on people my colleague Mark Sheldon talked to on the Reds side, and based on taking a longer look at the whole situation, my inclination is that it was not.

Stat of the day: Right-handed hitters are 3-for-27 against Mitchell Boggs this year with one double, one walk and 11 strikeouts. That’s a .111/.172/.148 line on the year.

-M.

Pujols pulled — UPDATED

Albert Pujols has been removed from tonight’s game due to what the Cardinals are calling “mild tightness in his left hamstring.”

With two outs in the seventh inning of the Cardinals’ game against the Reds, Pujols hit a groundball to the left side. He  pulled up on his way down the baseline and was thrown out despite a late and offline throw from Miguel Cairo.

After Pujols descended into the dugout, the Cardinals training staff looked him over, he was removed from the game. Lance Berkman moved to first base, with Jon Jay entering the game in right field for Berkman.

I’ll of course update this after we get down to the clubhouse and get more information.

-M.

Sunday lineups

Cardinals:
1. Theriot SS
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Descalso 3B
7. Molina C
8. Punto 2B
9. Westbrook P

Reds
1. Stubbs CF
2. Phillips 2B
3. Votto 1B
4. Gomes LF
5. Bruce RF
6. Cairo 3B
7. Hanigan C
8. Janish SS
9. Volquez P

-M.

Batista in for McClellan — and then out (updated)

9:20 p.m. update:

McClellan is warming up and will come in to replace Batista. Matt Maloney will pitch for the Reds.

**********

Original post:

With rain threatening imminently, the Cardinals have made a change in their starting lineup.

Miguel Batista has been announced as the scheduled starter, in place of Kyle McClellan. The idea, apparently, is that if a lengthy rain delay strikes early in the game, McClellan might be limited to only one or two innings, essentially wasting his start.

Batista last started a game on July 27, 2010, also as a spot starter — in that case, standing in for Stephen Strasburg with the Nationals.

-M.

Friday tidbits: Westbrook, Schumaker, storms and more

It’s starting to cloud up at Busch Stadium, and it sounds like we’re going to get some weather. The question is how severe, and for how long.

* Jake Westbrook will start Sunday’s game, assuming that it’s the third game of the weekend. That is, if either today’s or tomorrow’s game is rained out, they would adjust things, and Westbrook would not pitch Sunday. But if the games happen as scheduled, it’ll be Westbrook.

* Skip Schumaker took groundballs today for the first time since his injury, but he remains a good ways way from returning to the lineup. He said he’s hoping his total time away will end up being 3-4 weeks.

* Though TLR made some noises earlier in the week about possibly adding a lefty reliever for this series, the club decided it didn’t make sense. For one thing, they just didn’t really have any viable options.

* Daniel Descalso gets the start at second base today. It looks like that will be a mix-and-match position for the time being.

* TLR is getting better as he recovers from conjunctivitis, or pinkeye. He’s able to open his eye a little bit, which is progress.

* Fernando Salas is likely unavailable tonight. It’s only been two days since he pitched three innings.

And, finally, the Earth Day playlist:
R.E.M., “Fall On Me”
Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”
Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”
The Pretenders, “My City Was Gone”
Jack Johnson, “The Horizon Has Been Defeated”

-M.

Friday lineup

Friday lineup vs. Edinson Volquez and the Reds:

1. Theriot SS
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Freese 3B
7. Molina C
8. Descalso 2B
9. McClellan RHP

-M.

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