Note of the night and Stat of the Day, April 4

Note of the night: It was a rough, rough night at the plate for David Freese. The Cardinals third baseman went 0-for-4 with a double play and two strikeouts, despite coming to the plate with at least one runner on base in every one of his at-bats.

He actually hit the ball that brought in the first Cardinals run, grounding into a double play with men on first and third and no out in the second inning. That followed a sweet hit-and-run that had gotten Lance Berkman over to third. But Freese grounded out with men on first and second in the fourth, struck out with a man on first in the sixth, and struck out with a man on second in the eighth.

He’s a better hitter than that, and he’ll do better than that in the future. Moreover, he wasn’t alone — Yadier Molina had a rough one, going 0-for-4 and three times stranding a runner on base at the end of an inning. Those two spots in the order really were the difference on Monday. If the 6-7 hitters had been able to keep rallies alive, things might have looked a lot different.

“I was putting myself in bad counts, and when you do that at the big league level, you’re not going to do too well,” Freese said. “It was a rough night. I had a few opportunities to drive guys in and I couldn’t make it happen. … [Charlie Morton] made a good pitch when he needed to. That’s how you get Ws. They did a good job over there of getting timely hits, playing good defense and obviously pitching well.”

The point of this is not to pick on Freese, but rather to note the fine line. One hit from him (or Molina) in one of those situations, it might be a much different game.

I’ll preach this a lot not only in the first few days but even the first couple of months of the season: it’s four games. If the Cardinals were 4-0 and had scored 30 runs, I’d be cautioning people not to buy World Series tickets. Because they’re 1-3 and have scored 11 runs, the requisite perspective is to know that there are some hitters in this lineup and they shouldn’t hit like this all year.

But for now, yeah, it’s not looking real good on the offensive side of things.

* Stat of the day: Brian Tallet has faced seven batters and none of them has reached base. He’s struck out three without issuing a walk, and 18 of his 29 pitches have gone for strikes.

I tweeted this earlier, and I think it’s true: there haven’t been many pleasant surprises in the early going, but Tallet has to count as one. And his usage pattern has been interesting. He hasn’t been a one batter guy. Two games, seven outs. There’s a role the Cardinals really haven’t had succesffully filled in a while, and it’s the left-hander who’s not strictly a one-batter guy.

If Tallet could be that one-inning lefty, a guy you bring in for an inning with mostly but not all left-handed hitters, he could be quite valuable. Think Steve Kline at his best for an idea of the role (though not necessarily of the type of pitcher). Now, to live by my own guidelines, I’m not turning Tallet into that guy after two games. But I think it bears watching.


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