Note of the night, stat of the day, June 14
Note of the night: How it got to that point
We had a lengthy chat with TLR about the bullpen and the sequence of events in the 7th inning after Tuesday night’s game. Lots of things came up, lots of possibilities tossed about. Here are a few of the things at play:
1, Eduardo Sanchez was unavailable. This is something to follow up on tomorrow, since he had thrown one inning and eight pitches over the previous four days. But per TLR, Sanchez was not available. Worth noting in this context: Sanchez threw three fastballs in his last outing, all at 88 or 89 miles per hour. In his previous outing, he consistently sat at 94-95 and touched 96 once.
2. He also was not going to use Franklin in that game, especially once runners were on base. TLR consistently referred to his options as we discussed the inning — Salas was going to close, Sanchez was unavailable, Motte was going to pitch the eighth and Boggs was, in his mind, still something of an uncertainty as he returns to relief work after being in the Minors. He never mentioned Franklin’s name. So I brought up Franklin, and he basically acknowledged that in a game like that, again ESPECIALLY once there were runners on, he wasn’t going to bring Franklin in.
3. Which means there’s a problem here. If Franklin isn’t really an option in a close game with a lead, and Sanchez is for whatever reason unavailable (and, again, still no exact word on what “unavailable” meant in this case or how long it would be true), and Brian Tallet has gotten strafed since his return from the disabled list, and Miller has been effective at times but also somewhat spotty… it’s a really, really short list of guys who the manager is willing to turn to with a lead. There’s Salas. There’s Motte, but they clearly choose their spots carefully with Motte; they like him against certain types of hitters, and they like him with runners on. There’s Batista.
4. And there’s Boggs, who looked very good. TLR seemed to second-guess himself, just a bit, regarding Boggs. As mentioned above, he didn’t want to throw Boggs into the heat too soon, but I think it’s a pretty safe guess that that may be changing soon. I suspect you’ll see Boggs in increasingly high-leverage situations before too long at all.
5. As for why Batista was in the game in the first place, the manager noted that Batista has been very effective against right-handed hitters this year, and the first lefty he was scheduled to face was Espinosa, who has struggled mightily hitting left-handed this year.
6. For the Miller-Rodriguez at-bat, TLR’s reasoning was this: if he went to Motte for Rodriguez, Motte was going to have to face both Nix and Stairs. He preferred to take his chances with Miller-Motte.
I think that covers the bulk of it, but if you have more questions, leave ‘em below and I’ll try to answer them. It’s definitely a difficult situation right now, and I would have gotten Batista out of there sooner. None of this is an attempt to absolve the manager or the pen tonight; both had a rough night. Instead, I just wanted to share some of the thought processes that occurred and the conversation we had after the TV cameras left.
Stat of the day: I addressed a similar stat in my game story, but I wanted to get a little more specific with it. When the Cardinals score 5, 6, 7 or 8 runs this year, they’re 14-11. I know that looks an awful lot like cherry-picking, and maybe it is. But I think it’s a relevant segment. Score more than that, and even a team that struggles at run prevention is going to win pretty much every time — the Cards are 9-0 when they score more than 8. But score between 5-8, and a decent run-prevention team ought to be winning a large majority of those games.
By comparison: the 2010 team was 45-13 when scoring 5, 6, 7, or 8 runs. The 2009 team was 40-10. The 2008 team, which allowed the fourth-most runs in the NL, was 51-6. The ’07 team was 40-10. This year’s team is 14-11. That’s simply too many losses in games where the offense has done enough to win.
Stat of the day, 2: The 2011 Cardinals have lost 19 games in which they led at some point. They had 26 such losses in 2010, 31 in 2009, 39 in 2008, 27 in 2007. The season is, of course, about 42 percent complete.
And with that, and with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s “Belong” playing on the speakers, I call it a night.