Results tagged ‘ Note of the night ’
Note of the night:
I hesitate to make too much of good guy/bad guy, leader, set-an-example stuff. I think those of us who do what I do tend to use that stuff as a crutch far too often, and we write it in retrospect, using it to explain things rather than noting it in advance and getting any kind of predictive value.
It’s with that preface that I point this out.
I was really struck by how Chris Carpenter answered a question tonight about the error charged to Pujols. He was asked if he’d be happy taking his chances with that ball being hit to that spot again, and of course he said yes. But he really went further than that in talking about the expectations placed on Pujols.
“That ball was hit good.”
(you have no problem taking your chances with that ball being hit to him) “Not at all. He makes that play all kinds of different times. What’s come to be expected of him at times is… tough for him. I don’t know how to put it, but the expectation level is above all the rest.
“Is that ball a hit? Probably. That ball is hit hard. Takes a funny hop. But in the past, he’s so exceptional at what he does, they probably look at it like he should make that play. It’s a hit, to me.”
I dunno. Maybe not earth-shattering. But in being there, it was clear to me that it was important to Carpenter to make this point. It wasn’t just boilerplate, I’m not going to blame my teammate and be the bad guy stuff. It was a sincere point that he wanted to make sure got made.
Stat of the day: Carpenter’s strikeout to unintentional walk ratio is significantly better than it was last year. He has 78 strikeouts in 98 2/3 innings, a higher K rate than he had last year. He has 21 unintentional walks, a lower BB rate than he had last year. So his K/UIBB ratio is 3.71. Last year it was 3.03.
You want a reason to feel good about Carpenter going forward? That’s it. Guys with those kinds of peripherals get sorted out. He’s going to be fine. Heck, he was more than fine on Friday night. He was outstanding and unlucky.
And, finally, a late-night playlist:
Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks” (love this tune)
Foo Fighters, “Rope”
Freelance Whales, “Hannah”
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, “Belong”
Greetings, all, from my last stop on this road trip. I’ll be headed home tomorrow, getting a few days off before rejoining the club for the next homestand. I hate to miss out on Dodger Stadium, but two out of three cities on a trip is plenty in most cases. Here are your postgame notes and goodies…
Notes of the night:
* Matt Holliday said he was fine after being hit on the left hand by a pitch. He didn’t even seem to realize we were waiting for him after the game, to check on how he came through it. He said he had no plan to get any further examination.
* Likewise for Ryan Theriot — there were no issues for him after being hit on the forearm.
* Eduardo Sanchez was pretty impressive in his Major League debut, striking out five in two innings. When I approached him after the game, he was just putting down his phone. I asked him how many messages, and he said, “about a hundred.”
Stat of the day:
Despite their slow start, the Cardinals actually now have a positive run differential. They’ve outscored their opponents by four runs on the year.
Note of the night: On just about any other day, Kyle Lohse would have been the hero of my game story. He was simply outstanding, allowing virtually no hard contact through the first six innings. His stuff was strong, his command was excellent. It was a superbly pitched game.
However, when a team scores as many runs in one game as it had in any previous two games, the story is the offense. So Lohse was relegated to second-fiddle status in the game story. Here on the blog, though, a little tip of the cap to Lohse.
When asked about the difference between now and when he was compromised physically, Lohse always points to command. He’s able to locate the ball much more than he was before. But it shows in his stuff, as well. His sinker was particularly impressive on Sunday, moving not only down but left-to-right.
“That’s [the] spin,” he said. “I might have been able to throw it 90 [mph] or whatever it was the last couple years, but there’s a difference between finishing a pitch and just kind of putting it out there and not being able to finish it. I might not have the sinker that you see as huge, but it’s late. That’s part of it and that’s part of why I’m encouraged the way I am right now, is I’m able to do that.”
Dave Duncan also pointed to the late movement on Lohse’s sinker. It’s one way you get weak groundballs, and that’s something that Lohse got plenty of on Sunday.
Lohse stopped short of saying that he can have another year like 2008, but he didn’t rule it out. And while I still think a fairer expectation is for him to return to the slightly less impressive form he showed for most of his career before ’08, I wouldn’t entirely rule out another ’08 either. One thing that’s sometimes forgotten: before Lohse got hurt in ’09, he was off to a very strong start. He had a 3.98 ERA when he first injured his forearm.
Again, it would be somewhat silly to predict a repeat of a guy’s career year. But it would probably also be silly to rule it out.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals are 14th in the National League in batting average, 14th in OBP and 16th in SLG, but they have the third-most walks in the league and the fewest strikeouts.
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.
Note of the night: As you may have heard, Albert Pujols had a bit of a rough one at the plate today. He hit a couple of balls harder than the results might show, but in the end, eight outs in a game is eight outs in a game. And that’s what Pujols had: 0-for-5 with three double plays.
He’s never before had a game with more than five hitless at-bats, and he’s never had an 0-for-5 with more than one double play. It was the 29th 0-for-5 of Pujols’ career. Only eight previous times had he even hit into two double plays. By my rough count, Pujols had never made more than six outs at the plate in a single game, and on Thursday he made eight.
As for the historical context, there was plenty. MLB Network reported that it’s the first time since double plays have been kept as a stat that a player grounded into three in an Opening Day game. According to STATS Inc., it was the 100th time in history that a player has grounded into three or more DPs in any game. Joe Torre has the only 4 GIDP game in history, on July 21, 1975.
“It’s a bad game, man,” Pujols said. “Am I going to shoot myself up? It’s just a bad game and that’s it. That’s the way it goes. That’s baseball.”
You’re probably going to read that quote several different ways tonight and tomorrow morning. The exact words he said were “shoot myself up,” but it was very clear in talking to him that he mixed a couple of expressions together, as all of us do sometimes. I think it’s the unfortunate combination of “Am I going to shoot myself?” and “Am I going to beat myself up?” Many of you may not care about this kind of minutiae, but those of us in the press box all talked about it quite a bit as we were walking back from the clubhouse.
* Note — a good deal of this research is courtesy of the amazing Baseball-Reference.com Play Index.
Stat of the day: Today’s stat of the day looks ahead, but I think it’s a cool one. I discovered it in putting together the “probable starter” blurb for Chris Carpenter’s next start.
The last 13 times Carpenter has faced the Pirates, the Cardinals have won the game. In those games, Carpenter is 10-0 with a 1.85 ERA. He’s racked up 97 1/3 innings, an average of 7.49 per start, with 88 strikeouts, 19 walks and five home runs allowed.
That’s pretty good.
Note of the night: Don’t look now, but Matt Holliday is having, well, a Matt Holliday kind of season.
Note of the night: Matt Holliday was ejected in the fourth inning on Thursday night after he argued a called third strike, making a bit of a show of it in the process.
Hello from Houston. I’ll be kind of free-floating this series, working on a couple of longer-term features plus a column (maybe more than one) and some other stuff. Meanwhile, Richard Dean has your main Cards coverage.
Note of the Night, 1: Yes, Felipe Lopez was removed in the fifth inning on Thursday night. No injury was announced, so I theorized that it was simply a move for defense.