Results tagged ‘ Note of the night ’

Note of the night/Stat of the day, August 11

So… that was an entertaining series, eh?

Note of the night: Matt Holliday did not return to Wednesday’s game after the rain delay. He was feeling some groin tightness, and the club decided it would have been unwise to push him on a very wet field.
“During the rain delay, he got something,” TLR said. “He wanted to go back out there, and then we saw the splashes and decided not to risk it. His legs were really getting tight.”
Holliday seemed entirely unconcerned about it, and said that he expects to play on Friday at home against the Cubs.
“With the wetness, it’s not smart to go out there and slip around,” he said.
Stat of the day: Over his last nine starts, Adam Wainwright is 7-1 with a 1.14 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 13 walks. In his last 12 starts, he has allowed no earned runs eight times.
Fun with double situational splits: Holliday is batting .370 with a .469 on-base percentage and a .630 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break.
And, finally, the playlist:
Stone Roses, “Fools Gold”
Cure, “Never Enough”
New Order, “Shellshock”
Sisters of Mercy, “This Corrosion”
Nine Inch Nails, “Sin”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, July 28

Note of the night: When Albert Pujols hit a potential double-play ball in the 11th inning on Wednesday night, he pulled up well short of the bag. Even after a bobble on the relay throw, it took another bobble for Pujols to be safe on the ball.


Then the next batter, Matt Holliday, hit another grounder, and Pujols didn’t make the first attempt to break up the double play.

ESPN noticed. Fans noticed. It got a lot of attention, and rightly so. So we asked Pujols about it after the game, and he explained.
The slugger said he came up with some left calf tightness as he was running to first on the grounder, and that’s why he pulled up. It wasn’t too much for him to come out of the game, but it was enough that he felt he needed to play cautiously. That was magnified, in his mind, by the fact that the Cardinals had just about run out of players.
I included some of his comments in my game story, which is up on the site, but here’s what he had to say at some more length.
“I did it actually running,” he said. “I tried to make sure that they didn’t turn a double play. I told Chad [Blair, the Cardinals’ video coordinator] when I came in, I felt my calf got a little tight. I just wanted to make sure, we didn’t have any more players, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid to come out of the game. I hit the ball and I took off, and about halfway to the line, I felt it getting tight and I kind of pulled back. I’m glad it was a bad throw. 
“Another day, with my legs fresh, I probably would have tried to break up the double play. But that’s the way it goes. I pulled back, and that’s the smart play. You can look at it a different way. You can look at it like I wasn’t hustling, but you know what? Late in the game like that, if I feel good, I’m going to do everything that I can to try to break up the double play. But when you don’t have anybody in extra innings and you feel something, the last thing you want to do is hurt yourself and be the last guy and throw a pitcher out there to play your position.”
It definitely looked like Pujols was still moving gingerly as the game went on, but it doesn’t seem to be anything severe.
“I’ll be fine,” Pujols said when asked about Thursday afternoon’s game. “Little massage, get it loose. t’s nothing like a pull or anything. I felt it more like a little tight.”
We asked TLR whether Pujols would be in the lineup tomorrow (actually later today — about 9 hours away as I write this), and he was noncommittal. But it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him get a breather after a 13-inning game, especially with a knuckleballer pitching for the Mets.
Stat of the day: Following this afternoon’s game against the Mets, the Cardinals’ next six weeks break down as follows: 27 games against teams with losing records, including 16 against the Pirates, Astros and Nationals; 6 games against the Reds; and exactly one series that fits neither of those categories (3 games against the Giants at home in late August).
This is a serious opportunity for this team to get well and take control of the division race, if it’s good enough to do so. By contrast, during that same stretch, the Reds have series against the Braves, Dodgers, Giants and Rockies as well as the head-to-head games.
Fun with double situational splits: Colby Rasmus is 14-for-47 (.298) with six extra-base hits, five walks and nine strikeouts against left-handed pitchers since June 1. He’s slugging .553 with a .365 on-base percentage against lefties in that span.
And, finally, the playlist:
Sometimes New York puts me in a hip-hop mood. Sometimes artsy stuff, sometimes punk. And sometimes, NYC puts me in a Stones mood. So tonight, it’s five NYC-inflected Stones songs.
“When the Whip Comes Down”
“Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”
“Dance Pt. 1″
“She Was Hot”
“Shattered”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, July 27

Note of the night: Lots of apparent injuries and injury scares tonight, but after asking about them all, it sounds like everybody is OK.

Yadier Molina came out of the game early not because of injury, but just because the game was already starting to get a bit out of hand. TLR figured he would “save him some innings” while also getting Jason LaRue a chance to play. It’s a pretty fair guess that LaRue’s next start won’t come till at least Saturday.
Brendan Ryan was struck on the fingernail of his index finger by a pitch, but came through it just fine and stayed in the game. Sounded like it was a nonissue.
Albert Pujols appeared to wince when he ran out a grounder in the third inning, but TLR also said that Pujols was fine. 
“I asked him if he was OK,” La Russa said. “Said he was good to go.”
Stat of the day: Adam Wainwright has allowed nine homers in 72 innings on the road. At home, he’s allowed two homers in 81 1/3 innings.

Fun with double situational splits: Against lefties in night games this season, Ryan Ludwick is 7-for-42 (.167) with a .275 on-base percentage and a .333 slugging percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
There’s just a ton of good new music out this year, so today’s playlist is a selection of one track from each of my five favorite albums thus far in 2010 (in order, No. 5 up to No. 1).
Sleigh Bells, “Tell ‘Em” (from “Treats”)
Drive-By Truckers, “Birthday Boy” (from “The Big To-Do”)
The Black Keys, “Sinister Kid” (from “Brothers”)
Gorillaz, “On Melancholy Hill” (from “Plastic Beach”)
Big Boi, “Shine Blockers” (from “Sir Lucious Left Foot”)

-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, July 7

Note of the night, 1: Quite a few things contributed to Evan MacLane pitching in the ninth inning on Wednesday, but one of them was that Dennys Reyes was unavailable due to illness.

TLR said after the game that Reyes might well not have pitched in that situation anyway, but that nonetheless Reyes was ill. Reyes confirmed shortly thereafter that he is dealing with an infection and not feeling well.
He said he’s been dealing with it for a couple of days, and that it’s not necessarily worse today than yesterday. Of course, Reyes pitched yesterday, so it’s not entirely clear what exactly the situation is. 
Note of the night, 2: Going back to last night (so skip this if you so desire), we had the chance to ask TLR this afternoon about a few of the ninth-inning decisions from Tuesday night.
He stood by the decision to play no-doubles with Carlos Gonzalez at the plate. His argument was that since Gonzalez was the tying run, you wanted to make sure that he didn’t get into scoring position. To my mind, it’s still the opposite — even first base is scoring position with Gonzalez on base and Giambi at the plate, and if you get the out, the game ends. But that’s the manager’s stance, and I figured I ought to pass it along.
He also stood by the decision not to remove Franklin, though I got the impression he was less certain of that in retrospect. He was frustrated (and he wasn’t the only one) with the strike zone for Chris Iannetta, feeling that Iannetta should have been struck out before he ever went deep. He essentially argued that for a good bit of that inning, Franklin hadn’t really done that much wrong.
“The only reason I would have gotten him was just the number of pitches and the game was tied. Just to preserve him for tonight.”
I still believe, and he didn’t dismiss this (though he didn’t confirm it, either) that if Motte or McClellan had been available, the hook would have been quicker. Usually when TLR is really convinced that a decision was right, he’s happy to defend it and present his case — as he did with the positioning on Randy Winn. In this case, there was less of a clear argument. I’m not sure he’s sure it was the right move.
Stat of the day: LeBron James has sco Whoops, sorry about that. Matt Holliday has eight extra-base hits in his last eight games. His slugging percentage has climbed from .488 to .527 in those games.
Fun with double situational splits: Albert Pujols is hitting .260 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .488 slugging percentage against right-handers on the road this year.
And, finally, the playlist:
Nina Gordon, “Tonight and the Rest of My Life”
Kings Of Leon, “Slow Night, So Long”
Rolling Stones, “Time Waits For No One”
Tanya Donelly, “World On Fire”
Pearl Jam, “Corduroy”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, July 1

Note of the night: It shouldn’t come as any surprise that TLR is pleased that Albert Pujols is skipping the Home Run Derby. He saw Jim Edmonds come down with an injury in the Derby some years back, and the perception at least is that the Derby has sapped Pujols’ performance in past years.

“He’s a smart guy,” La Russa said. “He’s paid his dues for Major League Baseball several times, and last year was a prime example. He was so beat up when that All-Star break came, and he did everything. He showed up early, stayed late. Let somebody else carry the torch. 
“I definitely agree with Albert. He’s a smart guy, he’s doing the right thing and he’s paid his dues.”
But you may or may not know that that’s not the only reason. La Russa is simply no fan of the Derby. He feels it overshadows the All-Star Game far too much, and he doesn’t like for players to try to hit homers anyway.
“The other thing is, I’m irritated with the attention the home run contest gets,” he said. “It’s like a big show, and the game is an afterthought, which is totally ESPN [folly]. 
“They make it a three- or four-hour deal. There’s a lot wrong with it. Have one or two rounds so nobody gets real tired, a nice competition. Why don’t they just have who can hit more line drives to left center or right center?”
Stat of the day: Since May 29, Mitchell Boggs has made 13 appearances. In those games, he’s pitched 13 2/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits for a 0.66 ERA. He’s struck out 10 against five walks and not given up a home run.
Fun with double situational splits: Against left-handers at home, Colby Rasmus is batting .324 with a .410 on-base percentage and a .647 slugging percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
With the Brewers in town, tonight’s playlist consists entirely of bands who are playing or have already played Milwaukee’s Summerfest this year…
Neon Trees, “Animal”
The Hold Steady, “The Weekenders”
The Heavy, “How You Like Me Now”
Modest Mouse, “Dashboard”
Against Me!, “Baby, I’m An Anarchist”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, June 30

Note of the Night: The Cardinals are playing with a short bench right now. Just how short wasn’t entirely evident until Wednesday afternoon.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, in a two-run game, Ryan Ludwick remained on the bench. The official word earlier in this series was that Ludwick might be available to pinch-hit if needed — and it’s hard to imagine a scenario that set up better than the one at the end of Wednesday’s game.
Yet he stayed on the bench.
“I felt pretty dang good today,” Ludwick said after the game. “I’m just kind of getting rest. The last two days I’ve told people, a couple days of rest.”
It’s understandable not to push Ludwick. But if he’s completely unavailable, even in a two-out, two-on, bottom-of-the-ninth situation, it seems to scream for the addition of another hitter. The Cardinals may do that after Blake Hawksworth’s start on Thursday, but they found themselves in a situation where they could have used it on Wednesday.
Stat of the day: Perception is a funny thing. 
The Cardinals are batting .309 with the bases loaded this year (third-highest in the National League). They have a .582 bases-loaded slugging percentage (second in the league) and a .344 OBP (fourth). 

They’re at 266/369/452 with runners in scoring position on the year, ranking eighth in average, fifth in OBP and third in slugging. That’s as opposed to a 260/334/410 line overall.
The problem is not the timing of the hits. It’s the spots in the lineup that have been entirely unproductive.
Fun with double situational splits: Yadier Molina went 1-for-28 against left-handers in June, though at least the one hit was a homer.
And, finally, the playlist:
Hot Chip, “I Feel Better”
LCD Soundsystem, “Dance Yrself Clean”
Fever Ray, “When I Grow Up”
Gossip, “Dimestore Diamond”
Caribou, “Odessa”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, June 16

Note of the night: Coming off two starts in which his command was off, his pitch counts ran high and he was done sooner than expected, Jaime Garcia wanted to right the ship. He wasn’t pitching badly, but he wasn’t getting as deep into games as he or the Cardinals wanted.

He succeeded on Wednesday, getting through seven innings on 111 pitches and issuing one walk — the third time this year he’s kept the walk total that low, and the first time since May 14. After the game, Garcia explained the changes he made.
He said that for one, he made some small mechanical tweaks, but that really wasn’t the big deal. It was more a matter of approach. He explained that what was happening was that he’d been aiming his fastball too narrowly.
Garcia was trying to throw pitches right on the black. But with the movement on his fastball, he doesn’t need to do that. Especially when pitching to a left-hander, he can aim more for the heart of the plate and get movement toward the edge.
“You kind of think about, OK, what is my fastball doing?” he said. “My fastball is moving this way [in on a left-handed hitter]. If it’s moving this way, try to use more of the middle of the plate so it will be on the corner. If it’s moving this way, and you go to the corner, it’s going to be a ball every time.”
Once he made that adjustment, Garcia was able to trust his fastball more, throw it earlier in counts, get ahead and work off of it. It’s pitching A-B-Cs, really. Get ahead with your fastball, then finish hitters off with your breaking pitches. When he wasn’t getting ahead with the fastball, hitters were laying off his offspeed stuff, leading to deep counts, walks and long innings.
“The last two starts are the only ones that I changed a little bit, trying to do too much,” he said. “You’ve got to step back and relax a little bit, think about, ‘OK, what is going on? There is something definitely going on.  Why are you walking guys? Trying to be too fine?’ So you look back at the video, realize what you’re doing and go back to where you were. Make adjustments.
“It’s [about] having more confidence in my fastball, and using the plate more. Early in the game, the last couple games, I was trying to be too fine and I ended up walking guys. Tried to be on the corner and the ball was [moving off the plate]. So I try to keep the ball down and use more of the middle of home plate. and then later you can go to the corners a little bit more, you can bounce a curveball. But it was more being able to get ahead with my pitches and then make adjustments as the game goes on.”
It worked very well. This was the Garcia the Cardinals want to see, even if he allowed more runs than he did in his previous game. He can be efficient, he can get groundballs and quick outs. And if he does that, he can not only be effective but help take strain off the bullpen.
Stat of the day: David Freese his hitting .318 with a .441 slugging percentage, which comes out to an isolated slugging percentage of .123. His career ISO in the Minors was .224, and it was never below .187 in any Minor League season.

Fun with double situational splits: Hitters are 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position against Garcia in June.
And, finally, the playlist:
The Gaslight Anthem, “Diamond Church Street Choir”
Beck, “Cellphone’s Dead”
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, “Around the Bend”
Wilco, “Monday”
Features, “Lions”
-M.

Note of the night/Stats of the day, June 15

Note of the night: Slowly, surely, Colby Rasmus is becoming an everyday player. And with good reason. Rasmus has been one of the best offensive players in the National League this year, ranking third in the league in slugging and fifth in OBP.

More specifically though, as of the end of Tuesday’s game, he’s showing virtually no platoon split. Against right-hander, Rasmus has a line of 300/408/600. Against lefties, it’s 289/372/579. That’s a huge development.
He’s started nine games against left-handed starters this year, including the last five for which he was healthy. Given the frustration in some parts of the fan base at Rasmus’ seeming platoon status, this should be received well. And again, the key is that he’s earned it.
“He’s a hitter,” TLR said. “Against all pitching, he plants himself in the strike zone. When you do that, you’re going to hit. I think the more he sees left-handers, [the more he benefits]. Not just because it’s at-bats, but he sees different guys. Each guy is a little different.”
Rasmus feels that the difference from last year, when he hit 160/219/255 against LHP, and this year is subtle but real. 
“I’ve worked with some things on my swing,” he said. “Staying over in there a little more, which I think is helping me stay on those lefties and those breaking balls away. I’m seeing the ball better, not chasing the balls off the plate, just making them come to me. Not missing the pitches. Most of the time I’d be fouling a lot of balls off against lefties and not hitting pitches that I should. Lately I’ve been hitting them.”
That’s often a key that Rasmus points to as a difference between when he’s going well and when he’s not: whether he’s squaring up hittable pitches, or fouling them away. But he also agreed that increased playing time is helping his mindset.
“I guess being in there every day definitely does make a big difference,” he said. “It’s kind of like, if I struggle a little bit I don’t have to worry about being on the bench the next day. Knowing I’ve got a pretty good chance of being in there again. Just the constant grind against them, getting beat up so much, I finally learned how to get ‘em.”
Stat of the day, 1: Rasmus has three home runs in 44 plate appearances against lefties this year. He had three in 115 plate appearances last year.

Stat of the day, 2: This weird and cool note is courtesy of Chris Tunno from Cardinals media relations: Jeff Suppan has a seven-game hitting streak in Interleague Play. For his career, Suppan has hit .317 (13-for-41) in Interleague games.
Fun with double situational splits: In home games in June, Rasmus is 12-for-25 (.480) with five home runs, a .552 on-base percentage and a 1.120 slugging percentage.
And, finally, the playlist:
Feeling like some classics today.
Three Dog Night, “Never Been to Spain”
Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine”
Chicago, “25 or 6 to 4″
Blood, Sweat and Tears, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”
Temptations, “Just My Imagination”
-M.

Notes of the night/Stat of the day, June 13

Note of the night, 1: I touched on this a couple of places already today, including in the game story and on Twitter, but I just find it really interesting.

When Kyle McClellan came into today’s game, I had a bad feeling about it for the Cardinals because I had a perception that McClellan had struggled in tie games. No data to base it on; it just seemed that way.
Well, the amazing thing about following baseball in 2010 is that you can look up just about anything. So I did. And it’s true: McClellan has been strikingly less effective in tie games than in games where the Cardinals are ahead or behind. For his career, entering Sunday, opposing hitters had an OPS of 810 against McClellan in tie games, including a .476 slugging percentage.
With the Cards ahead, McClellan has allowed a 645 OPS and a .328 slugging percentage. With the Cards behind, the numbers are 623 and .296.
So I asked about it. Asked TLR. Asked McClellan. Honestly, I was expecting to be blown off, to have them dismiss it as statistical noise. But they both acknowledged that there might well be something to it.
“I think it’s something to pay attention to,” TLR said. “He’s probably aware of it. That’s how you learn. Maybe you try to do too much. He made a great curveball to Reynolds, and then he threw another one later. He just overthrew, missed a couple balls high, maybe trying too hard.”
Said McClellan: “I think it’s a tough spot to pitch in. especially on the road. they’re trying to lift something. They’re trying to get the ball in the air. … The hitters are in a lot different mode than when they’re behind in the game or when they’re ahead. For me, it’s one of the tougher situations to pitch under. 
“But it doesn’t mean that you come out and expect to give up runs. You come out and attack everybody the same way. I wish I could pick times to give up my runs. You just can’t do it in tie games.”
I honestly don’t know what to make of it. But it’s real, and although I don’t know how to run the regressions, I’d bet that at this point it’s statistically significant. 
Yet it’s a conundrum, because McClellan is at least arguably the best reliever on the team, or at least the best other than Franklin. And he’s also a pitcher who can get more than three outs on a regular basis, which is an extra valuable commodity in a tie game, since you never know how long you could go in extras.
So the Cardinals can’t run away from him in tie games. But it seems they’d at least be wise to try to pick the matchups and situations carefully.
Note of the night, 2: Dennys Reyes is in a slump. There’s no way around it. He’s faced 12 batters this month, and gotten two outs. After the game, Reyes said the main thing he sees on video is that his sinker is not sinking, and it is cutting. So pitches that should be coming in on the hands of lefties are instead running out over the plate.
“I’m leaving my pitches up, up in the zone,” he said. “I’m usually low in the zone. Most of the hits I’ve been getting are on my sinker. My sinker has been coming back. Instead of sinking, they cut a little bit. I’m frustrated about it, because I don’t think I’ve gone through a stretch like this, so bad.”
Reyes hasn’t figured out what’s causing it to happen. That’s the next step.
“I feel really guilty about this game,” he said. “I haven’t been able to get people out. I need to do something about it. I need to do something to fix that and come back and throw strikes in the low part of the zone.
“I’m doing something. I don’t know. That’s the thing that I’ve got to figure out. I’ll start to do something tomorrow. I’ll talk to Dunc about it and see if he can find something to give me.”
Stat of the day: The Cardinals are 15-19 on the road despite having outscored their opponents, 137-130 in road games.
Fun with double situational splits: Matt Holliday is 2-for-17 with runners on base in June.
And, finally, the playlist:
I went to last night’s Arizona State-Arkansas game to see some Cardinals draftees, and I’ll be writing that up in the next day or two. But on the way home XM First Wave was playing the “Saturday Night Safety Dance,” and it was even better than usual. So, five songs from that program:
Duran Duran, “The Wild Boys”
New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”
Camouflage, “The Great Commandment”
The Smiths, “I’m So Sorry”
Depeche Mode, “Policy Of Truth”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, June 6

Note of the night: When Brewers reliever Zach Braddock walked Albert Pujols in the ninth inning on Sunday night, it looked for all the world like the old unintentional-intentional walk. My read was that the Brewers had chosen to pitch around Pujols in order to face Matt Holliday, which to my mind was a fairly absurd decision — putting the game-ending run in scoring position with two outs and a lifetime 318/387/541 hitter coming to the plate.

It turns out that my read was wrong. Braddock was not, in fact, pitching around Pujols. He told my friend and colleague Adam McCalvy that it was actually more like the opposite. He was so jacked up to try to get the superstar out, that he just missed the strike zone.
“If anything I was trying to be a little more aggressive,” Braddock said. “There was a little more excitement. He’s up there to battle for his team in that situation and I wanted to come in and battle for our team. I ended up walking him, but it ended up working out. I had to go right after Holliday.”
Still, it led to an extended conversation with several people on Twitter (I’m at @MatthewHLeach, come on down if you want) about facing Holliday with runners in scoring position. And it seems that a lot of people still are judging Holliday — not expressing frustration, but actually judging the player he is — based on 31 at-bats in April.
I ask of you, look at the bigger picture. Whether it’s Holliday or any number of other topics, when you’re talking about baseball, look at the bigger picture. Holliday has nearly 1,000 ABs that say he’s a good hitter with RISP. He even has 35 since the start of May that say he’s pretty decent.
This is not a positive-negative thing. I feel the same way about people writing Jaime Garcia in for Rookie of the Year, or justifying the Aaron Miles signing because he started a key rally on Saturday. 
Moreover, it’s not that you don’t have the right to be frustrated — of COURSE you do. It’s not that Holliday has delivered in big situations the way the Cardinals hoped he would — frankly, I think he’d admit that overall, he hasn’t.
These things are true. Holliday is not above criticism, nor should he be. You want to yell and scream, hey, be my guest. That’s part of being a fan. But be very, very careful about making that leap from “I’m SO frustrated that Matt Holliday didn’t drive in that run” to “Matt Holliday is a CHOKER and that’s a TERRIBLE DEAL.” 
More and more, I read tweets and emails and I hear people talking in the park or on the radio or wherever, and it’s just those kinds of black-and-white assessments based on tiny samples. “Holliday’s a choker.” “It’s a terrible contract.” Etc etc etc.
Folks, this is just silly. No 30 at-bats — or 50 at-bats or 150 at-bats — tell you what a baseball player really is. They’re a snapshot. Whether a guy is torrid or icy-cold, if you make up your mind based on that few games and at-bats, you’re probably going to make a mistake.
This is a long-view game. It has to be, or you’ll drive yourself crazy.
Stat of the day: Colby Rasmus ranks fifth in the National League in slugging percentage (.569), sixth in on-base percentage (.405) and third in OPS (.974). 
Stat of the day, 2: Rasmus has grounded into one double play all year. 
Stat of the day, 3: Jaime Garcia ranks third in the National League in ground out/air out ratio at 2.94, behind only Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe.

Fun with double situational splits: In night games on the road, Yadier Molina is batting .345 with a .415 on-base percentage and a .414 slugging percentage.
And, finally, the playlist:
I was given a little grief by a club employee recently for complaining about the music at Busch Stadium. So, in the name of fairness, here are some good tunes that have been played here recently, or are played here regularly:
Cheap Trick, “Surrender”
The Police, “Message In A Bottle”
Pearl Jam, “The Fixer”
Outkast, “Hey Ya”
Beastie Boys, “Brass Monkey”
-M.
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