Results tagged ‘ Note of the night ’

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

Note of the night: There was a really cool atmosphere at Great American Ball Park all weekend. It’s clear that Cincinnati is excited about the Reds, and as a baseball fan, that’s great to see. This has, at times, been a great baseball town, and the game is IMO better when historic franchises like the Reds are good and relevant.

It was somewhat striking to me, though, that in talking to Cardinals players and staff, there was almost an air of something like “that’s so cute” about the whole thing. Nobody explicitly said that, or even came close to saying it. But it was very clear that the Cardinals perspective on the weekend was, “win this series, just like every other series.”
That’s a very La Russa mindset, and I’m not even suggesting it’s the wrong one. But it did seem to be the context of the weekend. Bronson Arroyo said as much postgame today, when he said “It’s not a big deal to them. It’s definitely a bigger deal on this side.”
Asked about the standings, here’s what a couple of Cardinals had to say.
Albert Pujols, asked if it was a big deal to fall out of first place, said:
“It’s a big deal losing a series. We came here to try to win the series, and we had a pretty good chance. That chance slipped out of our way. W don’t care about first place right now, because first place is a long way from now. You still have a long season. I think the idea is to try to win series, and that’s what we focus and concentrate on every day. 
“We were in first place until they won, and that [didn’t] guarantee us the playoffs automatically. Until the last game of the season, that’s when you want to be there. If this would have been the last game of the season and we would have fallen out of first place, it would be a big deal. but we’ve still got a lot of games against that ballclub, and we’ve still got a lot of games against great ballclubs in the Central division.”
And here’s Brad Penny, asked a very similar question:
“I’m not really concerned right now. … It’s exciting for them. Not many years they’ve been where they are now. It’s better than not being there at all. I can definitely understand their excitement. They’ve definitely got a better team this year. If their pitching holds up, they’re going to be pretty tough.”
Take it for what it’s worth, but I thought it was interesting.
Stat of the day: After allowing nine home runs in the season’s first 33 games, and at one point going 21 straight games without giving up even a single homer, Cardinals starters have now allowed a home run in five straight games.
For all the talk about how the Cardinals offense has leaned too much on the home run, the simple truth is this: teams that hit home runs win more often. If you hit a lot of them, you’re going to score runs and win. If you give up a lot of them, you’re going to allow runs and lose. The homer rate that this staff had earlier in the year was unsustainable. It will be interesting to see how the rotation fares as that number normalizes a little bit.
Fun with double situational splits: Colby Rasmus is 0-for-16 at home in May.
And, finally, the playlist:
Today, it’s culled from things we heard at GABP this weekend. This is one of the best ballparks around for music.
The Bar-Kays, “Soul Finger”
Dire Straits, “Skateaway”
The Rolling Stones, “Waiting On a Friend”
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, “I Second That Emotion”
R.E.M., “These Days”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 14

Note of the night: I had a long and interesting chat with Chris Carpenter this afternoon about a lot of things, and Joe Strauss was there for a good bit of it as well. Some of it is covered in this story over at the main site

In that story, Carpenter relates that he thinks his results have been maybe better than people are giving him credit for, but also acknowledges that it hasn’t been easy to get those results. He had what I thought was a really interesting quote about expectations, and how he welcomes them even if they’re unreasonable.
Carpenter also talked about his health some. He said that as far as his shoulder, he’s doing better than this time last year, and feeling great about where he is. But he revealed something I found very interesting. He said that he still, routinely, feels tingling and numbness in his hand and arm as a result of the nerve issues that plagued him in 2004 and 2008.
“It’s a constant battle,” he said. “It’s a constant battle to keep it strong. It’s a constant battle to adjust the program to keep it firing properly. But as far as all last year and this year, yesterday was the best I’ve felt [pitching] for a long time. It’s an ongoing process to continue. Everybody knew coming into last season, we didn’t know what to expect or what was going on. We all chose the route that we thought was the best for me and that was not having surgery.”
Carpenter emphasized that he notices odd sensations routinely — waking up in the morning, things like that. And made a point that it doesn’t affect him at all when he pitches. By way of example, he noted that the condition isn’t really any different this year than it was last year, when he obviously pitched brilliantly all year.
Stat of the day: Cardinals starting pitchers, as a group, are averaging 14.9 pitches per inning pitched. An individual starter with that mark would rank 11th-best in the National League. Adam Wainwright ranks first in the NL, Brad Penny is second, Carpenter is 11th and Jaime Garcia is 14th. The closest team is the Marlins at 15.6.
Fun with double situational splits: Colby Rasmus has been unstoppable in night games on the road — which happens to be what Saturday’s game will be. In away night games, Rasmus is batting .432 with a .542 on-base percentage and an .811 slugging percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
Tonight’s playlist is totally random. Put the iPod on shuffle, here are the first five songs that came up:
Depeche Mode, “Everything Counts”
Silversun Pickups, “Lazy Eye”
Guns N’ Roses, “It’s Alright”
Dead Milkmen, “Smokin’ Banana Peels”
David Baerwald, “Born for Love”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 12

Note of the night: If not for Wednesday night’s blowout, or at least the appearance of a blowout for most of the game, Jason LaRue probably would have gotten a start on Thursday afternoon. It would have marked the first time this year that someone other than Yadier Molina caught Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright or Jaime Garcia.

However, the big early margin changed TLR’s plans a bit. He saw an opportunity to give Molina a half-game off, and he took it. Molina was removed in favor of LaRue in the fifth inning. Now, even with the early afternoon start on Thursday after a night game on Wednesday, Molina will play. There was no injury at the root of the decision to take Molina out.
“He can catch tomorrow afternoon,” La Russa said. “Otherwise, he wasn’t going to catch tomorrow afternoon.”
Molina has started 30 of the Cardinals’ 34 games this year. The other four games have all featured either Kyle Lohse or Brad Penny on the mound. While La Russa is emphatic that he does not believe in “personal catchers,” that is almost certainly not a coincidence. The manager wants his Gold Glover catching his two aces as well as the rookie Garcia.
Stat of the day: Since returning from the disabled list last July, Kyle Lohse has made 19 starts. In those starts, he’s 2-9 with a 5.58 ERA, 57 strikeouts, 34 walks and 12 home runs allowed in 98 1/3 innings (5.18 innings per start).
Fun with double situational splits: Look out, Bud Norris. In day games against right-handed pitchers this year, Albert Pujols is 15-for-33 with eight extra-base hits, 10 walks and six strikeouts. That adds up to a slash line of a .455 batting average, a .581 on-base percentage and an .879 slugging percentage.

And, finally, the playlist…
The Black Keys, “Tighten Up”
The Dead Weather, “Jawbreaker”
Cold War Kids, “Audience”
The National, “Afraid of Everyone”
The Hold Steady, “The Weekenders” (my favorite song on this album, SO FAR)
-M.

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

Howdy, all. I’m back on the beat after missing the last road trip, and it’s been a full day today to say the least.

Note of the night: Albert Pujols suffered a mild injury to his left knee when he beat out an infield single in the third inning. Pujols stretched to reach the bag, landed on his heel and stretched his knee in an odd way. 
He stayed in the game, though he appeared to be a bit compromised in his running. Afterward, he played down the severity of the issue.
“I kind of landed funny and [stretched] my knee,” he said. “My knee kind of hurts a little bit, and a little bit in my hamstring.”
Asked if he thought he would be removed from the game, Pujols said he figured he’d keep playing.
“I felt good,” he said. “If it would have been something worse, something real bad, I would have either come out or it would have gotten worse during the game. But I was fine after that. Just a little sore, but nothing to worry about.”
It appears likely that Pujols will be in the lineup on Wednesday.
Stat of the night: In his Major League career, Skip Schumaker has 588 plate appearances leading off an inning. In those plate appearances, he’s batted .311 with a .362 on-base percentage and a .419 slugging percentage. That’s in comparison to his overall career line of .293/.352/.390. 

Fun with double situational splits: In games at Busch Stadium this year, left-handed hitters are batting .214 with a .233 on-base percentage against Kyle Lohse.
And, finally, the playlist:
I caught three terrific concerts during my time away from the club, but the best was easily the Drive-By Truckers’ amazing set in Columbia, Mo. So tonight’s playlist is five highlights from that great band and that great show:
“Get Downtown”
“Birthday Boy”
“Three Dimes Down”
“Let There Be Rock”
“Shut Up And Get On The Plane”
-M.

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

Note of the night: Brendan Ryan admitted when he was hitting eighth that it wasn’t his favorite thing. He made a point that he wasn’t taking issue with the manager’s decision, and that he was certainly happier to be in the lineup than out of it. But even before Ryan was moved to the No. 9 spot, he acknowledged that he likes hitting there.

Now that he’s there, he’s making the most of it.
In four games batting ninth, Ryan is 4-for-13 with two walks, good for a .400 on-base percentage. He started the winning rally in Wednesday’s game.
Stat of the day: Cardinals starters have pitched the most innings in the National League, with 158 2/3 in 24 games, but they’ve allowed the fewest home runs, with six. 

Fun with double situational splits: In day games against right-handed pitchers, Yadier Molina is 6-for-18 (.333) with two homers and a double. His slash line in those at-bats is .333/.409/.722 (batting average/OBP/SLG).

-M.

Stat of the day and note of the night, April 29

Note of the night: David Freese was hearing it from his teammates, since he’s known as a power hitter. The pitchers had been teasing him about the fact that he had two extra-base hits all year until Thursday. But he had another motivation as well.

Prior to Thursday’s game, a young fan named Madison got an autograph from Freese. Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest told the young lady that Freese would hit a home run for Madison, who has a broken collarbone. Freese certainly couldn’t say no, so he nodded, smiled, and said something along the lines of, “Um, sure.”
Then he did it. In his first at-bat. Off the foul pole.
“I was definitely thinking about her” as he rounded the bases, Freese said.
Stat of the day: Colby Rasmus’ on-base percentage has climbed from .366 to .487 since April 18, and his batting average is up from .188 to .344 in that same span. He’s 15-for-29 with eight walks over that time span, giving him a ridiculous .517 batting average and .622 on-base percentage. He’s been on base 23 times in those nine games.
Fun with double situational splits: David Freese is 7-for-12 (.583) with two walks for a .643 OBP in day games at home this year.
Annnnd, finally, the playlist:
This is taken directly, song-for-song, from what was playing in the clubhouse after this afternoon’s win.
Spacehog, “In the Meantime”
Ice Cube, “It Was a Good Day”
Notorious B.I.G., “Mo Money Mo Problems”
Notorious B.I.G., “Juicy”
Sublime, “Santeria”
-M.
(Chess Match will return tomorrow)

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

Note of the night: Colby Rasmus leads the National League in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, while playing one of the most demanding positions on the field and playing it well. Up until Wednesday, the only mark against him was an 0-for against left-handed pitching, and now he has erased that. Both of Rasmus’ hits on Wednesday came against lefties.

What may stand out most about Rasmus in the early going, though, is that he’s hitting .322. For all his broad-based skill set — power, plate discipline, speed, defense — he’s never really been a high-average hitter. Aside from three games on a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League, he hit over .300 exactly once in the Minors: .310 in 78 games at low Class A Quad Cities.
Batting average tends to be a bit of a fluky number, subject to a lot of wild swings, and of course it’s also overrated as a measure of player ability. But it’s still something of a skill, and it’s a skill that is magnified when a hitter has other skills. Hit .250 with power and patience and you’re a valuable player. Hit .310 with power and patience and you’re a major star, especially if you’re a plus defender in CF.
I asked TLR about it tonight, and he said he definitely thinks that Rasmus can be a high-average hitter.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Last year, remember, he got sick. He had a decent year going — a good year going — and he just got weak and he had to get through that. Now he’s stronger. The bases on balls are a good indication. He’s seeing the ball better. He’s got a lot of hunger, that hitter-ish hungry feeling when he goes to the plate, wants to keep having at-bats. Yeah, he’s definitely a high-average hitter.”
Stat of the day: Cardinals starters have not allowed a home run since April 11. That’s a span of 15 starts covering 103 innings.
Fun with double situational splits: When Rasmus leads off an inning against a right-handed pitcher this year, he’s 7-for-18 with five walks and six extra-base hits. That’s good for a .389 average, a .556 on-base percentage and a 1.056 slugging percentage.
And, finally, the playlist:
The Heavy, “How You Like Me Now”
Lucero, “Sixes and Sevens”
Cage the Elephant, “Back Against the Wall”
Crash Kings, “Mountain Man”
Them Crooked Vultures, “New Fang”

-M.

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

Note of the night: One of the goals for the Cardinals in Spring Training was to identify a backup closer, someone who could fill in on nights when Ryan Franklin wasn’t available. It may change from week to week, but on Tuesday that pitcher was Jason Motte.

And Motte didn’t disappoint. He got in some trouble in his second inning, but got out some dangerous hitters at the heart of a dangerous order to record his second career big league save.
I asked one Cardinal veteran about Motte’s performance, and he was impressed but noted that Motte needs to “breathe” out there. Then, when Motte was asked about the difference between closing a game now and closing last April, he said exactly the same thing.
“I’m just trying to breathe, I guess, a little bit more. just trying to relax, go out there and do my mything. I’m always kind of high-wire, energetic. But I’ve got to try to breathe a little bit more, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do all year.”
As for why Kyle McClellan wasn’t the guy, part of it was the possibility of extra innings. Motte was the fifth reliever to pitch in the game, and Ryan Franklin was off-limits except in an emergency situation. So if the game had gone extra innings, McClellan might have been called on to pitch a few innings.
Stat of the day: Brendan Ryan loves hitting in the No. 9 spot, and it’s a challenge for him to hit in front of the pitcher. Yet perception and reality don’t exactly mesh. Ryan’s best spot in the batting order has been 8th.
For his career, Ryan has hit .282 with a .363 on-base percentage and a .420 slugging percentage in the No. 8 spot in the order. That’s a nice step up from his overall career line of .271/.328/.362 entering Tuesday night.
Fun with double situational splits: When Ryan Ludwick faces a right-handed pitcher at home this year, he’s been absolutely unstoppable. In 28 such plate appearances, Ludwick is 10-for-22 (.455) with two homers, two doubles and a triple (.909 slugging percentage), and a .556 on-base percentage.
Playlist:
Black Keys, “Tighten Up”
Titus Andronicus, “A More Perfect Union”
Broken Bells, “October”
LCD Soundsystem, “All I Want”
Gorillaz, “Stylo”
(yeah, I’ve been listening to SiriusXMU)
-M.

Stat of the day and note of the night

OK, more stuff I’m going to try to do around here. We’ll revise the playlists, because, well, I love ‘em. We’ll squeeze in some note/tidbit stuff from postgame when there’s no place for it on the site. And because I’m a stat geek, I’ll dig you up a good stat on hopefully a daily basis.

Stat of the day: Since the opening series in Cincinnati, Cardinals relievers have pitched 44 2/3 innings, allowing 11 runs on 37 hits with 32 strikeouts and 19 walks. That’s a 2.22 ERA.

Note of the night: Kyle Lohse told us after the game that he’s getting his delivery back to what it was before he got hurt last year. He’s attempting to return to more of what he calls an “overhead windup.” He explained that when he was hurt last year, he got out of whack.
“I went back to the overhead windup,” he said, “and I felt like everything was going where I wanted it to, with a good mix of stuff. … 
“I started cheating mechanically to get my arm in a good spot to get the ball down and get it where I wanted to. I was going to do it for the last start, I tinkered around with it and then I decided to stay with what I did. It felt like a good time to go ahead and mix it up.”
Lohse also noted that he threw more and better fastballs tonight than in his previous start. Pitch selection was an issue in that game.
Playlist:
The Hold Steady, “Hurricane J”
Everclear, “Summerland”
Garbage, “When I Grow Up”
MxPx, “Punk Rawk Show”
Cake, “Sheep Go to Heaven”
-M.
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