GAME 136: Choked By Dickey
The best offense in the National League™ continued its clueless struggles against soft-tossers, as knuckleballer R.A. Dickey stymied the Cardinals for 6.2 innings, allowing just one run. Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright had another troubling start, as the Cardinals dropped the final game 6-2 to the Mets.
BLANKED: It’s hard to complain much about the Cardinals’ failures against Dickey this afternoon. After all, Dickey is the leading candidate for the Cy Young, and most teams have struggled against his perfect knuckleball. Still, you’d think the free-swinging Redbirds would alter their approach against the soft stuff, but no – let’s just go up there hacking! They managed eight hits in almost seven innings, but couldn’t put anything together (two double plays hurt, too). I would’ve liked to see Dickey have his self-righteous ass handed to him, but oh well.
UNBUENO: After a disastrous 2.2 inning appearance last time and a potential Cy Young opponent today, you’d think de facto ace Wainwright would bring out his good stuff. He looked bad, lasting just five innings and surrendering five runs on eight hits and two walks. Bad sign: Wainwright walked a batter with the bases loaded. This never happens. Is he getting tired? His only positive contribution was a stunning third-inning home run that finally put the Cards on the board. Still, we need his arm, not his bat.
BABY STEPS: Most fans were shocked to see Lance Berkman‘s name in the starting lineup at first base. Despite Berk being hobbled by bad knees and mostly relegated to pinch-hitting, Matheny instead decided to load the lineup with left-handed batters against Dickey. Berkman had a decent game, recording his first hit (a bloop single) in what seems like ages. I’m sure today probably helped his pride, if nothing else. What a great guy!
INTO THE FUTURE: After Wainwright struggled, the Cardinals finally unveiled a peek into the future with the debut of newcomer Shelby Miller. And Miller did not fail to impress. He unleashed two powerful innings of relief, giving up just one base hit while striking out four (including a strikeout of the side in the seventh). He looked focused, intense, and unyielding. He was clearly loving the moment. With an adjusted attitude, Miller might just fulfill his enormous promise.
SHARTE: With the Cardinals attempting to crawl back into the game with a seventh-inning run, Victor Marte went out there and looked horrible, giving up three hits and a run without recording an out. Irritating!
BLUNDERS: The game ended on an irritating note, as Adron Chambers failed to touch second base as he went back to first base and was called out. I like Chambers, but he needs to pay closer attention to detail.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Shelby Miller, who made a spectacular debut. In a forgettable game, his initiation still made it something to remember.
CONCLUSION: Matheny clearly had no idea what kind of lineup to throw up against Dickey, and whatever this lineup was supposed to do, it didn’t. It would’ve been nice to sweep, but winning the series was crucial. Not a great game for the Cards, but what could we really expect today against the league’s toughest pitcher?