GAME 29: Back To Back To Back To Back
In a performance reminiscient of the bombing run they went on in Arizona in 2011, the Cardinals (18-11) ignited in the desert heat and decimated Joe Saunders and the Diamondbacks behind yet another brilliant start from rising star Lance Lynn. Despite some scary moments from the bullpen, the Cards whipped the D-Backs 9-6.
OUT OF THE GATE: Diamondbacks starter Saunders barely knew what hit him in the first. Rafael Furcal (who is putting together a terrific year at leadoff) greeted Saunders with a leadoff homer. Saunders got two outs before the Cardinals inflicted more pain. Consecutive hits by David Freese, Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina added two quick runs. Before Saunders could even orient himself, he was down by three runs and probably needing some therapy. However, the punishment wasn’t over for Saunders.
SHUTDOWN: Lance Lynn made Cardinal Nation nervous when he surrendered a triple Gerardo Parra to start the bottom of the first. Would this be the start in which Lynn finally appears human? Lynn answered any doubts immediately, striking out the side to completely squash the threat. After that, Lynn was in shutdown mode, giving up just two more hits (although three walks) in the start. Yeesh … don’t piss Lynn off!
EASY GOING: Just a comment about Parra’s triple in the first. Carlos Beltran looked like he was running underwater in pursuit of the ball. I realize that he has had knee problems, but I know he’s faster than that. Right?
BACK TO BACK: The Cardinals weren’t projected to be a power-hitting team in spring training. However, they have been clubbing home runs this year like they are the steroid-loving 1989 Athletics. In addition to Furcal’s first-inning homer, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday went back-to-back in the third. For Beltran, that homer puts him among the league leaders. Pretty surprising pop up and down the lineup.
SPEED KILLS: The fourth inning provided us with the reason why John Mozeliak keeps supporting Tyler Greene. After Greene singled by outrunning a ground ball to short, he then outran a fielder’s choice at second on a Lance Lynn bunt. Furcal followed with a little flair into short center, and Greene sprinted home just ahead of the tag by Miguel Montero. It’s just the kind of run generation we always hoped to see from Greene. The big question is how long will it last?
SECOND GUESSES: Matheny made the fateful decision to pull a dominant Lynn after five innings and 91 pitches. WHY? Unless Lynn is injured, you should keep him in for one more inning against one of the best come-from-behind teams in the National League. Unfortunately, Matheny summoned J.C. Romero to try and mop up …
BOOPEN: While Lynn was soaping up his large, hairy body in the showers in the sixth, J.C. Romero and Fernando Salas were busy blowing a comfortable 7-0 lead. A two-run homer, a walk, a single, and a double quickly put four runs up. Then an infield chopper and a surprising bunt single added another run. More second-guesses abound – why would Matheny allow Romero to face five batters when he clearly had the kind of stuff that I have in the seventh inning of my softball beer league? Romero needed to be pulled after the walk that followed the two run homer. Matheny is obviously still learning something about timing with his pitchers.
KNEE KNOCKER: The Cardinals received a scare during their horrendous sixth inning when Allen Craig stumbled clumsily to field a throw to first. As he scrambled to his feet, he started limping, and everyone immediately visualized Craig never recovering from his knee operations. Thankfully, he was well enough to stay in the game and do something amazing …
BACK TO BACK PART II: Craig and David Freese launched back to back homers in the seventh in response to the Diamondbacks’ threat in the previous inning. Even more impressive, their homers went out to the deepest part of centerfield, absolute bombs that kicked the wind out of the opposition. That’s how you respond!
DEAR TYLER GREENE: Use pine tar, buddy. He tossed two bats into the crowd tonight, and it seems like he’s done it a few times this year. Don’t worry, Tyler, nobody is going to confuse you with George Brett.
CHANGE THE CHANGE: Matheny needs to move Jon Jay out of the bottom of this lineup; he has definitely cooled off considerably of late. He’s too much of a sparkplug to bury in this lineup.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Lynn in honor of his league-leading sixth win.
CONCLUSION: The various nagging bullpen problems blossomed into a full-blown catastrophe tonight. The time is close to re-evaluate some members of the relief corps before we have a repeat of the first half of 2011. Other than that, it’s pretty amazing to see the Cardinals pound five homers. When the pitching lets us down, we can always slug our way out of it, I guess.