Should We Be Worried About Cardinals' 0-4 Slump?
|Not shown in this graphic: poor hitting with runners in scoring position.|
- Jake Westbrook didn't really look terrible last night; he looked just a shade off and a little unlucky to me. Definitely not as sharp as he has been for most of the season, Westbrook struggled to get ahead consistently, and then he struggled to actually put hitters away when he did get ahead of them. As much as any of that, though, Westbrook's struggles last night were also largely a product of a bunch of balls finding daylight, rather than the gloves of infielders. You live by contact, you're occasionally going to die by contact. It's just one of those things. The number of deep counts worked by the Chicago hitters was definitely a problem, though. Westbrook doesn't really have a putaway pitch on his best day, but watching Cubs foul off pitch after pitch last night was all the indication needed that his location simply wasn't where it should have been.
- Okay, seriously, who do I need to blow to fix it so that we don't have to watch Skip Schumaker at second base anymore? I am absolutely willing to take one for the team, so to speak; I just don't know who exactly I need to be setting my sights on.
- Allen Craig, you're awesome. I don't really have anything else useful to say here, so I'll just leave it at that. Congrats Allen on the awesomeness.
- Speaking of Allen Craig, the eighth inning was just an absolute back breaker, when Craig led off the inning with a double, then stayed right there at second base as Lance Berkman, David Freese, and Yadier Molina failed to even advance him to third. Man on second leading off the inning, three of your big offensive boppers coming up, and you can't get him home? Not going to win many games that way.
- Eduardo Sanchez looked very, very good in his first major league appearance of the season. I'm not sure if you can really use the word 'vintage' to refer to a player who has only been around for one season, but the slider that David DeJesus took for a called third strike last night was, well, vintage Sanchez. Hopefully the mechanical issues which have plagued Eduardo this season are a thing of the past and we can look forward to more of those kinds of performances.
- You know, every time I think Mitchell Boggs has things all figured out, and he's ready to take that next step forward to become an elite late-inning reliever, he goes and has a week like this one. He was shaky in Arizona (and shaky is being charitable), shakier against the Braves, and failed in a crucial situation last night. The problem with Boggs' performance wasn't an excessive number of baserunners; it was falling behind Alfonso Soriano 2-0 after an intentional walk to Bryan LaHair. Boggs has owned Soriano in the past, but when you miss with the first two against a hitter who is generally willing to get himself out if only you'll give him the opportunity, that's just asking for trouble. And trouble, of course, is just what Boggs got. Boggs' numbers on the season are still quite good, but after a sterling April that made us all -- or maybe just me, the sucker -- believe he was really ready for that next big step, May has seen him revert right back to the old Mitchell Boggs, with shaky command and far too many hits resulting in frustration for those who have to watch him night after night, wondering how a guy with that arm could possibly get such mediocre results.
- Rafael Furcal going 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts makes me a sad panda. It also goes a long way in explaining why the Cardinals had trouble scoring last night. Furcal has been unbelievably brilliant in the early going this season; getting on base roughly six times per game (factual!), as a leadoff hitter makes the offense behind you look awfully good. Hopefully that was the last Ofer we see out of Raffy for awhile.