Tag: Matt Adams

Astros dogpile

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Astros 3, Mariners 2: Jose Altuve hit a walkoff single in the tenth inning, lifting the Astros to their seventh straight win. Altuve was up, by the way, because Lloyd McLendon decided to walk Colby Rasmus to get to Altuve with a man on second. I suppose that whole set-up-the-double-play thing has been on page 16 of the Managerial Handbook for 100 year, but I feel like “Don’t Pass Up a Much Easier Hitter To Get To The Reigning American League Batting Champion” is on page 13 or 14. In any event, I’d rather go after Rasmus, hope to get him out and then be able to be carful with Altuve, but I’m just some schmo in my armchair. Oh well. The Astros’ 15-7 record and .681 winning percentage represents their best April in 29 years.

Cardinals 9, Phillies 3: After a slow start to the year the Cards’ offense is now clicking. Some may choose to believe that adjusting the batting order, dropping Matt Carpenter down from the leadoff spot and stuff is what has done the trick. I prefer the Occam’s Razor=friendly explanation which has only one variable, with that being “the Phillies have been in town.” As it was, Carpenter doubled, singled and walked twice. Matt Adams had three hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in three.

Twins 12, White Sox 2: In basketball, the big star is almost always going to have a good game, even if the team comes up flat. In football, teams can be out of synch — quarterbacks and receivers not on the same page or the game plan disrupted by a superior defense — but it’s not like the quarterbacks forget how to throw or the receivers forget how to run routs. In baseball, though? Dang, sometimes even the best players show up to the park and simply don’t have it. Like Chris Sale last night. He’s one of the best in the game but, sometimes, you just don’t have anything and one of the worst teams in the game beat you around like the Twins did last night. But, in baseball, you also don’t get a week’s worth of thinkpieces about it. No one talks about benching Sale or questions his skills. We just say “huh, I’ll be damned,” shrug our shoulders and forget it the next day, his inflated ERA the only real reminder of that shellacking. It’s part of what I love about baseball. Here, as in life, you’re best not to dwell on a bad day. And most of the time we don’t.

Angels 6, Athletics 5: Kole Calhoun drove in three, but this catch from Mike Trout with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth is what everyone was talking about:

Watch the second time they show the play on video — the one with the wide shot showing Trout’s positioning before the ball hit off the bat — and note how immediately that dude breaks back once you hear the crack. Just outstanding instincts and a quick-as-all-get-out read.

Blue Jays 5, Indians 1: The Jays plated five in the fourth with some walks, singles and doubles strung together. Which for them anyway is small ball. Blue Jays starter Daniel Norris threw 78 pitches in three innings without allowing a run somehow. That’s quite a trick. Normally that would spell disaster, but the Jays’ pen — Jeff Francis, Roberto Ozuna, Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil — allowed only one run over six.

Reds 5, Braves 1: Mike Leake tossed eight shutout innings and hit a homer to [all together now] help his own cause. Todd Frazier, Tucker Barnhart and Billy Hamilton all had solo homers, helping Leake’s own cause as well. And their own, because there is no “i” in “own cause.”

Nationals 8, Mets 2: Remember way, way back at the beginning of the season when the Mets couldn’t lose and the Nationals couldn’t win and we were talking about how great it was for New York and how crappy and underachieving Washington was? Nah, me neither. The Mets have dropped five of seven since their big winning streak. The Nats have notched three wins in a row. Bryce Harper hit two doubles and drove in three.

Royals 8, Tigers 1: Danny Duffy put up goose eggs into the eighth inning and Royals’ bats were not fooled by Alfredo Simon. Eric Hosmer homered for the second straight day. The Royals finish April 15-7 and a half game up on Tigers in the Central.

When instant replay wrongs a right


With the score tied at 5 in the eighth inning of Sunday’s Cardinals-Reds game, Yadier Molina dropped down a sac bunt with runners on first and second and none out. It was a bad bunt and Molina was slow getting out of the box. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco picked up the ball and attempted to tag Molina without getting the call. No problem. Mesoraco simply threw to third for the force, and Todd Frazier was able to convert the double play by throwing to first.

That should have been the end of things. Except for one very important fact: Mesoraco did, in fact, tag Molina on the play.

The Cardinals saw the tag on replay, and Mike Matheny came out to challenge the call. Replay determined that Kerwin Danley blew it when he signaled that no tag was made. Unfortunately, at this point, Danley and crew chief Joe West decided that this meant Peter Bourjos was safe at third base, giving the Cardinals runners on second and third with one out in the frame.

That was totally the wrong outcome. Had Frazier known the tag was made on Molina and there was no force at third base, he would have been in position to make the tag on Bourjos at third base, completing the double play. It’s not 100 percent sure that he would have gotten the tag down, but it was clearly better than 50-50.

The crew is given discretion in cases like these to determine what should have happened. Being that it was a Joe West crew, it’s not much of a surprise that the decision turned out wrong. At least the Cardinals failed to capitalize, with Kolten Wong and Matt Adams popping up to end the inning and keep the game tied.

Still, if you ask me, plays like this are another reason that managers should not be involved in the replay process. I don’t want managers looking for technicalities in order to steal or revoke outs. This was basically a loophole that Matheny crawled through; the defense earned this double play, only to be stripped of it by Danley’s bad call. The very thing replay was designed to overcome was used against it here.

Opening Night lineups: Cardinals vs. Cubs

wrigley old

Here are the starting lineups for Sunday’s Opening Night game between the Cardinals and Cubs …

St. Louis Cardinals

3B Matt Carpenter
RF Jason Heyward
LF Matt Holliday
SS Jhonny Peralta
1B Matt Adams
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
CF Jon Jay
SP Adam Wainwright

Chicago Cubs

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Jorge Soler
1B Anthony Rizzo
SS Starlin Castro
LF Chris Coghlan
C David Ross
3B Mike Olt
SP Jon Lester
2B Tommy La Stella

Peralta batting cleanup instead of Adams is somewhat of a surprise, but otherwise this is a predictable look for the visiting Cardinals and manager Mike Matheny. Cubs manager Joe Maddon threw a bunch of wrenches into his lineup — from Soler batting second, to Castro batting cleanup, to Lester hitting eighth, to Ross starting over Miguel Montero at catcher against a righty. It seems Lester may already have a personal catcher in Chicago.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. First pitch at Wrigley Field is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.

2015 Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

wainwright getty

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The St. Louis Cardinals.

The Big Question: What will the Cardinals get from Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha?

Adam Wainwright posted a career-best 2.38 ERA in 227 innings last season, guiding the Cardinals to their second straight division crown and a fourth straight appearance in the NLCS. But he acknowledged to fans and reporters at the club’s annual Winter Warm-Up in January that he didn’t have the strength to open a can of soda by the end of the 2014 postseason.

Since returning from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in April 2012, the 33-year-old Wainwright has logged more innings (playoffs included) than any other pitcher in baseball. His right elbow needed a cleanup procedure back in late October and Wainwright had to be whisked away from Cardinals camp this spring shortly after arriving because he strained an abdominal muscle while trying to return a 45 lb. weight to a rack.

The guy is a workhorse — with the ribbons and medals and flowered saddles of a top-flight racehorse — but there are flashing neon signs that point to a full-on breakdown. Beyond the health stuff, look at his tumbling strikeout rate: Waino finished with a 7.1 K/9 in 2014 after posting an 8.2 K/9 in 2013 and an 8.3 K/9 in 2012.

And then there’s Michael Wacha, who appeared to be emerging as a co-ace to Wainwright in 2013 when he registered a 2.78 ERA and 1.098 WHIP over his first 64 2/3 major league innings before becoming the second-youngest player to be awarded NLCS MVP. Wacha had a 2.79 ERA through his first 15 starts last year until a stress reaction in his throwing shoulder put him on the shelf in mid-June. The 23-year-old right-hander returned in early September, but he did not look like the same dude and he eventually served up the meatball that ended the Cardinals’ 2014 postseason run. (Cardinals fans might not want to click on that link).

Wainwright and Wacha are both expected to be healthy, contributing members of the Cardinals’ rotation when the 2015 regular season begins and Wainwright will probably even get the nod on Opening Night against the Cubs, but you’d have to be wearing Cardinal-red-colored glasses to project 200 innings out of each of them.

What else is going on?

  • For all the doom and gloom presented in the paragraphs above, St. Louis is equipped with the kind of rotation depth to navigate around the loss of a front-line starter (though losing two would be a dagger for any team). Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia, and Marco Gonzales are battling for one spot this spring and they all carry some level of promise. Martinez doesn’t have sparkling numbers in the major leagues, but he’s a hard-throwing 23-year-old righty with a nasty array of breaking pitches. Garcia is claiming that he finally feels healthy after being limited to a total of 16 starts between 2013-2014 due to chronic shoulder discomfort. The left-hander boasts a 3.50 ERA in 594 2/3 career innings and he has a 2.91 career ERA at pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium. Gonzales, the 19th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, owns a 2.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 8.7 K/9 in 145 1/3 minor league innings and has been the sharpest of the three in the 2015 Grapefruit League. One will slide into the rotation, one will probably head to the bullpen, and the Cardinals will likely stick the other guy at Triple-A Memphis as their “next man up.”
  • Lance Lynn and John Lackey are pretty good bets for 200-inning seasons with sub-3.75 ERAs. We could see a St. Louis rotation of Lynn, Lackey, Martinez, Garcia, and Gonzales at some point in 2015. That isn’t horrible, but it’s probably not a championship-level group either. The Cardinals have advanced to the NLCS in nine of the last 15 seasons — 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
  • Oscar Taveras was supposed to take over as the Cardinals’ starting right fielder in 2015, but he killed himself and his girlfriend Edilia Arvelo when he wrapped his car around a tree while driving drunk in the Dominican Republic last October 26. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak moved quickly to bring in a replacement, acquiring outfielder Jason Heyward and setup man Jordan Walden from the Braves on November 17 for right-handers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. Heyward is expected to bat second for the Cardinals, behind Matt Carpenter and in front of Matt Holliday. It’s a great fit for the 25-year-old Heyward, who is due to become a free agent next winter. He registered an .849 OPS (131 OPS+) as a rookie in 2010 and he slugged 27 home runs as a 22-year-old in 2012. St. Louis will be hoping that Heyward — a terrific defender — can finally put it all together offensively, even if this only turns out to be a one-year rental.
  • St. Louis finished 23rd in the majors last season in runs scored. Teams like the Mets, Astros, and Marlins had more productive offenses. But that’s what happens when you don’t get a breakout year from any of your hitters and your luck with runners in scoring position dries out. On paper, the Cardinals’ lineup for 2015 looks as lethal as any lineup in baseball. Matt Carpenter takes great at-bats at the top. Jason Heyward can do it all. Matt Holliday still has some pop left in his 35-year-old bat. Matt Adams should be ready for a step forward in his age-26 season. Jhonny Peralta tallied 21 homers and 75 RBI last summer and led the team in WAR. Yadier Molina, an all-time-great defensive catcher, has slashed .307/.357/.460 over the past three years. Jon Jay put up a .372 on-base percentage in 2014. And second baseman Kolten Wong carries 20-homer, 20-steal potential into what will essentially be his sophomore campaign.

Prediction: If the Cards keep Wainwright and Wacha away from the disabled list, they’ll run away with the National League Central and march to their first 100-win season since 2005. If they lose one or both of those arms, the Redbirds will have some stiff competition in a division that doesn’t really have a bad team. I’ll guess Wainwright and Wacha combine for around 280 innings — just enough for first place in the NL Central.

Two points of spring training optimism, one point of spring training pessimism


GLENDALE, Ariz. — Three other random observations from spring training this fine afternoon, all of which are very spring training-y kinds of thoughts.

1. This is Clayton Kershaw. He’s a bad, bad man:


But that bad, bad man also hung a curveball to Nick Hundley who deposited it over the fence, Matt Adams-style. I tweeted a joke about him being in postseason form after it happened and some people got genuinely irked. Some other people did the Twitter equivalent of nodding their heads. Combine that with this dumb article from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday about how the Dodgers’ postseason failure last year was due to some character deficit or something, and you see the makings of the Post-Hoc Narrative Industrial Complex. Baseball just happens, man. Sometimes curveballs get hung.

2. There were two scouts here in the Cambelback press box a couple of hours ago, talking about a pitcher. The pitcher looked good. Sharp. They were impressed by his ticked-up velocity. They think he has a chance to really be special this year. The pitcher’s name: Barry Zito. Indeed, they each prefaced their compliments about the guy with things like “I know it’s Zito,” or “I know it’s just a couple of games in,” but their excitement was real.

In the past I’d chalk all of this up to spring enthusiasm and stuff, but man, Scott Kazmir happened, so I’ll believe anything anymore.

3. Down the road from here in Goodyear, the Cubs are playing the Indians. A few minutes ago Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back-to-back homers off of Trevor Bauer.

I know there was already a ton of optimism about the Cubs heading into this season, but it’s probably off the charts in Cubs Country this afternoon.

I’ll be at Cubs camp in Mesa tomorrow to see how nuts it really is.