The Cardinals leave the second leg of their 10-game road trip from Philadelphia in a series that wasn’t a complete loss, but also was an example of problems of both the past and current showing their head. Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn authored fantastic efforts in two wins, yet in the games in-between two winnable games were booted. On Friday, Jaime Garcia looked like the version of him that has been most criticized; the one that was killed on the road. However, Sunday night’s loss was the most detrimental, with another late inning failure that lost a winnable game and continued to keep the club floating around .500.
Yet at the same time, they did manage to split another series on this tough East Coast road swing, and remain close to the picture atop the National League Central. How long they can remain there however, considering the amount of issues that are being to peak late in games, is anybody’s guess. As they begin a return to Washington DC, here are three things to look back at from the series that was.
1. Bogged Down: The resounding moment from the weekend was yet another implosion from Mitchell Boggs on Sunday night. Entering a tie game in the eighth inning, Boggs was blitzed to the tone of four runs on four hits, including the game breaking RBI single from Ben Revere, and the following nail in the coffin, three-run homer from Eric Kratz (who entered the at-bat hitting .190 on the year). This raised Boggs ERA on the year to 12.46, and became his fourth late-inning collapse in three weeks.
If there’s one thing to take away from the sudden assault that ended Sunday night’s ballgame is that it cleared up the dilemma of who is going to close games down, because Boggs has to be out of the picture now. Whether it’s a mechanical issue or something more, it can’t be worked out in high pressure situations, and Mike Matheny has to recognize that. Boggs broke down and began throwing by the time Kratz hit his home run, and looked lost in the woods. The frustration of his effort has derailed him to the point where it’s clear that he can’t pitch the last inning, but what type of game situation will be safe to utilize him in at all? How this situation is handled in the upcoming games will show a lot about if there is potentially another long-term issue in the pen regarding utilizing Boggs in any capacity.
2. Crisis Averted: On Sunday night, Matt Adams stepped to the plate having already reached base twice on the night, and sporting a .565 average and with the bases loaded ahead of him. Although it has become nearly a habit for him to destroy the ball in any given situation, this time he struck out looking on a Chad Durbin cutter, which if he’d connected on in his usual fashion, would have taken the push for more at-bats to him to a code red explosion level. He’s hit in every situation thus far, and went 2 for 3 on Sunday with his third double of the year. While he continues to be a dangerous presence off the bench, and a once per series starter, the torches that his growing group of supporters for an everyday position are waving may have gotten thrown into Mike Matheny’s office if he’d come through in that moment. Considering the amount of controversy on the who’s, when’s and where’s that are already in play, that would have been the last thing needed right now for him.
3. Beltran’s Back: While the offense as a whole continues to struggle to get on the same page at the same time, perhaps Carlos Beltran had his turning point versus a team that he has been particularly brutal on over his career. Beltran launched three home runs in the first three games of the series, raising his career totally vs. the Phils to 30, his most against any team in his career. For the weekend, he hit .437 (7 for 16), and has hit .375 over the past week.