Tag Archive | "League Pitcher"

Lance Lynn is good, but St. Louis Cardinals run support has made him All-Star-caliber

No big-league pitcher has won more games than St. Louis Cardinals right-handed starter Lance Lynn in the past year-and-a-half, but that doesn’t mean Lynn has been the best pitcher in that time period.

Lance Lynn

Far from it, actually.

Lynn won his 26th game since the beginning of the 2012 season with a one-run, five-hit performance through seven innings Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium.

Yes, Lynn gave up just one run, but the Cardinals scored four runs in the first four innings, and seven in the first six, to give Lynn a comfortable margin by the time he faced the Diamondbacks hitters for a second and third time in the 7-1 victory.

And that’s been the theme of Lynn’s career.

Lynn was an All-Star in 2012 when he started the season with 10 wins in his first 13 starts. However, the Cardinals offense provided him four runs or more in all but one of those wins. That outlier game was a 1-0 win June 13 over the Chicago White Sox in Lynn’s most impressive start of the season: 7.1 innings, three hits and 12 strikeouts.

Otherwise, Lynn got to hide behind ample run support, even as he allowed three or more runs in seven of those first 13 starts.

With that said, Lynn is a good pitcher, no doubt. He posted a 2.42 earned-run average in those first 13 starts of 2012, but it ballooned to 3.41 by the All-Star break as he tired in the summer heat. Lynn finished 18-7 for the season with a 3.78 ERA, which ranked fourth among the seven regular starting pitchers the Cardinals used throughout the season.

Lynn was nearly a 20-game winner, but he also nearly gave up an average of four runs per game. Thankfully for him, the Cardinals scored an average of 6.06 runs in his starts, the most runs support any pitcher received in 2012. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t receive any Cy Young award consideration even though only five pitchers in Major League Baseball had more wins.

But he won games nonetheless, and he has carried that formula into 2013. Through 12 starts, the Cardinals have averaged 5.89 runs per game and have scored fewer than four runs just once.

Lynn has received the fifth-most run support of any starter in baseball so far this season, and his record reflects the help his offense has provided. He is 8-1, and that loss was the only time the Cardinals scored fewer than four runs, a 2-1 loss May 7 to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Perhaps Lynn’s spot in the rotation helps. The Cardinals have primarily slotted him in the third or fourth spot, which means he usually doesn’t pitch opposite of one of the opponent’s top pitchers. Therefore, the fourth-ranked Cardinals offense can feast on lesser pitchers while Lynn cruises through quality start after quality start. He has 25 of those in his 43 career starts.

Lynn’s 2.76 ERA this season is certainly good, and he deserves to be in the discussion as one of the best pitchers so far in 2013, but 20 pitchers have a lower ERA, and all but seven of those pitchers have fewer than seven wins. Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks is the only one to have more wins (nine) and a lower ERA (2.06).

So Lynn’s stats that will likely get him selected to his second All-Star team in as many seasons are deceiving, but that doesn’t matter to the Cardinals, which are 9-3 in his starts this season.

Lynn wins, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

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Yahoo Sports: A Look at the Future St. Louis Cardinals Hurlers

COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Cardinals organization has been named by many different sources as having one of the best farm systems in baseball and the pitching talent is a large reason for that. Perspective becomes increasingly important however when determining if a pitcher is considered a major-league pitcher or a top-of-the-rotation major league pitcher.


My previous article took a look at why the Adam Wainwright extension was a much more sound decision than the possibility of signing Albert Pujols to a long-term deal would have been. During that discussion, I point out that Wainwright was much harder to replace since there were very few arms in the minor league system that project to take over his position as “ace” with this club.

Many fans have to wonder what I might have been talking about. The young pitching has looked more than impressive at the end of 2012 and during the spring of 2013. Why then, fans wonder, would I say that there is only one pitcher that projects to be the potential heir to the Wainwright throne?

Click here to read an in depth look at the young hurlers in the Cardinals organization.

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Who Is Number Two In KC Rotation?

The Kansas City Royals took huge measures this offseason to fix their number one on-field issue, the rotation.  The addition of James Shields gave them a legitimate ace pitcher at the front of their rotation.  The rebuilt rotation looks stronger but leaves the question open: Who’s number two?


Throughout 2012 the opinion around the Royals fanbase was very similar.  Many people felt that the team was full of pitchers that projected as the fourth or fifth best pitcher in a rotation.  There was no clear cut “ace” nor was there anyone that the fans felt confident in taking the mound to stop a losing streak.  The team had major league quality pitching, it just was not elite.

Dayton Moore seemingly set out to fix that during the end of 2012 and into the offseason.  A three year contract was reached with Jeremy Guthrie, who had pitched very well after joining the Royals during the second half of 2012, and trades were made for Shields, Wade Davis, and Ervin Santana.  The fifth spot is up for grabs this spring and eventually Danny Duffy will join these four to round out the starting five.

Shields obviously will head line the starting rotation for the Royals and is the type of pitcher that would headline most rotations across baseball.  Last year was a team full of rotation guys that projected as four and five starters, this year, it appears that the rotation may be full of guys that are top-three style pitchers.

Looking at the four starters that are set into the rotation this season, where will they rank at the end of 2013?

Wade Davis: Number Four
Davis has been a solid Major League pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays.  In four seasons he has proven to be a durable starter and a reliable relief pitcher.  The Royals brought him in as insurance and an upgrade over the pitchers they currently had, but he was never projected to be near the top of the rotation.  Davis will provide some inning-eating starts throughout the summer and be serviceable in his role, but ultimately will remain as a lower-rotation starter that may end up back in the bullpen before long if other pitchers are pitching well when Duffy returns.

Ervin Santana: Number Three
Santana is the pitcher that the Royals most hope can realize his potential.  In eight seasons of starting pitching for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Santana has won 16 or more games three times in his career.  He has also lost 12 or more games three times as well.  An up-and-down career has seen moments of brilliance and frustration for Santana.  The Royals will hope that Dave Eiland can work with Santana on mechanical flaws in his delivery and help him regain his top-of-the-rotation form.  Santana should be able to be the number three starter when the smoke clears, though Kansas City may be hoping he is better than that.

Jeremy Guthrie: Number Two
Looking at past performance of all three starters would rank Guthrie much lower in this conversation.  However, in recent interviews Guthrie has talked very openly about a renewed confidence, a satisfaction with management and coaching and overcoming a mental block that he felt kept him for being a better pitcher in Colorado.  He has spoken to the fact that Kauffman Stadium is a pitcher friendly environment and that he feels that he has one of the best defenses in the league behind him.  The confidence shows in his statistics from last season, with nearly all of his stats showing best in his career type numbers.  He is pitching to contact, keeping the ball in the park, and letting his defense do the work.

By the time the smoke clears on the 2013 season, the Royals will be looking at a rotation that will feature top-tier players at most of the slots.  Jeremy Guthrie has every opportunity to become a great part of that rotation for the next three years.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Royals Add Shields, Davis Trading Myers, Odorizzi

KANSAS CITY, MO (December 9, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals tonight acquired right-handed starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash considerations from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league outfielder Wil Myers, right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi, left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery and third baseman Patrick Leonard.

Shields, who will turn 31 on December 20, has established himself as one of the premier pitchers in the American League. He followed up an All-Star campaign in 2011, in which posted a 16-12 record with a 2.82 ERA and finished third in the A.L. Cy Young voting, by posting a 15-10 record with a 3.52 ERA in 33 starts with Tampa Bay last season. In 227.2 innings, Shields allowed 208 hits, walked 58 and struck out 223, just two shy of his career best set in 2011 and the third-most in the league. Shields is joined by the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Tigers’ Justin Verlander as the only four pitchers in baseball to record at least 220 strikeouts in the last two seasons.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander has compiled an 87-73 career record with a 3.89 ERA in 218 games (217 starts) all for the Rays since making his debut in 2006. Since tossing 124.2 innings in 21 starts during his rookie campaign, Shields has won at least 11 games, made at least 31 starts and topped the 200-inning mark in six straight seasons. He joins the Jays’ Mark Buehrle, the Giants’ Matt Cain, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and Verlander as the only five pitchers in baseball to post at least 200 innings in six straight seasons. In 2011, his 11 complete games were the most by a Major League pitcher since Arizona’s Randy Johnson had 12 in 1999.

Shields and his wife, Ryane, reside in Clearwater, Fla., with their two daughters. The couple is active with a number of charities specifically geared toward foster children and James was the Rays recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The 27-year-old Davis made a combined 64 starts for the Rays from 2009 to 2011 before pitching exclusively in the bullpen for Tampa Bay in 2012. He went 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA last season, allowing 48 hits and 29 walks with 87 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder made 29 starts in both 2010 and 2011 and finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after posting a 12-10 record with a 4.07 ERA in 2010. Davis is 28-22 with a 3.94 ERA in 118 career outings, including 64 starts. He is 25-22 in his career as a starter with a 4.22 ERA, including an 8-2 mark with a 3.38 ERA in 30 games (18 starts) against A.L. Central foes.

Davis and his wife, Katelyn, reside in Lake Wales, Fla. Davis organized the Full Count Foundation to help children who are at risk or have special needs or chronic illnesses.

Myers, who will turn 22 on December 10, was the 2012 Baseball America, USA Today and Topps Minor League Baseball Player of the Year after hitting a combined .314 with 37 home runs and 109 RBI in 134 games for Northwest Arkansas (AA) and Omaha (AAA). He was the Royals’ third round selection in the 2009 June Free Agent Draft.

The 22-year-old Odorizzi went 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 26 outings (25 starts) for Northwest Arkansas and Omaha in 2012 before making two starts for the Royals in September, going 0-1. He was acquired by Kansas City in a six-player trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on December 19, 2012.

Montgomery, 23, split his season between Omaha and Northwest Arkansas, posting a 5-12

record with a 6.07 ERA in 27 starts. He was the Royals’ supplemental first round selection (36 th

overall) in 2008.

The 20-year-old Leonard batted .251 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI in 62 games for Burlington (R) in 2012. He was the club’s fifth-round pick in the 2011 Draft.

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Odorizzi named Pitcher of the Week

SPRINGDALE, AR – Naturals’ right-hander Jake Odorizzi has been selected as the Texas League Pitcher of the Week for the period of April 30th-May 6th, Texas League President Tom Kayser announced Monday.

The Highland, Illinois resident has both set and tied the Naturals franchise record for strikeouts in a game with 11 on two different occasions.  The first 11 strikeout performance came on April 23 against Springfield.  In his most recent start against the North Division leading Tulsa Drillers on May 5, he again fanned 11.  Odorizzi threw seven and a third innings allowing just two hits and one earned run.

Odorizzi is 3-2 on the season and is leading the starting staff in ERA (3.48), innings pitched (31.0), and strikeouts (40).  His 40 strikeouts are ranked third in the Texas League.

Cody Decker of the San Antonio Missions was named as the Player of the Week for the Texas League.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale.  Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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March Madness Cardinal Tourney – Round One

Earlier today we introduced the UCB All Time Cardinal Team Tournament.

This tournament of 64 different Cardinal franchises will start today here on i70baseball and on Pitchers Hit Eighth.

The Buck Region belongs to us and our match-ups follow below.  Please take the time to vote on the various games and help us determine who the best of the best really is.

Voting for this round will close on Saturday, March 17, at 8:00 p.m. Central Time

The 1942Cardinals hold the record for the most wins in franchise history (106). They won the World Series, only losing one game to the Yankees. Enos Slaughter was the team’s top performing player posting a 7.1 WAR.

The 1917 Cardinals finished 3rd in the National League with a 82-70 record. Rogers Hornsby led the team in WAR, posting a 9.2.

Round 1 Game

  • (1) 1942 (100%, 26 Votes)
  • (16) 1917 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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The 1947Cards posted a 89-65 record while finishing second in the National League. Whitey Kurowski was the best on the team, posting a 6.2 WAR.

The 1957 team was also a second place finisher, posting a 87-67 record. Stan Musial would lead the team with a 6.6 WAR.

Round 1 Game 2

  • (9) 1957 (69%, 18 Votes)
  • (8) 1947 (31%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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 The 2005 team won 100 games, yet lost in the NLCS to the Houston Astros.  Albert Pujols led the team with a 8.2 WAR.

The 2008 team would finish in 4th place while posting a 86-76 record.  Albert Pujols would lead this team with a 9.6 WAR.

Round 1 Game 3

  • (5) 2005 (100%, 26 Votes)
  • (12) 2008 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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The 1943 team would win 105 games and lose the World Series to the New York Yankees.  Stan Musial led the boys with a 8.9 WAR.

1977 was a sentimental pick.  The year I was born, the Cards went 83-79 and finished 3rd in the National League East.  Ted Simmons led the team with a 6.3 WAR.

Round 1 Game 4

  • (4) 1943 (92%, 24 Votes)
  • (13) 1977 (8%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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 In 1944 Cardinals won a World Series title after winning a second consecutive 105 win season.  Stan Musial would post a 9.1 WAR to lead the team.

The 14th seed is the 1914 club.  They finished 81-72, 3rd in the league.  Pitcher Harry “Slim” Sallee led the team with a 4.8 WAR.

Round 1 Game 5

  • (3) 1944 (96%, 25 Votes)
  • (14) 1914 (4%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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 2009 would see the Cardinals finish at 91-71 and lose the NLDS to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Albert Pujols would led the team with a 8.8 WAR.

The 1991 Cardinals would finish in 2nd place, their highest finish under Joe Torre.  Ozzie Smith would led the team with a 4.7 WAR.

Round 1 Game 6

  • (6) 2009 (65%, 17 Votes)
  • (11) 1991 (35%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 26

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The 1935 Cardinals would finish second in the league despite a 96-58 record.  Dizzy Dean posted a 7.6 WAR.

1989 would give the Cardinals a 86-76 record, good enough to finish third.  Ozzie Smith would lead the team with a 6.3 WAR.

Round 1 Game 7

  • (7) 1935 (88%, 22 Votes)
  • (10) 1989 (12%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 25

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The number two seed represents the site well, coming from 1985.  The team won 101 games and lost the World Series to the Royals.

The 15th seed comes from the year prior, in 1984.  They would finish 84-78 and third in the division.  Bruce Sutter’s 4.5 WAR would lead the team.

Round 1 Game 8

  • (2) 1985 (100%, 24 Votes)
  • (15) 1984 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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Please vote and share the brackets with your friends.  The polls will close on Saturday and the winners will move on to next week’s rounds.

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Holland Expects To Lead Improved Pen

Minus the venerable veteran Joakim Soria, the Kansas City Royals bullpen had to have felt about like a college pitching staff last season. The primary contributors ranged in age from 21 to 25.

Whether by choice or by default, the Royals stocked their bullpen with rookies and rolled the dice last season. The results were mixed, but the experience gained gives KC much to be excited about going into 2012.

Greg Holland was the most effective setup man of the bunch.

“It was just a lot of fun,” Holland said of being part of such a young bullpen. “I think with being a young team we have a lot of camaraderie that I don’t know if a lot of other teams have.”

Holland leads a group of relievers, including Crow, Louis Coleman, Tim Collins, Blake Wood and Nate Adcock, who were barely old enough to buy a beer to celebrate victories last season. He said the group’s experience winning together at the minor league level could help them be successful in KC.

“We’ve been through highs and lows, all the way from the time we were drafted to being on the same (minor league) teams all the way up to the major league season.

“We’re young, but we expect to win,” Holland said at a recent Royals caravan stop. “I think being young, we’re ready to go out there and raise the bar.”

And no young reliever is generating more enthusiasm than Holland. While Aaron Crow got the most publicity and the all-star invitation, Holland quietly impressed those who know pitching best.

None other than Jeff Montgomery, media analyst and former Royals all-star, is singing Holland’s praises.

“He certainly has proven to himself, and to his teammates and to the organization, that he has the stuff to do whatever they want him to do as a major league pitcher,” Montgomery said recently, stating that Holland has all the makings of a big league closer.

A rocky big league baptism in 2010 forced Holland to begin last season in Omaha, but a promotion wasn’t long in coming.

While the other rookies ran hot and cold, Holland was consistent and effective from the moment he was promoted in May. In 60 innings, Holland surrendered just a .933 WHIP and struck out 74. His 1.80 ERA was by far the best of any Royal with more than 15 innings pitched.

Strikeouts have always been a part of Holland’s game. Unfortunately, so have control issues. Holland credits his ability to get ahead of hitters for the improvement.

“I got my first call-up in 2010, and my problem was not getting ahead in counts,” Holland said. “I was falling behind and then having to be too predictable. You know, 2-0 fastballs are a lot easier to hit than 0-2 fastballs.

“I knew, and the coaches knew, and the front office knew, that I had the stuff to be good. It was just how long is it going to take me to figure out how to get ahead. I really worked on it and got better at it and was able to do it for pretty much the whole year.”

Holland said he might have had more success than his bullpen mates because he learned to control his thoughts on the mound.

“I don’t have it all figured out, but I know I was able to control myself,” Holland said. “When things start going bad, it’s always better to give up one run than two runs. And you’re going to give up runs. So you’ve got to stay calm so that you don’t compound those mistakes.

“You see guys get amped up in those situations and then you walk a guy and that leads to an extra run. Being able to control your emotions helps a lot.”

Montgomery points to mechanics when describing Holland’s closer-type stuff.

“Everything he throws is going downhill,” Montgomery said. “Whether it’s from the arm angle or if its from the velocity, or the lack of, and the movement of the baseball, if things are going down, you have a chance to get hitters out. And that’s what I saw from Greg Holland from day one last year.

“He reminds me a lot of myself, because he’s a guy who wasn’t a high draft choice, wasn’t a guy who was expected to be closer someday. But he’s got the stuff to do it.”

Taken in the 10th round as a 21-year-old out of Western Carolina University, Holland needed four-plus years of development in the minors to get him ready to succeed in the big leagues at age 26.

Montgomery, also a former collegian, was drafted in the 9th round and didn’t become a full-time big leaguer until he was 26.

Montgomery spent a couple of years in the set up role before amassing 304 saves as a closer. Holland may well be on a similar career path. He saved four games last year, while also notching five wins in relief.

Holland so impressed the league that his name has come up in trade rumors this winter. But to this point, the Royals seem determined to hold onto him.

With Soria and newcomer Jonathan Broxton the likely candidates to close games this season, Holland’s role remains to be seen. But he says he doesn’t mind that KC added Broxton to the mix.

“He’s an all-star, and he’s proven he can close, so that was a really big move,” Holland said. “I feel like we’ve got four or five guys down there who are legitimate closers.”

Holland believes his bullpen mates will be more than just a year older this season. He foresees dramatic progress as a whole.

“We expect to do better than last year. If everyone stays healthy, you’ve got Broxton and Soria who are all-star caliber closers. And then Crow who was an all-star last year. Timmy (Collins) had some walk issues, but has electric stuff. We’ve all seen that. I think we have a really good chance of being a top-notch bullpen.”

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Omaha Pitcher Snags PCL Award

Mendoza Earns PCL Pitcher of the Year Honors
Storm Chasers’ right-hander adds to his hardware haul in memorable 2011 season


OMAHA, Neb. — Omaha Storm Chasers right-hander Luis Mendoza has been named the 2011 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, the league office announced Wednesday. Through August 30, he has compiled an 11-5 record with a PCL-best 2.15 ERA, a league-best 1.25 WHIP and has held opponents to a league-low .241 batting average.

In addition to his PCL Pitcher of the Year Award, Mendoza has been a part of the 30-member mid-season PCL All-Star Team, the 12-member post-season All-PCL Team and won the league’s Pitcher of the Week award for the week ending August 21. He has also been named the Omaha Pitcher of the Year by the Kansas City Royals organization.

Mendoza has been professional baseball’s best pitcher over the past three months. Since May 26, the 27-year-old has gone 10-2 with a 1.24 earned run average over 108.2 innings pitched, including 9-0 with a 1.19 ERA in 10 road appearances. He has taken no-hit or one-hit shutouts into at least the seventh inning of four starts, including a complete-game one-hitter against Memphis on July 18. He has also earned two saves out of the bullpen.

Mendoza is the first pitcher to be honored as the PCL Pitcher of the Year since Omaha joined the league in 1998. He is the third member of the franchise in 43 years to win his league’s top pitcher award, joining Mark Littell (1973) and Mark Huismann (1985) from the American Association.

The Veracruz, Mexico native earned more than two-thirds of the votes by the league’s field managers and media. He will start Wednesday night’s game against the Round Rock Express.

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Cardinals Survive La Russa’s Over-Managing, Win I-70 Series Ugly

Former major league pitcher, Scott Bailes, once told all a manager has to do to be great is stay out of the way.

“A great manager is worth maybe 4 wins a year,” he said when I asked how important managers really are in the game of baseball. Most would agree that Tony La Russa is a great manager, but that doesn’t mean he won’t drive you crazy sometimes.

Sunday’s rubber game of the I-70 series was a perfect example of La Russa overthinking and over-managing his ballclub. The Cardinals jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable 6-1 lead in the top of the 5th, so Tony decided to protect the 5 run cushion with a defensive replacement for 2nd baseman Allen Craig. Craig walked, mashed a 2-run home run, and ripped a single right through Royals’ 1st baseman, Eric Hosmer. It was after that 5th inning single that Craig was lifted in favor of Tyler Greene. Greene eventually came around to score on an RBI fielder’s choice by Matt Holliday, who just so happened to be the next casualty to La Russa’s lineup shuffle.

La Russa felt Holliday might have aggravated his sore quad muscle, so he decided to “play it safe” and lift Holliday for backup catcher, Gerald Laird. Holliday was already the designated hitter, and could’ve easily stayed in the game, but La Russa yanked him anyway. Now at the time, this was probably the right move, but it’s tough to take two big bats out of the lineup in a matter of five minutes…even with a 7-1 lead.

In the bottom of the 5th, the writing on the wall became clear. With two outs and runners at the corners, Jaime Garcia induced what would’ve been an inning ending pop-up to short. But pop-up was dropped by… you guessed it… Tony’s defensive replacement, Tyler Greene. This was Greene’s second such drop of a pop up in a week, the first of which also came during a Jaime Garcia start. The Cardinals were still in control though with a 7-2 lead through five.

The biggest head scratcher was La Russa’s quick hook with Jaime Garcia in the 6th. Garcia had only thrown 84 pitches and still held a 7-3 lead after giving up a leadoff home run. Garcia is among the league leaders in innings pitched and typically goes deep into games, but pulling him with 12 outs to go seemed incredibly premature. Not surprisingly, the Royals exploited the Cardinals bullpen for 4 runs in the next 2 innings, tying the game up at 7.

You thought Tony was done making questionable moves? Think again. With 2 on and no outs in the Top of the 9th, Tony ordered Daniel Descalso to bunt the runners over. That’s all well and good, but you know what else moves the runners up? A Walk. Yet La Russa had Descalso lay down a sacrifice on a 3-0 pitch. 3-0! The move backfired, and the Cardinals limped into extra innings.

Fortunately for Cardinals fans, the only thing that can overcome inept managing is inept pitching, and that’s exactly what the Royals offered in the 10th. The Cardinals were able to plate two runs on a leadoff walk, an error, a hit batsman, and two more walks with the bases loaded.

The Cardinals were lucky to survive their manager and claim the first of two I-70 series this year. The rematch comes in mid-June back home at Busch.

The good news is: The Cardinals will again be the favorites to win the next installment of the series.

The bad news is: Tony is already salivating at the chance to out-smart and American League manager in a national league park.

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Former World Series Winner Returns To The Royals

I woke up this morning with an upbeat feeling about the start the Royals had this season. They went 3-1 against a solid ball club. This is some evidence that the Royals front office knew what they were doing when they let go some of the veteran players that were already proven.

Then this morning I found out the Royals made another quality move, resigning Jeff Suppan to a minor league deal. This move gives the Royals yet another option to their quality pitching staff in Omaha, but also gives the Royals an option to bring up a veteran pitcher that has experienced both the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows as a major league pitcher.

Jim Breen from Bernie’s Crew had this to say about Suppan in the past:

Suppan benefited from a few solid seasons at the hands of Dave Duncan in St. Louis, but was never able to rediscover that magic in Milwaukee. At that time, it was the biggest contract in the history of the organization. When Suppan began to struggle, Brewers fans felt cheated and that Suppan was not delivering his side of the bargain — which is not exactly fair, as Suppan was never exactly a good pitcher.

He experienced moderate success while pitching for the Royals, with 3 consecutive 10-win seasons. However, his high point came when he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. He ended up wining forty-four games in his three-year stint with the Cardinals (2004-2006), in addition to making nine post-season starts as well. He won the NLCS MVP award in 2006. He also pitched very well in the World Series that year.

Another thing going for Suppan coming back to the Royals is the familiarity he and current manager Ned Yost have with each other. (Yost was his manger while Suppan was in Milwaukee.) If the Royals need a pitcher called up during the course of this season, Jeff Suppan is more than likely going to be on Yost’s short list.

Once again, Breen had some thoughts on Suppan’s time in Kansas City:

For the Royals, very little risk exists on a minor league deal. He will always be known for being one of the “failed contracts” that came out of the 2006-2007 offseason. Forgiveness can come quickly in the game of baseball, but a fanbase that feels fleeced by a bad contract will not forgive easily. To Brewers fans, he will always be a disappointment, a pitcher that collected a huge paycheck, but never delivered.

That is too bad, as Suppan was a model citizen in the community and was actually a Roberto Clemente nominee for the Brewers — an award given to a player who emulates exemplary community engagement and community service. He was a great influence in the Brewers’ clubhouse and an all-around nice guy. That is almost always overshadowed by his underwhelming performance on the mound.

Even if he spends most of the year in Omaha, the Royals will see the dividends of bringing in a quality veteran to help the plethora of young pitchers the Royals having coming up through their farm system. Having a guy like Suppan is like adding another pitching coach to the staff but also having the benefit of having him play every four or five days.

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