Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Series Preview - New York

For those of you coming from Cards Clubhouse, thanks for stopping by. Trivia answer is at the bottom.

St Louis flies to New York for a couplet with the Mets. Cardinals are 4-3 against New York this season, and dropped 3 of 4 at Citi Field back in June. This is another example of the ridiculous 2009 schedule; why was it necessary to play a 4 game set in June, then a 2 game set in August?

Mostly well-known tidbit: The Mets averaged 105 losses their first 7 seasons in the National League, then won the World Series in 1969. They were helped into the playoffs courtesy of an epic collapse by the Cubs, but going from finishing no higher than 9th to Champions of Baseball? No wonder that team wore the ‘Amazin’ Mets’ moniker.

Trivia Time: Can you name the starting rotation from the 1969 Mets, as well as the 1969 Cardinals?

Current snapshot

St Louis: 58-50, tie 1st NL Central, .001 percentage points behind Chicago. St Louis concluded a 5-2 home stand by getting shut out 2-0. Lost in all the Matt Holliday hoopla is the team only scoring 3 runs a game in their last 5, as well as Albert Pujols having cooled off significantly. Pujols is 14-62 with 2 HR since the break, and those 2 homers came in the first game after the break. Cause for concern. Ludwick hasn’t exactly lit it up since the break either (17-66, 2 HR, 10 RBI).

New York(N): 50-54, 4th NL East, 9.5 games behind Philadelphia. But for the Nationals they’d be in the basement. This is a team in disarray that is largely finished in 2009. Their DL reads like an All-Star Roster (Delgado, Reyes, Beltran, Putz, Wagner, Maine, among others). Then there’s the Tony Bernazard firing, the surreal press conference following that event, the HR Apple ‘issues’… they’re only 7.5 out of the Wild Card, but they have to jump over seven teams to win that. Not likely.

Pitching match-ups

4 August: Piniero vs Johan Santana (12-8, 2.96). Two-time CY Young winner Santana returns to the hill to torment the Cardinals. He beat Chris Carpenter 3-2 in a memorable game on 25 June that lived up to its billing. Santana is currently tied for th NL lead in wins with 12. He’s pitched very well against the Cardinals; in his 2 starts, he’s 2-0 with a 1.12 ERA.

He’s also 2-0 against Piniero in his career (win 2-1 on 28 Aug 02, and 7-3 on 8 June 06; there’s a ND as well (28 May 06)). Those games were while Joel was a Mariner and Santana a Twin.

Molina leads the current Cardinals in success against him (3-7, RBI). Pujols and Ludwick have homered off Johan. Khalil and Ryan lead the team in futility, they are 0-8 and 0-7, respectively, against Santana.

Piniero had a fantastic July and should be in the running for NL Pitcher of the Month. He went 3-0 (the team was 5-0 when he started) with a 1.22 ERA and a ridiculous .497 OPS during the month. That’s not a typo. He has owned the Mets this season, winning 5-2 in STL (22 April) and shutting them out 3-0 on 23 June. He pitched into the ninth both times.

David Wright is 5-14 with 2 doubles against. Angel Berroa (3-10), Jeff Francoeur (3-10), and Fernando Tatis (2-6) have had some success in limited action.

5 Aug: Lohse vs Livan Hernandez (7-5, 4.77). Livan has faced the Cardinals twice this year and is 0-2. He got lit up in his first start, giving up 7 ER in 4 1/3 of a 12-8 loss. His second start was better, but he opposed the Joel Piniero buzzsaw and lost 3-0. Livan remains your classic junkball pitcher, one of those guys who just keeps changing speeds and location.

Lots of Cardinals like to see him walk to the mound (WARNING! Small Sample Size anomalies follow), none more than Brendan Ryan (5-7, HR). The list of Cardinal regulars hitting .400 or better against him includes Schumaker (3-7) and Lugo (8-20). Pujols has 3 HR in 40 plate appearances. I don’t expect to see Khalil start in this series at all, and his 3-23 mark against Hernandez assures if he does start, it won’t be in this game. Ludwick is 1-10 off Hernandez, so he might sit this one out.

Lohse showed signs of coming around. His start against the Dodgers was his best since coming off the DL, as well as his best since his 8 shutout innings in KC on 23 May. He’s only given up one run in his last 9 innings pitched, so that’s something to build on for sure. Lohse beat Hernandez on in that 12-8 game on 23 April. As near as I can tell, that’s the only time the two have faced each other.

Lots of Mets hit well against Lohse (their team average is .327 off him, with a .374 OBP) Guys who DON’T hit him well include Francoeur (1-13) and, well, Francoeur. Everyone else is at least a .273 hitter. Yikes. Wright, Sheffield, Tatis, and Brian Schneider have all hit a Lohse pitch a looong way.

Prognosis/prediction. Cubs are in Cincinnati to take on the hapless Reds, so the Cardinals will need to win both these games to keep pace. Lohse, when on, is clearly better than Livan, and the 2009 Joel is as good as Johan. A sweep is definitely possible, but we’ll predict a split.

Go Cards!

Trivia Answers:

1969 Mets: Tom Seaver (25-7, 2.21), Jerry Koosman (17-9, 2.28), Gary Gentry (13-12, 3.43), Don Cardwell (8-10, 3.01), and Jim McAndrew (6-7, 3.47). Nolan Ryan did start 10 games for this team.
1969 Cardinals: Bob Gibson (20-13, 2.18), Steve Carlton (17-11, 2.07), Nelson Briles (15-13, 3.52), Ray Washburn (3-8, 3.06), and Mike Torrez (10-4, 3.59). Dave Giusti (12 starts), Chuck Taylor (not the shoes, and 13 starts), and Mudcat Grant (3 starts) spotted for this team.

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