You almost have to compare Jason Motte to Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham at this point. The only difference being I can’t see Yadier Molina or Tony Cruz saying “OK Meat, give ‘em your heat”. He gets a few swings and misses with his fastball, and thinks that’s the only pitch he needs to use. Motte fails to recognize that MLB hitters are going to catch up with his heat, no matter how hard he throws it. When Motte mixes in the cutter, things normally work out well for the Cards. When he doesn’t, days like today are going to continue to happen. I thought maybe Motte had turned the corner with his recent success of throwing the cutter, but he refuses to stick with it. Motte isn’t the only one who needs to account for mistakes though.
Mike Matheny is making some rookie mistakes. Why, in the 5th inning trailing 1-0 with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no out would you put a suicide squeeze on with the pitcher up? It was a head scratcher to say the least. Also, Matheny needs to recognize Motte’s pitch selection and do something about it. It’s still too early to start ripping on Mike, so I’ll leave it at that.
I think something has to be wrong with the communication Jose Oquendo is giving to his runners, as that’s the second time this year that a player has been on 3rd with less than two outs and taken off for home on rather than tagging up on a fly ball. Molina eventually drove the run in with two outs, but we’ll never know if Adron Chambers would have been in scoring position or not if the throw would have went through and scored the game winning run on Molina’s hit.
This series against the Royals was really a microcosm of the 2012 Cardinals since the end of April. The only game you win is one in which the Cards score in bunches (10 runs in game 2). Marc Rzepczynski (whose ERA is now 5.55) fails to get out lefties, and for some reason is left in to pitch to righties as well (now hitting .341 against him with a .985 OPS). Motte can’t hold onto a one lead and refuses to mix in other pitches with his fastball.
The Cardinals still have the best offense in the NL. The difference between them and other teams is winning close games. Obviously, other teams offensive output is problematic, since the Cards lead the league but are only one game above .500. Teams ahead of the Cards are finding ways to win those 3-2, 2-1, 1-0 games.
If this team is going to get on a roll, it’s going to have to be with the players they already have. It’s a seller’s market, and John Mozeliak isn’t going to give up cost controlled future talent for BP help. There’s still plenty of time, but the Cards now find themselves 5 games out of first, and the Reds haven’t really played great baseball yet.