It was a dark and stormy afternoon; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the tarp on the field (for it is in Arlington that our scene lies), rattling along the stadium seating, and fiercely agitating the vengeful Texas Rangers fans that struggled against the darkness and rain to get to the game versus the hated Cardinals.
Oh, who am I kidding? There were few Texas Rangers fans that stuck around for the Saturday game. It almost felt like the game was in St. Louis. Sure, a few fans sang Deep In The Heart of Texas (not me) in the 7th inning. Of course, the Texas flag flew over the stadium. Yeah, if you stepped outside you could see an enormous AT&T Stadium (The Death Star as it's affectionately called by some), but for one weekend, Arlington felt like St. Louis Lite. .
Everywhere I turned there were fellow Cardinals fans. Cardinals hats, Cardinals shirts, and Cardinals jerseys. Everywhere. I spied the usual Molina, Musial, and Ozzie Smith jerseys, but I must give a shoutout to the fan who wasn't ashamed to show up in the Colby Rasmus jersey. I saw you too, my man. Also, much respect to the guy who proudly wore his Tim McCarver jersey.
I went to a Texas Rangers game and was surrounded by Cardinals fans. It was perfect.
My friend shot me a text late Thursday. He was going with us to the game in Arlington. He’s a life-long Dodgers fan, but because he casually follows the Cardinals from afar, I don’t hold his Dodgers fandom against him. He had checked out the starting pitchers scheduled for the game Saturday. “I’m interested in seeing Dakota Hudson.” I wasn’t. I wanted to see a good pitching performance. I told him Hudson had pitched decent his last couple of starts, but I wasn't holding out hope he'd be able to pitch well Saturday. I was going into the game a cynic. When the lineup came out full of left-handed hitters, I cringed. When Hudson walked the first batter he faced, I was readying my "I told you so," face.
A funny thing happened on the way to the win Saturday. Dakota Hudson finished the game with 5 K, 2 BB, and only gave up 2 ER en route to his second quality start of the season. I was completely wrong in my assessment and this is why we play the games in the first place. Here's hoping this becomes a trend for Hudson.
The Rangers series overall was a disaster. Another series lost. Fifth in a row to be more precise. More inconsistent offense and bullpen woes were the order of the day in Arlington. In fact, the entire month of May has been a disaster. A few weeks ago the Cardinals sat on top of the division with a 20-10 record. It appeared they could overcome some of the issues we saw with the bullpen and starting rotation. Now that the offense has sputtered to a degree, the cracks are showing.
But, I'm not here to gripe about the negative things we can find about the Cardinals right now. We all know what those are, and you can find those details elsewhere. I am here to point out a few positives we can take away from the series over the weekend.
The Return of Carlos Martinez
Carlos Martinez appeared in his first game of the 2019 season Saturday. As the storms began to drop more rain on the ballpark, Carlos came into the 9th inning of an 8-2 game and sent everyone home to dry off. He pitched one inning, striking out one. Nothing too flashy, but it was good to see him back on the mound. During Sunday's game he came in to clean up a mess left by Jordan Hicks and get the final two outs of the inning. I suspect the only question now is how long will he pitch out of the bullpen? It's not a secret that if he's healthy, he could be used in the starting rotation. Time and necessity will tell.
Paul DeJong Doing Paul DeJong Things
Much of the offense may have decided to take a vacation in May, but Paul DeJong didn't get the memo. He continues to get on base anyway he can, often, and with authority. Over the weekend he kept doing Paul DeJong things. Driving in runs, getting on base, and for me the best part he continued to keep the strikeouts down. How much better could his numbers look if Carpenter and Goldschmidt started hitting to their capabilities?
Additional Observations Concerning the Future
Besides Carlos, there's more pitching help on the way. If all continues to progress well, Alex Reyes should be returning to the club soon. I'm cautiously (very cautiously) optimistic that he will return from this injury stint and remain with the team for an extended period of time. Luke Gregorson is no longer taking up a roster spot and Dominic Leone is spending some time in Memphis. Both of those situations are a plus for the Cardinals.
The offense will return. I don't believe Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt will continue to flounder. They will catch fire again and play like we all know they can. But, the Cardinals need those two to return to form soon. How dangerous could the top of the lineup be if you had Carpenter, Goldschmidt, and DeJong all hitting in sync? Then add to that mix a Marcell Ozuna who is mashing home runs like he did in April?
*insert maniacal laughing here*
It's been a dark and stormy May for St. Louis and the figurative rain has fallen in torrents. Thankfully this slump has taken place in May and not in September. There's still time to fix what is wrong. I'm optimistic the signs are pointing toward a rebound.
I can't think of a better way to get the team back on track than to play a couple of games against the struggling Kansas City Royals. Perhaps the storm clouds will lift in the coming days.