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The 10.5: Former Cardinals play with their eyes closed, Carlos Martínez dominates

This is the second edition of the 10.5. For an explanation of the series, you can read the introduction to the first post here.

Carlos does it all

There was a point in yesterday's 3-2 win over the White Sox where Carlos Martínez had an outside chance to not only throw a complete game shutout, but also be responsible for the only run of the game via his 6th inning home run off of Lucas Giolito. As that 3-2 final score indicates, it was not meant to be.

Regardless, as this was unfolding, I received an e-mail from a friend who is aware of my proclivity for Baseball Reference's Play Index asking if that had ever been done before. And the answer is yes. Several times, in fact, but not since July of 1983 when Bob Welch pitched a complete game shutout for the Dodgers, and took Mario Soto deep for a solo home run in the bottom of the 6th inning to beat the Reds 1-0.

Closed eyes, full hearts, can't lose

Aside from the Jay Cutler years, the quarterback situation for most of my adult life for my favorite football team, the Chicago Bears, has been a veritable merry-go-round of "who's that" of quarterbacks. Briefly, one of them was Henry Burris. In 2002, Burris made the first and last start of his career in the Bears' final game of the season against the devastating Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. It didn't go well. He completed just seven passes and threw four interceptions. The Bears ended the game with zero points. The week before that - and this is why Burris is memorable - he entered a game during garbage time and was captured on camera throwing a pass with his eyes closed.

This is not to dump on Burris - I can't imagine a tougher job in sports than that of an NFL quarterback - but more of a long-winded way to note that two former Cardinals also attempted to play their sport with their eyes closed this week to varying degrees of success. Grant Brisbee covered both of the following plays in his entertaining Grant Land series for SB Nation, but I wanted to take a look at them as well.

First, there was Randal Grichuk, and this one made the rounds so chances are you already saw it.

Not shown here in the GIF, but the end result was (somehow!) a double-play. And while it's not completely obvious to the naked eye, if you look closely you can see Grichuk's eyes closing and him handing fate over to the gods.

Second, Stephen Piscotty.

While Piscotty didn't catch this ball like Grichuk did, it was ruled fan interference, the home run was wiped from the board, and the offending fan was booted from the game. Justice served. Like the Grichuk play, it's not easy to see Piscotty's eyes closed in the GIF so take a look at this screenshot from the Getty image in Brisbee's post for definitive proof.

And speaking of Grichuk and Piscotty, who I miss and will eternally wish well, in mid-March, based on a question asked in a Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs chat, I took a stab at who I thought was mostly likely to be a star between these two and Aledmys Diaz. I answered with Piscotty, but for the sake of keeping tabs, here's how each is hitting thus far in the early season.

Aledmys Diaz: .191/.242/.360; 59 wRC+

Randal Grichuk: .106/.208/.227; 20 wRC+

Stephen Piscotty: .267/.333/.366; 96 wRC+

I'm not going to pretend I know how these things work, but Toronto might not be trading with the Cardinals for a couple of years.

Current playoff odds

In the inaugural 10.5, which was approximately two weeks ago, the Cardinals had 63.2 percent odds to make the playoffs, per FanGraphs. Checking back in, and remember, don't forget to bookmark the Cardinals team page at FanGraphs, their odds have increased a tad after their recent mini-sweep of the Sox.

One-run games

Another product of that mini-sweep, in which both victories were by a single run, is that the Cardinals have now won five of their last seven one-run games to bring their overall record in that category to 5-5. One-run games can be a fickle thing, especially when the manager is not particularly skilled with bullpen delegation. And sometimes it can just be rotten luck. Last season the Cardinals were 24-29 in one-run games. Flip-flop that record and there's a very good chance that they make the Wild Card game so these things do matter.

Recent words written about baseball that are worth reading

  • Grading the Cardinals April by Ben Godar of Viva El Birdos. Here, the author grades the early returns of Cardinals baseball. My favorite part:

Both VEB alum John Fleming and Bernie Miklasz tossed out the idea this week that Mike Matheny is so bad, we need to pin some of the blame for his badness on the front office.
That’s how bad Matheny is: He is pulling down the GPA of the entire class.
  • Behind-the-scenes role suiting Diamondbacks pitching strategist Dan Haren by Nick Piecoro of AZ Central. I somehow missed this but Dan Haren is currently in his second year as Arizona's pitching "strategist." Haren had two of his best seasons with the Diamondbacks in the late-aughts and the article explains how after his velocity declined, he had to re-invent himself partly with analytics to remain an effective pitcher during his last couple of seasons in MLB. Now in retirement, AZ Cup of Dan is bringing that knowledge to the Diamondback's staff and the results have been tough to argue with (though Haren is reluctant to accept any credit).

  • Baseball reunites Cardinals' prospect, two brothers in Springfield by Rob Rains of Stl Sports Page. Our prospect guru, Kyle Reis, recommended this one, and it details how AA pitching prospect Sam Tewes has been reunited with his two brothers in Springfield, Missouri, one of whom coaches at a nearby Drury College, while the other pitches for Drury. A lot has been written lately about compensation for minor leaguers and their struggle to earn a living wage. This article doesn't address that issue head-on but it's not hard to see how that theme is at play here.

  • Adam Ottavino rebuilt himself in a vacant Manhattan storefront by Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs. From what I can tell, Adam Ottavino went to Chuck E. Cheese over the offseason and came back a better pitcher. That's a lot of Skee-Ball tickets.

  • Why ticket prices won't go down by Rob Mains of Baseball Prospectus. Apologies if you're not a subscriber to Baseball Prospectus, but here Mains confronts the myth that baseball tickets cost a lot because the players are so handsomely paid. One point that I found interesting, which Mains reiterated this week when he was a guest on the Effectively Wild podcast, is that when teams slash pay-roll, and we see this happen a lot be it the Marlins (the most recent egregious example) or whoever, the cost of tickets to enter these stadiums don't magically go down. There's a lot more to this article than that, but that's something to remember the next time you're arguing with an uncle about this very issue.

That concludes this edition of the 10.5. The Cardinals are currently 17-12, which if Matthew Leach was still covering the beat for, he would tell us that that puts them on pace for a 95-67 record. And I know we're in the first week of May but this weekend's series with the Cubs feels huge.

Enjoy your weekend which isn't too far away, and, as always, go Cardinals.


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