Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Kyle Lohse

A little perspective: no matter what, it’s the team (and the game) we love

A note from Ang…
Are the boys going to make a run at a playoff spot? They continue their absolutely baffling ways of beating good teams and losing to bad ones, so I suppose if the boys play winning teams the rest of the year (they don’t – darn) it’s always possible. Either way, we’re not giving up hope yet!!!
We have a surprise for all of you – not one, but TWO new writers! Cadence and Courtney Rippeto are a fabulous sister duo located in the St. Louis area, and have thankfully accepted our offer to join the team. More about them will be coming in the next week, but their big premiere is here now talking about their experience with photo day!
Enjoy and show them some love so they come back next week! 😉
Go Cards!
Ang



Entering the weekend 8 games behind the Reds, we took the time to enjoy the Friday and Saturday Cards/Reds games for what they were worth; photo day on the field and booing Brandon Phillips.

Courtney and I attended the first game of the Cards/Reds series on Friday night and we just knew that we were looking forward to hearing the roar of boos that Brandon Phillips would receive from the adoring Cardinal Nation after he ran his mouth in Cincy during the previous series. We all know what happened there. Needless to say, he was greeted with boos every time he came to the plate and every time he even came near to the ball. Even the foul ball that he got a piece of was thrown back on to the field. As much as I HATE it when that happens (hello, we are NOT Cubs fans), I had to applaud the guy who threw the ball back. Probably one of the greatest things I have seen. I think he would agree that it was worth him getting thrown out over. 🙂
Obviously, if you watched any of the games, you would know that the “love” for Brandon Phillips continued all weekend. Even the Reds fans sitting next to us on Saturday said “I hope that he gets a hit so it will shut them up.” HAHA. Sorry, Reds fans, but the hate will never disappear for Phillips, and he brought that upon himself.
To end Friday night, after another fantastic Jaime Garcia performance, Busch Stadium had another fireworks night. And after getting to see the Mizzou Tigers marching band battle the Fighting Illini marching band before the game (Go Mizzou!), it was quite a great end to an awesome night. We couldn’t wait to get to Saturday’s game.





While almost everyone else was focusing on the fact that “the season is over”, we were busy enjoying a day we had been looking forward to since early this season – yes, I bought the tickets in May. Saturday, September 4th was fan photo day on the field at Busch Stadium. Having missed out last year, I was determined to go this year and enjoy it to the fullest. (Courtney’s friend, Laura, came with us – so that is who the blonde is in all of our pics!) Courtney had gone last year and I knew I couldn’t miss out. Although my fave (Luddy), who I had been looking forward to seeing earlier in the season, wasn’t there, I still couldn’t wait to go!
We knew we were in a great position to get close to the players, having placed ourselves in kind-of a corner of the roped off area, we were certain there would be opportunity for us to at least try and get the attention of our favorites. We had NO idea what was about to happen! First the coaches made their way around the field, waving to the fans and being very courteous. Then, the first round of players entered the field; Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Jon Jay. Those three almost ran around the field so quick, I forgot they were even there! But, I guess since they were starters, it was understandable considering pre-game rituals and superstitions.
As more players proceeded to enter the field (Brendan Ryan, Randy Winn, Matt Pagnozzi, Nick Stavinoha – we called him Dr. Thunder and he got a kick out of it!, Pedro Feliz, Bryan Anderson) we saw Matt Holliday coming our way. Somehow, we got his attention and lured him over to take a photo with us! It was so surreal that we couldn’t believe it…he even had his hand on my shoulder! Pretty amazing. Needless to say, we were so stunned in our excellent convincing skills that we thought we would try it with other players as the rounded the field.
















Aaron Miles was one in the next group to come by. We talked to him for a second and he even stopped in his tracks to read my shirt, “It Ain’t Right til it’s Wainwright”, and he gave me the thumbs up (the pics below are him reading my shirt, and then posing for us) and told me he liked it. In fact several of the guys really liked my shirt; too bad Waino was pitching and he didn’t participate in photo day, so he couldn’t see the shirt like I had hoped. Dennys Reyes and Fernando Salas came around next. Again, very nice, but kinda scooted along without stopping to talk.

The group of Felipe Lopez, Trever Miller, and Ryan Franklin were the next to walk by. Trever Miller was a hit with this crazy curly wig he wore (which he explained on the Sunday pre-game show to be a way to loosen up the guys and make them laugh in the clubhouse – it worked with the fans too!). While Lopez and Miller were stopped taking pictures with other fans, I chatted up Ryan Franklin asking if he would take a photo with us. He replied “Sure! Just a second, ok?” What was he waiting for? He was rounding up the other guys to come over and take a photo with us! Totally awesome of him.
At this point, we were even more geeked and couldn’t wait for others to show up. Courtney wanted a picture with Jason Motte and we all wanted one with Colby Rasmus. Jaime Garcia was also tops on our list. So, as they kept coming, we continued to reach out to the players to get photos with us as well as help a fellow cardinal fan who was much shorter than me standing behind us. She was desperate for a picture with Skip Schumaker, so we made sure we helped her get one. For some reason, the guys just couldn’t say “no” to a group of girls begging for photos with them. This, of course, was good for us.
Some of the bullpen guys made their way around the warning track and I got Mitchell Boggs while waiting for Jason Motte. Both pics were achieved and they were both so sweet to us. We expressed our appreciation for them stopping to take photos with us.


When another group made their way around the corner, we noticed that Mike MacDougal wasn’t getting much love, so we asked him if he would take a photo with us… “Sure!” And we had officially made it up to 7 different players! Meanwhile, we helped our short Cardinal friend we met get a picture with Blake Hawksworth. Courtney said to him “Hey, I follow you on twitter!” He was very responsive and said, “Really? That’s awesome.” Whether he actually meant it or not, he was very nice about it.








In the last group, we were super confident that we could get the last two on our list; Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus. We were extremely successful and we also got Kyle Lohse in there too! All three had to be so tired of fans yelling at them and wanting pictures, but they were so sweet to us and obliged.

What these guys might not know is that they made our day! Win or lose, we were never going to forget how awesome it was to get pics with all these guys.  See, how we look at it is that this is our team. Whenever something like this happens, you seem to forget a stretch of bad play and remember that this is baseball, the sport we absolutely love.  And they are the team that we absolutely love. Yes, they did lose, but there was no shortage of amazing memories that we will never forget. Thank you, St. Louis Cardinals for hosting this event and thank you to the players for being so amazing and courteous to the fans, we truly appreciate it.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of many entries to come from us. Courtney is divulged in pharmacy school, so you will mostly see my writing, but because we do so many things together (in regards to the Cardinals) it will likely be a combined effort. We really look forward to sharing our Cardinal experiences with all of you in Cardinal Nation!
Cadence (and Courtney)

My Happy Place

Today, as I sipped coffee and pondered possible blog subjects, I suddenly knew exactly what to share.
Autographs from Whitey Herzog, Warren Spahn,
Adam Wainwright & Kyle Lohse, David Freese
and Colby Rasmus
We in Cardinals Nation are in dire need of a lift, and this weekend my baseball joy was renewed! Clearly not from a spectacular showing by our Redbirds as they continued their downward spiral and a shockingly unwavering ability to lose games to the lowliest of teams, the spirit boost came instead from the simple exercise of redesigning space.
We just completed a lengthy and much anticipated project in my household. And on Sunday I was finally able to put the finishing touches in my new favorite nook.
Most families have it – the place that never quite has a purpose other than “catch-all” – a room or a corner that collects random boxes, papers and clutter.  In our house it was the back bedroom.  Once it was a child’s bedroom, then it morphed into an office of sorts – consisting of a hand-me-down desk and file cabinet surrounded by odds-and-ends, our kids’ never-ending art projects and the dreaded pile of papers without a home.
My dear husband, who is the smartest, handiest but also the busiest guy around took on the task of carpentering a built-in desk, cabinets and a 10-foot-long work surface along the back wall (in his spare time – of which he has none.)  Every piece of clutter and errant paper now has a home and my chaos has been replaced with zen.
This morning I dropped the kids off at school anxiously anticipating the pleasure of returning to the peace and quiet of my new paradise.  Here in my own little corner of the house, in small town USA, far from any Major League venue, I am happy.  Why? Because after hours of framing pictures, preserving keepsakes, and finally pounding nails into walls and arranging the displays, I am surrounded by baseball memories lovingly collected over the past four years of my short love affair with the game.
My Wall of Fame
Including Dad’s childhood glove autographed by Warren Spahn, Ed Mathews and Del Crandall
Baseball is a hobby that has forever changed my soul. The glorious sights and sounds of the game. The intrigue of discovering something new about the heralded pastime. The triumphs and tragedies of a long season. The players I have had the opportunity to meet. All these fan experiences have built the foundation for my devotion.  My passion is hardly unique as countless fans for generations have similar emotions about the sport. However, this weekend’s exercise of revisiting the highlights of my own baseball history reminded me that at this point in the season when my team is losing and the fun seems gone, the joy of baseball can survive.
2009 AAA Championship Game
It is a beautiful sight now. My baseball treasures have a new home, moved out from boxes and reunited from their various perches around the house.  My husband is glad to have his bedroom a baseball-free zone again, and a former junk room has been reclaimed in the name of home improvement. With just a glance, I can revisit memories of Spring Training adventures, AAA championship games, autographs and a growing stack of baseball cards that have found their way into my possession. And most importantly, irreplaceable family memories have finally been appropriately protected and preserved.
Spring Training 2010
Adam Wainwright, David Freese
and Kyle Lohse
The demands of day-to-day life (and baseball schedules) have the ability to dishearten and discourage. But a trip down memory lane reminded me that the enjoyment of this baseball hobby cannot be ruined by a slump or a bad season.  Baseball is simply bigger than that.
May you too find your ‘happy place’ until our boys regain their footing!
GO CARDINALS!  =)

Ugh

Well, that wasn’t what any Cardinals fan hoped to see this weekend.

J.B. Forbes/STLToday.com

Of course there are no absolutes in baseball, but there are definitely a few certainties about the 2010 Cards: Adam Wainwright will pitch extremely well. Albert will be Albert. Yadi will throw out any baserunner foolish enough to try to steal second. And the team will remain consistently inconsistent.

After the emotional sweep of the Reds and gaining a one-game lead in the NL Central, of course expectations were high for this weekend’s series against the Cubs. Friday’s game lived up to our hopes: Jake Westbrook finally received his first Cardinals win, Albert Pujols hit his 29th home run of the year in the first inning, and Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina continued hitting and driving in runs like they did in Cincinnati. Ryan Franklin even had a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 21st save as the Cards won 6-3.

 

Going into Saturday’s game, it seemed like things should keep rolling along with Chris Carpenter starting. But then things started to look eerily familiar to all those not-so-pleasant games this season. Carp allowed three runs in the first three innings (although he did settle in after that), although it was the lack of timely hitting – and especially the inability to bunt – that cost the Cards the game in the end.

 

Then there was yesterday. Realistically, it was difficult to know what to expect from Kyle Lohse. Our friend Bob had a great pre-game piece on his Throatwarbler’s Blog that detailed all Kyle has been through in the last year-plus, since he was hit on the forearm by a Ron Mahay pitch in May 2009. Unfortunately, Lohse had a terrible day and allowed seven earned runs as he pitched into the fourth inning. If the bullpen had been able to keep the Cubs scoreless the rest of the game, things would have been better and the Cards could have actually won. However, both Mike MacDougal and Dennys Reyes allowed a run each. The Cardinals did stage a valiant comeback attempt in the bottom of the ninth, scoring five runs, but it wasn’t quite enough.

So the team that got swept by the Reds last weekend beat the team that just swept the Reds this week, winning two out of three games. The Reds also had another sweep this weekend, beating the Marlins, and now find themselves back on top in the Central by a game. And the frustration is back among Cardinals fans again, that’s for sure. While there are definitely bright spots when you look at the team’s record since the All-Star break, it’s the ups and downs that stand out more than anything. Of course, no team is going to win every game and even great teams are going to lose around 60 games a season. But it’s the now season-long inconsistency that stands out as the hallmark of the 2010 Cardinals.

It’s difficult to know what to expect from this team during the next seven weeks. The optimist in me can easily see them winning the division. With the starting pitching of Carpenter, Wainwright and Jaime Garcia – plus Westbrook – they could do very well in the playoffs also. But then there’s the internal pessimist. I can just as easily see the Cardinals not winning the division, nor the wild card either. September has not been their most productive month in recent years. And look at what happened last year when they did win the division, with Carpenter and Wainwright as Cy Young-worthy starters.

 

Time will tell us what the 2010 Cardinals really are. And, unfortunately, we have an off day to dwell on what should have been instead of what was throughout the weekend.

Sunday’s Highlights

Congratulations to:

  • Albert, who hit his 30th home run of the season in the first inning yesterday. With the blast, he now has hit at least 30 homers in each of his first 10 seasons in the majors. He currently has 396 homers, the most ever by a player in his first 10 seasons.
J.B. Forbes/STLToday.com
  • Steven Hill on hitting his first major league home run to start the Cards’ rally in the bottom of the ninth inning. Steven was on what today are the Quad Cities River Bandits in 2007, when they were the Swing of the Quad Cities. He wasn’t the only former Quad Cities player getting that rally going, as Nick Stavinoha (2005) and Aaron Miles (1997/1998, when they were an Astros farm team) followed Hill by getting base hits. Jon Jay (2006) received a bases-loaded walk a bit later to score Stavinoha. (Personally, it’s nice to see some of the guys I remember seeing in the Quad Cities make contributions to the big league team. At this level, most of the guys I see year after year never make it to the majors.)

More on Rivalries

Obviously the Cardinals’ rivalry with the Reds has intensified this season. Read more in Angela’s post “A Reflection on Rivalries” at i70baseball.com here.

How do you get out of a slump?

Maybe it’s because I was a Cubs fan for years, but losing streaks and struggling players fascinate me. Don’t get me wrong – I hate these past two weeks and the way the Cardinals have underachieved, especially the sweep by Astros. Despite my own advice on Tuesday, I’ve sent plenty of frustrated tweets since then and contemplated turning off games. Yet I am mesmerized by the two who are in the biggest slumps right now, Brendan Ryan and Kyle Lohse. The more difficult things get, the more intriguing they become.

Brendan Ryan
It’s well known that Brendan is a huge favorite among the three of us here. We love his personality, his fielding, his high socks, his videos with Joe Mather – and we loved how he hit last year. When he started slowly this season, we figured it was only a matter of time until he turned it around. After all, he was just coming back from wrist surgery but he’d been working with Mark McGwire even before thatand had noticed his swing was “definitely better” then.

As the early games went by, his batting average dipped below .100 but began to climb when he went 2 for 6 in the 20-inning game. His average was as high as .208 only 10 days ago but has now fallen to .173. We all reasoned it was OK, since his defense was far more valuable. That point was proven on May 6 against the Phillies, when Tyler Greene made two errors filling in at shortstop. Then came this week.

On Sunday, Brendan misplayed a grounder that should have been the game’s final out. Tuesday night, it was a fielding error in the 3rd inning and a tough throwing error in an ugly 7th. His frustration was visible, and we exchanged many tweets on it. Tony La Russa said Brendan would start Wednesday. Things had to go better a day later, right? Instead it was déjà vu: a fielding error in the 4th that led to 4 unearned runs, plus another throwing error. His last hit was Sunday.

After the game, he said: “I get frustrated, of course. Everyone does. But there’s no room for me to take that to the field.” He also said, “I still believe in myself. I’ve just never had a season start out like this. I don’t know if I’ve ever struggled like this.”

Kyle Lohse
The first post on this blog told Erika’s opinion well: “Lay Off Kyle Lohse Already …” That was three weeks ago, following his rough game against the Diamondbacks. Since then, he pitched extremely well against the Reds (and deserved a still-elusive first win) and progressively worse: 5 runs allowed against the Phillies in 4 innings pitched last week and 9 total runs Wednesday night (even though only 4 were earned due to Brendan’s error) in 5 innings. The frustrating thing is that most of those runs came with two outs. “It’s been a problem. He’s probably trying too hard,” Tony La Russa said.

Actually, the answer could be much simpler and one La Russa isn’t even aware of. Perhaps Kyle is just this year’s “Guaranteed Loss Night” pitcher. That’s a term coined by my friend Michael, back when Jason Marquis seemed to lose every time he started. Every season since there’s been someone to fill the guaranteed loss spot: Mark Mulder, Kip Wells, Anthony Reyes, Todd Wellemeyer. Just reading their names likely reminds you of the aggravation you felt watching each of them pitch, right? And do you feel the same way watching Kyle pitch these past couple weeks? I wish I could say no.

He knows that he’s not pitching well, of course, and said so after Wednesday’s game. “I just wasn’t very good. All around.” He also said, “I have expectations for myself that I’m not meeting … I have to do my best to get back to that spot where things are going positive.”

Now what?
So what will Brendan and Kyle do from here? That’s the most intriguing part for me – getting back on track when things have kept spiraling downward. It’s easy for us as fans to say they just need to work harder, quit whining and do the job they’re both getting paid extremely well to do. But if it was that easy, wouldn’t they both have already done it? Their struggles also are magnified since the team is going through a terrible stretch of losing 7 of 9 games at the moment. They’ve both expressed their frustrations, but how do they overcome them?

We’ve noticed Brendan’s attempts at slump-busting with avoiding the high socks for a few games. And the “man thong” was quite the topic on Twitter the night Jim Hayes mentioned it during a broadcast. (I still shudder to type those words, though I think it’s mostly because it was Hayes disclosing its existence.) And just writing off Kyle as the latest guaranteed loss pitcher doesn’t solve anything either. So gimmicks must not be the answer.

I won’t pretend to have any – I have a degree in journalism, not psychology. Both Brendan and Kyle obviously are talented players, and we know based on past performances that both can excel. And logic says that of course they will break through very soon and find success. But that’s the thing about baseball – it can be as much a mental game as it is physical. Logic doesn’t always work.

Maybe we all should start praying to the baseball gods instead.

Photos – Brendan Ryan: AP/Jeff Roberson; Kyle Lohse: both UPI/Bill Greenblatt

I Hate West Coast Swings

Really, doesn’t the title say it all? Oh, elaborate a bit? Alright then…

No offense California friends. I just don’t like your time zone.

When I was little, road trips to the West coast were the worst. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego games didn’t start until almost bedtime, which means I could listen to or (on one of those rare occasions when the game was on TV) watch, at most, around 3 innings of baseball. Trust me, my parents knew when I’d try to stay up for the later innings (they’re smart like that). The local paper never had the late game scores in (not even for the playoffs!), and, before the days of internet fast enough that I could check scores online, I often went to school without knowing who won the night before. Frustrating for a die-hard little kid.

Now that I’m an adult, I still hate games on the coast. 9:15 starts are just too late, especially after a full day of work. Times like these I act like an absolute baseball purist and wish that all games were day games. But I digress…

To sum up the trip… our starting rotation is something fierce. Right now the only one I’m not impressed with is Kyle Lohse. Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright deserved better fates in their starts on the trip. In fact, Chris mentioned to me during Saturday night’s game that these were the kind of tough luck losses I had alluded to in our Cy Young post, and she wasn’t wrong. Our rock solid defense had a couple of rough patches as well in those two games. Over the course of the season, these games happen. Trips like this one happen as well.

Believe it or not, we actually pulled three wins out of these two series, even though (to me at least) it didn’t feel like the Cardinals were playing all that well in a couple of the games. As in, they’re a really good club that just wasn’t getting the job done. Part of that might be because of the fact that they’re west coast games too, and my brain scrambles the details. To be fair, the pitching duels were amazing in the San Francisco series, and seeing a little small ball on Sunday was a welcome sight as well. My dad likes to remind me that winning half your games on the road and taking two of three from every home series will probably get you to the playoffs, so we’re on our way!

Albert does not look like he is at all comfortable at the plate, which means by the time you read this he will have hit 3 home runs and told the media that everybody has rough stretches, but he’s been swinging the bat well and just not getting anything out of it. That’s what usually seems to happen when we the fans start talking about Albert in a slump. (Case in point – I wrote this paragraph Saturday night, then watched – amused – as Albert went 3-4 on Sunday with a home run and several well hit balls.) So here’s the plan, whenever Albert looks bad, just talk about it all the time (as the media is wont to do), make him mad, and watch the results. It seems to work every time.

The whole team is striking out at a rate I don’t want to teach my math students about – especially since they’re all Brewer fans, with one random Cub fan thrown in just to irritate me. It’s not a great stretch… we have yet to ‘miss an ace’ in any series we’ve been in (unless you count Houston… do they even have an ace?), and we’ve faced several tough lefties (plus Chuck Bud Norris) that the team hasn’t been able to figure out in years.

Rest easy Cardinal fans. No more late night games for awhile. The boys are heading back to St. Louis, where the Braves await…

Lay Off Kyle Lohse Already…

Everyone is jumping on Kyle’s case today. He had a rough game last night, repeatedly giving up the Cardinals’ lead. Last year he was injured; this year he has been less than stellar. He’s started 3 games so far in 2010, has given up 13 runs (all earned), and now has a 7.31 ERA. In those three games, Lohse has walked 7 and struck out 5 – compare that to our Aces: Adam Wainwright who has walked 5 and struck out 22 and Chris Carpenter who has walked 5 and struck out 17, and it doesn’t look good. I checked out Baseball-reference.com, and sorted pitchers in the NL by their ERAs. So far this season, Lohse ranks 48th out of the 54 pitchers in ERA. Ouch.
So granted, the stats are there to support the complainers. However I’d like it to be noted that even Carp recently had a tough game (one game, not three… yes, I know). Also Lohse was reportedly suffering from a severe head cold yesterday. Remember… Matt Holliday played terribly when he was sick too. So, I’m not ready to participate in the bashing of one of our starting pitchers. I want to see a little more from Mr. Lohse. It’s still early, small sample size, and all that…
Hubby says I am ‘such a female fan’ because deep down I do believe that if I cheer really well for a player, they somehow might do better. And from there it could be true that a player whose fans don’t support him, might then play worse. Of course, that’s just me. There’s no scientific proof whatsoever, but I know some of you agree with that hypothesis even if you don’t admit it. We’re baseball fans and we have our superstitions. So, I really don’t like it when I hear Cardinals fans trash-talking our players. To me, it’s ok to cringe when they make errors and have a bad game, but I’m going to cheer for them through bad times as well as good times. It just may make a difference.
%d bloggers like this: