The Good: The offensive surge continued as Allen Craig provided the fireworks in this one. His 3-run homer in the 5th inning improved the team’s win expectancy by 25.5%. It did my heart good to see TLR resist the temptation to play Berkman’s streaking bat despite his pronounced split (.423 wOBA as LHB; .338 wOBA as RHB). Of course, even his “bad” split is about league average… though it’s been much worse in recent seasons. At any rate, Craig needs at-bats, and this is an appropriate way for him to get them.
The Bad: Again, there just really isn’t a lot of blame to pass around in this one. The worst win probability belonged to Tyler Greene at -.057 WPA, but even he contributed a hit and 2 SB (though he easily could have been picked off on the second one had Macdougal’s pick-off not been thrown to CF instead of 2B).
Gerald Laird’s non-tag at home plate on Andre Ethier was definitely the most baffling play of the game (see it for yourself and enjoy the narration of Vin Scully). Pujols had time to double-pump before making a throw home that still beat Ethier by several steps, but Laird headed up the line instead of blocking the plate completely whiffed on the tag in the process. It didn’t cost the Cardinals last night… but it a closer game, that could have really hurt.
The Impressive: Eduardo Sanchez struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to mop up the win. I don’t know if you’re counting (I am), but he’s now struck out 8 of the 11 batters he’s faced. He’s impossibly lowered his FIP to -2.27(!). With this kind of dominance, Franklin’s room for error will be even slimmer in the fans’ eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think TLR is anywhere close to supplanting Franklin in the closer role, but I’m not naive enough to believe that fans won’t start clamoring for this decision given Sanchez’s hot hand. Of course, we’re talking about three innings here. Despite the cause for hyperventilation, he’ll come down to earth at some point.
One more thing: In an unbelievable turn of events, the Cardinals now lead all of MLB in offensive production (.361 wOBA); the Cincinnati Reds come in 2nd (.357 wOBA). See the FanGraphs leader board.