Game Report: Cardinals 8, Rockies 2

By Rob Rains

Of all the decisions John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch will have to make before next Monday’s trading deadline, there might not be a bigger dilemma for the Cardinals than what to do with Randal Grichuk.

Grichuk has likely only complicated the decision about whether to trade him or keep him by what he has done the last four games since coming off the disabled list, including Monday night, as the Cardinals played their first game at Busch Stadium in 15 days.

Grichuk hit one of three homers by the Cardinals, his 13th of the season and the fourth game in a row in which he has homered as the Cardinals won for only the second time in their last six games.

The Cardinals are three games under .500, but still alive in the NL Central, now trailing the Brewers by four games – also making it hard to know whether the team should be buying players or selling them.

The Cardinals have an abundance of outfielders, in the majors and in the high minors, and it is likely several have been the topic of trade conversations the last few days and will be right up until the deadline, including Grichuk.

Grichuk has shown flashes of power such as his four-game homer streak before – but he also is just as likely to get two singles and strike out 10 times in his next 20 at-bats – which is the challenge facing the Cardinals’ front office as they decide whether to trade him or keep him.

The three homers backed a strong bounce-back game from Mike Leake, knocked out after two innings in his last start in New York. He worked seven scoreless innings before turning the game over to the bullpen.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: After Grichuk’s two-run homer in the fourth, his 13th of the season, Jose Martinez hit a pinch-hit homer in the seventh, followed one out later by Tommy Pham’s 14th homer, tying him for the team lead … Paul DeJong was moved to the third spot in the batting order and drove in the game’s first run with an infield single in the first. DeJong became the first rookie shortstop to bat third for the Cardinals since Red Schoendienst in 1945 … Grichuk is the second Cardinal to homer in four consecutive games this season, joining Dexter Fowler. Fowler moved back to the leadoff spot and walked in four plate appearances … Before Martinez’s homer, DeJong and Grichuk had combined for the last eight RBIs for the Cardinals. The homer by Martinez was his second as a pinch-hitter and fourth for the team this season.

On the mound: Leake allowed just four hits, did not issue a walk and struck out six. The Rockies only had one runner advance past first off Leake, when Trevor Story singled and stole second in the fifth … The seven scoreless innings extended the Cardinals streak to 18 consecutive at home before the Rockies scored both their runs in the eighth … Zach Duke did not retire any of the three hitters he faced and gave-up a two-run homer before John Brebbia and Kevin Siegrist were able to get out of the inning, stranding two runners … Tyler Lyons struck out the side in the ninth on 11 pitches.

Key stat: The RBI by DeJong was only the second out of the third spot for the Cardinals in their last 13 games. The team has a combined total of 47 RBIs out of the third spot in the batting order this season, four less than the combined ninth-place hitters have produced, including Martinez’s pinch-hit homer.

Worth noting:
Manager Mike Matheny said Matt Carpenter was much improved from Sunday night, when he had to come out of the game in Chicago in the second inning. Matheny said Carpenter was mostly dealing with dehydration and expects he will play on Tuesday night … Monday night was the one-month anniversary of Carpenter’s last homer, on June 24. He has none in his last 83 at-bats and 103 plate appearances … Stephen Piscotty also is making progress from his groin injury, Matheny said, although the team has not decided if he will go out on a rehab assignment before being activated from the DL … Aledmys Diaz hit a two-run homer for Memphis on Monday night.

Looking ahead: Lance Lynn, who has been the topic of numerous trade rumors himself, is scheduled to start for the Cardinals on Tuesday night while Jon Gray will start for the Rockies.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains 

Post-Game Interview from Mike Matheny