Daily Grind 10.14

Carlos Beltrán, A True Contender, and a salvaged season. 

Señor Octubre

The countless memorable moments throughout the Cardinals’ storied history can add another to the vault. Carlos Beltrán throwing out Mark Ellis at home in the 10th inning of Game 1 sits right up there with Gibson’s 17 strikeouts in ’68, Ozzie’s homer in ’85, Clark’s homer in ’85, Edmonds’ catch in ‘04, Molina’s home run in ’06, Freese’s home run in ‘11 — just a few among so many amazing plays in Cardinals baseball.

Beltrán not only saved the game with his arm, he won the game with his bat. He drove in all three runs, including his walk-off 13th inning single. Beltran, a pending free-agent, owns a career .340 average in 41 postseason games. His production puts little doubt in my mind about resigning the 36-year old outfielder, but who can’t wait for Oscar Taveras? I can. 

  • The Dodgers are 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position
  • St. Louis is 2-for-8 in those situations.
  • Michael Wacha is on his way to stardom.

The NoteBouw

Come watch the St. Louis Blues. In years past, the term “contenders” was used a bit lightly. Well, this team is light-years ahead of those so-called contenders. Barring serious injuries, this team should legitimately compete for a Stanley Cup.

Here is one example. In years past, Alex Pietrangelo was paired with Barrett Jackman as the team’s top defensive unit. Jackman, a solid, reliable defender, now plays on the 3rd unit with Roman Polak. Pietrangelo plays with the ironclad Jay Bouwmeester, a true top-level player. The Blues’ defensive depth allows the offense to play a bit less conservative — or as Ken Hitchcock says “70% of the game in the offensive zone”.

Newly acquired center Derek Roy has solidified the team up the middle. Roy brings quickness, toughness, and play-making ability to the center position, which has lacked depth in previous seasons.

Everything is clicking for the Blue Notes, including goaltending. Jaroslav Halak is playing his best hockey after spending the entire offseason in St. Louis working with coaches on his game and his durability.

The team has serious challenges ahead, starting with the Sharks on Tuesday night, but this is a team you will want to see.

Back On TrackStacy

I had nothing to say about the Rams’ Week 5 win against Jacksonville. Too many things went wrong again to get giddy about a home win over the lowly Jaguars.

So I’ll move on to Week 6.

The most positive aspect of the Rams’ two-week win streak is Zac Stacy. The 5th-round pick out of Vanderbilt has put the ground game back on opponents’ radar. Sam Bradford is simply not good enough (not many QB’s are) to run a one-dimensional passing offense.

Of their 41 offensive plays, St. Louis ran the ball 25 times, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. When an offense can establish a run game, it allows for play action, rollouts, screen passes, and deep balls — basically the rest of the playbook.

According to Pro Football Focus, Stacy had 54 yards after contact, forced six missed tackles, and was a perfect 7-for-7 in pass protection.

I thought the coaching staff did a great job managing the game — something that became a problem in Weeks 2-4.

The special teams unit finally had a penalty free day and Daren Bates took a Rodney McLeod forced fumble for a touchdown. The unit gave the offense respectable field position and reverted to a strength the team relied on heavily a year ago.

At 3-3 the Rams have salvaged their season, but the defensive unit has their work cut out.

By the box score, it looks like the defense was stellar allowing only 13 points. But Houston racked up 420 total yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry on 30 rushing attempts. Houston lost this game in the turnover department. The Rams had four takeaways, including a score on special teams and on defense.

That’s two straight weeks with a defensive score.

But overall, Tim Walton’s unit is struggling. Only Jacksonville is worst statistically against the run. JoLonn Dunbar had a forgettable day with just two stops on 28 run plays. When targeted, Dunbar allowed all four first downs for 52 yards and recorded goose eggs on his four pass rushes. James Laurinaitis has struggled at middle linebacker, and because the youthful secondary has tackling deficiencies, when running backs get past the defensive line — it’s a blood bath. Too many big play gashes.

But it’s a road victory and the team is 3-3 with a date in Carolina coming next Sunday. It’s progress, but there are major problems that need fixing.

What a week in sports for Missouri.

Thanks for reading.

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