Lucky seven….how about eight?

The Cardinals have been so hot lately that I am almost afraid to write a post, lest I do anything that brings them bad luck.  But I am confident that our boys will continue their current winning ways and hopefully extend this hot streak to eight games and beyond.

It’s been awhile, so I have a few things to say.

First, I know I promised a post regarding a sort of "midseason report" of the Redbirds.  I am not going to dedicate a whole post on this now for two reasons.  One, I’m not too worried that anyone was eagerly awaiting this post and therefore nobody will miss it if I don’t write it.  Two, I would pretty much be saying the same thing that everybody already knows and if you would a midseason report you can look about 1,000 places on the internet.  Every media outlet possible has written one.

So instead it will be combined with this post, which will be more of a "how awesome is this seven game winning streak" post.

As we all know, June did not go well.  But, I have every reason to believe that July and the rest of the season will continue to go better.  And the two biggest reasons for that are in the bats of Edmonds and Rolen.  Pujols is a constant.  We know that.  And, for the most part Rolen is too.  Still, there are times he is good and there are times he is GREAT.  Edmonds….well, he’s off and on, but man, when he’s on, he is unbelievable as well.  And both of these guys are heading into the unbelievable category without looking back.

Edmonds average for the first 3 months of the season was .213, .271 and .279.  He’s hitting .283 so far in July.  More importantly, he’s hitting with more power, as evidenced by his slugging percantages, again by month: .427, .329, .443.  And in July?  .652.  Obviously, a huge difference.  Not only that, but he’s hitting the long ball more frequently.  Edmonds had seven homers all together in the first 3 months of the season.  He’s already up to 4 in July alone with half the month left.  Same goes for Rolen.  He had ten homers in his first 3 months and he’s also up to 4 already this month. 

Still the biggest reward for improvement goes to catcher Yadier Molina.  No doubt, this guy is a big league starter for his defensive ability, not his offensive.  So whatever he does at the plate is icing on the cake.  And, he’s been piling it on lately.  Molina has gone from a .192 slugging percentage in April to slugging .500 in July.

Clearly, we’re on an upswing.  So, for those of you who say we still can’t win 100 games this year, I wouldn’t bet too early.  It’s still entirely possible.

The Cardinals have been fun to watch this past week and they look like they’re having more fun too.  Who wouldn’t be?  They’ve won seven straight, sweeping the Dodgers and almost the Astros in the process.  They’re doing everything we’ve come to expect from these guys the past few years.  They’re taking great pitchers deep, they’re playing incredible defense, (who else is loving vintage-Jimmy??), they’re pitching quality starts, the bullpen isn’t giving up runs in the late innings.  In fact, each game against L.A. showcased a different aspect of this team’s talent.

  • Thursday – Hitting the long ball.  Cardinals win with Albert’s walk-off homer.
  • Friday – Pitching.  Carp goes the distance, pitches a 2-hitter and gets the win.
  • Saturday – Small ball.  Rolen gets the walk-off single.
  • Sunday – Everything.  Good pitching, even better hitting to beat up on the Dodgers.

The walk-off wins lately, especially, have brought a smile to my face.  Thursday, Pujols goes deep to win the game for the Redbirds.  So, on Saturday with the game on the line, the Dodgers choose to intentionally pass Pujols.  Good call.  Except, this time it’s Rolen that brings the walk-off win.  If enough of the Cardinals start hitting, the opposition won’t have enough bases to intentionally put them all on.  During this series especially, it’s getting harder to put Pujols on, not just because of Rolen, but suprisingly because the guys in front of him. Eckstein, always the scrappy hustler, has been getting on base a ton (every game this series), but so has Duncan in the two spot.  This has been great to see.  In his earlier appearnces, he showed a lot of power, but not a lot of patience at the plate.  But, in his last two starts against L.A. he went 6-8.

The rotation has been great as of late and let’s hope it stays this way.  As I said, Carp went the distance in his start and earned player of the week honors, so congratulations to him for that.  He also didn’t give up a home run.

If I could pick one category for the Cardinals to improve in, in the second half, it would be for the starters to give up less homers.  How many times have we said of a Cardinal starter, "He only made one mistake during the game, but it was a home run."  Sometimes that "one mistake" has cost us a win.  Other times, it’s been multiple mistakes, but had they not given up the homer, we still would have won.

The Cardinals have collectively given up 107 home runs, which isn’t suprising considering that two Cardinal starters are in the top 5 in the NL for home runs allowed.  Marquis tops the list (21) and is joined by Mulder (18).  Though it doesn’t factor into the team home runs allowed, Jeff Weaver (who has yet to start for the Cardinals) also has 18 this season during his time in Anaheim.  Even young Reyes has gotten into the act.  Despite his excellent pitching peformances, he’s given up 7 homers so far this season….exactly equal to the number of games he’s started.

All in all, though, the Cardinals seem to now just be starting on all cylinders and it’s exciting and it sure beats how I felt during our longer losing streak not too long back.  Weaver’s start against Atlanta tonight will be pivotal for what’s in store for the Cardinals the rest of the season.  With Mulder still out, it would be great to see Weaver really step it up and fill the role during this time.  And who knows?  If he shows he has something left, maybe we’ll be able to get something for him down the road.

It’s no easy task, however, as their 43-49 (.467) record is misleading.  Atlanta has suddenly emerged from the bottom of the NL East heap.  They’re riding a 5 game winning streak, including a sweep of the Padres since the Break.  Even more impressively, have been their ability to show that they still plan to be competitive for the post season this year.  Less than a month ago, they were 13 games under .500 thanks to a 10 game losing streak, in last place in the NL East and had the fourth worst record in the Majors, behind only the Cubs, the Pirates and the Royals.  At 9 games back of the Wild Card, they didn’t seem to have a prayer to make the post season.  They’re now only 6 games under .500, tied for 2nd in their division and have moved to 5 1/2 games back of the Wild Card.  Met’s fans are very confident (and have every reason to be), but there are still nine games to be played between the Mets and the Braves.  If the Braves stay hot, it will be an interesting second stretch.

Hopefully we’ll help the Mets out this week by sweeping the reigning NL East.  Or at least taking 2 of 3.

On a completely different subject, it’s been very exciting to watch Josh Kinney pitch in a Cardinal uniform.  He played college ball in my hometown and it’s always great to see someone like that reach the big leagues.  Hope he has a great career in front of him.

Next, I’m going out of the country Wednesday morning and it might be awhile before I get to watch Cardinal baseball again, so I’m going to live blog some of Tuesday’s game.  More than likely, I will have to leave for the airpot before it’s all over with, but it will give me something to do as I stay up all night.  I would love for anybody who’s around to join in the live blog with comments of their own.

One more thing and then I’m going to end this ridiculously long post.  The current score between Pujols and the Cubbies is:

                             Pujols homers = 31          Cubs wins = 35

Welcoming a Weaver win,

Tiffany

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7 comments

  1. Rob

    Add two more to Weaver’s home runs given up total…

    Snapping your streak is not a big deal. You guys probably wrapped everything up with the last winning streak anyway.

    The question becomes, albeit, it was only his first start, how many attempts do the Cards give Weaver before they decide to go in another direction?

    I know most Cards fans were hoping that you guys were going to get the Jeff Weaver of old (His days in Detroit or eating up innings in LA). I didn’t see tonights game but I didn’t have to. He’s had a dead arm all year with the Angels. He has lost all the bite he once had on his curveball and he no longer throws hard enough to get it by hitters.

  2. emanbos@yahoo.com

    Sure enough, here you come to post, and there goes St. Louis’ winning streak, right down the Crapper (with a capital C, reflecting the inventor). Did you honestly think he was going to be productive? They should have asked the Angels for his brother! 😀

    On a related note, Sidney Ponson takes the mound for the Evil Empire tonight. Here’s hoping the fat-*** does just as well for Georgie Porgie as he did for the Cardinals. The last thing we need is another Chacón/Small situation.

    I hope you were able to view some games in a bar on NASN via Sky Digital. Now that you are heading to South Asia, I should point out that ESPN Star (Rupert and the Mouse getting together; who’da thunk it?) has the MLB rights there, but for the next two weeks, it appears that it will be almost exclusively the Yanks and the Sox. Great for me, but since I am not there, bad for you. They are at http://www.espnstar.com; click on “TV Times.”

    I guess you are going to have to start watching cricket!

    Enjoy yourself and be safe in South Asia,

    Eric

  3. emanbos@yahoo.com

    Okay, so I forgot about MLB’s censors. I referred to Sir Sidney (I guess he is a knight in Aruba) as a “fat-****” or “fatarse” or “fat-*****.” You get the idea. Trying to figure out what I can get away with. And the semicolon killed the link. http://www.espnstar.com

    Eric

  4. Tiffany

    Rob,
    I think you have to give him a few starts at least. Give him a chance to get adjusted to his new team and surroundings. The main question is when will Mulder come back? Because until that happens I don’t know if we have much of a choice besides Weaver.

    Eric,

    Thanks for the information. It will be interesting to see what big Sid does especially with Weaver’s poor performance.

    Tiffany

  5. Rob

    Tiffany,

    That’s fair. Maybe, Weaver will find what he’s lost. I think about all the times that veteran pitchers struggle with one good team, get traded mid-season, and excel with their new team.

    To be honest, I can’t remember the last time that has happened.

    Your right, the Cardinals might have put themselves in a position where they really don’t have any other options.

    Regardless of your struggles on the mound, I still believe the Cards have enough to power their way into the post-season on offense alone, however, pitching got the Astros to the Series last year so it does have to improve in order to win it all.

    I think about the saying when somebody calls another person fat and their response is, “I may be fat, but your ugly and I can still lose weight.”

    Jeff Weaver’s numbers are not pretty…

    http://brewernation.mlblogs.com

  6. Tiffany

    Rob,
    Do I expect Weaver to be the new Chris Carpenter? Not by a long shot. But, sometimes being traded to a new team helps. First, it’s a wake-up call that he better get his act together or nobody’s going to want him. Next, sometimes new surroundings including new teammates and coaches help. Look at Scott Spiezio. His numbers last year for Seattle were dismal. But, he’s been a huge asset as our utilityman here in St. Louis. My hope is the same for Weaver and that he will carry us through until Mulder gets back on track. His last start showed marked improvement and I hope he can keep it that way.

    Tiffany

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