How about that game? I don´t think I could have asked much more than a 12·4 killing of the Brewers. And all while wearing their old school baby blue uniforms. I´m a very superstitious baseball fan, so I´d like them to stick with the uniforms tonight too!
There were a lot of great things about this game. First of all, it was a total team effort Every starter had at least one base hit, as did pinch hitter Aaron Miles. That´s 10 Cardinals getting something done. Next, Eckstein, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Molina and Wells all had mult·hit nights, including 3 hits for Pujols and 4 hits for Edmonds.
This is just a continuation for the incredibly hot streak Edmonds is on. And much like last year, how good the Cardinals are rolling depends on how good the veterans are rolling. You need young kids like Ankiel, Ryan and Ludwick to come up, give some new life and help win a game or two. But it´s that veteran presence day in and day out that will keep the Cardinals winning games. We need consistency out of Rolen and Edmonds. And right now Edmonds is on fire. After a dismal July of hitting a horrible .143, he is now hitting .410 in August. It was his 6th multi·hit game of the month. Now if he can just find his power stroke back.
Another huge positive of this game was the continual barrage of hits. It was essential a game of small ball all the way through for the Redbirds. The Cardinals scored 12 runs, which would normally make you assume that they smacked at least a few dingers out of the park. Not so. The Brewers homered twice for their 4 runs. You know how many times the Cardinals went deep for their 12 runs? None. They also had no triples and just 2 doubles. But there were a whole lot of singles and a whole lot of walks. They went the other way, they poked the ball into holes and just generally played smart baseball.
The Cardinals also played their trademark ¨hard nine¨ all the way through this game. After getting behind early 3·0, they didn´t give up, but fought back and ended up winning this game easily. They also never just laid down and gave away outs. One situation I´m thinking of in particular was in the 5th, when the bases were loaded with 1 out and Kip Wells was batting. He took a couple of swings where he looked absolutely awful. But he didn´t hit into an inning ending double play, nor did he just take a normal strikeout people would expect from a pitcher. Instead he fought off a pitch or two and ended up poking a single down the line for 2 RBI. That is good baseball.
On such a good night, I hate to talk too much about what went wrong, but there was one thing that concerned me. The first was almost failing to capitalize with runners on. The first couple of innings, the Cardinals got guys on with less than 2 out and did squat with it. We are just lucky that the Brewers let us stay in this game. In some games, those might be all the chances you get and you need to take advantage. Overall, the Cards left over a dozen runners stranded on the basepaths.
I could have also dealt with some more hustle from Pujols on one of his infield singles. If Ryan Braun had any kind of heat on that ball he threw across the diamond, Pujols would have been out easy. And you could see on the replay, that he just stood there for a minute in the box, thinking it was going to go foul. Then when it was clear it wasn´t he took off. Pujols is a great player and the best hitter on our team, but I hope he never becomes the guy who doesn´t hustle or run things out. It doesn´t really seem in his character to do that, but sometimes after playing so long, it becomes hard to run everything out. It makes me glad to have players on our team like Eckstein, who takes nothing for granted when running and Rolen, who probably has the best home run trot of anybody in the Majors, with his head down all the way all around the bases.
As for the competition, I am continually impressed with Ryan Braun as an offensive threat. He really is a great hitter. He reminds me a lot of Chris Duncan when he was up last year for his first half·year in the bigs in terms of being power hitters. He hit 22 homers in just 280 at·bats. Braun has now hit 23 in 291 at·bats. Both strike out a lot because they are power hitters. Duncan struck out 69 times in those at·bats last year and Braun has 64. The difference is that Braun is hitting a crazy .354. It just seems like if he makes contact, it´s going to be a base hit. The Brewers have a great player in this guy. If his defensive play improves to match how good he has been offensively, he will be something special, I think.
The last thing I think I will discuss will be Kip Wells. The same Kip Wells, who all of Cardinal Nation was ready to drive out of St. Louis forever or at least tar and feather. In the early months, he dropped 7 straight decisions at one point and was 3·13 going into August. He´s tied for 11th for the most runs given up in the NL and tied for 2nd for the most losses in the NL with 13. Yet, this is his 3rd good start in a row and he definitely is showing some signs of improvement. After getting down 3·0 via 2 long balls by the Brewers, he settled in and allowed only 1 hit in his next 5 innings. That shows great concentration in a tough situation. He easily could have made a bad situation worse, but instead he pitched great and let his team get back into the game to get him the win. That is what we´re going to continue to need out of him and the rest of our staff.
The Cubs also lost, so we are slowly inching our way towards first place. We´re now 3 games back of the Cubs and 4 1/2 games in back of the Brewers. The best we can be after this series with the Brewers is still 2 1/2 games back, but now we can only be 6 1/2 back at the worst. It is imperative that we win at least 1 of the next 2 games. Taking 2 of 3 from the Brewers heading into the Chicago series would not only be a huge boost, but I really see it as a must.
Complete random side note: As I´m typing, I´m watching the Yankees game and Shelley Duncan had hit a 3·run shot with 2 outs to tie the game up 3·3 and send New York and Baltimore to extras. That is Cardinal outfield Chris Duncan´s brother. However, Baltimore scored one run in the 10th already, so hopefully New York can come back again in the bottom of the 10th for the win because right now the Sox are losing in the 9th inning.
Tonight´s matchup for the Cardinals is newest Cardinal pitcher, Joel Piñeiro against Brewer Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo is coming off his worst start of the season when he gave up 11 earned runs, so hopefully he can continue that trend for one more game.
Bring back the baby blues,