How do you follow what Chris Carpenter did on Saturday night? Rookie of the Year candidate Jaime Garcia only needed 89 pitches to show you exactly how.
Sunday afternoon’s game promised to be a matchup of two southpaws who both at times have been very dominant. But in the rubber match game vs. the Giants, Jaime Garcia looked like the veteran against the floundering Barry Zito. It’s hard to believe how far Zito has fallen. He was once as good as anybody in the league when back when he pitched for the A’s and before he landed one of the biggest contracts ever forked over for a pitcher. (Lesson learned: big name pitchers earning big money usually disappoint, even if they are lefties….ahem, Mark Mulder.)
On the other side, Jaime Garcia is a rookie still carving out a name for himself. But after today, I don’t think many Giants players will forget him. After 8 2/3 innings, he had only faced the minimum, thanks to two double plays by his defense. That was spoiled one at-bat later thanks to a single by Nate Schierholtz. But Garcia composed himself and got leadoff man, Aaron Rowand, to end the game on a groundball to shortstop, Brendan Ryan. That groundball was his bread and butter, as the Giants pounded that ball at him, Ryan and newcomer Pedro Feliz. But the defense looked good backing up Garcia’s dominant performance. In the end, he 3 hit the Giants, for his first career complete game and his first career shutout. In the process, he walked none, while striking out 6.
The last time Garcia looked this good was vs. the Mets, where he didn’t get the win because he was let down by his offense. That game, you might remember, ended up going an incredible 20 innings before the Cardinals lost 2-1. This time around, the bats would not falter. They hit Zito hard and they hit him early, chasing him after only 3 2/3 inning of work. It was nice to see the offense participating up and down the lineup. The hits, runs and RBI were contributed in some way by all of the starters. And that’s exactly what the Cardinal lineup is capable of when they’re in their groove. And we should be seeing that kind of production on a regular basis. My ONLY complaint today was Matt Holiday. Yes, he did get a hit and drive in one run, but they walked Albert in front of him twice and one of those was intentional. Both times he failed to come through. If we’re going to do anything in the playoffs, Holliday has to make teams pay or else Albert will be walked every at-bat. It wasn’t a big deal in a game like this, but in tight playoff games, every run counts and we need him to produce in those clutch situations.
Other than that, a good day for the Redbirds! it’s just too bad that LA couldn’t take down the Reds. For us, we move on to Pittsburgh. Kyle Loshe is the last man I want on the mound, but if I had to pick a team for him to pitch against, I guess it would be the Pirates.
Thinking someone bought Garcia dinner tonight,
The pitchers have been adequate in our losses, but the bats had fallen
asleep. But our stopper, Carpenter pitched yesterday and hopefully got
us back on track. So I have no reason to think that Jaime Garcia won’t continue to be good today.
And for some reason, I think this is the day that the offense fully wakes up. There were glimmers of it yesterday, but it’s still not where we all know this Cardinal lineup can be. Sometimes all you need is a good shakeup and that seems to be provided for in the acquisition of Pedro Feliz, who hit an RBI triple yesterday. Additionally, Tony LaRussa has decided to join the ranks of every other manager in baseball by hitting the pitcher 9th. He hasn’t done this for two months or so.
Plus, we have several guys in the lineup who have tore up Giants pitcher, Barry Zito, over the years. Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Any pitcher that has ever been a decent pitcher, we seem to be able to handle fine. (Case in point: yesterday vs. Tim Lincecum.) It’s the no name pitchers that we seem to struggle against.
So, here’s hoping that Zito grooves a couple over, especially to Albert. Wouldn’t it be great to see him get to that 400 mark today? I think so.
Come on, Redbirds….let’s go get this rubber game match!
Looking for offense,