After an extended absence of the St. Louis Cardinal bats, when they finally started showing up again, no one wanted to get too excited. Was it permanent? Was it lucky? It was hard to know what to make of the situation. Fluke or For Real? That’s what I asked a week ago. But after a few more games with the same result, I would say it is safe to say that the Cardinal offense has indeed found it’s way back.
Does that mean that we won’t ever have an off game? No. Does it mean that we won’t ever get shutout? No. Does it mean that we couldn’t possibly get no-hit? No.
What it does mean is that the first week or so of games was not indicative of the potential of this Cardinal line-up. Everyone struggled to find their place in the Cardinal line-up, Holliday was out for a bit and it was just plain ugly for awhile. But once they broke out, they broke out in a huge way and they haven’t looked back since.
Not every game will be the 15-5 lashing they gave Arizona two games ago, but I think it shows what the Cardinals are capable of. Tonight’s victim were the Dodgers as they’ve now had 14 or more hits in 4 straight games and are getting production from literally ever part of the lineup, even from guys who had previously been “slumping.”
Although, I think it is safe to say that no one is hotter right now than Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. These guys are absolutely on fire. Multiple hit games are a regular occurrence as Holliday is hitting .391 and Berkman .311. Berkman also had 4 home runs in 3 games.
One important key this year will be the triple threat of Pujols, Holliday and Berkman. Last year the Cardinals were only a threat when both Pujols and Holiday were hitting. When either got into a mini-slump, it became too easy for a pitcher to pitch around one of them and go after the other. There was no one in that 5 spot consistently for that extra protection. And the guy we did have (Ludwick) got traded away for the just as important need of pitching. This year, as long as 2 of 3 can stay hot, the Cardinals will always be a threat. And if all 3 ever get really going at the same time…..look out.
Garcia wasn’t as sharp as he was his first time out, but was more than good enough to get the job done. And since he’s 2-0 with a sub 2.00 ERA…well I’m not going to complain. Franklin is still the worrisome part of all of this. Coming in with a gigantic lead, he still gives up a home run. What if this had been another 1 run game he was trying to save? Blown again. Hopefully the Cardinals keep the games so far apart that he won’t have the chance to blow too many saves.
Keep the hits coming,
If you had told me prior to tonight’s game that the Cardinals would back Carp with 8 runs, I would have breathed a sigh of relief. A pitcher that has notoriously been under run-supported would finally be vindicated. His 0-1 record so far this year is terribly unfair for how he has pitched.
And yet? 8 runs would not be enough and Carp would be chased after 4 innings giving up 8 earned runs on 8 hits and 3 walks. It was a very un-Carpenter like performance. Last year, he gave up 6 or more earned runs only twice. And the last time he gave up at least 8 earned runs? I had to go all the way back to September 23rd of 2005. In fact 8 earned runs is a typical months worth of starts for Carp.
Hopefully, this is a fluke and he’s still right and will come back to his normal self next game. And speaking of flukes, Pujols started to show signs of breaking out of his early season slump. He went 3 for 5, although he’s yet to find his power stroke. His swing still looked very awkward on his first hit and it was just as much luck as anything. But as the game progressed, he started looking better at the plate. If that continues, expect him to have a multiple home run game in the near future.
Aside from the Cardinal loss, this was a great game. It had everything. And I really do mean EVERYTHING. 4 Cardinals had home runs, 5 had RBIs, 3 with 2 outs. 3 separate D-backs had home runs as well. Pitcher Bryan Augenstein recorded his first Major League hit immediately after giving up a 4 run inning and then left with a groin injury. We even had a heated ball cap to cap argument between the home plate ump and D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, leading to the ejection of Gibson. The only thing this game was missing was an inning-ending pick-off by Yadi.
It was really a great game, but it’s hard to enjoy when your team still ends up in the loss column. The main positive is that the offense continues to roll. So I have to feel that we will be winning more than we will be losing as long as the pitching staff continues their overall success.
Rubber match is tomorrow,
I looked up at the top of the screen to realize that it’s only just now the bottom of the 6th inning. That seems crazy because this game has been very intense and full of action right from the beginning. Not something I would have expected with the matchup going tonight: former Cy Young winner vs. near perfect game thrower.
But you never know what to expect in baseball and neither of these guys brought their A-game tonight.
So far the Cardinals have 3 homers by Berkman, Freese and Rasmus. The problem is they were all solo shots. Had there been runners on, the Cardinals would easily be in the lead right now. 2 D-backs have gone deep (Jason Upton and Chris Young) for a total of 5 runs.
But the Redbirds haven’t given up; they’ve continued to chip away at Arizona’s lead and have not pulled within one. But Arizona won’t be caught up to quietly. So far they’ve put runs on the board in every inning.
This is easily the kind of game I would LOVE to be there for in person. And the kind of game where I can’t understand why anyone would ever think baseball is boring.
As I type this, Arizona just scored again to continue their scoring in every inning. So round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows!
For the first time in 2011, the Cardinals have won two in a row. And they did so in a big way, finally showing off the power that we have known is in that lineup all along.
Berkman hit his first home run as a Cardinal and deciding that wasn’t enough, went deep again a couple innings later. The base hits were coming quick and coming often, something we haven’t seen at all yet this season.
Every Cardinal starter got in on the action, including starting pitcher Kyle McClellan who went 2 for 3 and got the Cardinals on the board with the first RBI of the game. The TV announcer said,
“I’m trying to think of how many times we have said Yadier Molina scores from first on a 2 out double by Kyle McClellan. I’m thinking this is probably the first time.”
I’m sure he’s right.
But that’s just how the game went yesterday. The Cardinals were getting the long ball, they were getting base hits with 2 outs and they were getting extra base hits. The offense was starting to look alive. Last or nearly last in every major offense category, the Redbirds are slowly climbing out of the cellar in regards to team stats, as they now stand just 2 games under .500.
In pitching they continue to do well as McClellan not only showed off his bat, but pitched a great game too, especially for a 5th starter. If he pitches this good all season, I will be highly impressed at his move into the starting rotation.
Overall, the Cards are at the top in most team categories. They’re posting a low ERA, striking lots of guys out and even have a shutout and a complete game to their credit. They are one of only two games to have that complete game thanks to Jaime Garcia’s fantastic performance. All this and we still have our ace going to tonight, who surprisingly hasn’t recorded a win yet.
As much as things are starting to go right, it stands in deep contrast to the silent bat of our big man, Albert Pujols. Albert went 1 for 5 last night, raising his average to a mighty .150. This is Pujols and 10 seasons of record setting baseball speak for themselves, but he is going to have to get on track if the Cardinals are going to have a shot at winning the thing.
We’ve said since the beginning that it will be an uphill battle. Wainwright is gone, the defense is questionable, the health of prime guys like Berkman and Freese was up in the air. Add in the unknowns like an emergency appendectomy and it’s no doubt the Cardinals have their work cut out for them. So they need every player to contribute and they need their 3-4-5 to stay hot.
Something about Albert’s swing looks off to me. It doesn’t look like that pure swing he had going before. And I can’t help but wonder if his contract is looming large in his mind. It’s a lot of pressure, no matter how great a super start you are.
Hopefully we can gain some ground on the Reds tonight as we go against Armando Galarraga and the D-backs. Galarraga, of course, is not famous (or probably more infamous) for losing out on a perfect game due to a bad call from ump Jim Jocye. He will be a trivia answer for decades to come through no fault of his own. Maybe we can make him famous again tonight: “most runs given up by a starter.” I like the sound of that.
Berkman looking good in Cardinal red,
The offense looked like something other than sleepwalking in yesterday’s match against the Giants. The question is was that a one time fluke or was it the outbreak they needed to start consistently pushing runs across the plate? Today’s game just might tell us as the Redbirds open up a 3 game series versus Arizona.
David Freese especially had a banner day. He went 3 for 4, smacking in RBIs every chance he got. And to cap it off, he added a solo shot for his first home run of the year. All in all, the ‘Birds scored 6 runs in 11 hits, which is drastically more than they have been doing and easily at least what this offense is capable of on a regular basis.
When you have guys like Pujols, Holliday, Berkman, Rasmus and Freese, you expect to score runs. Bottom line. I should also say Kyle Loshe has really been quite good. Certainly much better than I expected him to be. Who would have thought pre-season that we would love the pitching and watching a struggling offense? Not I.
So what do you think? Will the Cardinals continue to break out and score runs? Will Pujols figure out how to get above .200 before April is over? Post below!
Fun to watch your team score runs,
It’s coming down to the wire. A little over a month of baseball left with no off days. The Cardinals are in third place, 1/2 game behind the Brewers and 2 games behind the Cubs. The performance of all three fo these teams over the next moth will determine who the division champ is, as this is clearly still up for grabs.
And the Cardinals are not the only ones feeling the excitement of catching up. New York has now taken 2 straight from Boston to pull them back within 6 games behind the Sox and are currently leading 2-0 in today’s game. The Phils have taken 3 straight from the Mets and now only sit 3 games behind them and are also winning 5-3. Also, the Padres have won their last 3 games from the D-backs and are now tied atop the NL West (or are in first if you go by their percentage).
This is by far, one of the most exciting years of playoff races that I can remember. Almost every day I have several games I would love to watch, but instead have to settle for box scores. This is definitely what September should be all about.
Tonight the Cardinals take on Houston for the rubber match in this 3 game set. Getting out of tonight with a win and therefore going 2-1 in this series would be huge. I can’t state enough how important it is for the Cardinals to simply just to win each series as it comes. Sweeping a team would be a bonus, but just winning each series should be more than enough to propel us to first in this division of .500 ball teams.
Of course I always love for the Cubs to lose regardless, but if you look at the standings, the ideal was probably for the Brewers to win 2 of 3 games. If that happens and the Cardinals win tonight, then that means we would remain 1/2 behind the Brewers and be just 1 game back of the Cubs. Either of those teams sweeping would not have been as good for us in the standings.
The Cardinals are currently all tied up 1-1 with the ‘Stros and as I watch them, I’ll continue to keep one eye on the other games to see who just might be our competition in the postseason. That’s right….our competition. I still feel this division is ours for the taking and will continue to feel that way until one of the other teams wants to prove me otherwise.
Wanting a Brew Crew win,
I can´t ever say that I´m happy about a loss, especially by 8 runs…….however, I am willing to look past it. It´s obvious the Cardinals aren´t going to win every one of their games from here on out. To make up the ground in the central, they need to concentrate on winning each series. They´ve been rather successful at this lately and I hoping it stays that way. So though we lost last night, I am content in knowing that we got the series win against Florida.
Our next series begins tonight and it´s against Atlanta. This is no easy task because the first two pitchers we have to face are John Smoltz and Tim Hudson. Both can be very, very dominant pitchers when they are on, have ERAs just barely over 3 and are on club that is also fighting for it´s life to have a playoff spot. The Cardinals are 3 games behind the division leading Cubs (it pains me to say that) and the Braves are 3 back of the Wild Card, currently led by the Pads.
I stayed up to watch this first game of Wells vs. Smoltz, but it´s currently on a rain delay. The Cubs and the Brewers are on way too late, so I guess I´m going to have to catch up on all of my baseball tomorrow.
The Crew and Cubbies switch up opponents tonight, so that the Brewers are now taking on the Giants and the Cubs move on to the D·backs. Hopefully, the West leading Arizona can squash the Cubs and give us a chance to gain a couple of games on them.
But in order to do that, we have to have to take at least 2 of 3 from Atlanta. And in order to do that, we need to play tonight. If we get rained out again, I don´t know when it would get made up. We only have one more off day and it´s Monday, when the Braves are playing the Marlins. So maybe at the end of the season. But I´m getting ahead of myself because perhaps it won´t get rained out at all.
Time to take on Atlanta,