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,
Indeed, the dust has settled and the punishments handed down from the powers on high at Major League Baseball. It breaks down like this. The only people suspended in the 7 minute “scrum” (I adore Carp) were Cardinal manager, Tony LaRussa (left), Reds manager, Dusty Baker, (right) and roundhouse kicking, “I’m a scared little girl” Reds pitcher, Johnny Cueto.
I also agree with the fines. Even though I 100% support Molina in what he did, he was going to get fined and I don’t think he’d even argue with that. I have no idea what Carp said, but clearly he was saying something and the umpire was right there. Obviously, the umpire felt that what he said warranted the fine, but it wasn’t bad enough for a suspension. Phillips deserves the fine as well for starting the whole mess to begin with and then purposely agitating Molina before his at-bat. Apparently Springer was fined only because he was on the DL and was on the field. I had no idea that was even a rule. Wonder if he did. Plus, let’s be honest….as much as these guys make, a fine is a slap on the wrist at best.
The only one that really matters in all this is Johnny Cueto and frankly, I’m disgusted that he only got a 7 game suspension. That’s basically one start. Big deal. The guy was KICKING PEOPLE IN THE FACE WITH SPIKES. There’s no way you can justify that, although if you read enough message boards with Cincy fans, they try to find a way. No, he wasn’t trapped. If he was trapped, how did he manage to bicycle kick Jason LaRue so hard in the face that he split his lip, gave him stitches, a concussion and a trip to the DL? Carp was trapped and he stayed calm. Suppan was on the freakin’ bottom of the pile and had to crawl to safety and he didn’t hurt anyone. I would say a 21 game suspension or 3 starts would be a lot more appropriate.
And still Baker has the nerve to whine to the office about Carp and Molina not getting suspended. What an idiot. Carp was only going to suspended if what he said was laced with completely inappropriate comments and obviously it wasn’t. And if you’re going to suspend Yadi, you definitely have to suspend Phillips. Is that what he wants? Don’t tell me Molina was more involved than Philips was. Come on. And again, he’s lucky that he didn’t lose a starting pitcher for a lot longer. Then again, I never did like Dusty Baker. And even getting out of a Cubs uniform didn’t help that.
But what’s done is done. Even if Cueto appeals, I don’t think it will matter. The most he would get reduced would be a game and that would still mean missing a start. In any case, it’s over, and we move on from here.
The one positive from all this is that the Cardinals were playing with a little fire in their belly and that’s the first time we’ve seen that in awhile. I hope the veterans in the clubhouse are able to harness that and show the youngsters what it means to really stay focused and compete hard. There are several guys on that team who played for the championship 4 years ago and I think the sparring match with the Reds only wet their appetite for more October baseball.
For now it’s just a matter of getting there. I think we proved against the Reds that when we send Carpenter, Garcia and Wainwright to the mound, we have a pretty good shot at taking the series, if not the sweep. And that will do in the postseason, but to get us there we’re going to need either Westbrook, Suppan, Hawksworth or Loshe to get going and be a competitive number 4 and 5.
The Cardinal bats were hot this series. For all the doubters that said Albert was slumping because he was putting up “only” great numbers instead of super human numbers, he’s back to being super human. Holliday has picked up the pace as well and John Jay has been the best table setter we’ve had in quite some time. And if these last couple games are any indication of what Ryan, Schumaker, Rasmus and Molina intend to do from here on out, I’ll take it. We knew the Redbirds had it in them all season, but apparently it took a punk like Brandon Philips to bring it out of us. And for that, we thank him.
Serving my one game suspension today,