This is not the first time this season, we have seen the Cardinal offense errupt. Normally, it is over 9 innings and not in one, but nonetheless, when these guys are clicking, it’s clear what they can do. And that’s good because our pitching is shaky at times, especially the relief pitching, as well as our defense.
The defense is actually painful to watch at times. The Cardinals have the fourth highest number of errors in the NL and the only teams that have poor are sub .500 teams. Over the years the Cardinals have been known for outstanding defense. In the 80s you had the Wizard and even more recently, guys like Edmonds and Rolen were just fun to watch. Rolen was a vacuum at 3rd base. Not only did he make the routine plays with ease, but he made the ridiculously hard plays look easy. Edmonds had a flair all his own, laying out to catch fly ball after fly ball or hopping the fence to rob a home run.
These days the defense is abysmal at best. Only Yadier’s cannon is exempt. With the rest of them, if they make the routine plays I’m happy because that doesn’t always happen. And spectacular plays are certainly few and far between. Most of our outfielders aren’t going to be throwing runners out at the plate and our infield has struggled to catch anything hit sharply.
This combined with a not so strong effort from the bullpen last night again allowed a last place Houston team to feel like they had a shot to win, even as the Cardinals led by 6 runs in the late innings. And indeed they did. For the second day in a row, the ‘Stros had the tying run at the plate. Fortunately, after a wild pitch by Salas, backup catcher Laird dove over home plate as Hunter Pence raced home, just in time to get the inning ending out. If it wasn’t for that, who know what would have happened that inning?
Of course for the Cardinals the big inning was the 6th inning, where they put up 9 runs on 9 hits and 1 walk. Most remarkably, all of the hits, minus Berkman’s home run, were singles. Small ball at its best. In that inning, 4 players (Freese, Pujols, Holliday and Berkman) each had 2 hits.
Overall, the Cardinals scored 11 runs on 15 hits. Lance Berkman had quite the game against his old team, as I mentioned here that he probably would. The only two extra base hits of the game, a double and a home run, belonged to Berkman. He went 4 for 5 with 5 RBIs, heavily contributing to that powerful middle of the order lineup. The 3-4-5 guys went a total of 8 for 14 with 8 RBIs. And that’s what these guys are paid to do. To continue to go after opposing pitchers, unrelenting hit after hit. Many people have questioned the contract of Matt Holliday, but I think he has showed himself worthy of every penny. He hasn’t had the career of Albert, of course, but he has proven himself quite valuable and a much more affordable price. And you can’t say enough about Berkman. He was gambled on, in the offseason and Cardinal fans everywhere are so glad he was. He has continued to rake and has now hopped to 2nd in the NL in average, behind none other than? Matt Holliday.
In today’s game, it would be nice to finally get Chris Carpenter a win. It’s an unfair world where Carp is 0-2 and Kyle McClellan is 4-0. The biggest reason for that, of course, is run support. Carp has only allowed more than 2 runs, in one of 5 starts this season. But his teammates have not returned the favor. He has the worst run support on the Cardinals staff and the 11th worst in the NL. On the other hand McClellan has the 6th best run support in the NL, at a crazy 9.10.
Taking on the Braves,
If the Cardinals fail to make the postseason, we certainly can’t blame anybody but ourselves. Colorado completed a 4 game sweep of the Reds this afternoon, giving St. Louis ample opportunities to close the gap in the NL Central. We had our chance against the Brewers and will now have to face a very good team in the Atlanta Braves. We need this win more than ever.
The last I had seen the Reds were up by one run against the Rockies. Then the next time I looked at the game, the Rockies had taken the lead. Surely it must have been a 2 run homer. But I was incorrect. It was a solo shot and……a steal of home. What? Seriously? So not only did the Reds lose, but they lost by one of the coolest plays in baseball. That is fantastic.
The game just got over and the video isn’t up yet, but I can’t wait to see it. I want to know if it was a straight steal or not. Because if it was, major props to rookie Chris Nelson. He did his job in a big way. After Giambi got on, Nelso was put in to run for him. As a pinch runner in a tie game, your job is simply to score. By whatever means possible, get your butt across homeplate. And that’s exactly what he did. He moved to 3rd on Votto’s error and then stole home.
Again, I don’t know if this was a straight steal or not, but the last person that I know did a straight steal of home was Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox last year. He stole it off of Yankees lefty, Andy Pettitte. I remember watching that play and the disbelief on Pettitte’s face.
I’m definitely a fan of the running game. Home runs are great, but so is a team that can play small ball when the time comes. If you only rely on homers, you will suffer when your big guys go through a drought. I miss the old school days of Whiteyball and watching guys like Coleman, McGee and Smith make it look so easy. Another play I’d love to see live is a guy getting on and then stealing 2nd, 3rd and home in the same inning. I think Werth did it once a year or two ago, but before that, it hasn’t happened in probably a decade.
But, bottom line is Reds lose and the Cardinals MUST capitalize tonight against Atlanta. Wainwright is the man for the job. Here’s hoping the offense can score him at least a few.
Rocks come through again,