Game 9: Cardinals 6, Giants 1

Great. I miss a game and the Cardinals offense breaks out. Six isn’t just a serious number, it’s how many the Cardinals scored today. Matt Holliday was back in the lineup, but I can’t even credit that as a big boost to the offense as Allen Craig was more than capable in the interim. The big difference? David Freese finally broke out. His 3-for-4 performance with 3 RBI and his first home run of the season in the 8th inning. Freese had been struggling, more often than not, striking out. His breaking out really helps this team a ton, especially with Pujols struggling as well.

Kyle Lohse turned in another stellar start. He avoided allowing the walk and as a result, allowed just a single run over his 8 innings. It appears that he is healthy and back in form, which is a very important thing for this team if they intend on contending this season.

With Freese hopefully having broken out of his slow start, the Cardinals really need Albert Pujols to snap out of it and start providing the offense we all know he’s capable of. 0-for-5 won’t cut it. In fact, not many teams can be productive without their #3 hitter hitting. The Baseball Musing’s Lineup Analysis Tool gives the Cardinals A-lineup currently a 2.955 runs per game rating. With Pujols at his career averages, they rank at 3.750. That’s nearly 50% better, so how many more runs do we score?

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Game 8: Giants 3, Cardinals 2

What a heart breaker. I was getting ready for bed when Colby Rasmus hit his first home run of the season to break the 1-1 tie, and at that point I decided I had to stay up for it. A couple scoreless innings by Miguel Batista and then in came Ryan Franklin. The nerves mounted as I grabbed the Tums and settled in for a nerve wracking inning. Right off the bat, I knew it was a blown save. One of the first pitches by Franklin was a long strike down the first base line. He was having trouble throwing strikes and when he did, the hitter gave them a ride. And it all led to a two out, two on fly ball to deep center field which was misplayed by Rasmus and Jay and ultimately dropped to give San Francisco another win, and St. Louis their sixth loss of the short season. Colby Rasmus became the third Cardinal to hit a home run this season. During the game I commented that the Cardinals were on pace to hit a grand total of 46 home runs this season. Obviously, the slow start by Albert Pujols has dropped this number. Still, I’m surprised that there were only two and then now three home runs hit by the Cards this season. For a team that needs to wait on the long ball, we certainly aren’t hitting a lot of them. But I have seen the running game loosened up a bit, which is always good. Puts pressure on the other team to execute. Jaime Garcia once again turned in a stellar start. I did not agree with his being pulled after six innings to give the ball to Batista. He’d only thrown 82 pitches and could have easily gone one more inning. It’ll be interesting to see if there was a reason for it. Garcia’s spot did come up in the lineup, Craig pinch hit, but they bunted in front of his spot with Descalso. Just don’t understand that move when your starter is still cruising. And on Ryan Franklin. Do we have a large enough sample size? I’m sure Tony LaRussa will come through and pat Franklin on the back and tell the media he’s still the closer. You have Fernando Salas down at Memphis who was perfect in save opportunities last year for them. I think he’s earned the opportunity. Franklin looks scared to throw strikes out there and I don’t like it. I don’t like a closer who relies on the other team hitting the ball to get the other team out. Too much 9th inning drama. One has to ask when the slow start by Pujols turns into a full on slump. I get criticized for my comments about Pujols. Often they bring up the last 10 years in some fashion. Honestly, the last 10 years don’t win us any games in 2011, so I really don’t care about that. When I make a comment, like calling him a killer to whatever momentum the offense generates, I’m not saying that he always has been or always will be, but it’s an ‘in the moment’ statement. =&0=& Jaime Garcia wins it again. He turned in another great performance. Rasmus would have had it if his home run had stood up and maybe even if he hadn’t made the final error. (6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 9 K) =&1=&Ryan Franklin with his third blown save of the season earns the Zero of the Game. I’m ready to try someone else. Put him in middle relief until he gets the groove back, but you can’t throw him out there with the game on the line. We need wins right now and we can’t wait for Franklin to get his groove back. (0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 ER)