picks up no decision for the fourth time this season as he baffled the Phillies and held them to just 5 runs. Meanwhile Lance Berkman
provided the walk off hit as I turned to my brother and said, “If we don’t score in this inning (that started with bases loaded, none out) we deserve to lose.” Luckily, we didn’t deserve to lose.
- Jaime Garcia is having an incredible run. In his last three starts he has thrown 24 innings and allowed just 2 runs, only one of which was earned. That puts his ERA at 0.38 over his last three starts and 1.20 in May. Needless to say, he is in the zone right now and hopefully he can keep it up. What’s more impressive than Garcia’s 5-0 record and his sparkly ERA? The fact that he left two of those four no-decisions with the lead and has left no game while being behind this season. Tonight was also the first game that Garcia scored a no-decision in that the team won.
- Albert Pujols‘ streak now at 22 games since his last home run. Or 21 if you don’t count the game he pinch hit and was walked in. However you put it, 22 is his career high mark set in 2007. During that “slump” he hit .327 with a .475 OBP. This one? Just .289 with a .357 OBP. The good news, if you can say that it is, is that Pujols hit .351 with 8 HR in the 20 games after his career high homerless streak. So we’re waiting for that point, I guess. He did go 3-for-5 tonight.
- Fernando Salas picked up another perfect inning of relief tonight, quietly getting the job done. He came away with the win for his troubles. Salas has allowed runs in just two of his relief appearances this season and has had 4 appearances with a total of 4.1 innings since he last allowed a run.
- Brian Tallet made his first relief appearance tonight for Quad Cities. He struck out 5 over 2 innings. Roster decisions will need to be made shortly as he looks like he’s sharp, which he’s been able to throw so it’s really no surprise. With Skip Schumaker about to head out for his rehab assignments, it will be interesting to see what massaging management tries to do with the roster. Do we carry 13 pitchers and send two position players to Memphis?
Hero of the Game: Is there really a debate here? Jaime Garcia. (8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 K)
Zero of the Game: I would have to go with Matt Holliday tonight. Why? He had his chance in the 9th to win the game and dribbled a double play chance at the short stop. The reason it wasn’t is that Philadelphia decided not to get fancy and just took the lead runner. (0-for-5, 5 LOB)
The Cardinals successfully christened by new television as Jake Westbrook
out-dueled Cliff Lee
in a surprising pitcher’s duel against Philadelphia tonight on ESPN.
- After his worst start of the season, Jake Westbrook turned in one of his best. He went 7 innings and allowed just 4 hits and 3 walks while holding Philadelphia to just the one run in the top of the second. Westbrook, who moves to 3-3 on the season, has not had much to write home about this season as he has struggled in general. His ERA is now down to 6.07, much more respectable than the 6.92 he began the game tonight with.
- Albert Pujols made his first start at third base since October 13, 2002, in the NLCS against the Giants. Apparently Pujols volunteered to play the position to give Tony LaRussa more lineup versatility against the left handed Cliff Lee. That allowed LaRussa to shuffle the lineup and play Nick Punto, potentially the best defensive infielder the Cardinals have, at second and Allen Craig in right field.
- With another 0-for-4 performance, Albert Pujols posted his 14th game without a hit this season. He also extended his homer-less drought to 20 games, just two shy of tying his career high.
- Fernando Salas, according to Derrick Goold on Twitter, turned in the first perfect inning for a save by a Cardinals reliever so far this season. That says something about our bullpen, I think. Also why the Cardinals are second in the major leagues in blown saves.
- Last note, is it just me or did Tony LaRussa look a ton better today. The week off did him well.
Hero of the Game: Jake Westbrook. (7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 ER, 1 K)
Zero of the Game: Allen Craig. Despite the shuffle to put him in the lineup, he goes 0-for-4 and left 6 guys on base tonight. I’m high on Craig, but that’s just bad. (0-for-4, 1 K, 6 LOB)
It’s been a 6-6 run for the Cardinals while I’ve been gone and it’s been quite the busy one for the Cardinals. For one, Joe Pettini is the acting manager on this road trip while Tony LaRussa has been out dealing with his viral issues. I know I’ve been heavily critical of Tony in the past, but I wish him a speedy recovery so he can be back on the bench so I can continue to be critical of him.
Some of my thoughts on the last two weeks of Cardinals’ baseball.
- The Cardinals will definitely have a major decision on their hands when Brian Tallet and Skip Schumaker are ready for their return to the lineup. Likely both will take a quick trip through the minor leagues while the team decides what to do. Do you send Fernando Salas or Eduardo Sanchez down the minors because they are the junior members of the bullpen, or do you consider doing something with Ryan Franklin?
While many Cardinals fans will instantly say that we need to DFA Franklin as soon as possible, I highly doubt the team will do that. However, I will be the first to admit that I’ve been wrong about a few things. Tony and Mo have surprised me with their moves, and just as I thought I was successfully getting into their heads.
Salas and Sanchez have options. Obviously the coaches’ like Sanchez. Salas has pitched well too. So where does that leave Ryan Franklin, his $3.5 million salary, and his 9.88 ERA? Who knows. While I realize what Franklin has done for us, I give him the opportunity to pitch in the minors for the Cardinals to see if he can’t get it back, but also the opportunity to walk and potentially find another opportunity. Tough call, and I am glad that I’m not the one that has to make it.
- Swept by the Reds? Say it ain’t so. Chris Carpenter got slaughtered today as he allowed 7 earned runs over 6 and a third innings. Three errors in the series by the Cardinals as poor defensive play was once again the team’s hallmark. Ironically, the Reds committed four errors, which reminds me that the Reds’ offense was much more efficient last year on capitalizing on mistakes. The Cardinals’ offense has lacked this in recent years.
While some of my Cardinals fan brethren are ready to pack it in after one bad series, claiming the Cardinals did a good job masquerading as contenders, these are really the same issues that the team has had all year. Nothing new is popping up. I think it was in the movie Glory Road where the coach says that the best players make the routine plays over and over and over again. That’s where this team needs to get. Don’t be flashy, don’t be fancy, just get the job done. 9 times out of 10, that’s enough.
- Jaime Garcia is a beast. One start he’s perfect through 4 innings, and the next he’s perfect through 8 and a third. I had some worry about a sophomore slump as the league caught up to him, but Jaime is proving that he has the potential to be one of the premiere left handed pitchers in the major leagues. The thoughts of pairing him up with Adam Wainwright as twin-aces again is highly tantalizing.
- Allen Craig played second base? That’s what I see and read about. I found it interesting to note that Craig was drafted a short stop. While he only played three games at the position in 2006 before being moved to third base, he at least has a capable glove. Which pretty much translates around the infield. If he doesn’t have the arm for third base, second base would be a good solution. Obviously, though, he’ll need innings at the position to truly be ready to play it. Inexperience reared it’s head, but not as badly as I expected. Could he potentially make a play to play more games at second base? I’d actually like to see that. He has the biggest bat of anyone on that bench or currently playing second base. It’d be a way to get it in the lineup.
- Albert Pujols is still hitting just .266 after today’s game. That’s not too far off the magic .300 number though. What is concerning to me is that, now at 19 games he is in the fourth longest homeless drought of his career. In 2007 he had droughts of 22 (his longest) and 20 games. In 2009 he added one that was 21 games long. In each of those three instances, he had a hot streak right after he broke out of the streak. So is a power slump signaling his getting closer to being right? Who knows. I guess we’ll find out.
It was a crazy game. A game that saw Jaime Garcia perfect through four innings and fall apart in the fifth. It also saw Albert Pujols playing third base in the major leagues for the first time since 2002.
Most Cardinals fans will see the L by Ryan Franklin‘s name and assume he blew it. Honestly, for once I don’t blame him for this one. With no outs, Alex Gonzalez hit a pop fly that a little leaguer could catch, except Ryan Theriot did not as he picked up his 7th error on the season (that puts him on pace for 40 errors this season, the most for a major leaguer since Jose Offerman had 42 errors in 1992, before that you go to 1978). Say what you will about what Franklin should have done at that point, the fact is if you give most teams a man on first and nobody out, they will most likely score that run. Good teams will, at least. The Braves are a good team.
Defensive issues have plagued this team and currently have them 24th in the league in fielding percentage going into today’s game. This game won’t help as Pujols and Theriot each made an error, which each led to an unearned run being scored and ultimately were the two runs that cost us this game.
In a highly questioned move, Albert Pujols made his first appearance at third base since September of 2002. How did it happen? After David Freese‘s injury (a broken left middle finger, it seems), Tyler Greene came in to play the infield. Later, he was pinch hit for by Jon Jay, leaving Mark Hamilton as the only infielder left on the bench. So what does Tony LaRussa do? In comes Hamilton to play first and Pujols returns to third base in the bottom of the 8th. He was involved in one play, but had Cardinals fans on edge as his elbow is still believed to be a worry.
Hero: Matt Holliday. The only guy with 2 RBI off a first inning double, it was Holliday that was in position to be the game tying run in the top of the 8th and was able to score on a Molina sac fly. (2-for-3, 2 R, 2 RBI)
Zero: Ryan Theriot. I’m giving it to him based on his strikeout in the top of the 8th with Jay on second and his error which unraveled the bottom of the 9th. (0-for-4, 1 K, 4 LOB)
The Comeback Cards are at it again to finish out April. Down 2-0 going into the 8th, they tie it up and then take the lead in the 9th. Later that night while grocery shopping I saw a Braves fan and resisted the urge to rub it in. I know what it’s like to have a closer who doesn’t close.
For the Cardinals, Jake Westbrook proved that he might be back at it. Two earned runs over 6 innings is enough to garner a quality start, though I would have liked to see him go deeper into the ballgame. The 106 pitches he threw, said otherwise. His ERA is now down to 6.53. It’s going to take awhile to rebound it though.
Once again a solid bullpen brought home the game. Mitchell Boggs, Miguel Batista, and Fernando Salas brought home the game, throwing 3 scoreless innings of relief. Batista earned the win while Salas picked up his second save of the season.
For the offense, it was David Freese that provided the 2 RBI single to tie up the game with two outs in the 8th. Then Gerald Laird scored Matt Holliday on a 9th inning triple.
Hero: Tough decision for me between Freese and Laird, both played integral parts. Ultimately, Freese set it up, so he will get it. (2-for-4, 2 RBI, 1 K)
Zero: Tough call between Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols. While Berkman got just 2 at bats as he came in late in the game, he left 5 runners on base. Pujols played the whole game and went hitless, leaving 3. Berkman had the opportunity to blow it wide open, and didn’t. (0-for-2, 1 K, 5 LOB)