Finally! The Cardinals break through for the win on the back of Jaime Garcia. Garcia, who had looked shaky during Spring Training, put some worries to rest with his dominant pitching performance. He used just 102 pitches to work through the 9 innings, showing some improvement over a problem he faced often in his rookie season. Last year he would commonly be inefficient with his pitches and hopefully this is him turning over a new leaf. It was just his second complete game shutout, the last was a 3-hitter he tossed last August against San Francisco.
After just getting through watching this game on the MLBtv Archive after missing it because I was on the road this afternoon, there are a few thoughts.
First, Skip Schumaker still looked awful at second base. How long until his fielding problems become a bigger issue? Today he couldn’t hang onto a pretty decent throw from Molina to attempt to catch someone stealing and then he made a bad throw on a double-play ball in the top of the sixth that got Garcia into the most trouble he was in all afternoon.
Secondly and luckily, Daniel Descalso held onto a sharply hit line drive to him and managed to pull off the unassisted double play while San Diego had the bases loaded with 1 out. It ended the inning and got Garcia out of a big jam. Had he not made the play, this game would have looked very different and it would have all unraveled because of that bad double play toss from Schumaker.
Thirdly, there was an interesting graphic that has shown Yadier Molina‘s batting average drop the last three seasons. From .304 in 2008 to .293 in 2009 and then to .262 in 2010. Part of me wonders if this isn’t due to the strain on the body of playing all the innings? In 2009 he played the most innings behind the plate of any catcher in the big leagues, and he probably did it again in 2010 (haven’t been able to find a list to confirm, though). Are we riding Molina into the ground or should we be easier on him in the hopes his career lasts? At this point he’s nearly due a new contract and those knees have a lot of innings on them.
Hero of the Game: There really is no doubt here. The man who dispelled all the questions with his performance today, Jaime Garcia. (9.0 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 0 ER, 9 K)
Zero of the Game: Not sure what’s wrong with him, but there is plenty to speculate about. For the second time in three games, Pujols goes hitless and he added another to his already MLB high GIDP total. Albert Pujols, you get your second ZOG award. (0-for-4, 1 GIDP, 4 LOB)