Monday-Looked like a pitching duel tonight . 0-0 into the 7th inning. Todd Wellemeyer was doing amazing, as was Wandy Rodriguez for Houston. Neither team could get any offense going. Then, back to back homers put the Cards down 2-0. Another solo shot made it 3-0 in the eighth. Top of the 9th, 2 outs, Glaus drove a run in, Ludwick drove two in to tie it. Then Duncan walked. I have no clue why Chris Duncan was running, he's slow. Tony shouldn't have put in Barton in the eighth, and let him pinch-run for Duncan in the ninth. Would've been another run, since the last out was Duncan just nearly getting tagged out at 2nd. Had Barton ran, his speed would've gotten him safe. And why wasn't Izzy pitching the ninth? I know, you want to save him for later, but you can't trust a rookie will keep it tied, especially with Lee and Tejada coming up. Also, Barton should've batted lead off last night, he's been red hot. But I guess it's the beginning of the season, and La Russa wants to see who can bat leadoff the best, so he's been rotating. Better to do it now than later.
Tuesday-Troy Glaus has been getting better. His 2 run double put the Cardinals up 5-3, a lead they never lost. Tomphson was average, but his only real bad inning was the 3rd. After that, he only gave up 2 hits. Chris Duncan got on base a couple times, which is good to see, after his injury. I wonder who will be replaced in the rotation when Joel Piniero comes back. Tomphson is my choice. He will help the bull pen a lot. All the starters have been good, but I think Tomphson would be better in the bull pen anyways. Schumaker was average at lead off. I strongly believe it belongs to Brian Barton. Anthony Reyes may have a home in the bull pen. La Russa actually let him bat in a close game so he could continue pitching. Went 3 shut out innings, giving up only one hit. Izzy got his NL leading 4th save. Could be in his old form, which would be amazing if the Cards have a good season.
Wednesday-Cardinals win their 3rd series, 6-4 against the Astros. Pujols must've felt he had to redeem himself after his conversation with Backe, hitting his first two official homers (one was erased on Opening Day) of the season, and driving in 3. Both gave the Cardinals good insurance in a close game. Looper wasn't as dazzling as he was in his first start, but was decent. 3 runs given up, in 5 2/3 innings. The past two games, Cardinal starters have given up 6 runs in a 9 1/3 innings, an ERA a bit below 6. I wonder if the amazing start in the first week was just a lot of extra energy. Hopefully not. Glaus continued his improvement, driving in an early run, keeping his average at a solid .250. Ankiel drove in 2 more runs. Skip Schumaker raised his horrible BA to .167, after going 3 for 4 and scoring twice last night. I STILL think Brian Barton should play now. Bull pen was perfect, the only run given up was unearned, but could be considered earned, because Randy Flores made the error himself. Izzy got save #5. He still leads the league in that category.
Thursday-I don't get it. All 3 of the Cardinals' losses have come in the opening games of series. How was the offense so atrocious, especially against some guy named Kevin Correia? Fred Lewis could become this year's Ryan Braun, for SF. Already plays in left field though. Skip Schumaker went 2 for 4, is improving, raised average to .214. Glaus drove in the only run, is improving as well. Wainwright got roughed up a bit, which is surprising against an offense as bad as the Giants'. Really disappointing. Raised his season batting average to .400 though. He is a really good batter, for a pitcher. Pujols is doing very well, after a sorta slow start. Kennedy and Izturis have cooled off, batting below .250. Hopefully, they'll improve. Cards committed two errors. Defense needs improving.
Friday-Kyle Lohse is 2-0, gave up his first two runs of the season last night. Cardinals won though, 8-2. Pujols drove in Schumaker with a double in the first, and had a 3-run homer in the 5th to put the Cards up for good. If it wasn't for a Giants' error on Barton's fly ball, the inning would've ended. Schumaker went 3 for 5, scoring 4 runs, his average is now .273. Great come back after a slow start. Ludwick went 2 for 4, with a homer, batting .321. Lohse got taken out early. He only went 5 1/3 innings. I have no clue why Tony did that. There was only a guy on first with an out. However, the bull pen was outstanding, pitching 3 2/3 shut out innings. Pujols has been doing very well recently.
Saturday-Another comeback for the Cardinals. It took a while for the offense to get going, but once it did, there was no stopping it. Matt Cain had a no-hitter going for the Giants into the 7th, with the Cardinals down 5-0. Somehow, the Cardinals decided to start playing some offense, scoring 2, 3, and 2 runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th, respectively. It looked like the game was in our hands. 7-5, in the bottom of the ninth, but Izzy blew his first save of the year. Oh well. He still has been lights out for most of the young season. In the past two games, the Cardinals scored 11 total runs in the last 3 innings, not including that run in the tenth...oh yeah, the game went to extra innings! Brian Wilson quickly got the bases loaded. He hit Jason LaRue on the cheek with a ball, and LaRue stayed in! Tough, man. Anyways, Chris Duncan hits a soft single into the left, and the go-ahead run scored. Anthony Reyes has been amazing in the bullpen, getting his first save of the year by pitching a scoreless 10th. Duncan's average jumped to .286 after going 3 for 5, driving in 2, and scoring once. Rick Ankiel hit his 4th home run too, that tied the game at 5. Note: RP Kelvin Jiminez was sent down to AAA Memphis today, and SP Joel Piniero was called up following his injury. Piniero pitched Sunday. And speaking of Sunday...
Sunday-The Cardinals lost their first game that wasn't a series opener today. Joel Piniero made his first start of the season. Brad Tomphson was moved to the bullpen. La Russa said it wasn't than Brad did anything wrong, just out of all the starters, he would be the best fit in the pen, which is true. However, Piniero got roughed up today, giving up 6 ER, while striking out none, in 3.2 innings of work. Tim Lincecum struck out ELEVEN batters in 6 innings for the Giants. The duo of Cain and Lincecum is one of baseball's best, by the way. Ryan Ludwick hit his 3rd homer in 3 games, however, it was only a solo one. The Cardinals left 11 men on base, including a bases loaded situation in the 8th. They need to capitalize more when given the opportunity. Pujols was initially given the day off, but came in later for Kennedy. Glaus also game in later after a day off. Skip Schumaker and Rico Washington combined to leave 10 men on base. Cardinals almost had the game in the 9th. 1st and 3rd, no one out, but the Cards strike out looking TWICE! But those pitches were easily balls. On TV, they even said the umpire made a horrible call. Had those been walks, with it would've been 7-5 Giants, bases loaded with no outs for the Cardinals. Momentum, momentum, momentum. Cardinals would've made another comeback. Cardinals split the series 2-2. I think the Giants are a bit underrated. They are quite pesky, and Fred Lewis killed us throughout the series. This seemed like an easy series compared to Houston, Colorado, and Washington, but I guess not.
Other general thoughts/notes:
Bad defense was the cause of the loss in a couple of the games this week. Pujols is really in his groove now. Has been scoring a lot of runs. Ankiel and Ludwick provided some support this week. Despite early starts, Troy Glaus' and Adam Kennedy's batting averages have both fallen to .222 and .226. Cardinals have played all three last place teams in the NL (San Francisco, Houston, Washington) and a 5-7 Rockies team. So don't get too excited about our 9-4 record yet. Starters allowed a total of 17 runs in the series against the Giants. So an average of 4.25 runs per game, which is not good. I'm not sure if Joel Piniero will be that good this year. Had a bad first outing, and his injury may still be bothering him. If he continues to struggle, he and Brad Tomphson should trade places. Lead-off spot still up for grabs...Barton vs. Schumaker. I was leaning towards Barton, but Schumaker's play has really improved recently.
Player of the Week: El Hombre (Albert Pujols)
.417 BA, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R He'll be getting this award a lot this season. It seemed that his small argument with Houston pitcher Brandon Backe started him up. He had only 1 RBI is first of the season, but came on really strong this week. It helped with an improved Glaus and Ankiel batting behind him. And Schumaker and Barton batting ahead of him. It gave him plenty of chances to drive people in, and he didn't get walked as much, because there were already men on base. I hope the protection for Albert can stay this way. If it does, he'll have a monster season. By the way, Pujols' nickname is ONLY EL HOMBRE, not THE MAN (English translation). There is only one guy called "The Man". And that's Stan Musial.
Cardinals continue to improve, offense shows good ability, but is streaky. Can go on a total cold streak (aka getting no-hit through the 6th by Matt Cain) and suddenly catch fire (scoring 8 runs in the last 4 innings in a comeback victory). Pitching was a bit shaky but nothing to worry about yet. The offense is getting hits when they need to, and the early runs are really helping the starters go deeper into the game. Izzy blew a save, but still got the win in a game. Bull pen, overall, is solid. Reyes is doing very well there. The next two weeks are important, since they are playing a total of 6 games against the Brewers. The home series starts tomorrow, and with a lot of early home games, the Cardinals must win the now so they don't get killed late in the season on the road. Doing well in those two series could put the Cardinals up by a lot in the standings. Speaking of standings...
Current NL Standings:
1. St. Louis Cardinals (9-4)
2. Milwaukee Brewers (8-4)
3. Chicago Cubs (7-5)
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6)
5. Cincinnati Reds (6-7)
6. Houston Astros (5-8)