Getting to Washington Nationals' starter Odalis Perez was no problem last night for the Cardinals. What needed some good luck was the weather. After nearly a 2 hour rain delay, the Cardinals returned to the field for a 6-1 win over the Nationals Tuesday night.
Brian Barton lead off the game for the Cards by getting hit by a pitch by Perez. After a groundout, Pujols reaached on a grounder. Ryan Ludwick doubled in Barton to score the first run. After Troy Glaus got out, it set the stage for Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina. Molina has long been known for his defensive prowness, but (OK, I'm stealing a line from Cardinal announcer Mike Shannon on this one) after he hit that Game 7, 9th inning home run against the Mets to send the Cardinals to the World Series, his offensive game has improved too. Molina cracked a 3-run homer into the National's bullpen to put the Cards up 4-0. Molina is currently on pace to shatter career highs in all stat categories. He has 3 homers this year already, compared to a total of 6 in each of the past two years. He has 23 RBIs already, compared to 40 in 2007. Even his batting eye has improved, with 18 walks compared to 9 strikeouts, a huge improvement. Behind the plate, he has thrown out 37% of potential base stealers, and in his career has caught nearly 50% of all potential base stealers. One note-Albert Pujols left the game with a strained calf after being hit by a pitch in the shoulder. He hopefully should be okay. Rookie Joe Mather replaced him at first.
After the 1st, the game was pretty much over. But there was one thing that I loved seeing. With Rick Ankiel at first and Cesar Izturis at 3rd in the 4th inning, Tony La Russa utilized the double steal. As the pitcher made his move to the plate, Ankiel dashed for 2nd. As National Catcher Jesus (yeah, that's his name) Flores threw to 2nd, Izturis, who was at 3rd, dashed home. Ankiel was safe. The throw home was late. Cesar Izturis stole home, reminding of the small ball style Whitey Herzog used to use. The Nationals have two Jesus's on their team. Reliever Jesus Colome and catcher Jesus Flores. I can imagine the announcer,"...And Jesus is walking up to the mound to have a talk with Jesus..."
(I know, that's an awkward picture, but it shows the steal the best...)
On the pitching side, Lohse again was dominant pitching behind a strong lead. Before he even took the mound, the Cardinals had spotted him a 4-0 lead. He gave up just one run on a solo homer by Langerhans, but pitched long enough to get his 6th win of the season. The bullpen worked efficiently, allowing only 4 base runners, while shutting out the Nationals' anemic offense. Pitcher Mike Worrell made his MLB debut by pitching a scoreless 9th.