As Joaquin Andujar once said, "Baseball can be summed up in one word: YouNeverKnow". Such was the case tonight in St. Louis for the opener of the latest Cards-Cubs series. The Cardinals came in floundering, having been swept three straight at home by the Brewers. Making matters worse, they pretty much ran through their entire bullpen in the last two games, due in large part to horrid and very short outings from Todd Wellemeyer and Kyle Lohse. Adding to the already dim prospects, the Cardinals were sending Joel Pineiro to the mound, a pitcher whose last 12 innings produced 9 earned runs on 19 hits in two straight losses. Need more bad news? The Cubs were starting Ted Lilly, a lefty who has handled the Cards very well since coming to Chicago, winning four straight decsions. Obviously, all the signs pointed to an easy Cub victory.
Naturally then, Pineiro, making Andujar's words ring true, gave the Cards beleagured bullpen exactly what it needed: a complete game, 3-hit shutout. Pineiro's first complete game shutout since 2003! I can tell you that it was one of the most surprising outcomes of a Cardinal game I have seen in some time. For Pineiro to step in in the opener of a Cub series and go the distance when this team needed it the most......well, let's just call me very pleasantly surprised. Emphasis on the word surprised.
As bad as the Cardinals have looked lately, there was a different feel tonight. Solid starting pitching will always make everything look better. The defense appeared sharper and on its game....Colby Rasmus continued swinging a hot bat with a 2 run homer to help give Pineiro some cushion......Tony LaRussa even laughed during his post-game press conference. Amazing what a great performance by a starting pitcher can do for a club's psyche.
Card-Cub series are always entertaining, and hopefully the Cards can keep it going tomorrow when Chris Carpenter is scheduled to make his latest return. My predictions for game one were so far off base.....I'm not even going to attempt to predict what will happen tomorrow, 'cause YouNeverKnow.