Posted by JE Powell
The top of the fifth inning was pretty uneventful as Kyle Lohse was able to put the Brewers down 1-2-3. The first batter was Rickie Weeks who flew out to Lance Berkman in right field. Second up was Craig Counsell and a little ground ball to Albert Puujols for the out numero dos. The last batter Lohse faced in the inning was Ryan Braun, he of the recent contract extension that keeps him a Brewer through 2020. Braun fouled out near the tarp to Pujols who make a basket catch for the third and final out of the top half of the inning.
Yovani Gallardo started the game for the Brewers and was still pitching, and quite well, in the fifith inning. The first to bat of the inning for the Cardinals was Matt Holliday who struck out swinging.
Berkman was up second and walked after working the count full. It was a pretty good at bat for the Big Puma who not only worked the count full, but also fouled several balls off. I really like to see this from batters because if every batter can cause the pitcher to throw six to seven pitches per at bat, the pitcher is nearing 100 pitches by the fifth or sixth innings. Even if it results in an out, I still like to see Cardinals at bats where the batter forces the pitcher to throw at least six to seven pitches. This one, as I said, resulted in a Berkman walk, so all the better.
Yadier Molina was the third batter of the inning and came up to bat with one out and one on. He made contact with a one and one count, but didn’t hit the ball very hard. In fact, the ball went off of Brewers’ pitcher Gallardo’s glove and kept the ball from being a double play ball. So, if nothing else, Molina advanced Berkman over to second.
Daniel Descalso was the fourth Cardinals batter to come to the plate in the fifht inning. Descalso’s at bat was very similar to Berkman’s in the inning. Descalso worked the count full after fouling off a couple of pitches, and then walked. Another very good at bat in the inning.
The fifth, and final, Cardinals batter of the inning was Tyler Greene who came to bat with two on and two out. Greene made good contact on only the second pitch he saw, and it to just shy of the warning track, but Mark Kotsay made a nice hopping (skipping? definitely not leaping) catch to take away a hit. The ball gets over his head and Greene probably would have been looking a two RBI triple. Despite the fact that it resulted in an out, it was a decent at bat for Greene and if not for a good play, could have been a great at bat.
The Cards had a runner in scoring position and two on at one point in the inning, but failed to get anyone home. This game, I think, was an example of Gallardo pitching very well, rather than the Cardinals just not hitting. The Cards have a very good hitting lineup and rarely hit that poorly, therefore, Gallardo pitched great. He didn’t necessarily pitch great in the fifth, allowing two walks, but he pitched well enough to get out of the inning without allowing a hit or a run to score.
- Posted by JE Powell
The Cardinals are now ten games into the season and sit at 4-6 record. The Cards could be 7-3, if not for three blown saves by Ryan Franklin, but that is what it is and nothing can be done about it now. I want to give Franklin a couple of more chances and see if he can turn things around. If he blows a couple of more saves, then I think John Mozeliak and Tony La Russa might need to find a closer outside of the organization. Majority owner Bill DeWitt Jr. has said the Cards have room to add payroll this season, should the right situation arise.
This, however, is about offense and how the Cardinals found it. In the last two games the Cardinals have scored 14 runs, the same amount they scored in their first five games. The return of Matt Holliday from an appendectomy has helped. The Cards are 2-1 with him in the lineup and 1-5 without him. Holliday makes this team better.
Here are some of the positives of the last few games:
- The Cardinals have won two games in a row
- Matt Holliday returned to the lineup
- Lance Berkman had a two homerun night on April 11th
- Jaime Garcia and Kyle McClellan have been pitching extrememly well
- Ryan Theriot’s bat is starting to come alive
- Albert Pujols will not be batting .150-ish much longer
- The season is ten games old and there are still 152 games to play
- The Cardianls (while it’s a very small sample size) seem like their offense has started to come around
- With Colby Rasmus’ high OBP and Matt Holliday’s return, when Pujols starts hitting and Berkman ups his batting average, this Cardinals team should score some runs
- Outside of one start by Jake Westbrook, the Cards starting rotations hasn’t allow all that many runs and has kept the team in games while the offense struggled. If the Cards can continue to have good seasons by their starting pitchers and the offense continues to perk up, this team has the potential to be very good
So, while two games does not a season make, I think that Cardinals fans certainly have reason to get excited about the Cardinals recent offensive output. If Theriot continues to improve his batting (it at .240+ now, up from around .150) and gets on base, then he is followed by Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday, Berkman, Freese, Schumaker, and Molina which is a very potent lineup when, please excuse the cliche, the hitters are all clicking on the same cylinders. If this offense can become what it seems it can be, then this summer the Cardinals are going to be a very fun team to watch.
Posted By JE Powell
On Monday, Kyle Lohse pitched six innings of shutout baseball, becoming the first Cardinals pitcher this spring to reach six innings. He allowed only one hit. It looks as though that after two years of bad seasons, Lohse is starting to look like the pitcher the Cards signed in 2008 who went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA and 200 innings pitched. They certainly need that version of Lohse this season with Wainwright out until 2012. So far in Spring Training, Lohse has pitched 13 innings in 3 starts and is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 9 strikeouts. Now, if he can carry that into the season the Cards might do all right.
Matt Holliday hit his second home run of the spring and has quietly had a very productive spring. He has a .393 batting average with 3 doubles and five RBI and only one strikeout in 28 at bats. The Holliday’s sixth inning home run put the Cardinals up one to nothing, but the Atlanta Braves tied the game in the top of the seventh. At the end of nine the game was still tied so the Cards and Braves went into extra innings and after ten innings the game was still tied. And that is where the game ended. 1-1 F/10. Tie game. In baseball. What? Baseball games don’t end in ties!
Yes, I am aware that the players don’t need long drawn out games that last four or five hours and that it is only Spring Training and there are no ties in the regular season. I also get that Spring Training is to get the players ready for the regular season (and also to see what players might make the team this year or may get called up later in the year) and that teams and fans don’t want their players to get hurt during ST because of marathon extra inning game. But if I didn’t complain about this, I wouldn’t have been able to use the nifty title I came up with for this post. I suppose, all in all, it’s a plus that the Cardinals didn’t lose.
I guess I feel like a tie game in a baseball game, even if it is just Spring Training, feels like having Cubs fans in the family. I don’t really like it, but it’s something I just have to deal with.