Posted on July 23, 2007 at 12:32 PM
Filed Under: Atlanta Braves
| St. Louis Cardinals
Sorry for the weekend quiet, but between some personal issues and just general weekend stuff, I wasn't able to get around to making a post. Get used to that--the weekends will be pretty low-content, for the most part.
This Atlanta series illustrated the most daunting problem for the Cardinals--lack of consistency. You are up, you are down. Great pitching, bad pitching. Some offense, no offense. It's enough to give you nausea if you let it, especially when you remember the smooth rides of 2004 and 2005. Heck, even 2006 may have been more regular than this, though in the negative fashion with two 8-game losing streaks and a 7-game one.
We've already talked about game one of the series, where the pitching exploded and the hitting didn't. Before we discuss any more, a caveat--I didn't see more than 5 minutes of the three games this weekend combined, I don't believe. All I'm going on is results and what I'm reading around the net.
Adam Wainwright pitched a solid game on Friday night. He may have been pumped up facing the team that traded him away, but he didn't allow that to get out of control, something I saw Tony LaRussa talking about in the pregame show. When the Cardinals decided in the offseason to move him back to the starting rotation (something he'd done his entire career prior to 2006), I was a little dubious. I knew he had the great curveball, but I wasn't sure he had enough pitches to get through a lineup three times.
Apparently, he does. VEB had some stats up showing his improvement as the season has gone along and I know on Friday's pregame they showed where before May 15, his ERA was over 6, while since then it's been under three. He's definitely the closest thing to an ace that this team has with Carpenter down. Some would argue he's the closest thing we have to a pitcher without Carp, but that's a different story.
Saturday, the unraveling of Braden Looper's season continued. Looper was our best starter at the beginning of the year, but the innings really seem to have piled up on him. It was just another case of the Cards being out of a game early, giving up 7 before the third inning is over. That seemed to be a trademark of last year's summer swoon and it's played out quite a bit this year as well.
Sunday, well, it's Albert Pujols time. Brad Thompson did a great job keeping the team in the game--VEB today notes he has the second-best starter ERA behind Wainwright--and Albert, with his eighth-inning home run, showed that he still isn't taking the losing as an excuse to give up. After that slow start this year, I was afraid Pujols wouldn't make his .300/30/100 that he always has done, but I have little fear of that now, barring injury. El Hombre is still here, and that's worth watching.
Quick hits: Good to see Scott Rolen not only back on the field, but smacking a home run. Those shots seemed to do wonders for him. It may be a general thing, though--I remember Larry Walker doing the same thing during his time in St. Louis....The Cards start a three-game set with the Cubs tomorrow, followed by a four-gamer with the Brewers. They'd about need to sweep to stay in the race, but I guess stranger things have happened. As long as they beat the Cubs, that's all I'm asking....Mike Maroth has been demoted to the pen temporarily. I've never seen an organization that had a more flexible idea of pitcher roles. Most teams, you are either a starter or a reliever. Here, you are a pitcher and you never can be sure where you'll be pitching. So far Wainwright and Looper are the only regular starters that have not been in the pen this year, but Looper's a career reliever. So much moving back and forth, you never can be sure what constitutes the rotation on any given day....Anthony Reyes is coming back up for one of the double-header games on Saturday. Here's hoping he can finally get that zero out of the win column.
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