A week ago, the Cardinals loaded the bases against A.J. Burnett in the first inning but were unable to score. Burnett wiggled free and proceeded to cruise to a victory. Last night, we got to see the alternate universe, what happens when he doesn't get out of the jam. The results were much more to the liking of Cardinal fans.
Being up 4-0 with nobody out is a great way to start the game, but so often in the past (and I remember seeing a very similar scenario against the Pirates before) the Cards would stop hitting and the opponent would get a chance to get back into the game. However, we've seen often this year that the 2012 Cardinals aren't much like their predecessors. St. Louis put up three in the second and five more in the third. Granted, they stopped scoring after that, but 12 runs should be enough for most everyone.
Doing the most damage last night was Hero Carlos Beltran. Beltran smashed a home run in the first and a home run in the third, plus had an RBI single in the second. Beltran had been slumping lately, though that'd been a bit overshadowed by Matt Holliday's slide and the fact that Beltran had started out hot. For one night, at least, Beltran was perfectly in sync. We'll see if that's the start of a hot streak or just an outburst that stands alone.
Speaking of Holliday, he followed up Tuesday night's strong outing with a 2-2, three-run night of his own before being removed for Shane Robinson. As Bernie Miklasz pointed out, his BABIP was really low and all the other extended statistics indicated that he'd be bouncing back. That seems to be happening now as Holliday is back up to .250 with a bullet.
All of this offense (and there was more that I didn't list, like Jon Jay and Matt Carpenter having three hits apiece or Daniel Descalso getting a triple) overshadowed another fine performance by Lance Lynn. So often, a pitcher gets a big lead like Lynn did last night and they just start chucking, not worried about the other team scoring a few runs. That wasn't what Lynn did, though. He allowed a run on a two-out double to Clint Barmes in the second, then wasn't nicked again until he was out of the game.
Lynn was going for a historic mark. If he'd allowed only the one run, he'd have been the first starter ever to start a season with five straight one-run games. Instead, he left with runners on the corners and two outs in the seventh and Marc Rzepczynski gave up a single, allowing one of Lynn's runners to come across. (For that and the fact there's really not much to complain about from the hitters, we'll mark Scrabble down as the Goat.) Still, two runs in almost seven innings will win a lot of ballgames, even without the offensive explosion. There's no way Chris Carpenter would be doing any better and that's high praise.
So once again the Cardinals are looking to sweep an opponent and, in the process, have a Happy Flight to Houston for the weekend. Jake Westbrook will take the mound for the Redbirds and look to extend his strong start to the season. Pittsburgh beat him earlier this season, but it was one of those tough-luck losses as Westbrook only allowed two runs in 6.2 innings. The numbers:
Andrew McCutchen took last night off, probably because the Pirates knew they'd want him in this game. He and Pedro Alvarez, who has been hitting the Cardinals pretty well this season as he's struggled against other teams, would be the ones for Westbrook to be extra-careful with.
Pirates counter with Erik Bedard, who the Cards beat in the last series. Even though he's a lefty, he's not been much of a mystery for St. Louis hitters in the past.
Holliday looks to continue his warming trend and Robinson might get a start, though all of these results come in a pretty small sample. Hopefully we can finally see those brooms put to use this afternoon!
BTW, if you are interested in such things, the Cardinals have a few things over in their Fan Forum to help you show your support of the team. First off, you can download a browser theme that makes every website a Cardinal website (kinda). I've downloaded the Chrome version and it gives a nice look to the top of the browser. Also, you can use some Cardinal pictures either on your Facebook timeline or as your cover photo--at least, if you can get it to work. I tried to put one of those on my timeline and haven't had much luck yet.
Tomorrow is May the 4th, which of course is Star Wars Day. I don't plan to do anything like last year, though I encourage you to read that post. Maybe I'll update it for some of our new players tomorrow--who knows? Enjoy this afternoon's game!
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball