I still have no idea what that was about, but it said a lot about this clubhouse.
In the third inning, Fox Sports Midwest cameras caught Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook talking with each other next to the dugout steps. Well, talking was just a part of it. Both of them (though especially Wainwright) would gyrate in a way that called to mind a drunk surfer. (Well, not that I've ever seen a drunk surfer, but you figure they'd move in a similar fashion.) It was a fascinating and hilarious spectacle.
However, a few moments later Chris Carpenter walked over to them. Chris Carpenter, the bad mamma jamma of the Redbirds. The Samuel L. Jackson of the clubhouse. You'd expect that he'd also be displeased with serpents on an air-going vessel. This is not a man whose reputation has him smiling often, much less tolerating such frivolous behavior. Surely Carp was going to give them a lecture about paying attention to the game or something of that nature.
Instead, Carpenter joined in, adding his own interpretation of what Wainwright and Westbrook had been doing, smiling all the while.
If you want to know what the Cardinals are like without Tony La Russa and without Albert Pujols, that might be a snapshot right there. This wasn't when the Cards were up big, such as the eighth when it was 11-1. This was just at 5-0, though granted that lead felt bigger at the time. Can you imagine anything of that nature going on during the TLR tenure? I mean, I guess it probably did, but an example doesn't just jump to mind, does it?
This has to be the loosest this clubhouse has been in a long, long time. The push to the World Series probably had a lot to do with that, as did adding Lance Berkman last year. However, having the intensity and singular focus of TLR and Pujols out of the way probably allows for a little more casual, a little more relaxed atmosphere. You can debate whether that's good or not--TLR's focus did bring two World Series titles to St. Louis, though some would say it happened in the two years where he loosened up some--but there's definitely a different vibe among those players this season.
Of course, a 9-3 start to the year helps out a lot as well. Tough to be too depressed when you lead the division by three games this early in the season.
It was a fun game for Cardinal fans as well last night. Of course, winning by 10 does that, but it also helps that the Cards got up early and never really were challenged by the Reds. I noted a Tweet by a Reds writer last night that gave Mat Latos's line for the evening with the comment, "This was Latos's best outing in Busch. Seriously." Latos was able to get his Busch Stadium ERA under 25 last night, so that was a positive for him.
I wanted to go with Rafael Furcal for our Hero, since he had four hits and drove in two runs, but I'm going with Jaime Garcia not only because he threw seven innings and allowed just one run, but because he coupled that with a two-run triple in the sixth that wasn't too far from going out of the yard. Hitting and pitching will get you a Hero award most every day.
There were a lot of hitting stars last night, though. It used to be that the home run/stolen base combo was kinda rare in St. Louis, yet Carlos Beltran and Tyler Greene did it last night. I hope that Mike Matheny will put Greene back out there today to see if he can build on what he did last night. Neither he nor Daniel Descalso has laid a full claim to the second base position and, as we'll talk about in a bit, they may be running out of time.
David Freese and Jon Jay both had two hits as the Cards wound up with 14 hits and three walks on the night. The Cards beat up on Latos and the Reds' bullpen, which has to have them wondering if they are going to stack up against what now looks like the class of the division. Again, you can't get too carried away--the Cards were 8-4 at this point in 2010 on their way to a five-game April lead that they would squander--but so far it's been an enjoyable ride.
For everyone except for Matt Holliday, who gets the Goat again today. Holliday was the only starter not to get a hit last night, going 0-5 to drop his average to .182. While there doesn't seem to be cause for concern, it is the worst start to a season that Holliday's had since joining St. Louis. I felt like 2010 might have been in that area because I had the remembrance of Holliday struggling to get runners in, but he hit over .300 during the first 12 games that year.
Most likely for Holliday it's the natural cycle of baseball. Holliday was hot during the spring, so he was going to cool off. It just happens that it was right as the season started instead of being buried in the middle of the year. It's possible that he's pressing a bit now that he's more of the focus of the team and going to be the highest-paid Cardinal for quite some time, but I figure he'll come out of it soon. That said, today's day game would be a great time to let him sit and clear his head a little bit.
The only downside to last night's game (besides Holliday's 0-5, of course) was the fact that Berkman left the game with a recurrence of his calf issue. You have to figure that he's going to wind up on the disabled list if he can't play more than a game before it flares up again. If so, it seems the only logical thing would be to activate Skip Schumaker and let Matt Carpenter play first base while Berkman sits. It'd be a lot more fun to see Matt Adams get the callup, but with him not being on the 40-man roster, that really seems to rule that possibility out. Besides, once Adams comes up, he's likely up for good. I don't think the Cards would want him to play a couple of weeks in the bigs and then go back down. Starts his arbitration clock for no good reason as well.
Wainwright gets back to the mound this afternoon, trying to come back from his disastrous outing last Friday in the home opener. Here's what Waino has done against these Reds.
He's been pretty dominant against these guys. Jay Bruce is really the only guy that's figured him out and even he's under .300. This could be a good matchup for Wainwright to get back into the pitching groove.
Cards have to go up against Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo's off to a pretty solid start this season and has always seemed to be one of those guys the Cards have had trouble with, though the numbers don't really bear that out (7-12, 4.59 ERA in 186+ innings against the 'Birds in his career). The hitters have done OK against him.
Jay really seems to be fond of him, as does Descalso. That may mean Greene doesn't get to build on yesterday, depending on what Matheny wants to do. With a series win already in his pocket, he can afford to let Greene go out there and try to build some confidence. It's too bad Berkman's going to miss the game, though, when you see those five homers off of Arroyo.
Afternoon baseball as the Cards break out the brooms. Here's hoping for some more of that offense and a great Wainwright start!
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