There was no post yesterday because I had to travel out of town to do some work at a client's office. Said client also reads this blog from time to time and gently teased about the title of the last offering, which inspired today's heading. There's no doubt that the Cardinal bats made the trip to Arizona. Let's look at Monday first.
Monday's game started off with a bang, when Hero Rafael Furcal launched a home run in his first at-bat, part of his three-hit night. I didn't expect much offensively from Furcal this season, but right now he's at .342 and has a couple of home runs. He's going to tail off from that, I'm sure, but even a reasonable approximation for that the rest of the year and the Cardinal offense will be primed from the top.
Of course, the Cardinal offense worked all the way up and down the lineup on Monday. Five home runs, almost all of them no-doubters, staked Lance Lynn to a 7-0 lead. On the face of it, Lynn doesn't need the 7+ runs a game, what with his ERA being in the low 1.00 range. Whether having that cushion helps him pitch or he'd be just as good in 3-1 games, I don't know. Whatever the case, Lynn has looked much better than I expected in the starting rotation. I was wanting to see him in the bullpen due to his stellar work down the stretch last year, but obviously he's taken that and been able to apply it to the starting job. Which is good, because you don't hear any Chris Carpenter news these days.
Good nights for David Freese and Allen Craig, who went back-to-back with home runs late when Arizona had made it a game. Both had two hits and two RBI and Craig also drew two walks. Craig's reputation is that he's a hitter, that finding a place for him on the field is the difficult part. So far, he's at least living up to the first part of that, as he's come off the DL and started hitting everything in sight.
Pretty obvious who needs to be the Goat in this game. The Cards turned over a 7-0 lead to J.C. Romero in the sixth. He faced five batters, allowing hits for four and walking one. All five came around to score, one after Romero had left the game. Fernando Salas struggled in relief, allowing Romero's run and one of his own before finishing the inning. 7-0 became 7-6 real quick, so having Freese and Craig put some insurance on the board afterwards helped Cardinal fans relax somewhat.
Tuesday, the bats were working early, then got really quiet. I say the bats were working, but really it was just Carlos Beltran's bat. Beltran smoked a two-run homer in the first, then doubled the feat the next time up. Walking the pitcher, especially with two outs, so often leads to problems and I have to give Rick Horton credit, he said, "I would not want to make this pitch to Beltran" just moments before that pitch left the ballpark for the grand slam. Beltran may be a bit of a rollercoaster this year, but he's proven that he was worth the financial outlay.
Other than that, offensively there wasn't much. Matt Holliday had a couple of hits, Skip Schumaker had a couple. Basically, though, Ian Kennedy settled down and got back into the form that had him contending for the Cy Young last year. Of course, six runs is usually enough and it proved to be that way again last night.
Mainly because Jake Westbrookcontinued his strong season. Coming off a rocky outing against the Pirates, Westbrook was able to deal with some control problems early and make sure that they didn't affect the team. Westbrook went seven and allowed the Diamondbacks no runs, dropping his season ERA to 1.76. That still doesn't lead the team, however, as Lynn sits at 1.40. When you have two starters with ERA under 2 in early May, plus another in Kyle Lohse that's just over (2.11), things are going your way.
Not everything came up roses for the Cardinals last night, though. First off, Mitchell Boggs gets the Goat for making a 6-0 ninth inning game become a lot tighter than it should be. Boggs allowed one run and gave up two hits and a walk in the last frame and ran out to 3-0 on another hitter, threatening to load the bases and forcing Mike Matheny to get Jason Motte up. Boggs was able to come back and wound up striking out the side, but you don't want to see that kind of thing when the game is essentially over.
Potentially much more important, though, was the fact that Boggs crossed up Yadier Molina and hit him on the wrist, forcing him out of the game and to the x-ray machine. The Cards will double check today, but it looks like it was just bruised and not broken, so Molina will likely sit out tonight and be ready to go again on Friday evening against the Braves. This team can't afford for Molina to be out long-term, so we'll not even discuss that possibility until there's some reason to do so.
It looks like Lance Berkman should be ready to go on Friday, necessitating a roster move. While the obvious and likely move will be the demotion of Shane Robinson, you have to wonder how safe Daniel Descalso's slot in this team is going to be. Descalso is hitting just .200 and has struck out 19 times in 60 at-bats. Both Dan McLaughlin and Horton last night were talking about how his timing is off and he's not looking well.
Sending Descalso to Memphis might be the best way to get him going again. Right now Memphis is playing Pete Kozma and Eugenio Velez at second base. I don't think the Cards would be hurt by pushing either of those aside and letting Descalso play a few weeks everyday at the position, seeing if he can get back the form that Cardinal fans enjoyed seeing out of him in 2011. You still would have Furcal, Schumaker, and Tyler Greene for the middle infield and that might make it easier to spread the at-bats between the latter two to keep them both working as well.
So now the Cardinals go again for the sweep. They've failed the first four times they've had a shot at this during the 2012 season and while winning two out of three is a good percentage and fans would take that every time, not being able to finish off a team could come back and haunt the club later on. We'd rather avoid a repeat of the Pittsburgh series, where the Cards pounded the Pirates offensively in two games, then came out in the third with no bats and wound up losing the game.
Taking the mound tonight to see if he can stop the rampaging Redbirds is Wade Miley, which should give us another data point on whether things are really different this season. Miley has never faced any of the Cardinal batters and, as such, will have little film for them to study. He's been strong so far this season, 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA, and he went 4-2 for the Diamondbacks last year.
Trying to keep things going will be Kyle Lohse. Lohse didn't pitch quite as well last time out against the Astros as he has most of the season, so we have to see if he can bounce back or if he's starting to come off of his opening hot streak. Lohse hasn't faced the Diamondbacks a lot, but they've liked what they've seen.
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