First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who has expressed kind words over the Cardinal Blogosphere Guide. Â I hope that it results in increased traffic for the blogs listed and that you can find another source of canâ€™t-miss Cardinal writing.
Perhaps it was just me, but it seems like if this was last yearâ€™s team, a 3-0 deficit against Tim Hudson would have been game over. Â I was listening to that portion on the radio and felt like it was over. Â Atlanta seemed to be continually chipping away at Kyle Lohse and the Cardinals were again not getting any hits with men in scoring position.
However, the last half of this game was very different than the first half. Â Iâ€™m not quite willing to give Lohse the Hero of the game tag, but he did stiffen and figure out how to keep Atlanta from scoring any more runs. Â It sounded like he was getting the ball down more in the last couple of innings, which always is a good thing.
I donâ€™t think all the runs he allowed were his fault, either. Â It seemed to me, watching the third inning, that he made some awfully good pitches, especially to Chipper Jones who eventually walked. Â I thought he should have had Jones out a long time before that, but he couldnâ€™t get the calls. Â It seemed like he just had to lay it in there to get a strike, something Troy Glaus took advantage of in driving in the second run.
Iâ€™m going to give Colby Rasmus the Hero tag again. Â Not only did he hit a big home run to pull the Cards within one, his continued development (and the fact that Albert Pujols was on second with first open) led to a walk in the eighth, allowing Yadier Molina to drive in the winning run (and would have had an insurance run if that ball hadnâ€™t hopped the wall). Â Sure, that set up the double play with Molina batting, but Iâ€™m wondering if things might not have been a bit different if it was the early-season 2009 Rasmus batting.
Then again, maybe not. Â Bobby Cox did walk Skip Schumaker to get to Ryan Ludwick, something that Iâ€™ve never seen and likely wonâ€™t see again anytime soon.
Talking about heroes, can we give a little credit to this bullpen? Â Iâ€™ve been one in the last couple of weeks that has been on their case, but since Mitchell Boggs grooved a pitch to Mark Reynolds in Arizona, hereâ€™s their combined line:
13 IP, 10 H, 11 K, 7 BB, 1.38 ERA
The walk total is a little high, but itâ€™s skewed by Kyle McClellanâ€™s three in the first game of the examined period. Â Theyâ€™ve really come in and shut the door in the last week and hopefully that will continue.
Finally, major kudos to Bryan Anderson. Â In his last major league at-bat for a while, as Jason LaRue will be activated today, he had a nice piece of hitting, going the other way to drive in the tying run. Â Hopefully heâ€™ll do well in Memphis, though the odds of us seeing him before September (barring injury) are very slim. Â There was some talk on the post-game show last night about the team carrying three catchers and letting him be more of a left-handed bat, but I think if they wanted to do that, theyâ€™d have let him play more in the last couple of weeks, as they have Nick Stavinoha as an emergency backup.
Even though David Freese went 0-4, thereâ€™s no way he can be the Goat. Â He had a number of defensive gems last night, bringing back memories of Scott Rolen. Â To think that people were ragging on his defense at the beginning of the season! Â Freese is starting to look like one of the biggest steals in Cardinal history.
So if we donâ€™t give it to him, we look to the other 0-4 in the box score, Brendan Ryan. Â Itâ€™s been a tough month for Brendan and thankfully itâ€™s not really affected his glove, but heâ€™s going to have to hit over .200 soon, isnâ€™t he?
The Cards made some moves yesterday, sending down Allen Craig, putting Felipe Lopez on the disabled list, and calling up Tyler Greene and Jon Jay. Â I put a quick look at the newcomers together for Baseball Digest yesterday, and as I did so I really got excited for what Jay especially may bring to this ball club. Â Heâ€™s got a good high-average bat, so he may be more likely to help that â€œstring hits togetherâ€ idea. Â Heâ€™s got speed, so he can go first to third or steal a base. Â I expect heâ€™ll probably get a start in this Atlanta series, maybe Thursday, and itâ€™ll be interesting to see what he does with the opportunity.
The move that may affect the Cardinals the most from yesterday, though, they didnâ€™t make. Â Twitter blew up yesterday with the announcement of Ryan Howardâ€™s five year extension. Â You can find Benâ€™s ruminations on that over at BD, but the consensus is 1) thatâ€™s way more that Howard is worth and 2) itâ€™s going to make it that much harder for St. Louis to sign Pujols.
I tend to agree, at least on the former. Â I mean, Howard has always struck me as a guy that isnâ€™t necessarily going to age well. Â He hits long balls and thatâ€™s about the extent of it. Â He still canâ€™t hit left-handed pitching, so his average is never going to be really high. Â Heâ€™s not known as any great shakes at first. Â Heâ€™s a good player, donâ€™t get me wrong, but the second-highest annual salary in baseball? Â That doesnâ€™t seem right.
Will this affect Pujolsâ€™s contract? Â That remains to be seen. Â On the one hand, youâ€™d think itâ€™d have to, because itâ€™s the easiest comparison in the world. Â Howard plays the same position and does everything worse than Pujols, so you know AP would be looking for more than $25 million per now.
On the other hand, does it really? Â I mean, no one expected to get AP for $25 per year, did they? Â Not if heâ€™s looking to be the highest player in the game. Â He already had the ARod contract and the Mark Teixeira contracts to use as a comparison. Â Does this really add that much more fuel to the fire?
Look, we already know that Pujols, if he wanted to hold out for every cent, is going to be the richest player ever, no matter who pays him. Â I donâ€™t know that being able to point to one more crazy contract will add much incentive to either side. Â I still think, and Iâ€™ve held to this all along, that Pujolsâ€™s contract is going to have some creative stuff in it. Â Honestly, you hear this tossed around by a lot of media types for a lot of contracts, but I would not be surprised if a small fraction of team ownership, say 3% or so, wouldnâ€™t be part of it. Â Iâ€™m not sure if itâ€™s legal within the rules of the game, so it might be that he gets an option to purchase that percentage at a bargain rate when he retires, but I think ownership might well be a part of his next deal.
Cards get back to the field tonight and send out Chris Carpenter against Derek Lowe. Â You always like your chances when Carpenter is on the bump. Â Here is what heâ€™s done against the Braves:
Atlanta actually has a better average against him than I would have expected. Â Former teammate Troy Glaus has the best numbers, but Glaus hasnâ€™t been quite himself this year. Â Then again, he did get a couple of hits last night, so he could be heating up.
Derek Lowe has looked a little shaky so far this season. Â Still, heâ€™s a ground ball specialist who can get it going at any time. Â Hereâ€™s him against the Cardinals:
The big bats in the lineup have done a number on him in the past. Â You combine that with what Loweâ€™s done this year and Carpenter on the mound, and the odds definitely favor a solid win for the Cards tonight. Â However, as we know, thatâ€™s why they play the games on the field and not paper. Â Should be a fun one!