GAME 10: A Carpenter’s Hammer
Rookie Matt Carpenter opened up his tool box and found the right power equipment to dismantle the reeling Chicago Cubs, giving starter Jake Westbrook enough run support to cruise to a 10-3 battering of their Illinois rivals. HAMMERING: With his shocking four hit, five RBI performance, Matt Carpenter is providing the team with a welcome problem – this kid needs to stay, so who goes when Skip Schumaker returns? Like some eye-opening rookie debuts in the past (think Vince Coleman, for instance), Carpenter cannot be ignored. The scrawny little guy can hit, even with two outs and the pressure on. Can this kid play second base?
TIME’S UP: When one considers the names of players on the chopping block once the injured return, the most obvious neck under the blade is that of Tyler Greene. Today was another unfocused, hitless afternoon for this year’s version of Brendan Ryan. I do not doubt Greene’s ability, but ultimately athletes must be judged on results, not personality. Sadly, a nice kid like Greene just isn’t producing.
WESTY AND THE JETS: Jake Westbrook pitched his second solid game of the season in succession, which feels like a revelation. Westy’s seven innings weren’t dominant, but they were serviceable. Even better, Westbrook joins Kyle Lohse and Lance Lynn as 2-0 starters. With questions surrounding Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, performances like Westbrook’s today are just what we hoped to see.
NEWS FLASH: Victor Marte did not walk anyone today.
BUMPS: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the defense shown so far this season. While nobody would confuse us with the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, the 2012 Cardinals have improved substantially over last year. But the wheels came off today, with two errors that led to one unearned run in the fifth. One of the two culprits was the aforementioned Greene, who is quickly losing a major league job. At least we never saw infielders rolling the ball to second like Ryan Theriot last year. Small mercies, I guess.
STUD: Like his older brothers, we might be starting to see another late-blooming Molina come into his own. Yadier Molina slammed a three-run homer off of starter Paul Maholm in the third. It was Yadi’s third homer of the season (in other words, three more than his buddy) on a 2-3 day during which he also scored three runs. Yadi looks like he’s having the time of his life, and we’re all along for the ride.
NO GLOATING: Lots of Cards fans seemed to be reveling in the punishment inflicted on the Cubs this weekend. While I love beating the Cubs, it’s really not as much fun when they’re in a deep rebuilding phase and they just aren’t themselves. It’s like kicking a limbless man in the head.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: No question – Carpenter.
CONCLUSION: I must say, it’s exciting to see young talent emerge from the farm system and produce like Carpenter did today. It so rarely happens. We often have high expectations that reality frequently disappoints, but Carpenter has been a revelation. Combined with some of the other fresh, energetic athletes on this team, the Cardinals look to be a force for several years to come.