GAME 100: Homer Happy Hundred
Where to begin? In typical Cards/Cubs style, this game proved to be an aggressive slugfest. Both starters were clubbed early and hard, with a total of six homers (five by the Cards). When the dust settled, the Cardinals (54-46) earned a tough 9-6 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
BIG BOPPERS: In April, the Cardinals led the league in home runs. However, those homers slowed up considerably over the next few months, to the point that July was virtually homer-free. Apparently the team was saving up for today, as they set a Cardinal record with home runs in five consecutive innings. Matt Holliday led of the barrage in the first, followed by Yadier Molina, Lance Berkman, Matt Carpenter, and Allen Craig. Pure insanity, and wonderful to witness!
WELCOME BACK, BERKMAN: Speaking of Berk, his home run (a solo shot) produced the 1,200th RBI of his career. What an amazing player! That threshold of 1,200 RBI’s puts him in the vicinity of Hall of Famers like Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see this classy player earn such a distinction, especially after everything he’s given to Cardinal Nation?
LEAGUE LEADER: Lance Lynn wasn’t great this time – his ERA jumped up to 3.42 after today – but he did enough to earn his 13th win. That ties him with Gio Gonzalez and the glorious R.A. Dickey for the league lead in wins. Like the team, Lynn has been all over the place this year, but he is undoubtedly one of the best and most important stories of the 2012 season.
NOTE: Hey, Rafael Furcal, you’re 5’2″ and weigh 128 lbs. You’re like a hairless Rally Squirrel. Stop swinging for the fences, okay?
GOOD AND BAD: I’m not sure what’s going on with Jon Jay, but his defense is noticeably worse since he returned from the disabled list. The other day he misplayed a fly ball into a triple, and he did the same thing in the second inning. Starlin Castro ripped a high fly ball near the wall that Jay misplayed, and Castro used his speed to stretch it into a triple (and then scored). However, in the fifth Jay redeemed himself with a sprawling, nearly-backwards catch and a tumble near the ivy on a fly ball. Jay ranks high in defensive stats for centerfielders, but we haven’t seen that out of him lately.
BYE, TYLER: I feel bad for Tyler Greene. He has the body of a major league star, but he has the brain of an empty hamster wheel. His pinch hit appearance ended in another strikeout; he’s now 1-16 as a pinch hitter with 295 strikeouts. Brutal. I think the team has given him enough chances, and it’s time to say goodbye.
AUSPICIOUS BEGINNING: Matheny decided to bring in newly-acquired Brian Fuentes for the six inning, and he did not disappoint. While he no longer possesses the 93 mph fastball he once had, Fuentes has compensated for that with a better understanding of how to pitch. Fuentes struck out two of the three batters he faced, twirling tantalizing changeups on the outside corners. Did Oakland really give up on this guy??
ROLLING TRAIN: In addition to the excellent inning by Fuentes, the Cardinal bullpen followed him up with some stellar work to hold the Cubs to their original six runs. Barrett Browning, Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, and Jason Motte were excellent, giving up just two hits and one walk in the game’s final three innings.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Um … everybody?
CONCLUSION: The whole team really gelled today; plenty of offense, solid bullpen. In addition, the team seemed livelier while facing their Chicago rivals. This should be a fun and wild weekend!
Meanwhile, the Cardinals have reached eight games over .500 for the first time since early May, but they haven’t gained much ground during this winning streak (still 5.5 games back).