GAME 12: Bloody Reds
Jaime Garcia twirled seven innings of one-run ball as Reds starter Mat Latos continued his grotesque incompetence at Busch Stadium (ERA of 18.81). The Cardinals (8-3) pummeled the Reds (4-8) with seven extra base hits en route to a lopsided 11-1 bloodbath.
LIGHTNING: In their aggressive 2012 style, the Cardinals went right after the Reds in the first. After Lance Berkman drove in Rafael Furcal on an infield single, the Cardinals had Berkman and Carlos Beltran on first and second with just one out. On the next pitch, Beltran and Berkman (two not-very-fast players) executed a shocking double steal. The Reds seemed stunned, and the stadium went nuts. David Freese followed that with a double to score both runs, and before the Reds could shit their pants the score was quickly 3-0.
NECESSARY POWER: Carlos Beltran smashed a homer – a two-run shot – for the second consecutive night in the second to officially put the game out of reach for the hapless Reds. That gives Beltran a staggering FIVE home runs in a season that is not even two weeks old. Like Lance Berkman last year, Beltran is performing far above optimistic season-opening predictions. I thought it would be great if Beltran hit 25 homers. He might hit 40 at this rate.
GARCIA’S GAME: Not only did Jaime Garcia pitch a solid, controlled game, but he also contributed with the bat. He walked and nearly scored on an aggressive running play in the fourth, and then crushed a triple over the head of Drew Stubbs in center in the sixth to drive in two runs. You’re not going to lose many games when your pitcher is doing stuff like that.
THAWING BATS: Rafael Furcal and Tyler Greene have both struggled in the early going, but both players found their swings tonight. Raffy went 4-5 with two RBI, while Greene stole a base and ripped a two-run homer in the eighth. These two are the potential table-setters this summer, so hopefully we’ll see more contributions like these very soon.
UH OH: Berkman had to leave the game after the fourth with what has been described as a muscle tear in his left calf. It’s the same injury that kept him out of the lineup for several days last week, and an injury similar to the one that put him on the 15 day disabled list a few years ago. Not good. However, it would be much, much worse if we didn’t have Matt Carpenter sitting around on the bench being generally awesome right now.
AIRTIGHT: After a couple of sloppy defensive days, it was nice to see great execution by the infield. The Cardinals turned FOUR double plays behind Garcia, including a nice one started by converted second baseman Greene.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Furcal. It’s hard to ignore that kind of offensive explosion.
CONCLUSION: This was just the kind of game Garcia typically has at Busch, so no big surprise there. However, the balance of this offense is new and exciting. Nine Cardinals had at least one run scored, and six drove in runs, too. This is a team that had two home runs and four stolen bases. This is a team that is also capable of turning four double plays. The 2012 Cardinals look like a legitimate five-tool team, and it’s thrilling to see.