GAME 123: Quality Starter
With the infamous demon Bud Norris on the mound for Houston, the Cardinals turned to their surprising ace Kyle Lohse for help. Lohse did not disappoint (despite getting away with some shaky pitches), twirling yet another quality start as the Cardinals (67-56) beat the Astros to leapfrog into the lead in the wild card race. CONTRACT PERFORMANCE: With every quality start Lohse produces, the chances that he will wear a Cardinal uniform next year become slimmer and slimmer. Frankly, I don’t mind letting Lohse go despite his recent success; he still owes us. From 2008-2012, Lohse has produced a WAR value of just 5.5, which translates to a contract worth $27.5MM. Of course, we’ve paid him $42MM, so we lost money on that deal. Lohse has been amazing this year, that’s true, but I rarely trust contract-year performances. Remember Lohse in 2008? Yeah, that’s why.
Still, he was pretty good tonight. It helps that the struggling Astros went after some not-great pitches, and Lohse also got a few low strikes from the home plate umpire. I just wish Lohse could get the kind of run support Lance Lynn has enjoyed. If that had happened, Lohse would have 20 wins this year. Just imagine the contract he would receive for THAT.
WALLBANGER: Jon Jay continues to throw himself headlong into danger despite being out for two months earlier this season with a shoulder injury. I guess he’s alright (or I HOPE so). While Jay is not the slickest centerfielder we’ve ever had (that would be Jim Edmonds) or the fastest (that would be Willie McGee), he is a take-charge center with good instincts and a gamey, fearless approach. He also has a snappy swing that produces on a regular basis. Jay had a terrific, wall-bashing basket catch to stop a Houston rally dead in its tracks. He also singled in the tying run and then scored the winning run on a wild pitch. When he’s on, he’s one of the biggest difference-makers on this team.
RESURRECTION: After a cold spell, it feels like Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran might be coming back to life. They combined to go for 3-7, and one of Holliday’s two hits was his 29th double. Of course, their success might be attributed to having red-hot Allen Craig and Yadier Molina hitting behind them. Whatever works, I say.
THE OTHER SECOND BASEMAN: Cards fans barely had time to grumble about the benching of Skip Schumaker when Daniel Descalso launched a double into the left-center field gap to drive in the Cards’ first run. Regardless, Descalso hasn’t been good with runners on this season, much worse than Skippy. I’m just glad it worked out tonight; Descalso is a tough player who deserves some success.
SHUT UP RICKY: There are times when I absolutely cannot stand Rick Horton and Al Hrabosky on the FSM television broadcast. Tonight Horton wasted a half-inning incompetently interviewing a football player. Meanwhile, Hrabosky sounds like he has a mouthful of gummy bears in his mouth, repeatedly fumbling over words. Do we not deserve better broadcasters?
PLAYER OF THE GAME: It’s almost a tie between Lohse and Jay. I’ll give it to Lohse.
CONCLUSION: With the Pirates losing tonight, it was imperative that the Cards beat the Astros. Hell, they really need to keep winning regardless of their opponent. Such is the dire situation they’ve put themselves in with two previous months of indifferent baseball. They’ve looked good over the last two games, but they’re playing the Astros; if they can’t beat the Astros, then the Cardinals need to give it up entirely. Before we get too encouraged, let’s wait and see how the Cards do against the Reds this weekend.