GAME 124: Thirteen Run Pool
There has been lots of talk about the Cardinals’ league-leading run differential, and how it doesn’t mean squat except that the Cardinals feast on certain occasions while floundering in one-run situations. The critics have a point, and this game is one of those times. The Cardinals brutally crushed the Astros 13-5 to move a full game above Pitssburgh for the wild card.
GET OUR MONEY BACK: The ink was barely dry on Jake Westbrook‘s weird one year extension when he took the mound this afternoon and had his worst outing in two years. Westy gave up five earned runs in five innings. Almost everything he threw was up and begging to be smashed. Fortunately, Westbrook was throwing that junk to the Astros, the worst team in baseball. Still, it was a noticeable step backwards for our new number four starter in 2013.
BIG BLAST: The Cardinals hadn’t hit a home run in over a week, and David Freese was the coldest bat in the lineup. So there wasn’t much hope that things would change with Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina on base and the team down 4-0 in the fourth. But Freese unloaded a massive three-run bomb, instantly putting the Cards back into the game and providing a powerful charge to the offense. From there, it looked like the Cards might never stop hitting.
DOUBLE BUBBLES: Home runs are fun, of course, but potent and dangerous offense works off of doubles and triples. The Cards pumped five doubles today, and almost all of them drove in huge runs. Matt Holliday had the biggest, a ringing double off of the wall that cleared a bases-loaded situation and put the Cardinals in the lead for good. Those are the kinds of offensive explosions that inspire an offense, and feel more productive than simply hitting homers.
BABY STEP: Seldom-used rookie Ryan Jackson found his way into the lineup as a pinch hitter for Westbrook. His previous five at-bats had been unproductive, but this time, Jackson stroked an opposite field single for his first major league hit. Now if we could just get Matheny to trust Jackson in the field …
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Holliday most likely, although Freese deserves it just as much.
CONCLUSION: Another game to skew the numbers. It’s a fun kind of game for the team, and I’m sure it helps loosen them up for the trip ahead. It’s easily their biggest test of the season, as they head to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh for head-to-head showdowns with their toughest rivals. Beating up on a bad team is enjoyable, but the games coming up will be much more difficult and will determine the fate of the 2012 Cardinals. I hope they’re ready for it.