GAME 135: Jekyll Not Hyde
One never knows what will happen when Jaime Garcia takes the mound. Sometimes Jekyll appears and pitches brilliantly, and sometimes Hyde emerges instead, mumbles to himself, and gives up five runs an inning. It’s frustrating. Fortunately, Jekyll received a prompt cab ride to the ballpark, and he responded with a masterful 5-1 victory against the Mets.
EVERYTHING IS PERFECT (TODAY): Who is Jaime Garcia? Is he the promising lefthander with the devastating changeup? Or is he the mumbling nutcase who can’t throw a strike or record an out? We’ve seen it all from this guy, often on alternating starts. Tonight, though, everything was right; the freshly-laundered sheets on his bed had a thread count above 250, the air conditioning was properly set between 72 and 72.5 degrees, and the cab had three mint air fresheners instead of just two. Jaime responded with a terrific start – 7.2 innings, no runs, and five strikeouts. Best of all, Garcia was efficient in his work, throwing almost 2-1 strikes to balls and going right after every hitter. Can we have THIS Garcia more often down the stretch?
MOLINA IS GRAND: With his infield hit in the second, Yadier Molina reached a milestone – his 1,000th career hit. Even sweeter, it happened on his young son’s fourth birthday. What an incredible transformation for Molina, who has developed himself into one of the most feared hitters in the league.
MURDERER’S ROW: One glance at the Cardinals’ lineup makes your eyes pop out: tonight, the Cardinals plated seven consecutive batters all hitting over .300. Tonight’s five runs were each driven in by a different person, not bunched by one player’s home run. Spread the wealth, I say! With those kinds of numbers, you’d think we would have a more consistent offense.
WARM FRONT: Has David Freese finally shaken the chill of a fruitless August? It seems so. He has been slowly building on a solid week, chipping in two more hits tonight in four at-bats. It makes such a huge difference when he have his skilled bat slashing opposite-field hits and driving in important runs!
BACK STRAIN: During the rash of injuries and slumps, the Cardinals have really leaned on Matt Holliday to an excessive degree. Secretly, I’ve been hoping the big man would get a day off to recuperate, but Matheny keeps trotting him out there like a plantation owner would his slaves in 1841. Well, Holliday finally felt a twinge in his lower back that took him out of the game in the seventh. Is it serious? Nobody will know until tomorrow. But I do think it’s time for Holliday to take a breather, don’t you?
LYNN SANE: After Garcia put two runners on base with one out in the eighth, Matheny made the smart move to bring out beleaguered former starter Lance Lynn to nail down one out and preserve the shutout. Lynn desperately needed the encouragement after three previous terrible appearances. The results Lynn got – a sacrifice fly to score a run and a fly ball that drove Adron Chambers to the warning track – might not be the most encouraging sign, but it was an inning-ending result nonetheless. And hopefully it is something Lynn can build on.
PUMA: How great was it to see Lance Berkman stumble on his repaired legs out to home plate to pinch hit for Lynn in the eighth?? While there was nothing magical about the outcome – he struck out on a 3-2 pitch – his presence in a Cardinal uniform cannot be overstated.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Garcia, who gave the team a huge boost tonight.
CONCLUSION: Undoubtedly, the Cardinals need this version of Garcia down the stretch. Simply put, they don’t have a chance if he cannot produce quality starts in September. This needs to be the first step toward a revised and vastly improved performance from the lefty.