GAME 16: Yardarm
In one of his finest outings yet, Kyle Lohse swashbuckled the Pittsburgh Pirates into the eighth inning, limiting them to just six hits and one run. Meanwhile, the recently-sputtering offense came alive late, piling on ten hits as the Cardinals (11-5) outsailed the Pirates 5-1 in the rubber game to win the series.
MONEY’S WORTH: After three contractual seasons of mysterious arm troubles, poor command, and vague La Russa impressions, Kyle Lohse (3-0) has finally decided to put together some stats worthy of someone making $12 million this year. For instance, Lohse has an ERA of 0.99 after four starts, which is like getting Yadi to show up for Winter Warm-up: seemingly impossible, but welcome. Can he keep it up? Who knows, but my guess is that he’ll give it his best shot at least until the ink is dry on a new contract somewhere else.
BLOOM IS OFF: Fast start, fast fade. That’s how I might describe the trajectory of Matt Carpenter. Cardinal Nation fell in love with the kid in the first few games of the season when he unloaded some clutch at-bats and rapidly accumulated some eye-popping stats. So crazy was the initial reaction that fans were ready to approach him at the ballpark and touch him in order to be healed. However, it appears that Lil’ Carpenter is, indeed, human. Since his big game on April 15, Carpenter is 2-17 with no extra base hits or RBI. His average has dropped over 130 points in one week. Maybe he’s not ready to take over for Albert Pujols just yet.
CURIOUS: It finally happened – I disagreed with a Mike Matheny move. I cannot understand why Matheny would put severely-struggling Tyler Greene second in this lineup. I mean, I DO get it from a certain perspective; under normal circumstances, having Furcal and Greene at the top of the lineup would provide a lot of run-generating speed. However, Greene has to get on base first, and he just hasn’t been doing that. He’s hitting .220 since April 10th. Meanwhile, Sugar Shane Robinson (batting .391) is eighth ahead of the pitcher. Huh?
SMALL MERCIES: Matt Holliday is hopefully turning a corner. He had a crucial two-out RBI in the ninth to plate the fifth and final run. Is he coming back? Possibly. Consider this: in his last four games, he’s hitting .250 (not great, of course) with four RBI and a home run. Let’s see where he’s at in a week. HANG IN THERE, MATT!
UNSTOPPABLE: Thank goodness for David Freese! Even though he’s fallen into a slight funk recently, he continues to show why he is one of the best run producers playing the game. His two-run single to the opposite field (nobody better than him at that!) proved to be the game winner. Stay healthy, little buddy!
PLAYER OF THE GAME: It must be Lohse, who looks like the Bob Gibson of 2012.
CONCLUSION: This was the sixth consecutive series win for this team. The Cardinals are absolutely crushing their divisional opponents, and should open up a wide lead by June given their soft schedule and weak opponents. At this rate, that goal should not be too difficult to achieve.