GAME 45: Back In The Saddle Again
Going into today’s game, starter/new father Kyle McClellan had to be muttering, “What the hell? I’m trying to get my National League-leading sixth victory, and Tony gives me the Memphis Redbird rejects lineup??” Yes, it was a bit disconcerting to see a lineup composed of Jays and Lairds and Craigs and Descalsos, and McClellan surely wondered why he had to be the pitcher who recieved the Winning Series Mop-Up™ crew.
Fortunately McClellan had his good stuff workin’ today, as he easily handled the punchless Astros to earn his sixth victory – tops in the National League.
Gerald Laird doubled in Allen Craig and Colby Rasmus in the second inning, continuing the hot hitting from our catchers. Our catchers have the kind of stats normally associated with third basemen; Molina and Laird have been crucial, indispensible cogs in the Cards’ offensive machine.
The Cards only had six hits, but they all counted. The biggest one came from Craig, who skied a ball into the stands for his second home run of the year. This is exactly the kind of production that we’ve expected out of Craig for two years, and exactly the kind of production he has failed to provide. I wish the guy well, but he needs to turn up the heat if he expects to play everyday in the majors.
The ig story, though, was McClellan. He gave up six hits in eight innings (along with five strikeouts), and easily pitched around any trouble he encountered. I personally don’t believe that McClellan can keep up this kind of otherworldly pitching performance, but I’m not complaining if he tries to do that. Right now, our “bottom of the rotation” guys – Garcia, Lohse, and McClellan – look better than the top guys of any other team. Consider this: we have three starters with five wins already, one with SIX, and they lead the NL in ERA as well. If we could get Carp and Westy to join the domination party, we’d have one of the best Cardinals rotations ever.
RAZ ATTACK: It was nice to see Rasmus in the lineup (finally), but why was he batting FIFTH behind Craig?? While I’m glad Craig had a terrific day, I think Rasmus’ resume is a bit heftier than Craig’s. By a long shot, even. Yet another bewildering move by LaGenius.
SLAMMIN’ SALAS: There was no doubt the game was over when Fernando Salas strode to the mound from the outfield in the ninth. NOTHING bothers this kid, and he actually relishes the opportunity. On top of that, Salas’ stuff is wickedly nasty; if God made an eleventh commandment, it would be against throwing pitches with that kind of evil spin on them. Like I said last night – Salas is the closer. The End.
RISING TO THE OCCASION: What can you say about a team that lost its two hottest hitters the previous night and STILL refuse to die? What can you say about a team that puts rookies and untested hopefuls into crucial spots and still succeed? It’s too early to discuss destiny, but the Cards are (thus far) making a strong case as a team with the guts and determination to stay in the race until the end. Who knows what this team will do when the regulars return to duty, but, to the rest of the National League, I say: LOOK OUT.