GAME 72: Resurrection
After enduring a demoralizing seven game losing streak – the longest in three years – the Cardinals came within a hair of losing their eighth. But some late heroics from Colby Rasmus, Matt Holliday, and Fernando Salas rescued the team in a thrilling 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals.
RIOTOUS SHORT: Ryan Theriot returned after a few days of emotional housecleaning and played spectacularly. Especially beautiful was a full-on diving play to cut down Jeff Francouer in the second that was probably Theriot’s finest play of the season. He also had two hits (including a crucial double in the first). Welcome back!
FINALLY: Albert Pujols has been back in his season-long funk of late, but he came through in the third with a ringing double off the top of the wall in deep center to score Schumaker. He missed a home run by inches. He also didn’t commit an error – that’s always nice. We really need him to come alive for three or four weeks, but anything at this point is appreciated.
HOLDING A LEAD: One of the most frustrating things about this recent skid is the starting pitching’s inability to hold a lead. Tonight Jake Westbrook was the latest, giving up leads of 1-0 and 3-2. At a time when scoring runs has been nearly impossible, we really need our starting pitching to bear down and subdue the opposition when we manage to lead.
HOLLIDAY THE HERO: We are so fortunate that John Mozeliak nabbed Matt Holliday for a discount and gave him a new lease on life. The man is a monster. We have him at the peak of his powers, and he’s all ours for many years to come. Heroics like tonight’s game-winning, dead-center two run homer will become commonplace at Busch with a healthy Holliday at the heart of the lineup. I love this man!!!
THE RISE OF SALAS: There’s a lot to love about Fernando Salas. He has a nasty, moving fastball and a sharp slider. But his best attribute is his unwavering courage; nothing rattles the kid. For many relievers, a blown save of the kind Salas suffered a few days ago might have unhinged his mental stability. But Salas came out and blew the Royals away in the ninth, barely flinching at all. He has almost single-handedly saved the Cardinals in this first half.
CONCLUSION: A thoroughly inspirational win tonight. The team never gave up on itself, and battled convincingly all night. Most importantly, this was a team win, with multiple people rising to the occasion. An excellent start in what I hope is a turn-around for our boys in red.