GAME 82: Boom Birds
The newly-rejuvenated Cardinals unleashed their beasts in their final game at Camden Yards, sweeping the Baltimore Orioles 9-6 with three home runs and hitting .500 with runners in scoring position. It was a convincing team effort that signals a change in the wind for this once-staggering club.
I TOLD YOU SO: I’ve been bitching for two days about Lance Berkman playing first base instead of DH, and people told me I was crazy. Well, who’s crazy now?? Berkman took the DH role tonight (Tony Cruz played first), and he pounded two home runs – one from both sides of the plate. It was one of those silly-looking offensive nights that Berkman has been effortlessly producing all season. THANK GOD FOR BERKMAN!! Anyway, I’m glad TLR finally listened to me (I’m kidding, of course).
MAYBE JAY: Jon Jay continues to make Colby Rasmus more and more expendable. He has been a much better outfielder defensively, and he keeps getting big hits in important spots. Jay smashed a gigantic home run to deep left center in the fourth inning with the Orioles just a run behind, putting the game solidly in starter Jaime Garcia’s favor. It’s hard to believe, but Jay has almost as many home runs as Rasmus, a higher average, and a higher OPS. I think Big Dumb Country better watch his back, or Jay is going to steal his job.
LUCK EVENS OUT: Jaime Garcia didn’t have a terrific outing this time, but instead he was the recipient of huge run support for once and gained his long-coming seventh win. Hopefully this gets Garcia back on track. In the early part of the season, it looked like Garcia would win 40 games with the way he was pitching; maybe that can’t happen anymore, but how about 20?
IN DEFENSE OF THE MIDDLE INFIELD: Everyone has been frustrated by the middle infield combo of Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker, and with good reason. They play their respective positions generally as well as two bumbling idiots cursed from birth. However, tonight the pair shined as they were involved in FOUR double plays and went 3-8 at the plate. I guess the situation could be worse.
ANOTHER SOLID: The bullpen came out to pitch 3.2 innings in defense of Jaime Garcia, and they did a great job. This is the third or fourth excellent appearance from the bullpen in a row, which is encouraging after the turmoil of the last two months. Particularly good was Jason Motte, who struck out both hitters he faced. Only Mitchell Boggs stumbled a little bit; expect him to be on the next bus to Memphis tomorrow morning.
CONCLUSION: Simply put, this looks more like the team that scorched the league in April and early May. All of the parts are starting to click together, the bullpen is righting itself, and the team looks competitive again. Albert who?