GAME 82: The Fourth Is With Us
Adam Wainwright and a resurgent bullpen walked a tightrope all night, holding the Rockies to just one run with eleven strikeouts. The offense didn’t exactly help for most of the game, but the Cardinals (43-39) outlasted Colorado 4-1 to win the series.
MUCH IMPROVED: Wainwright has been shaky over his last several appearances. He posted a 5.19 ERA in June, and gave up seven earned runs and two homers in his last start. But Waino wiped away any concerns with an unforgiving start that saw the Cardinal ace carve up the Rockies with terrifying curve balls. Even when the Rockies threatened, as they did in the fifth, Wainwright was able to wriggle out of trouble. The best part about Waino is his ability to analyze his bad starts and improve upon them, a mark of a true competitor. We may not have Chris Carpenter anymore, but his spirit is alive and well in Wainwright.
LOCKED IN: Matt Holliday looks like a totally different ballplayer right now, and I’m not just talking about his blistering month-long rampage at the plate (3-4 tonight with an RBI). Holliday aggressively attempted to stretch out a single into a double in the fifth, and was wrongly called out at second. In the eighth, he stole his fourth base. He also made a couple of tough, aggressive plays in the outfield while displaying a fiery glint in his eyes. Does he have rabies?
BREAKTHROUGH: The Cardinals squandered several chances to bust the game open, including a bases-loaded situation in the second. They finally came through with the big hit in the eighth. After singles by Holliday and Carlos Beltran, the Rockies intentionally walked Yadier Molina to load the bases for David Freese. This is like fully-loading a gun in order to play Russian Roulette. Freese came through again, singling through the drawn-in infield to score two runs and provide a comfortable three-run lead headed into the ninth. See, that wasn’t so hard, guys!
GASP: Did anyone else’s heart stop when Jon Jay crashed into the outfield wall while making a spectacular catch to end the eighth? A recurrence of that shoulder injury would be the last thing we need to happen right now.
NEW ATTITUDE: Like Holliday, the bullpen has experienced something of a resurgence lately. Maybe they sense that John Mozeliak might trade them at any moment. Whatever it is, they have all been pitching very well. Tonight, Maikel Cleto, Marc Rzepczynski, and Jason Motte combined for nine outs in relief of Waino, and they were spectacular. Cleto and Zeppo were particularly good, each striking out two of their three batters. I wouldn’t say their jobs aren’t still in jeopardy, but they’ve made their case a bit stronger.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Wainwright for his brilliant and stingy performance.
CONCLUSION: The Cardinals needed to take at least two out of three from the lowly Rockies, so I’m glad it happened. Tonight we enjoyed some solid and encouraging pitching, and an offense that kept pecking away. Basically, this is a perfect way to win on a hot, sweaty holiday evening!