GAME 85: Iron Man
The Cardinals (45-40) survived the record heat broiling St. Louis and brief, early wildness from Kyle Lohse to even the final series before the All Star break with a 3-2 win over the Marlins.
IRON MAN: Lohse definitely earned his ninth win this season. Despite sweltering 106 degree temperatures baking him, Lohse stood out there all afternoon and held the Marlins to just two runs and three early hits in a 102-pitch masterpiece. The Marlins didn’t have a hit against Lohse after the second inning, when he gave up a two-run homer to Justin Ruggiano. All things considered, this ranks among Lohse’s best starts as a Cardinal. I’m sure that even Chris Carpenter is impressed with Lohse’s toughness today. Incredible.
SPUTTERING: The offense has been a little frustrating lately. The hits have been coming, just rarely with anyone on base. It’s difficult to complain about offense when we cobbled together just enough to win, but the stop/start offense continues to put pressure on the starters. How long can that continue?
PLUGGED IN: Many Cardinal fans seem to complain quite a bit about Tony Cruz when he replaces Yadier Molina. Sure, Cruz is not Molina, who happens to be one of the greatest catchers of his generation (almost as good as Buster Posey, of course). But the staff ERA with Cruz is just a shade higher than with Molina, demonstrating that Cruz can do much of what Molina does defensively. However, Cruz has struggled at the plate. That’s why it was so wonderful to see him rip a triple into the right field corner to drive in the game winner. That had to be a huge confidence booster. Cards fans should be grateful to have a back-up like Cruz.
EIGHTH INNING MAN: One thing is clear – Matheny has finally narrowed down the sequence of relievers for the final innings. Mitchell Boggs has excelled since being installed as the eighth inning set-up for Jason Motte in the ninth. Boggs hasn’t surrendered a run in the eighth since June 12th. He looks confident, aggressive, and focused. Matheny has done wonders for this very talented reliever, and it’s done much to stabilize a shaky and frightening bullpen.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: What a terrifying end to this game. Jason Motte allowed two singles with two out before finally retiring Miami. SCARY. Fortunately, he nailed down a tough, well-earned win.
CARDINAL NATION: Cardinal fans have been amazing throughout this death-dealing heat wave. Cincinnati can’t sell out a game on a breezy spring day, but Cards fans have packed Busch during this record summer of oven-like temperatures. These are the times that you are reminded about the difference between Cardinal fans and everyone else.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kyle Lohse, are you kidding me?
CONCLUSION: Lohse continues to impress with a series of spectacular starts. He might end up leading the team in wins again this year, which still feels like Jeff Weaver doing that. All I know is that this team would be sunk without him, and he’s setting himself up for a huge contract this winter with someone else. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.