Cardinal starter Joel Pineiro isn’t the first guy that comes to mind when you think about a “stopper”, a guy that can pitch his team to a victory to end a losing streak. But, deep in the midst of their May skid, and coming off a winless series against Milwaukee, the Cardinals handed the ball to Pineiro in hopes of putting an end to their losing ways.
Pineiro lost his last two starts, allowing a combined 9 earned runs in 12 innings to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, so it’s understandable to not have much confidence in his ability to keep the Cubs from scoring, especially when you look at his career numbers against the them.
Although the Cardinals’ philosophy has always been pitch-to-contact, perhaps it’s being drilled into their pitchers’ heads more now after all the free passes they gave up in the Milwaukee series.
Pineiro executed the game plan perfectly, pitching efficiently, using the defense behind him, and letting the Chicago batters get themselves out.
After allowing a lead-off single to Alfonso Soriano to start the game, Pineiro scattered only two more hits on his way to a complete game shutout. He struck out five, including the final two batters, and walked none. After a double from Mike Fontenot in the fifth, Pineiro retired the next 13 in a row to close it out. It took only 92 pitches, and was over in a mere 125 minutes. Here’s the complete box score.
The win puts the Cardinals at 22-17, three games behind the red hot Brewers. Another Cubs loss in this series ensures they leave town behind the Redbirds in the standings.
Game two will highlight the return of Chris Carpenter, who’s been on the disabled list, and hasn’t pitched since April 14. Interestingly, the Cardinals chose not to send him out on a rehab assignment. B.J. Rains has more on Carpenter.