Cardinals-Phillies Game 2: Wainwright, Hamels square off


After a crazy night in the City of Brotherly Love, the Cardinals are back on the field tonight in the second game of a four-game series. The Cards got a big lift from some unsung guys like Nick Stavinoha and David Freese last night to get a 6-3 win. With the win, St. Louis is in first place in the National League and a half game behind Tampa Bay for the best mark in the majors. The Cards are clicking on all cylinders right now and this series will be big measuring stick early in the season. St. Louis seems to be further along as a team than the Phillies who have owned the NL the past two seasons.

Philadelphia is the favorite again with their core of players back and the addition of Roy Halladay. The Cardinals are right with them in terms of talent and chemistry. I picked the Phillies and Cardinals to meet in the NLCS this year because they are clearly the top two teams in the league. While this series doesn’t mean much come October, it is a nice gauge for both teams. The Phillies haven’t put it all together to dominate yet, but they could explode at any point. Roy Halladay has been as good as advertised and the lineup has had its moments — most notably the other night to bring the Mets back down to earth. The Cards have been solid. It’s that simple. The pitching has been there. The lineup — from top to bottom — is producing. Pujols and Holliday are getting a lift from role players like Stavinoha and Freese, and Colby Rasmus looks ready to take the next step toward becoming a star. There’s plenty to smile about in St. Louis. [...]

Last night, the game was lost under the chaotic tasering incident. The 17-year-old fan from Pottstown gave everyone something to talk about in an otherwise anticlimactic game. Just before the sideshow, Nick Stavinoha made some noise with a pinch-hit homer in the seventh. Stavinoha has been great for the Cards since Spring Training. He is a pleasant surprise who is hitting as well as the regulars whenever he gets his hacks. Stavinoha was a big-time player at LSU, but he wasn’t blessed with athletic ability, so the organization didn’t count him among its prized prospects. He has worked hard and perhaps more importantly, taken advantage of every opportunity. He got his foot in the door with a good performance last year in only a few at bats and has continued to impress this year. The Cards have found a diamond for their bench, something that was lacking going into Spring Training. Jaime Garcia was another young guy trying to find a home in St. Louis with the big boys this year. A hot spring got him the fifth spot in the rotation. So far, Garcia has been closer to an ace with his 1.13 ERA. The Phillies were his biggest challenge thus far and he battled through six innings to give up just one run despite walking four. The youthful hunger has definitely given this team a fresh look to go with its veteran stars. David Freese has been a pro’s pro in amassing his .358 batting average. And Joe Mather and Tyler Greene are both performing well when their number is called.

Tonight the Redbirds get to make a statement with their ace on the mound facing Philly’s No. 1. Adam Wainwright and Cole Hamels take the ball with the tall task of shutting down two potent offenses. Wainwright has been ace-like in 2010. Hamels hasn’t. He still looks soft out there and is lucky to be 2-2 because of run support. Last start, he only went five innings. Let’s see if anything changes for the lefty tonight.

Here are the lineups:

Cardinals

2B Tyler Greene

RF Ryan Ludwick

1B Albert Pujols

LF Matt Holliday

3B David Freese

C Yadier Molina

CF Joe Mather

P Adam Wainwright

SS Brendan Ryan

Phillies

CF Shane Victorino

3B Placido Polanco

2B Chase Utley

1B Ryan Howard

RF Jayson Werth

LF Raul Ibanez

SS Juan Castro

C Carlos Ruiz

P Cole Hamels

*Greene and Mather get starts tonight in place of Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus.

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Cole Hamels David Freese Jaime Garcia Joe Mather Nick Stavinoha Philadelphia Phillies St Louis Cardinals Tyler Greene