The St. Louis Cardinals continued their impressive opening to the 2012 season with a 10-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Jake Westbrook pitched seven sharp innings allowing one run on four hits. He was backed by Matt Carpenter‘s four-hit, five-RBI performance, as the Cardinals won their fourth series of the season and now own a 7-3 record.
Westbrook has proclaimed himself to be in his best shape since his early days with the Cleveland Indians. His offseason regimen has carried over to a very successful start to the season. In his two starts he has worked 14 innings and allowed only the one run during yesterday’s win. His ground out to fly out ratio currently sits at 2.08 and is tantamount to his success.
At the plate the Cardinals continue to get great production from catcher Yadier Molina, who hit his third home run of the season among his three hits. His average is a robust .353 on the season.
Molina’s great day was overshadowed by Matt Carpenter. Carpenter has been filling in for injured first baseman Lance Berkman. Carpenter came up a double short of the cycle as he collected two singles, a home run and then a triple.
BERKMAN AND FREESE OUT AGAIN
Berkman continues to miss time with a strained calf muscle. On Friday, there was a hope that he could get into one of the games over the weekend even if only as a pinch-hitter. Now, manager Mike Matheny will be hoping to get him and David Freese back in the lineup at the same time on Tuesday. Freese sat out the last two games with a finger injury which is preventing him from gripping the bat.
The Cardinals have an off-day today and head into their series against the Cincinnati Reds with a 2.5 game lead over the Houston Astros in the NL Central. Tomorrow, Rants Daily will provide a full series preview.
- Skip Schumaker is set to begin a rehab assignment sometime this week at Triple-A Memphis as reported by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold.
- Carlos Beltran was pulled during yesterday’s game after getting hit in the forearm by a Paul Maholm pitch in the second inning. Beltran began to feel tightness a few innings later. According to MLB.com reporter Jenifer Langosch Beltran is day-to-day.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, I won’t be surprised if Jake Westbrook leads the team in victories this season. Since the start of Spring Training through the first two weeks of the season Westbrook has been far and away the most consistent pitcher on the squad.
I see something in Westbrook that speaks to the overall mission of the club and that is to prove the critics wrong. Westbrook’s offseason conditioning program is well documented now and it is just the beginning of his resurgence.
Westbrook has always been a ground ball machine averaging better than a two-one ratio of ground ball to fly balls over the course of his career. He is sitting at exactly 2-to-1 right now. He has yet to allow an extra base hit and found some better control in yesterday’s game as he walked only one batter as opposed to four in his initial start. He pounded the zone yesterday and got batters to go after the first pitch in many at-bats. If he can continue to take advantage of agressive hitters and produce ground balls at his current rate, he could be in line for many victories this season.