One day after getting shutdown by A.J. Burnett and the Pittsburgh Pirates, the St. Louis Cardinals returned to their winning ways behind another magnificent performance from Kyle Lohse and three more hits from Rafael Furcal.
Lohse pitched into the eighth where he finally allowed a run. He ended up throwing seven innings, gave up the lone run on six hits and zero walks. He struck out five batters. He is now 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA for the season.
The Cardinals up until this series had little trouble driving in runs. But going into today’s match-up they were 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position in the series. David Freese broke up the slide with a two-run single off Pirates starter Erik Bedard in the third inning. That gave the Cardinals a three-run lead. Lohse made that lead hold until he allowed two straight hits to open the bottom of the eighth.
Mitchell Boggs came in and retired two straight batters, the last was part of a 1-4-3 double play to end the inning. The Cardinals added two insurance runs on singles by Furcal and Matt Holliday. Kyle McClellan pitched the ninth and the Cardinals moved to 11-5 on the season and maintain a four-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers.
- Jon Jay is set to have his shoulder examined in St. Louis today.
- Skip Schumaker got a hit in his first at-bat of the season and later scored a run.
- Boggs has thrown nine innings this season and allowed one earned run on four hits, with zero walks and nine strikeouts.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, the Cardinals may very well run straight through the NL Central this season. They’ve had two series against the Reds and one each against the Brewers, Cubs and now the Pirates. None of them gave the Cardinals any real trouble in the series. They have won six straight series to open the season, including the one game affair against the Miami Marlins on Opening Night.
They’ve won games with offensive outbursts. The’ve won pitcher’s duels. They’ve eked out a game or two. They’ve scored first often and played with a lead most of the time. The Cardinals have been able to win in multiple ways and the stars of the games have come from all over the team.
I mentioned a couple weeks back that the first month was going to be important for the Cardinals because their schedule was anything but easy in April. With a little more than a week to go in the month, the Redbirds are in terrific shape. They have opened a four game lead after only sixteen games.
While the Cardinals have looked great in most aspects of the game, none of the NL Central opponents can say the same thing. The rest of the division sports teams with records below .500. Further, three of the five teams have winning percentages no higher than .400. In other words there is little reason to be concerned with the rest of the division unless things change on the their ends.
The Cardinals are already prospering amid adversity. The 2011 season taught them to just go out and play their game. They didn’t dwell on what other teams were doing but instead worried about how they handled their own destiny. As of right now, that destiny has a strong season in view, and places them in a class above their competition.