The St. Louis Cardinals first month of the season is quickly approaching an end. The journey that began by spoiling the Miami Marlins ballpark opening has reached the final series of the month as they begin a home stand with a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Redbirds have risen to the occasion of a tough opening road trip and a dizzying number of divisional games to start off the season. They enter the Brewers series with a three game lead over the Brew Crew and the Cincinnati Reds.
Friday’s game will pit Jake Westbrook against Yovani Gallardo (tale of the tape below). Saturday’s game features Kyle Lohse for the Cards and Marco Estrada for the Brewers. In the series finale, Jaime Garcia takes on Zack Greinke. Gallardo was pounded in his first outing against the Cards in the opening series. Greinke was the other end of the spectrum and stymied the Cardinals hitters in his start.
BREWERS LEADERS (QUALIFIERS)
- AVG – Carlos Gomez (.371)
- HR – Corey Hart (6)
- RBI – Hart (13)
- SB – Gomez (5)
- OPS – Hart (1.154)
- Wins – Zack Greinke, Jose Veras (2)
- ERA – Marco Estrada (2.45)
- Ks – Greinke (28)
- WHIP – Estrada (0.91)
- Saves – John Axford (4)
- Ryan Braun is hitting .275 with 4 HR and 11 RBIs
- Rickie Weeks is hitting .189 with 24 Ks in 74 AB
- This series begins a 9-game road trip for the Brewers
- Axford has converted his last 47 save opportunities
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, I’m getting closer to admitting I was wrong about Rafael Furcal‘s anticipated performance. On more than one occasion I took the opportunity to warn Cardinals fans that Furcal’s apparent success with them last season was more smoke and mirrors than reality. He banged out some big hits down the stretch and provided what looked like solid defense but the metrics weren’t really there.
It was mostly evident in the postseason that he wasn’t really the Furcal we had come to know from his Los Angeles Dodgers days. He hit .195 throughout the postseason, which more resembled his first half of the season with the Dodgers (.197 in 137 AB). His second half with the Cards was better (.255, 7 HR) but nothing spectacular. He played well during the September/October regular season run last season (.275, 4 HR, 15 R) and it got Cardinals fans giddy because it was wrapped up in the fantastic finish. I had more of an issue with the amount of money he was offered than the fact the Redbirds decided to sign him.
Then Furcal came out for Spring Training and was awful. It was mentioned that he may still be recovering from an appendectomy. It is very possible that it did play a part, because as soon as the regular season began, he electrified the offense. He had 9 hits in his first 19 AB. He sits at .338 on the season and leads the league in doubles with 8.
He seems to be the catalyst the Cardinals had hoped for. He has slowed down a bit of late; he’s 6 for his last 22, which is not bad really. The Redbirds would be fine if he is able to hit .273 the rest of the way. I can’t take away anything from his start, but I’m not ready to anoint him as a great signing just yet. I will say this, I’ll admit when and if I am wrong about Furcal, but I’d like to watch the rest of the 143 games pan out first. Let’s see if he can be consistent from here out. Hot starts and good finishes mask the reality of everything in between at times. What will be Furcal’s reality? Stay tuned.