All good things come to an end. Kyle Lohse had a terrific beginning to his season and pretty much anchored the rotation in doing so. Unfortunately, a couple of bad innings early on yesterday set the tone for his first loss of the season and the second straight for the St. Louis Cardinals as they fell to the Houston Astros 5-4.
The Cardinals got on the board first in this one, as they have many times so far this season. This time it did not lead to a victory, as the Astros bounced back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Jordan Schafer reached on a Matt Carpenter error in right field. Jose Altuve singled and J.D. Martinez followed with a pop out. Schafer and Altuve pulled out a double-steal putting runners at second and third. Lohse then gave up consecutive singles to Carlos Lee and Jed Lowrie to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.
The Cardinals’ offense got the run back right away, though it was more a part of Harrell’s committing a balk after small ball moved Carpenter, who walked earlier in the inning to third base.
In the bottom half of the second the Cardinals committed another error, this time by first baseman Allen Craig. This came after Harrell singled with one out. Altuve drilled a homer to left field to put the Astros ahead for good at 5-2.
The resiliency of the offense showed in the top half of the third as they got two runs back. Jon Jay led off the inning with a single and Matt Holliday brought him in with a triple. Craig hit a sac fly to drive in Holliday and the Cards were back within one run. But, that is as close as it got for the remainder of the game. The Redbirds only managed to get a runner to second base again in the sixth inning.
Lohse (4-1) ended the game throwing 99 pitches in just five innings. He allowed five runs, three earned, on seven hits and he walked one. Harrell (2-2) got the win, working 5.1 innings giving up four runs, three earned on seven hits and two walks. Rafael Furcal, Jay and Holliday all had two hits and a run scored for the Cards.
- Carlos Beltran missed his second straight game, this time it was due to a sore right hamstring. He missed Wednesday’s game as a scheduled day off. He did pinch-hit in the eighth inning.
- Lance Berkman‘s status remains cloudy as there are conflicting reports about his return.
- Erik Komatsu was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins.
- Holliday upped his average to .255. He’s 8-for-17 in the last four games.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, it’s unusual to see the Cardinals drop the opener of a series. Yesterday was only the 3rd time out of 10 series that the Redbirds lost the opener. Both other times came against the Cubs and each time it came after a loss in the finale of the preceding series. They’ll need a good performance out of Garcia today in order to give themselves a chance to win the series.
But, looking above it could be a tough battle. Garcia does not have great numbers against the ‘Stros, but the numbers are a bit deceiving as there are many Astros players he has faced only a few times and some not at all. This could make for strategies how to pitch to them a little more difficult. I’m sure there is plenty of scouting reports on each player, but it is real experience that sits in the pitcher’s head. It’s much easier to look to tape of direct matchups than it is to watch others throw against a player.
Facing Norris is another issue for the Cardinals. He has pretty good numbers against the Cards and there is plenty of history to look to. The Cards have to come out and play solid defense today and get a good effort from Garcia after poor performances from Jake Westbrook and Lohse. This is part of Garcia’s progression. Can he be a stopper? I know it is only a two-game slide, but the Cardinals definitely don’t want it to get to three and lose the series before it ends.
Topics: Allen Craig, Bud Norris, Cardinals, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Lee, Erik Komatsu, Houston Astros, J.D. Martinez, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Jed Lowrie, Jon Jay, Jordan Schafer, Jose Altuve, Kyle Lohse, Lance Berkman, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Rafael Furcal, Skip Schumaker, St Louis Cardinals