The St. Louis Cardinals sure know how to make things interesting. They mustered only one win against the Detroit Tigers, but swept the Kansas City Royals by doing something they haven’t accomplished since April 11-13, 2011. Keep reading to find out exactly what they did and hear my recaps of the week past.
Tuesday June 19, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 3 Detroit Tigers 6
In what promised to be an incredible pitcher’s duel on paper, only one pitcher lived up to that billing…and it wasn’t our Redbirds that got the best of that matchup. After earning his 10th win last Wednesday, Lynn went to the hill to try to match R.A. Dickey, with a league-tying 11th win. He wasn’t so fortunate. The young righty gave up 9 hits and 5 runs in just 5 innings of work on 102 pitches. His counterpart, Justin Verlander, went 7 strong innings, with just 1 earned run allowed. The truest threat for the Cardinals to mount a comeback came in the 7th inning, when Quintin Berry dropped a flyball, and allowed the St. Louis Cardinals rally to continue. With the bases loaded, Allen Craig struck out – rally squirrel sent packing.
The Positives: Lance Lynn watched a master of consistency out on the mound, and probably took some notes for himself. It was Justin Verlander’s 57th straight start of at least 6 innings.
The Cardinals made consistent contact off Verlander and didn’t let his strikeout total surpass 3, though his last was by far his best, as it was the rally killer.
Player of the Game: It absolutely hands down has to be Justin Verlander. With a fastball that sat pretty well below his average for most of the night, he saved his best for last, against Allen Craig. He threw 2 fastballs over 100, and struck him out with a knee-buckler just about any hitter would have bit on.
Wednesday June 20, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 3 Detroit Tigers 1
Jake Westbrook pitched a masterful game, his first complete game in over 2 years in fact (his last was May 16, 2010). If not for a few lucky bounces, this great start may have been for naught though, as the tie breaking run was a double play grounder hit by Yadier Molina with the bases loaded. The only other run the Cardinals scored was on a fielding error by shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
The positives: Opposing pitcher, Rick Porcello gave up 10 of the 12 Cardinal hits on the night, and though there were only 3 total runs on the Redbird’s side by game’s end, it was nice to see double digit hits.
Jake Westbrook was absolutely masterful…enough said!
Player of the Game: No doubt about it here, Jake Westbrook stole the show. In his 14th start of the season, on just 112 pitches, he went the distance. Throwing a nice repertoire of a low 80s changeup, a mid-80s to low 90s cutter, he had 15 groundouts, 5 flyouts, and 5 outs via the K.
Thursday June 21, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 1 Detroit Tigers 2
Kyle Lohse, Mitchell Boggs, and Mark Rzepczynski all teamed up to allow just 5 hits and 1 run. Jacob Turner, Octavio Dotel, Phil Coke, and Brayan Villarreal teamed up to also allow 5 hits run. That meant extra innings. Mike Matheny decided to send out Victor Marte, who promptly gave up two hits, and a HBP to load the bases for Quintin Berry, who singled just past a drawn-in infield for the game winner. Joaquin Benoit was through the 9th on just 9 pitches, and that was that.
The Positives: With just 6 hits and 15 LOB for the game, there weren’t many on this night for the St. Louis Cardinals. Kyle Lohse did turn in a quality start though, and the starting pitching always bears watching, because they’ve been great this year with just a few exceptions.
Player of the Game: I hate to say it, but again, a Tiger stole the show, for the second time this series. Quintin Berry’s first career walk-off hit was a great moment for the young rookie.
Series Wrap: It was a tough one for the Redbirds, dropping 2 of 3, while leaving 11, 13, and 15 men on base in the three games. The biggest culprit was Allen Craig, who left 12 on, with just 1 hit and 4 Ks. Kyle Lohse said to the media after the game that the St. Louis Cardinals would get their minds and bats right, and God help the team who faced them when the put up some crooked numbers, because that’d mean that they are right again. Let’s take a look and see what they did against their in-state rival Kansas City Royals, and whether or not Lohse was correct in his prediction.
Friday June 22, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 11 Kansas City Royals 4
Joe Kelly got his first win, going 6 solid innings, while giving up just 3 runs. The breath of fresh air was that Jon Jay and Matt Carpenter were back for this game, and both had solid returns from the DL. Another notable was the 17 hits the St. Louis Cardinals pounded out, including a 4 RBI day for Carlos Beltran, who enjoyed his return to Kauffman Stadium. Though they left 21 on, the Redbirds got timely hits, and that resulted in a very early exit for Kansas City Royals starter Vin Mazzaro, who couldn’t make it past 1 1/3 innings, throwing a whopping 42 pitches during his very short outing. The Cardinals scored early, with 10 of their 11 runs coming in the first 2 frames.
The Positives: I don’t think it can be overstated – the importance of the return of Jon Jay allowed Allen Craig a day off, and helped the Cardinals make the decision to send Matt Adams back down to the minors. Also, Matt Carpenter played errorless first base, scored twice, and drove in a run.
Player of the Game: The St. Louis Cardinal offense! I can’t just give it to one player here, though Carlos Beltran did have two doubles, driving in a pair each time. Also chipping in in the RBI category were Yadier Molina (his 7th steal too), David Freese (a 2 RBI day and 1st SB of the year), Matt Carpenter, Tyler Greene (2 RBI), and Skip Schumaker.
Saturday June 23, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 8 Kansas City Royals 2
Adam Wainwright moved one step closer to a personal .500 record, winning his 6th game of the season. The Cardinals hurler went 7 innings, and struck out 4. Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte finished off the game, providing an inning of scoreless relief each. Again, the Cardinals never trailed in this one, as they pounded out another 16 hits and left 18 men on. It may seem troubling to some when looking at the numbers of men stranded, but I’m pretty comfortable saying that I don’t think that’s a trend that will continue, and I’m just thankful to see that the St. Louis Cardinals are scoring the runs they’re capable of scoring.
The positives: A 16 hit game, and 8 runs gave the Redbirds 19 runs through the first two games of the series, and Adam Wainwright looked much like his old self. It’s not difficult to believe how determined he’s been since his return from Tommy John surgery. Let’s not forget Matt Holliday‘s 4 for 5 performance either, moving him close to .300 (.297), a point he’s not reached yet this season.
Player of the Game: Allen Craig went deep, yet again. In just 33 games, he has 9 homers, 10 doubles, 33 RBI, an on base percentage just a tick under .400, and an OPS of 1.008. That’s pretty spectacular if you ask me!
Sunday June 24, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 11 Kansas City Royals 8
This was a magnificent game from start to finish, even if not so for Lance Lynn. It was Lynn’s second consecutive poor outing, but the bullpen looked good, allowing only 2 runs and 4 hits, never letting the Royals mount a full comeback. The St. Louis Cardinals, again, never trailed, and completed the series sweep.
The Positives: Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina each went deep, with their 20th and 10th homers respectively.
Player of the Game: I think I have to give this one to Carlos Beltran, as his 3-run homerun was the difference in the game. I want to give an honorable mention to David Freese and Yadi-Mo though, because both made spectacular plays. The first came from Molina, who threw out Alex Gordon on an attempted steal of second base. It’s no secret that Molina is solid behind the plate, throwing out 44% of attempted thefts since he began his career as Cardinals backstop. Freese also flashed his defense in the bottom of the 7th, when he threw out Billy Butler on a barehanded pickup from near third.
Series Wrap: The St. Louis Cardinals patient offense produced 41 hits, and 30 runs during the 3-game series. To those who made it this far, congratulations – you have now figured out what it is that the Cardinals hadn’t done since April 11-13, 2011 – score 30 runs in a 3 game series. I’m looking forward to the recent success continuing tonight with the Florida Marlins series and beyond, especially now that the Cardinals have been able to put a solid series together.
Tags: Allen Craig Brayan Villarreal David Freese Jake Westbrook Joe Kelly Jon Jay Justin Verlander Kyle Lohse Lance Lynn Mark Rzepczynski Mike Matheny Mitchell Boggs Quintin Berry R.A. Dickey Rally Squirrel Rick Porcello Skip Schumaker St Louis Cardinals Victor Marte Vin Mazzaro