The St. Louis Cardinals had a 3-3 week this week, culminating in a 19-inning marathon in which the Cardinals fell 6-3. It will be difficult for the Redbirds to make a stretch run if they have more weeks like the one past. Not to sound pessimistic, but the Cardinals can’t lose 2 of 3 against a team that’s in front of them if they hope to make the playoffs. With a week ahead in which they face the Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals will look to gain some ground. An early week series against the Pittsburgh Pirates the week following, there is a chance that the Cardinals could really turn their season around. This is where the rubber meets the road.
Tuesday August 14, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 8 Arizona Diamondbacks 2
The 8 runs for the Redbirds in a Joe Kelly start was nice to see, and he was pretty great in this one. Pitching into the 7th inning, his final line was 6 1/3 innings, 6 Hits, 2 Runs, 2 Walks, 6 Ks. St. Louis Cardinals relief was wonderful, throwing a total of 32 pitches to get through 2 2/3 innings. The combination of Mujica, Boggs, and Salas allowed just 1 hit, striking out 3.
The Positives: Matt Holliday hit his 23 homer of the year, and upped his RBI total to 81 on the season. Jon Jay hit a solo shot in the 6th, and added an RBI single in the 8th. The relievers were fantastic, facing just 1 above the minimum.
The Negatives: The Cardinals left 14 men on base, and Carlos Beltran was the main culprit, also striking out 3 times.
Player of the Game: I have to go with Joe Kelly here. Pitching into the 7th inning is always a plus, especially when you get it from unexpected sources. He wasn’t perfect, but certainly good enough to get his third win of the season and move one step closer to a .500 record on the year.
Wednesday August 15, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 5 Arizona 2
Adam Wainwright was absolutely wonderful, and continued to show that he has turned the corner in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, moving a game over .500 on the season. His final line was 6 innings, 5 Hits, 2 Runs, 1 Walk, 5 Ks. He also lowered his ERA to below 4 for the first time. Homers were again the trend, as the Redbirds added 2 more to their total.
The Positives: David Freese hit a slump busting blast in the 4th, scoring him and Carlos Beltran. Allen Craig added his 18th in the 5th, and Rafael Furcal tripled home Daniel Descalso and Tony Cruz in the 6th. Yet again, the bullpen was masterful, allowing 0 hits, and 0 walks, striking out a total of 4. Mujica, Boggs, and Motte each faced the minimum batters.
The Negatives: The Cardinals left 3 men in scoring position with 2 outs, and a total of 8 on the night. They did, however, have 3 of their 5 runs on 2 out hits.
Player of the Game: Adam Wainwright takes this one. His resurgence has been great to behold, and his pitching seems to be getting even crisper. He has won 4 straight decisions, and hasn’t given up more than 2 runs in a start since July 18th.
Thursday August 16, 2012 St. Louis Cardinals 1 Arizona Diamondbacks 2
Yet another 1-run loss for the Redbirds set them back even further in their chase to catch the Cincinnati Reds. It’s tough to watch them lose games that should be theirs, and this one was no different. Both starters were fantastic, but it was Lohse who had the better day, allowing just 4 hits and 3 walks in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out 5. Trevor Cahill was almost as sharp, but did allow a run in the 5th. Knowing that a 1-run lead is rarely safe, it would have been nice to see the Cardinals make more of their 6 hits, but they just couldn’t find a rhythm. Jason Motte had an absolutely horrible outing, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs on blasts by Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young. Salas stopped the bleeding, by recording the final out of the 9th, but it was too late. J.J. Putz came in and shut down the Redbirds for his 23rd save.
The Positives: Other than Kyle Lohse‘s great start, it pretty much ended there, as the Cardinals only managed 6 hits, 1 run, and struck out 8 times. They left 11 men on, 3 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position.
The Negatives: Jason Motte’s outing, in which he allowed 2 long balls, and 3 hits in all, upping his ERA to 2.84.
Player of the Game: Chris Young gets the nod here. Though hitting only .211 by nights end, the youngster made it back-to-back home runs in the 9th, and added what would prove to be the winning run. Not only that, but he would see his average climb to .226 as the start of what currently stands at a 4 game hitting/RBI streak, with 2 HR and 6 RBI.