Three observations from the Cardinals 5-2 win against the Pirates
The ideal Cardinals lineup
Upon checking my Twitter account for the Cardinals lineup against the Pirates last night, I gave a quick fist bump from behind the intern front desk. For the first time in weeks I felt like Mike Matheny put out the best possible lineup offensively that the Cardinals have to offer. The big changes from the usual everyday lineup was placing Oscar Taveras in centerfield and batting second, while moving Allen Craig down to the seven-hole. Matheny also moved Matt Holliday back to his traditional three-hole and had Matt Adams bat cleanup. The moves played big dividends as the Cardinals banged out five runs on 14 hits while beating the Pirates for the third straight night. Matt Carpenter, Taveras and Holliday each had two hits while Adams continued his torrid tear and knocked in two RBIs. I also loved Matheny’s move of pulling Taveras in the eighth inning for Peter Bourjos with the Cardinals leading 5-2. The Cardinals have concerns about Taveras’ ability to play centerfield but I would have no problem with Taveras getting five at bats every night then being pulled for Bourjos in the late innings for defense. The move worked as Bourjos made a spectacular play to rob Russell Martin of extra base-hits to end the game. Hopefully, Matheny realizes the success this lineup had and throws it out again as the Cardinals go for the four-game sweep of the Pirates tonight.
All Lance Lynn does is win
We all know that the Lance Lynn haters are everywhere. They point to his high run support, his inability to avoid the big inning and the fact that he always seems to fade down the stretch of seasons. Well, haters, why don’t you just look at Lynn’s record. Last night, Lynn gutted out 6 2/3 innings to record his 10th win of the season. Lynn is a flat-out bulldog and he displayed that trait last night. Already over 100 pitches on the night, Lynn trotted back out to the mound for the top of the seventh. Facing his first batter, Lynn gave up a double. The next batter reached on a bunt single as Lynn almost made an amazing play by laying out for the ball only to see it tip-off the end of his glove. That play alone shows you all you need to know about Lynn, he wants to do everything possible to win. With the Cardinals nursing a 4-2 lead and Lynn tiring, Matheny decided to leave his bulldog out there to face pinch hitter Matt Hague. With one pitch, Lynn was able to get Hague to ground into a double-play, ending the rally for the Pirates. That sequence shows you the toughness and competitiveness of Lynn as he refused to give in. Those 10 wins also make Lynn the first Cardinal pitcher to win ten or more games before the All-Star Break in three consecutive seasons since a guy named Bob Gibson. Heard of him? Neither Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright could pull off that feat. In Lynn’s best season when the Cardinals have needed him most, I ask you haters, where are you now?
Kolten Wong has provided the spark the Cardinals need
The combination of Mark Ellis and Kolten Wong had become a black-hole at second base for the Cardinals as the tandem barely hit over .200. However, since Kolten Wong came off the disabled list at the end of last week, he has provided the Cardinals with a huge lift offensively. It started off with Wong delivering a solo shot in a losing effort against the Marlins on Sunday. He then tallied three RBIs in Tuesday’s contest against the Pirates including a game winning walk-off homerun. Wong homered again last night and has been hitting .417 since he rejoined the squad. Wong has a ferocious swing batting from the left-side and Mike Matheny has raved about how quick his bat speed is. The Cardinals knew they were going to have to bet a lot on their rookie second basemen coming into the season and it looks like those bets are finally starting to pan out.