They say pitching wins ball games, and that certainly was the case last night in the Cardinals’ 6-1 win over the Brewers. Braden Looper might not have had his best stuff, nor was he able to go deep into the game, but he did execute the game plan well, pitching around Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder, and allowing only three hits in five-plus innings.With the 2007 Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun out of the lineup, it was an easy decision for Tony La Russa to avoid giving Fielder anything to hit. Not allowing the opposition’s best to beat you is a tactic that’s widely practiced throughout the big leagues. Cards fans have seen it time and time again with Albert Pujols getting walked.
Looper ran out of gas in the sixth. After walking the first two batters, he got the hook with his pitch count at 91. The bullpen provided another stellar outing, with Klye McClellan, Ryan Franklin, and Anthony Reyes finishing the final four innings without allowing a hit. The recent performances by the relievers will make for a tough roster decision when Russ Springer comes off the DL.
Offensively, the Cards scored on timely hitting, something the team has been lacking over the last year or so. Skip Schumaker, Rick Ankiel, and Adam Kennedy each had a multi-hit game. Schumaker and Chris Duncan both had 2-out RBI. View the full box score here.
Holding the potent Brewers’ offense to only three hits, combined with the clutch hitting from unlikely Cardinal batters is impressive. More impressive, however, is the 10-4 start for the Redbirds, with a chance to increase their lead tonight. Adam Wainwright and Carlos Villanueva are the starting pitchers.
Personally, I thought last night’s game was fun to watch. Seeing the team honor Jackie Robinson was awesome. Check out the pictures from the Post Dispatch. I thought La Russa made all the right decisions, including pulling Looper with a chance to win, but not to lose. I liked seeing McClellan in another pressure situation, and seeing Reyes turn up the heat in the ninth was also very exciting. I think the only time I was nervous was when Pujols hurt his wrist tagging Bill Hall on the back end of that double play. I also like the Cards’ chances tonight, with Wainwright on the mound. He was less than stellar his last outing and I’m sure he’s eager to get back out there. After taking two of three from the Rockies and the first game of this series, the Cardinals are ahead in the battle between beer towns. A win tonight would certainly have the Brewers fans crying in their High Life.