The last time Brad Penny pitched in San Francisco, he was wearing the orange and black. Penny returned to the mound in AT&T Park in a visiting shade of red as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday and got the win in a brilliant performance. San Francisco was a new beginning for the veteran in 2009 after a brutal stay in Boston. He has carried that momentum into 2010 for the Redbirds and looks primed for a big year. Some questioned his value coming into the year, but Penny may as well be called Ace No. 3 with his start. He got the win in the 2-0 victory for St. Louis. Penny is 3-0 with a pristine .94 ERA.
His starts have been of the highest quality, too. After pitching 7 2/3 shutout innings last night, he has gone at least seven innings in nine of his last 10 starts dating back to September 1, 2009. He used the same formula for his early season success thus far Sunday: throw strikes. It’s been that simple for the righty. He hasn’t been overpowering, but he has been extremely effective. Penny struck out only two batters, but walked none. He let the Giants hit it and trusted his defense to make the plays. It’s no secret formula, but some miss out while chasing gaudy numbers and strikeout totals. Penny knows better by now and is showing his veteran understanding of the game.
Look out baseball, there are three aces in St. Louis.
The ace of the lineup came through again to support Penny’s gem. Albert Pujols hit a solo home run in the first inning to put St. Louis on top. It was all Penny would need. Pujols now has seven home runs on the season. He finished his day with three hits — a good sign after somewhat of a cold stretch for the slugger. After his scorching start, Pujols struggled through a week of at bats until re-emerging Sunday. He boosted his average above .300 to .301. David Freese and Colby Rasmus each added two hits. Yadier Molina drove in Rasmus on a sacrifice fly in the fourth to give St. Louis some insurance for the late innings. That’s where the scoring would finish at it a quiet day for the bats.
The series was low on offense in San Francisco, perhaps because of the park and the high quality pitching. Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Adam Wainwright, Matt Cain, and Brad Penny all took the mound in the last three days. Not bad.
The Cards (11-7) head home to face the Braves (8-10) tonight. Tim Hudson and Kyle Lohse square off and St. Louis gets its first look at the phenom, Jayson Heyward. It should be an interesting series.