After earning a place in the Cardinals rotation during a great spring training, Kyle McClellan proved himself worthy of this fifth spot in last night’s game. Debuting in his first major league start, and for his hometown team, the righty could not have been more excited. A St. Louis-area native, McClellan showed some nerves in the first inning, giving up two early ones on a HR by Lyle Overbay, but responded by throwing a solid six innings.
Last night’s game against the Pirates turned out to be a tough pitching duel in which runs were hard to come by. Showing great poise on the mound, McClellan carried this team to victory despite earning a no-decision. Take a look at his line: 6 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB and 7 strikeouts over six innings. In my opinion, there’s not much more that you can ask for in terms of production from your number five guy. Fanning seven in his first game, Kyle will start off the season with a 3.00 ERA. With this kind of production, perhaps the Cardinals pitching staff will not be so bad off after all.
Overall, I was very encouraged by the Cardinals’ play Tuesday evening. Looking at the game by itself, the fact that they were able to string a few runs together over several innings and put up just enough to win a close one showed a lot of veteran experience. However, what concerns me is the offensive trend in general this season. So far this season, in the first four games before last night, the Redbirds are averaging less than three runs per game, a franchise worse since 1980. Once they get runners on, the Cardinals need to find a way to drive these guys in.
This afternoon, the Cardinals will look to take 2 out of 3 games from the Pirates as they send their ace Chris Carpenter to the mound. I am a firm believer of taking each series (and even each game) at a time. If the Cardinals focus on taking at least 2 out of 3 each series, with obviously some setbacks and hopefully some sweeps, they will be looking down at the Reds from atop the Central in no time.