Daily Rant: Cardinals crush Astros as Lynn fans career high


The Cardinals were apparently tired of people doubting their offensive prowess, so they decided to go off on the Houston Astros last night in a 14-2 massacre. Cardinals starter Lance Lynn struck out a career high eleven batters as the team truly clicked in all departments. Who were the top performers? Find out after the jump.

Box Score

St. Louis00301170214160
WP: L. Lynn (9-2)
LP: J.A. Happ (4-6)
R. Furcal ss523200100.319
    D. Descalso ph-2b100000001.225
C. Beltran rf321211001.276
    T. Cruz c100000101.175
M. Holliday lf312002100.276
    M. Adams 1b100000000.273
A. Craig 1b-lf523201101.382
D. Freese 3b522621305.271
Y. Molina c211003000.328
    E. Sanchez p000000000.000
    F. Salas p000000000.000
    S. Hill ph100000000.143
    S. Freeman p000000000.000
T. Greene 2b-ss611000206.210
S. Robinson cf533211001.276
L. Lynn p100000101.111
    A. Chambers ph-rf200001102.250
L. Lynn (W, 9-2)6.062221111.142.66
E. Sanchez1.00000101.002.70
F. Salas1.01000101.985.94
S. Freeman1.00000001.505.40

The Positives

Obviously, the bulk of the performance was positive, but here were the highlights

  • Rafael Furcal has a two hit game and raised his batting average to .319. He also scored two runs and drove in two.
  • Carlos Beltran his his sixteenth home run of the season and drove in two runs.
  • Matt Holliday also had two hits and scored one  of the Cardinals runs.
  • Allen Craig had a three hit night, scored two, and drove in two.
  • David Freese led the way for the Cardinals with two home runs and six RBIs. The home runs were Freese’s eleventh and twelfth of the season.
  • Yadier Molina pitched in with a hit and three walks. He also scored a run.
  • Tyler Greene had a one hit night and scored a run.
  • Shane Robinson had a three hit night, including his second home run of the season. He drove in two and scored three runs.
  • Lance Lynn went six innings, only allowed two earned runs, and struck out eleven hitters.
  • Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, and Sam Freeman combined for three innings of shutout baseball to end the game.

Justin’s Jeers

Nothing. Seriously awesome performance by the Redbirds.

Three Stars

3) Lance Lynn – Lynn completely shut down the Astros in the best performance of his career.

2) Shane Robinson – Sugar Shane hit his second home of the season, scored three times, and drove in two runs.

1) David Freese – This was the David Freese we saw in the playoffs. When he’s on, he’s an offensive force.



Today’s Game

The Cardinals start a three game interleague set with the Cleveland Indians tonight at 7:15. The Cardinals will send out 4-5 Jake Westbrook against 2-3 Josh Tomlin. Tomlin has a 5.32 ERA while Westbrook currently sports a 4.23 ERA. I sat down with Lewie Pollis of Wahoos On First to compare our thoughts on the series.

1) The Indians are off to a hot start this season. What are the highest contributing factors to their strong play out of the gate?

The biggest thing is just that this is a much better team than people gave them credit for before the season. The 2011 Indians faced the following problems: ineffective veterans taking up playing time, young players struggling to adjust to the majors, and injuries to almost every key player on the roster. Yet they played basically .500 ball all year. With an improved roster, more experience for the youngsters, and (until recently) better health, they looked like at least a fringe contender for 2012. Those who projected win totals in the mid-70’s for the Tribe just weren’t paying attention to what was going on in Cleveland.

Beyond that, we’ve been helped by further breakouts from guys like Jason Kipnis and Jack Hannahan, better-than-expected starting pitching from the middle and back of the rotation (Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez), a lights-out back end of the bullpen, and a continuation of last year’s theme of timely hitting. The fairly easy early schedule and weakness of the AL Central helped a lot too.

2) Can Jason Kipnis keep up his start? Does his minor league history back up the power he has shown thus far?

The smart money is always to assume some degree of regression for a hot young player without much of a track record, but make no mistake: The JK Kid is for real. It’s the classic case of an already-good young hitter adding power as he matures. He doesn’t have a track record of prodigious pop in the minors, but despite facing better and better pitching his power numbers improved pretty much every year as he made his way up through the organization.

I participated in a mock franchise player draft for another site this week, and with my No. 35 pick I chose Jason Kipnis to be one of my core players for the next 10 years. That should be a good demonstration of how bullish I am on him.

3) What happened to Shin-Soo Choo last season? His numbers this season look more like what we are used to. Was 2011 just an anomaly, or could regression be on its way?

Last year really was the perfect storm for Choo. He started out in a slump that had a lot to do with BABIP luck (he had a .284 BABIP in April, compared to .353 for his career) and was exacerbated as he started to press. He got busted for a DUI in May, which by his own admission weighed on him and was a distraction from then on out. Then he got hurt. So you can forgive him for having a down year—though he still managed 1.4 fWAR in barely a half-season’s worth of playing time.

So for the most part, last year can be chalked up as an anomaly. The only thing from 2011 that seems to have had staying power (pun intended) was the drop in his pop. After going 20/20 in both 2009 and 2010 he has just three homers so far, and his slugging percentage isn’t much higher than his OBP. He’s still a very good hitter as he’s his retained great eye, solid wheels, and ability to make solid contact, but at this point he’s much more suited to his new role as leadoff man than his former place in the middle of the order.

4) Do the Indians have any plans to address a subpar rotation? Do they plan to be buyers or sellers at the deadline?

I don’t know whether the Indians are in a real position to buy; they don’t have any obvious trade chips who are both expendable and likely to be attractive to other teams and they’re not in a position to take on a big contract. Dire though a few spots on the roster have looked this year they have in-house candidates who at least deserve real chances to fill in (Matt LaPorta and Shelley Duncan spring to mind). And since this team is hoping to contend through at least 2014 or 2015 we mortgage the future just yet.

I don’t see the Tribe trading for a starting pitcher. Derek Lowe has been a revelation, and while they’ve gotten knocked around a few times Jeanmar Gomez and Josh Tomlin have both been solid more often than not. The problems are Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, both of whom are usually good enough that I don’t think the team will give up on them. With the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona presumably returning at some point and Zach McAllister leading a stable of serviceable arms in Triple-A Cleveland has plenty of pitching depth so a trade would be unnecessary, and after how poorly last year’s Jimenez trade has worked out I’d imagine that most Indians fans wouldn’t be thrilled to see a similar deal go down this summer.

5) What are your predictions for the upcoming series?

I’ll listen to my biased gut and say the Indians take two of three in a hard-fought series, but I’m having trouble even guessing for the specific matchups. Either way, it’ll be a fun series to watch. (Unless we lose.)