When a team that’s floundering near the cellar comes into the ballpark of a team that’s got the best record in baseball, the home team should win at least three of four. When the bad team is the Cubs and the good team is the Cardinals, it’s very satisfying when what should happen does happen.
While the Chicago squad kept last night’s game closer than most Redbird fans would have liked for longer than they’d liked, eventually the vaunted Cardinal offense came alive, helped by the fact that the Cub bullpen, well, they don’t quite have Seth Maness, Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist out there.
I’m going to give the Hero tag to Matt Holliday, because his sixth inning home run seemed to jolt the team, as they put together three more runs after that to break the game open. That was Holliday’s second RBI on the night, which took a lot less luck than his first one. In the third, tied at 1 with runners on first and second, Holliday hit what looked to be yet another double play ball. Instead, the ball hit the lip of the grass and stayed down, snaking under Cubbie gloves and sending Matt Carpenter in to give St. Louis the lead they wouldn’t relinquish. When you are going good, even luck seems to be on your side.
The Cardinals had 10 hits overall, which means Holliday wasn’t the only one that was involved last night. Carpenter and Jon Jay both had two hits while league-leading hitter Yadier Molina only had one, but also fashioned two walks. Of course, you didn’t have to get hits to contribute, as David Freese went 0-3, but scored a run and drove in one as well.
Lance Lynn tallied his 10th win with a fine outing. He did allow a home run to Welington Castillo right after the Cards had gone up 1-0, but other than that was stellar, allowing just three hits and striking out six in his six innings of work. The relievers above finished the job with little drama, though I was surprised that Mike Matheny removed Maness with two down, one one and a five run lead. Maness had just induced a double play ball that was spoiled by a high throw from Carpenter to Matt Adams but was looking fine. Choate went 1.1 innings, which might be his career high. Seemed an odd thing to do in a game like this, but it’s not the first time we’ve said that about a Matheny decision.
Goat goes to Carlos Beltran, who wasn’t as lucky as Freese. He went 0-3 but with nothing to show for it save a walk.
Chris Carpenter is having back trouble, which does tend to interfere with pitching. It doesn’t sound like it’s as bad as the club was thinking, but it’s just another setback. If Carpenter can pitch before September, I’d be pretty surprised. I, like the club, had been hoping that he could get back after the All-Star Break, but there’s too much work left to be done for that to be a viable alternative now, unfortunately.
As the Cubs shuffle off the stage, the Texas Rangers bound upon it. The great thing about the Rangers coming to Busch is that we can spend the weekend reliving the 2011 World Series. I’m sure they aren’t as excited about that–well, save Lance Berkman, who will get a roaring ovation this evening, I expect–but it’s to be expected the first time two teams meet after a Series, especially one as dramatic as that. (Ron Washington will probably plunk Freese first time up just because he’s seen that blasted home run 1000 times.)
Tyler Lyons will go for the Cardinals today in the most favorable matchup the Rangers are going to get this weekend. Lyons is probably pitching for his job in the rotation, as he has struggled after being so good his first two times out. The Rangers are not a team that you want to struggle too much against though, as they have enough offense to make your life miserable if you do. Obviously, it’s the first time No. 70 has faced the Rangers, so he’s got that going for him, which is good.
If we are going to celebrate the 2011 Series this weekend, it’s perhaps fitting that Derek Holland will take the mound for the opposition. Holland saved the Rangers season with 8.1 scoreless innings in Game 4 after the Cardinals had blasted Texas the night before to take a 2-1 series lead. Holland did pitch in Game 6 and give up a run in two innings on a homer by Allen Craig. That Series is basically what you see in the career numbers.
Looking forward to this matchup, as the Rangers are a tougher team than the Cards have seen in a while. Should be a fun weekend for baseball!