The Cards walked off Tuesday night for the second night in a row. This meant a lot of things but I will break it down into five separate items. Takeaways that I have this evening.
1. Don’t Forget About John Lackey. If the defense doesn’t miff two plays in the 6th inning, the score isn’t 4-1 Reds heading into the bottom half of the inning. Lackey was money again. He went 6 innings(91 pitches) and struck out 7 batters. He gave up a two run home run and also contributed two hits of his own. Lackey had second and third with 1 out in the 6th and escaped without further damage. He has been exactly what the doctor ordered since coming over from the Red Sox. A steady top of the rotation arm with experience and an ability to strike hitters out and collect innings. He’s a weapon and he’s mean out there. Love it.
2. Jon Jay is clutch in many shapes and forms right now. He drove in his 8th run in his last ten games last night with a hit by pitch in the ninth to help the team walk off. Jay is on fire and has his batting average at .307. He has claimed center field for the time being. He has 14 hits in his last ten games and has made a few fine plays in the field. While his arm is still average, Jay has taken better routes to baseballs in 2014 and has a great first step. His bat is wicked hot and quietly powering this lineup. He simply is getting on base.
3. Jhonny Peralta becomes the first Cardinal shortstop to hit 17 home runs in a single season. Peralta is getting his average up, hitting for power and getting red hot in August. His defense is above average and his bat is becoming a force. So many people questioned the man’s post PED ability but forgot the man hit very well after he returned from his suspension in 2013. Peralta has been worth the cash and then some. I don’t think his bat will slow down. It may have a Beltran like streak to it and he may be quiet on the field, but the shortstop has brought answers to a mind boggling position.
4. Oscar Taveras had two more hits. He has been hitting line drives all week but they are finally dropping. He did run into an out late in the game at third but that is aggression and something you want to see a rookie push for. He needs to keep playing and gain the confidence required to play this game. You see the excitement he can bring to a team and the emotion he displays every single night. He was bouncing around the infield on the walkoff. He wants to be a part of this team and while he may not be able to power it just yet, multi-hit games are always liked in my book.
5. Matt Carpenter only collected one hit last night but he also drew a walk and stole a base. He was called out on strikes on a very close call(something that has happened to him a lot in 2014) as well. The man is a silent killer. His batting average has been steady right around .284 but his on base percentage remains high and he does so many things at the plate. He sees around 5 pitches per at bat, and for a team that swings away far too soon, that is important. Carpenter wears down pitches and that effects the next few batters he faces. He is a perfect leadoff guy because of all the little things he does. He has 80 runs scored, 134 hits, 30 doubles, and 69 walks to go with seven home runs and 48 runs batted in. He is a steady strong force.
The Cards go for the sweep tonight against Johnny Cueto and Lance Lynn takes the mound for the Birds. The win Tuesday kept the team within 2.5 games of Milwaukee, put them at 11 games over .500 for the first time this season and was their 6th win in their past 7 games. Now is the time to get hot. The Cards are getting there. Painfully at times but the results are there.
Facing Cueto may just be ideal. If we can defeat Johnny “Kicking Impossible” Cueto tonight, what else could possibly intimidate this team down the stretch?