Pitching is one of those fickle parts of a baseball team that you really can't count on being perfect every day. You get to that one or two guys in your rotation and you just reserve your hopes. But sometimes, the stars and star wannabes align and for a solid week, the pitching is amazing.This last week, the Cards had the best stretch of pitching by any team in the last few years. Probably. Even with the hitting wallowing in O-fer swamp, the pitching's greatness saved the day.
Game 38 vs. Mil., L 4-8: Before the good starts began, the team needed to swallow that last bit of spinach before they could begin their dessert. Kyle Lohse let up four runs in four innings. Then some more runs were let up. Skip Schumaker hit a home run like a champ. This marked the last game of this series with Milwaukee, a team that took a three game lead in the Division. All looked bleak for our heroes, until …
Game 39 vs. Chi., W 3-0: Joel Pineiro threw a gem, jewel, crown, and miter of a game shutting out the Cubs. Once again, if I haven't reiterated this enough, he is essentially throwing one pitch. He is locating that pitch left, right, up, down, under the cover of night, and in as a forest for the trees. He's not what one would call "good," but he has an effective plan involving sinkers and soul patches.
Game 40 vs. Chi., W 2-1: Listen, people can make fun of Chris Carpenter for having the physical health of an 84-year-old coal miner, but when he's healthy, he's like a kicking 24-year-old coal miner. During his most recent physical rehab stint, Carpenter decided to kick his chewing tobacco habit. Upon his return, he was chewing gum and kicking butt. Eat your heart out, Mr. Roddy Piper. He didn't need much offense, which was fortunate because Chris Duncan and Mopey Khalil Greene were the only two hitters who obliged with an RBI.
Game 41 vs. Chi., W 3-1: Wainwright isn't kicking a tobacco habit (whether he has one or not), so he out did Obi Wan Carpenter by allowing only one run in 8 2/3 innings. Lord Pujols went daisy and he willed Brian Barden to do the same. Little known fact: the Cubs travel on a tear-powered bus (bought after the 2003 season). It went from St. Louis to Chicago in 20 minutes.
Game 42 vs. KC., W 5-0: Here's where we Cardinals fans started thinking: "Well that was fun, but we got Wellemeyer next and he hasn't been his quietly impressive self." However, the Colonel abided. Going six innings without allowing a run is far and away his best start of the season. Trevor Miller pitched serviceably and Jason Motte tossed some fireballs that couldn't be extinguished. With Ankiel and Ludwick playing pinochle on the DL, the Triple-A callups needed to step up and they have on occasion, including this game. Middle linebacker Nick Stavinoha hit a two-run single and Tyler "I'm the Greene that Hits" Greene knocked a solo homer.
Game 43 vs. KC., W 5-0: Kyle Lohse looked like the 2008 version of himself by pitching eight innings of shutout ball. He would have attempted to pitch the complete game, but his throwing arm was hit by a pitch in the eighth. Anytime Lohse gets hit by a pitch he turns into the Hulk, and the Hulk has terrible control over his splitter, so Tony LaRussa brought in Chris Perez to complete the shutout. New guys Stavinoha and Colby Rasmus contributed RBIs to the effort once again.
Game 44 vs. KC., L 2-3: Okay, here's where the lack of offense started biting the team in the butt. Pineiro did what he always does. This time, he allowed only three runs in seven innings. This wasn't his best outing obviously, but not insurmountable by any means. The Cards only managed two RBI and one of those was provided by Pineiro, so that's kind of sad because his career batting average is below .100, which has gotta be the pitcher's Mendoza Line. So the sweep of the Royals didn't occur, but at least Joe Posnanski and other Saber-centric writers could leave the game happy knowing Brian Bannister pitched well enough to stay in the Royals rotation.
Game 45 vs. Mil., L 1-0: Carpenter improved on his last pitching appearance by being nothing less than perfect for six innings, going eight innings total and striking out 10. How does that performance go unrewarded? It turns out the Cardinals' bats were replaced with the finest salamis in Milwaukee, which prevented them from hitting, because Dennys Reyes ate five bats. The Brewers fermented a run in the bottom of the 10th.
This is seriously one of those games that just takes the wind out of the sails, even if you just recently came off a five-game winning streak. If there is one aspect of this team that worries me the least, it is the hitting. Even though it is down at the moment, Lord Pujols will never forsake his team and his return can be counted on like the rising of the sun (which he also has a hand in)