MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 04: Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals is congratulated by Albert Pujols #5 after hitting a three run run home run during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on August 4, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Last Series vs.: May 27-29, 2011 (W 2-1 at Coors Field)
The Cardinals rolled into Denver having won 8 out of 10 to catapult themselves to the top of the NL Central. The Rockies didn't do anything to get in the way of the Big Redbird Machine in the opening game of the series, as the Cards cruised to a 10-3 victory behind an offense that collected 19 hits and had seven batters with at least two hits in the game. Colby Rasmus, who was traded away before the deadline, led the charge with four hits - including two triples - while four other St. Louis hitters had extra base hits as the Cardinals roughed up Ubaldo Jimenez for six runs on 12 hits.
The Rockies ensured the Cardinals' run came to a loud, screeching halt in the second game as they destroyed Jaime Garcia, giving him his first loss of the season - on national television, no less - as he allowed 12 runs on 11 hits and four walks in 3.1 innings, despite striking out six batters. Juan Nicasio picked up the win for the Rox in his big league debut, as he tossed seven innings of one run ball. Chris Iannetta homered twice for Colorado, and five other Rockies picked up at least two hits in the 15-4 victory.
St. Louis wouldn't be held down for long, as they bounced back to pick up the Sunday victory (of course they did) in the series finale by a score of 4-3. Kyle Lohse got the W by going six innings and allowing just two runs on six hits while collecting six punchouts. Jim Tracy's failure to play the best players on getaway day was not responsible for this loss, as he went with the same lineup that pounded out 15 runs and 18 hits the night before. Rasmus and Jon Jay each homered for St. Louis, while Albert Pujols (0-for-4, K) concluded a poor series - by his standards, at least - in which he went just 2-for-11 with a couple of strikeouts. The Cardinals also didn't have the benefit of a healthy Matt Holliday, who saw just two pinch-hit appearances in the series (0-for-1 with an intentional walk).
Latest Series Results: L 1-2 vs. Milwaukee; W 4-0 at Florida
Despite having four hits in yesterday's series finale against the Brewers, Albert Pujols has been unbelievably human this year (.284/.348/.539). Still, that's good for a 144 wRC+, which is better than any Rockies regular but only ranks third on his own team. Matt Holliday (175 wRC+) has been in beast mode all season, despite dealing with multiple minor injuries. That wasn't really unexpected, though, as Holliday has been one of the NL's top offensive performers for over half a decade. The team's difference maker - the reason they've been able to stay in the thick of things despite losing Adam Wainwright for the season - is a 35-year-old slowpitch softball player who has made headlines all over the world for his seamless transition to the big leagues.
#12 / Right Field / St. Louis Cardinals
Feb 10, 1976
|2011 - Lance Berkman||.293||.400||.588|
Lance Berkman spent over a decade reliving the glory of his high school baseball days by dominating slowpitch softball leagues all over the Houston area. In a bold move last season, the New York Yankees poached him from a Sunday afternoon beer league game in July and signed him to a free-agent contract. Berkman's first shot at professional baseball didn't go so well (although, presumably from his softball days, he had a keen eye for the strike zone) as he compiled just a .707 OPS - about 3,000 points lower than his career total in Houston softball leagues. However, after a few big hits in the postseason, the St. Louis ballclub offered him a contract, and the rest is history. Berkman is tied (with teammate Pujols) for the National League lead in homers with 28 and also leads the league in slugging percentage. He occasionally has to be reminded that he can't drink Busch Light out in right field between pitches, but other than that he has been a blessing for the Cardinals.
They also picked up a couple of position players at the deadline - Rafael Furcal from the Dodgers and Corey Patterson from the Blue Jays - presumably to help them down the stretch but who really knows.
On the hill, the Cardinals haven't been quite as good this season as they had been in recent years, partially due to the aforementioned absence of Wainwright as well as a bit of regression on the part of Chris Carpenter, though his 3.41 xFIP and sub-3 BB/9 rate are nothing to scoff at. The staff's best pitcher is Jaime Garcia, who has followed-up and excellent rookie campaign with a very nice sophomore season. Garcia boasts a 54% groundball rate to support his 3.18 xFIP and 3.29 K/BB ratio, which is best among the rotation. Kyle Lohse has filled in nicely once again, as he doesn't strike out many guys but doesn't walk anybody either. His xFIP suggests he's getting a little lucky, but he's doing what a back-end guy is supposed to do so there's no problem there. Edwin Jackson is the newest member of the starting five, as he was picked up in the Colby Rasmus trade and is 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA in three starts with the Cards.
St. Louis made an attempt to bolster their bullpen at the deadline, as they acquired Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski from Toronto (also in the Rasmus deal) and just picked up Arthur Rhodes yesterday.
Ugly pitching matchups and more after the jump...
Friday through Sunday: 3-game series at Busch Stadium
Expected Pitching Matchups
Friday, August 12, 2011 @ 6:15 PM MT
|2011 - Aaron Cook||2-6||15||11||0||0||0||0||62.1||77||36||35||4||25||23||5.05||1.64|
|2011 - Kyle Lohse||9-7||27||22||1||1||0||0||140.2||130||60||54||12||30||72||3.45||1.14|
Saturday, August 6, 2011 @ 5:15 PM MT
|2011 - Jason Hammel||6-11||23||23||0||0||0||0||136.2||149||87||78||17||57||75||5.14||1.51|
|2011 - Jaime Garcia||10-5||24||24||2||2||0||0||147.2||153||71||53||10||38||125||3.23||1.29|
Sunday, August 14, 2011 @ 6:00 PM MT (ESPN Sunday Night Baseball)
|2011 - Esmil Rogers||6-1||12||6||0||0||0||0||40.0||49||26||26||4||20||32||5.85||1.73|
|2011 - Edwin Jackson||1-1||3||3||0||0||0||0||20.0||27||14||11||5||5||12||4.95||1.60|
|2011 - Fernando Salas||5-4||49||0||0||0||22||3||56.1||37||14||14||5||14||58||2.24||.91|
St. Louis Cardinals Injuries