Our Cardinal Hitters are Jammin' - and not in a good wayWell, the Cards had to lose a series eventually, but as I mentioned in the inaugural journal entry, I do have the power to jinx our boys. We did raise Tiny Tim Lincecum's ERA as I had hoped - all the way up to 1.00! Ok, so not as much as I was hoping.
But as evidenced by tonights game, any opposing pitcher has the power to instantly morph into Walter Johnson against our lineup. I can't remember the last time the team has struck out this often. Even Albert Pujols doens't seem immune. His average sits at just .275 and he seems to picking the worst pitches in each at bat to swing at - which is the dreaded "Todd Zeile" disease I remember from bad childhood Cardinal teams.
We've been simply, un-Cardinal-like this year - in all facets of the game. Our starting pitching has been much better than what is typical for us. Our bullpen has been worse then what we're used to. Our team batting average and team strikeout totals are "hide-your-eyes" bad. And we manage to make an error or brain-fart play or two every game. Just not sharp. Yadier Molina threw to third base tonight with the bases loaded for an attempted pickoff and luckily hit Edgar Renteria in the keister. If that ball gets away, it's another two runs in, not that that it mattered in the long run.
On a lighter note, my birthday came early this weekend as my mother bought a remote control helicopter for my - wait for it - five-year-old son. Well, I'll be happy to do "demonstrations" for him and my other kids whenever they want - or when they are asleep. Let's proceed to...
The Hard Nine
- Ex-Cards - It's been interesting tracking some favorite ex-Cardinals this year. I like Mark DeRosa - he took two seperate Adam Wainwright sliders to the body and was pretty classy about it, all things considered. He made an amazing play at second base, ranging to the other side of the bag and throwing back across his body to nearly nip the runner. I suppose Mozeliak saved some bucks converting DeRosa into Lopez but part of me misses Mark's "intangibles". (See - I was willing to put that word in parens.) Ankiel has been world's better this year in the pressure-cooker that is Kansas City. Still has massive holes in his swing, but I want to see him stick as a major leaguer. I'm glad Todd Wellemeyer is stll throwing BP. He literally should have won 15 games in 2008. He gave up just 178 hits in 192 innings. That ratio is almost ace-like. Guess he sold his soul for only one good season of his career.
- Jammed Bats - Everyone in Cardinal Nation is so relieved that McGwire's presence has not been a distraction that I wonder if anyone has stopped to ask if he's actually doing the job effectively? Our offense was very inconsistent last year and its only gotten worse in 2010. In fact, in tonight's game, it seems like many hitters are not only uncomfortable at the plate, but jamming themselves when they swing. I can see one guy doing this, but a whole team? And what is the point of being able to hit the outside pitches, when you never swing at them??? Molina is the only righty willing to hit to the opposite field, and I'm still convinced that's usually an accident when he does. Everyone looks pull-happy, including Albert. And if this slump is not McGwire's "fault", I sure wonder what he's doing to get them out of this funk. But I pity our starters right now: "Have fun tonight, try your best, by the way we need a shutout. Thanks!!"
- Allen Craig .059 - Is anyone else astonished that Memphis' hottest batter last year - our organization's Player of the Year - has been the Invisible Man so far? But in reality, I shouldn't be. AAA IS that different from the majors. And I'm sure I could find 10 Minor League Players of the Year that never hit .250 in the Big Show. Joe Thurston, where have you gone? Oh, right - no where.
- Wainwright's Hammer replaced with a Shot put - Adam was very effective tonight, but for some reason (and maybe it was the camera angle, but I don't think so) he seemed to be pushing his pitches to the plate. His arm slot seemed totally different and his pitch speed seemed to confirm it. He "blew" a 92 MPH fastball past the Giant's Bowker late in the game - a four-seamer that Adam usually cranks at 95.
- Zito hits 95! Driving home in the Bay Area after blanking the Cards tonight. But seriously, that's what his 85 MPH heater looked like tonight - he has become a master of changing speed. I think that's called "pitching"? Amazing stuff. Reminded me of Trevor Hoffman. A pitcher has to find a game plan that works for him, believe in it, and execute it. Good things will happen.
- In a related story, Zito was seen paying the home plate ump an unknown amount of cash prior to the game. The umps were rough to our Birds on the Bat all night. On a close play at 1st late in the game, the Giant runner should have been called out and was not. This would later lead to an extra run, doubling our deficit. And any pitch near the strikezone was called a strike on us - I guess the boys had no choice but to flail at any Frisbee Zito tossed up there.
- When the bats warm up, look out - I'm guessing we're going to be squeezing runs from a stone through mid-May, but after that, the bats will heat up and I think we may see a 20 win June. Wouldn't suprise me at all.
- Cubs Setup Man - is now Carlos Zambrano? Cardinal fans, we need to thank the Cubs every day for always giving us something to smile about no matter how bad our lives are.
- Rays - my new favorite AL team is Tampa Bay. They play the game the right way and our adopted Cardinal Fan Joe Maddon has much to do with that. If I get fired anytime soon, I'll start watching them as well.