Before yesterday’s game the Pirates were 4-2 since the All-Star break, 10-5 in July, hadn’t lost a series since they were swept by the Indians June 17-19 and were tied with the Brewers for first in the NL Central. Anticipation was high with the Cardinals coming to town — PNC Park sold out for the entire series.
And then the games were played. Here’s a nice description of how the weekend has gone so far:
A day after hitting three homers in a 15-hit barrage, St. Louis won its third straight by collecting 12 hits in assuring itself a win in what many in Pittsburgh were calling the biggest series in PNC Park’s 11-year history.
Surprising Pittsburgh, without a winning season since 1992 but in first place for four of the seven days leading up to this series, lost its third consecutive game. The Pirates dropped into third place behind the Milwaukee Brewers and Cardinals in the National League Central.
For the second straight day, Pittsburgh bombed in front of a sellout crowd in a performance that had to remind the 39,102 of many of the previous 85 games between the teams at this ballpark — the Cardinals are now 56-30 here.
Oh, hello there, Pirates. Remember the Cardinals? Thanks to the Giants beating the Brewers late last night, they’ve now taken over that first-place-tie with Milwaukee you had on Friday.
Now, teams can certainly go through streaks — we know that better than anyone. But it’s certainly refreshing to see this kind of offense from the Cardinals once again with 15 runs and 27 hits in two games. Especially against the Pirates pitching, which has been their strength.
On Saturday, the Cards — looking sharp in their Negro League St. Louis Stars uniforms — took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Matt Holliday led off with a double, which was followed by a walk to Lance Berkman. David Freese hit a long fly very deep to right center for an out that advanced Holliday to third, and he scored on a single by Yadier Molina. Another single by Daniel Descalso scored LB.
During the fifth, the Cardinals built up their lead by scoring five more runs on five hits. And, for once, Albert didn’t have a big homer — instead, it was LB blasting his NL-leading 27th right into the A of the PIRATES shrubbery in center field. Albert did have an RBI single that inning, so he definitely contributed. And Yadi hit his second homer in two nights for the fifth run of the inning.
The Cards added on even more in the ninth, when three walks plus a double by Freese and RBI-ground out by Gerald Laird made the score 9-1. How big was the lead? Jason Motte, who pitched in the eighth inning, made the final out. Always a good sign when relievers bat!
Jaime Garcia went 7 1/3 innings, allowing the Pirates run on eight hits. He earned his 10th win and lowered his ERA to 3.01. After Motte’s 2/3 of an inning, P.J. Walters was the odd choice to pitch the bottom of the ninth. Not that there’s anything wrong with P.J.’s pitching — he retired the side in order — it just seemed a strange spot to use a guy who’s typically a long reliever, and especially when it’s unknown how Kyle Lohse will fare today given the finger inflammation he’s dealt with this week.
After mentioning yesterday that no Cards pitcher had yet hit into a double play, Jaime had to change that. But, only one GIDP for the night! And, defensively, the Cardinals turned three of them. So much better to turn than to hit them.
One guy who had a great night was Daniel Descalso, playing shortstop in his seventh game this season. He had several good defensive plays, including this terrific stop from the grass past short and a leaping throw that ended the game. Plus he had two hits, including the previously mentioned RBI-single.
(Miranda is wondering if there’s something to his playing shortstop instead of Ryan Theriot, kind of like Jon Jay playing center instead of Colby since Jay is producing and Colby is not. We shall see … Although what’s with a charter member of the Ryan Theriot Fan Club acting that way?)
The Cardinals go for the sweep this afternoon, with Kyle Lohse and that middle finger getting the start. Charlie Morton goes for the Pirates. Here’s hoping for a sweep, and another victory from our “friends” the Giants.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email email@example.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.