Cardinals Learn Firsthand That Stephen Strasburg Is Good

Today’s game was an odd one.

It began with the lineup.

Yes, of course, on paper a pitching match-up of Jake Westbrook (who’d given up five and seven earned runs in his last starts) against Stephen Strasburg — you know, STEPHEN STRASBURG, the Nationals star who both Dan McLaughlin and Ricky Horton have raging man-crushes on since they couldn’t ever shut up about him unless they were gushing over Bryce Harper … I mean 19-YEAR-OLD BRYCE HARPER — seemed to favor Washington.

So Mike Matheny decided the best way to combat this was by having Bryan Anderson catch and bat sixth and Pete Kozma play shortstop and hit seventh.

Creative, right? Or something.

Surprisingly, perhaps, Westbrook did a fairly decent job.

Yes, of course, he made a mistake on a pitch to Kurt Suzuki in the fourth that gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. And in the sixth he gave up three straight singles, the third to Suzuki to drive in the Nats second run. But, overall, not terrible. (No, terrible pitching would come a little later.) And I’m not sure anything he did was mentioned on Fox Midwest except when STRASBURG got him out. I could be wrong, though. I was liberally using the mute button on my remote today.

The creative Cardinals lineup also led to some other odd creative poor decisions. Such as in the fourth inning. Allen Craig was safe at first on an error by Ryan Zimmerman, who’s having a little trouble throwing the ball lately. (I lost count of the number of tweets about him that mentioned the word “yips” after a while.) A walk to David Freese and a wild pitch — yes, by STRASBURG, can you believe it?? — gave the Cards two runners in scoring position with only one out. So, when Anderson hit a fly ball not very deep to right, Craig took off once HARPER caught the ball. Which, given Craig’s speed and the fact the ball wasn’t very deep, meant an out. Not that it was presented that way in the 1,593 replays shown on television. No, it was all BRYCE HARPER, WHO’S ONLY 19.

Once STRASBURG left the game after six innings — allowing only two hits to the Cards and striking out nine and, honestly, looking impressive — things improved. Because, you know, Sean Burnett is not STEPHEN STRASBURG. Which meant that somehow Pete Kozma got a base hit. And then Daniel Descalso, high socks and all, hit a home run to tie the game.

With the game now tied, how does Mike Matheny handle the pitching situation? (Edward Mujica relieved Westbrook after the three hits in the sixth and, of course, did what he always has done as a Cardinal.) By bringing in Lance Lynn, our Wolf Pup who we adore but absolutely did not want to see in this situation. Because the score was tied in a game THE CARDINALS NEEDED TO WIN and Wolfie has struggled in the first innings he’s pitched.

And it went just like everyone except Mike Matheny figured it would.

 

Final score: 4-2.

Record for road trip: 4-6.

On the plus side, the Cardinals lead for the second wild card spot is one game over the Dodgers, 1 1/2 over the Pirates (who were swept by the Brewers).

And other good news:

 

Also being promoted: Adron Chambers, Ryan Jackson and Victor Marte.

Tomorrow the Cardinals are back home at Busch Stadium to take on the Mets starting at 1:15 p.m. Baby Giraffe Joe Kelly starts against Collin McHugh. And hopefully all the broadcasting man-crushes on opponents are over for now. Although R.A. Dickey is pitching this series …


Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

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