First: a win! Hurray! When two struggling teams on losing streaks meet up, something has to give. Thankfully, the Cardinals found just enough offense plus had good pitching to come up with a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers.
Second, and speaking of pitching: Lance Lynn! Hurray again! All the doubters and naysayers who didn’t have faith in him making a start again — guess he showed everyone. (Although, really, none of us were very confident if we were honest with ourselves, right?)
The Cardinals have now won two games this week, Sunday and Thursday, and Lynn is the winning pitcher in both. Not that we didn’t all sweat it out last night — but Wolf Pup especially did. Literally. The game-time temperature was 80 degrees in Los Angeles, yet he was sweating like it was a 100 degree July afternoon in St. Louis with 95 percent humidity.
Plus his first inning on the mound didn’t help. Because it was the type of Lance Lynn first inning we’d gotten used to seeing. A single, walk and double — though with a nice double play turned by the Cards infield in the middle — led to one run. But just one run, and the only run of the game.
In the top of the second, the Cardinals tied it on three straight singles by Yadier Molina, new No. 6 hitter Carlos Beltran and Skip Schumaker.
Then Wolf Pup settled in, allowing just three more hits and one more walk through the next five innings. He struck out seven on the night during his six innings before turning things over to — what should we call them, The Three Amigos? Three Musketeers? — Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte. And only Motte allowed a hit, a two-out double to Hanley Ramirez before getting Shane Victorino to fly out to left to end the game and earn his 34th save.
Oh, and that was because the Cardinals — in the midst of leaving 11 runners on base for the night — did manage to string together a walk and two singles (by Shane Robinson, Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig) to take the lead in the top of the seventh and give Wolf Pup his second straight victory and 15th overall. Winning is good, but that lack of timely hitting — it’s certainly been a sign of the 2012 Cardinals, hasn’t it?
The defense definitely was much crisper last night than what we’ve had to watch lately. Matt Carpenter made several great stops, and Allen Craig several great catches on his throws. Then there was this play by Yadi throwing out Dee Gordon trying to steal second. I love that guys still try to steal on him. And, from Yadi’s reaction, he does too.
Also making a terrific play on defense: Carlos Beltran with an outfield assist to retire Josh Beckett on what seemed like a sure single to right field. “An embarrassing moment undoubtedly for Josh Beckett,” as Dan McLaughlin termed it. <Insert your own fried-chicken-and-beer joke here>
With the win, the Cardinals lead for the second wild card spot is now two games over the Dodgers, three over the Pirates, 3 1/2 over the Brewers and four over the Phillies. Seventeen games remain.
Tonight Southern California’s own Joe Kelly takes the mound at Dodgers Stadium against Chris Capuano, trying to give the Cardinals an actual winning streak. Game time is 9:10 p.m. Central Time.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.