Cards Start Key Stretch With A “W”

The Cardinals started a critical stretch of games last night — six with the Astros, plus three with the Cubs. Ideally, that means a whole handful off Cardinal winners! However, we all know games aren’t won on paper, or based on who should win. You have to execute.

Well, the Redbirds are off to a good start. And with a win last night, they earned a “Good, better, best” version of today’s recap!

So here we go.

Good

Jon Jay.

Well, really the offense in general seemed to have taken a good step back in the right direction. Yes, it was against the Astros who got that whole “100th loss” thing out of the way early. But hey — the Cardinals didn’t make the schedule, they just play it as it comes!

Last night, that schedule had the hot-or-cold offense taking on Fernando Abad. Led by Jon Jay, the team finally got some hits to fall.

Jay went 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBI, and Yadier “MVP” Molina added two hits, a run and a walk. Everyone’s favorite replacement-short stop, Pete Kozma, slapped an RBI triple and later scored in the two-run fifth inning. Kyle Lohse even drove in a run, helping his own winning-cause.

Interestingly enough, according to Bernie Miklasz, Jay’s home vs. road splits are interesting. Dare I say, the stats are as interesting as the same comparison for Jaime Garcia?

Cardinals CF Jon Jay had two hits Tuesday in the team’s 4-1 win over Houston. In 229 plate appearances at Busch Stadium this season, Jay is batting .390 with a .464 OBP and .503 SLG, with 15 extra-base hits and 23 RBIs.

If Jay maintains that BA over the nine remaining home games, he’ll finish with the best single-season batting average by a Cardinal at Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006. Albert Pujols set the standard with a .380 home BA in 2008.

Also worth noting — Matt Holliday worked a 10-pitch at bat in the sixth inning. Why is that significant?

Patience. These Redbirds (and Holliday in particular) find their greatest success when they battle, and when they know to be patient. All too often they strike out on garbage pitches in the dirt because they can’t seem to work the at bat to at least up the pitch count! Matty Ho had none of that in the sixth last night. And it made me quite happy.

Better

Kyle Lohse.

You know how they say fine wine gets better with age? Kyle Lohse’s Cardinal career seems to be working the same way. He once again turned in a Cy Young-esque performance, finishing with 7 IP4 H/0 ER/2 BB/5 Ks and his 15th win. That ties his single-season wins record, set in his first year with the club.

Not. Too. Shabby.

Luckily, this time the bullpen did its job, (despite having to work out of a Mitchell Boggs jam in the eighth) and Jason Motte earned his 36th save of the season.

But again, how huge has K-Lo been this year?!

Best

Time to break out the rocket science: A Cardinal winner means no lost ground in the playoff race!

Mind blowing, right?

After the doom and gloom over the weekend, good news in the Wild Card race is great news for Cardinal Nation. With the Dodgers-Nationals game rained out and rescheduled as a doubleheader today. That means the Cardinals currently sit 1.5 games up on LA in the NL Wild Card race.

If the postseason season started today, the Cards would be in. And that is the best part of all.

In other news, Matt Holliday accepted a special nomination before last night’s game. The left fielder is the Cardinal nominee for the Roberto Clemente award — an award given to the player who best represents MLB through off-the-field contributions to the communities around them. According to the press release, the Hollidays’ have been mighty busy since moving to the area.

 Since permanently moving his family to St. Louis, Matt Holliday has made positive contributions to the community both on and off the field. He and his wife Leslee have spent the last four years raising money, making personal donations and providing wishes to children through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, oftentimes privately hosting and escorting kids through the clubhouse. This season, Holliday and teammate David Freese teamed up for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital’s “Homers for Health” to help fund ongoing research and hospital programs that benefit children. Holliday also helped raise $250,000 through the Matt Holliday Celebrity Golf Tournament in support of the Pujols Family Foundation. Each dollar raised goes directly towards the treatment and care for individuals with Down Syndrome and funds programs to aid children in the Dominican Republic. In addition, Holliday serves as the Cardinals Kids Club spokesman, raises money for the team’s charitable foundation Cardinals Care, and makes unannounced visits to local children’s hospitals to surprise kids who need a smile.

You can place your vote for Holliday and see the full list of nominees HERE.

Today, the Cardinals look to seal the series win behind Lance Lynn in his second start since returning to the rotation.

Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.

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