It’s been a curious season for Peter Bourjos, hasn’t it?
He entered spring training and began the year as the Cardinals starting centerfielder, which was all part of the plan when he was acquired from the Angels. But he struggled at the plate to begin the season, lost his starting job to Jon Jay and Randal Grichuk, and then subsequently was somehow supposed to break out of his offensive slump by pinch-hitting every few days.
When I read yesterday morning in Daniel’s post at C70 At The Bat that Bourjos was four for 10 against Aaron Harang — and with three of those hits being a double, triple and homer — I was hopeful he would actually start again for the first time since April 26. Just seemed to make sense, despite the lack of playing time Mike Matheny had been giving him. Plus Matheny had remembered Sunday night that Pete has a glove, inserting him as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning.
Yesterday afternoon, I read this from Joe Sheehan and found myself nodding my head throughout the entire piece — especially the section on Bourjos. While it didn’t make me feel any better about the way Matheny has been managing the 2014 Cardinals so far, it certainly helped me realize just how crazy his use of Bourjos (and Kolten Wong) has been … just in case I needed further clarification.
Then came the game in Atlanta.
And, from the Bourjos perspective, it was gorgeous.
(Sorry, some words just naturally go together.)
Peter Bourjos was two for four, with his first hit being a half-swing that still got the job done. He scored a run. He drove in a run. He increased his batting average 25 points. (Yes, it’s still just .179 — but progress is progress.) He made some nice catches in center.
Isn’t it amazing what actually getting to play an entire game will do?
In addition, all of Bourjos’ contributions at the plate were very much needed. The Cardinals built up a 4-0 lead off Harang before the Braves made it 4-3 — Shelby Miller gave up a lead-off walk followed by two singles before leaving the game, one of those runners subsequently scored on a sacrifice fly and Kevin Siegrist gave up a homer in the seventh. And Trevor Rosenthal is continuing his bend-but-don’t-break save strategy, as he gave up a lead-off single and a two-out sure-seemed-to-be-intentional-even-though-it-wasn’t walk to Jason Heyward before catching Justin Upton looking on a 98-mph fastball. That was a winner — and the seventh straight loss for the Braves.
Did Bourjos do enough to get another start tonight? Difficult to know, given the way Matheny has created lineups lately in addition to the fact Pete has not faced tonight’s starter Gavin Floyd before (which seems surprising, given Floyd’s many years with the White Sox).
Still, it was good to see Gorgeous Bourjos and those high socks actually in the game and making a difference. For now, we can all be pleased with that at least.
Facing off against Floyd tonight will be Tyler Lyons, back in the starting rotations after his two recent relief outings. Game time is again 6:10 p.m. Central.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email email@example.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don’t already.