Kyle Lohse Finally Has A Bad Night

At some point, Kyle Lohse was going to have a bad game. He did last night, and it led to the Cardinals losing to the Marlins 6-5.

His night didn’t start out that way, as he pitched extremely well for two innings — throwing only 17 pitches, with 15 of them strikes, and extending his scoreless-innings streak to 22. He even had a two-run lead, as Lance Berkman and Yadi had back-to-back RBI singles in the first. Then came the third inning.

Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad singled, then Lohse uncharacteristically walked both Chris Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez. In came Gaby Sanchez, and out went the ball thrown by Lohse. Ouch. The next batter, Mike Stanton, then singled and the ball hit Lohse in the shin. Double ouch. K-Lo stayed in the game.

(As an aside, has anyone else noticed that it says “K-Lo” on his glove? Not being a fan of nicknames like that, it seems kind of silly.)

But, never fear — LB to the rescue! In the bottom of the third, with Colby Rasmus and Matt Holliday on base, LB did what he does: launched a homer into the Cards bullpen to put the Cards back on top 5-4. He was just named National League Player of the Week for the second time yesterday afternoon, then just goes out and drives in four of the Cards five runs. Seriously, have we ever mentioned how much we love this guy? Yet today, anyway?

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How Do We Love Thee, Lance?

Yes, LB, we adore you. (Photo by Linda S)

Lance Berkman, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.

We love thee to the depth and breadth and height

Our souls can reach, for all that you are and all that you do.

For the home runs that you hit, for the way you dash around the bases,

For your ever-present smile that makes us melt and sigh.

For the catches you make … and even the ones you look foolish in trying to complete

Because we love the effort.

We love your leadership, your spark, your energy, your commercial with Waino.

We love thee freely, not afraid to tweet our joy and debate whether you saunter or strut.

We love thee purely, because we know you’re a devoted husband and father.

We love that the LB Fan Club has taken off.

We love thee … period.

We might not love thee better after death, but we definitely love thee better now than we ever could have imagined when you were an Astro.

 

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Sailing Along For Seven, And Then …

Kyle Lohse got win No. 4, but it should have been easier. (Photo by Erika Lynn, Cardinal Diamond Diaries)

Thankfully, that was a winner.

The Cardinals prevailed over the Astros, winning 6-5 in a game that ended up being way too tense. All’s well that ends well? Something like that.

Once again, Kyle Lohse had a terrific game. He pitched seven scoreless innings — he now has a streak of 19 1/3 scoreless innings, which is the second-longest in the majors this season according to Derrick Goold — and allowed four hits while striking out two and walking one. It seemed a little puzzling he left after throwing only 97 pitches, although he did have a 6-0 lead. Turns out he was sick.

“It is one of those head colds where the adrenaline kicks in and you feel good enough,” Lohse said. “I think now is when I’m starting to feel it a little more, when you kind of let down — glad to get it together enough to go out there and put a pretty decent performance together.”

Of course, it’s only in hindsight that we wish he’d stayed in longer — once the bullpen adventures began.

Ryan Franklin started the bottom of the eighth. Seemed like a decent idea to me, as a 6-0 lead appeared to be a good cushion. Maybe he could pitch well, gain a little confidence. Of course, all nine players on the field have to do their jobs for things to go well. The first batter Franklin faced, Joe Inglett, hit a fly ball to left-center. Matt Holliday ran toward it … and totally missed it. And then pinch-hitter Jason Bourgeois singled to center, but wound up on second base on the throw back in. OK, Franky, maybe you’ll get ’em next time … whenever that may be.

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A Big Day For Cardinals Birthdays

Happy birthday!

Happy 36th birthday to Chris Carpenter!

It’s his birthday, but we’re getting the gift — any day that calls for using this great picture Linda took during spring training is definitely a nice present!

From time to time, I write birthday profiles for Baseball Digest — a spotlight on one particular MLB player, past or present, who was born on that day, plus a brief look at some others born on the same day. And, given my feelings for CC, of course I volunteered to write for today. What I didn’t realize, however, is which other Cardinals had been born on this day many, many years earlier.

Born on April 27, 1896? The Rajah, Rogers Hornsby.

Born on April 27, 1916? Enos “Country” Slaughter.

And, of course, born on April 27, 1975? Christopher John Carpenter.

Two Hall of Famers, one Cy Young winner who’s had a huge impact going into his eighth season on the team. That’s a lot of talent born on this particular day.

Read more about all three — and why we Cardinals fans are eternally grateful to Alyson Carpenter — in my article for Baseball Digest here.


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.

Yadi, Yadi, Yadi!

Photo courtesy of Erika Lynn, Cardinal Diamond Diaries

Yadier Molina is not a big home run hitter — he only has 42 total in his career now, and his season high was eight in 2005. Yet his homers tend to be memorable.

No Cardinal fan will ever forget how he silenced the Shea Stadium crowd in game seven of the 2006 NLCS. (Neither will Mets fans — he’s still booed when the Cards play in New York.) Last season in Cincinnati, during the brawl game on Aug. 10, he hit one in his first at-bat to provide his own statement on the proceedings.

And so it was last night that Yadi was once again the hero of the night with a memorable home run, this time a three-run shot in the sixth inning that provided the only scoring of the game. Earlier in the game, he threw out Jonny Gomes when he attempted to steal second. (It’s nice that teams never seem to learn you don’t run on Yadi.)

Jake Westbrook bounced back from his bad outing on Wednesday to have his best, coming on only three days’ rest. Matthew Leach of Cardinals.com provides the details:

The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, and made it through six with no runs on three hits. He struck out four and walked three, one of them intentional, in lowering his ERA from 9.82 to 7.40.

“I think the first three or four ballgames, I found myself kind of not having a purpose with any pitch, just kind of throwing it up there,” Westbrook said. “Slinging it up there and hoping something good happens, instead of telling myself to have a focus and a purpose for each pitch. I really concentrated on doing that tonight, and felt like I was more locked in and focused on what I needed to be doing. And it helped me out a lot.”

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Could That Eighth Inning Have Been Any Uglier?

Happy Easter, Reds! Enjoy the nice gift of yesterday’s 5-3 win that the Cardinals gave you, thanks to an ugly eighth inning.

Can we blame the rain? Can we blame The Poet, Miguel Batista, who is becoming a human rain delay? Can we blame Brandon Phillips?

Actually, there was plenty of blame to go around for the loss (Phillips is actually blameless in this one), and it all came after the 42-minute rain delay before the start of that pivotal inning. Truthfully, the Cardinals didn’t have much margin for error. They only had a 3-2 lead at the time, although that did put Chris Carpenter in line for his first win of the year. And as our pal Lance Berkman said, “We were living on the edge because we kept giving them chances and they came through.”

So how ugly was the eighth inning? Let’s count the ways.

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Hats Off, TLR. Brilliant Strategery.

Score one for Tony La Russa.

As so aptly put by 2xAught7 in his tweet, it was brilliant strategery by TLR to have Miguel Batista start the game last night, with bad weather imminent in downtown St. Louis. And reading this quote from Dusty Baker backs that up all the more: “The information we received was probably not the same information they received.”

Well, Dusty, there’s this thing called the Internet, and you can look up this thing called the radar, and it shows you what weather is approaching …

In contrast, look at this — praise for TLR’s move from Brandon Phillips?

“I’m going to give the Cardinals two thumbs up for what they did,” the Reds’ Brandon Phillips said. “They changed their pitcher on us at the last minute, that was a very smart thing to do.

“The next thing you know they brought in their starter who was going to start the game, and he was fresh.”

The Reds didn’t do that, of course. Edinson Volquez warmed up before the game began at 7:15 p.m. and was thus unavailable after the two-plus hour rain/storm delay. Even though he never set foot on the field, he’s listed in the box score as the Reds starter. Just like The Poet is listed as the Cardinals starter.

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Reds Vs. Cardinals: 2011 Edition

 

NOTE: Here we go … the Reds are in town. Miranda and I both take a look at this rivalry, with her thoughts up first.

This weekend marks the beginning of the 2011 edition of the rivalry of the Reds and the Cardinals.

Last season, the rivalry really heated up as Brandon Phillips and Yadier Molina got in each other’s faces when Phillips attempted to be friendly with the catcher after some name-calling prior to the start of the series in August. The words lead to a brawl before the first pitch of his at-bat. Punches were thrown and pitcher Johnny Cueto was seen kicking players off of him. Cueto kicked Chris Carpenter to the point where he really didn’t pitch well the rest of the season and, well, Jason LaRue is now retired due to the concussions received from the kicks.

The rivalry didn’t calm in the off season and could have boiled over after an apparent misunderstanding by Reds writer Hal McCoy. McCoy reported that Jonny Gomes was saying “Wainwright’s gone, Wainwright’s gone” — in a down right jubilant, sing-song manner. Later, Gomes said that he didn’t mean it and he respects Wainwright.

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The Bullpen, Booing And, Hey, First Place

Cards 5, Nationals 3

Take a look at the NL Central standings this morning — the Cardinals are in first place! Why, yes, it’s a four-way first place tie with the Brewers, Cubs and Reds, everyone is 9-9 and it’s April 21. But it’s the first time for first place this year, so let’s enjoy the moment … and now move along.

The Cardinals reached first by splitting yesterday’s doubleheader, losing 8 to 5 in the afternoon and winning 5 to 3 in the evening. After being shut down by Chad Billingsley on Sunday, the offense bounced back yesterday — especially nice to see in game one, since they were down 7-0 in the top of the third inning. The top three in the order went 8 for 14 with 6 RBI (yes, including one from Ryan Theriot) and homers from Colby and Albert. In the second game, Lance Berkman was 3 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI, and Nick Punto had his first Cardinals hit and RBI. (Yay, new scrappiness! And yay, LB Fan Club!)

But the story of both games was pitching. Jake Westbrook had another bad outing, as the Nationals took that 7-0 lead in his three innings of work. That meant six bullpen innings in game one, plus four more in game two since Jaime Garcia exited after throwing 101 pitches in five innings.

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It Was A Dark And Stormy Night …

Thunderstorms that rolled through St. Louis around game time last night postponed the Nationals-Cardinals game and moved it until today. Let’s play two!

Oops, wait, wrong team.

Although Ernie Banks’ Cubs will be playing a doubleheader today in Chicago, just like the Nats and Cards will in St. Louis. And let’s hope the silliness that caused the spring training fight club is a thing of the past. With Nyjer Morgan traded to the Brewers, maybe that will be the case.

Morgan was expendable because of the spring training play of our old friend Rick Ankiel, who signed with the Nationals in the off-season and is now their regular centerfielder. This is the first time back at Busch Stadium for Rick, so no doubt a warm welcome is expected. (Or as warm as it can be on a chilly day.)

As an aside, during the Fox Sports Midwest pre-game show last night, a clip was shown of the homer he hit during his first major league game as an outfielder in August 2007. Seeing that still gives me goosebumps. Seriously, what a moment! (And I think that was the most excited I’ve ever seen Tony La Russa too — even more than at the end of game five of the ’06 World Series.) Ah, well, not that I wish Rick was still a Cardinal. I remember how he hit in 2009. But, like most Cards fans, I will always have a soft spot for him and many recollections of his ups and downs.

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