Catching Up With The Cardinals: Happy Retirement, Jake Westbrook

Quick, who was the winning pitcher for the Cardinals in Game Six of the 2011 World Series?

Jake-WestbrookYes, it was Jake Westbrook.

And just like the other sometimes forgotten hero of that game, Westbrook too has now retired. He leaves with a 105-103 career record and 4.32 ERA, with his numbers during his four seasons as a Cardinal pretty similar: 36-32 with a 4.27 ERA.

Yet he did have some highlights as a Card.

Happy retirement, Jake!

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Cards Battle Back For Wild, Walk-Off Winner

Last night’s 14-inning marathon between division rivals was everything you hope for in baseball … and everything you hope you never see again. It was messy. It was complicated. There were more “What in the world?” moments than “That was awesome!” moments. There were misses, followed by extra chances.

Also, there was a final inning lineup that included Sam Freeman, Adron Chambers, Pete Kozma, Rob Johnson, and Daniel Descalso. So, yeah …

Cardinals beat writer Jenifer Langosch condensed it nicely:

The ace pitcher the Cardinals had pushed back to set the tone in a key division matchup sunk his club into a hole early. A routine catch not made gave St. Louis an extra breath late. The Pirates stalled rallies by moving an infielder to the outfield and later adding an outfielder to the infield. And a Cardinals middle reliever would twice find himself batting with the winning run 90 feet from home.

In all, the Cardinals used 20 of their 25 players, threw 227 pitches, stranded 17 on base and finished 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Roughly eight hours later, and the baseball world is still trying to make sense of it all.

Cards win in walk-off style, 5-4 over the Pirates in 14 innings!

Cards win in walk-off style, 4-3 over the Pirates in 14 innings!

One thing everyone can agree on — this win was big. Dare I say, huge. The Cardinals played with more heart, with more “never say die” intensity than we’ve seen this year. Dubbed the “Comeback Cardinals” the last two seasons, they seemed to have lost that edge. I guess winning so many games in the first half with relative ease buried the killer instinct a little deeper than anyone realized. But, if there was a time for it to return, it was last night. Continue reading

And The Cardinals Losing Ways Continue …

Another day, another loss — but also another year, another August slump.

sad_faceThe Cardinals 6-5 loss to the Cubs last night was absolutely disappointing. On the plus side, Matt Holliday continued his hot hitting with a three-run homer that gave the Cards a fourth inning lead and a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth to put them within one. Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran and Rob Johnson (yes!) also had two hits each, and David Freese had one.

Yet our old friend the GIDP showed up yet again — twice. Thank you, Mr. Freese and Daniel Descalso. Ugh.

And then there was the pitching. Michael Wacha was decent in his return to the majors, going five innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits. He struck out four but walked three and allowed a home run to Wellington Castillo. He did lower his ERA from 4.58 to 4.37 yet — just like Carlos Martinez on Thursday — threw a lot of pitches in a short amount of time.

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Hopefully, Cardinals, That Will Be The Only Star Wars Night

What’s that saying — it’s all fun and games until somebody takes a line drive off the elbow?

Westbrook 8-7

Yes, Jake, we felt the same way. (Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Yeah. That was Star Wars Night at Busch Stadium. Two pitches, a Carl Crawford liner, Shelby Miller out of the game.

Then there were the nine runs allowed by Jake Westbrook (including six during his first inning of relief), four allowed by Keith Butler and four RBI by Skip Schumaker as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 13-4.

But, hey, Rob Johnson pitched! Yes, the Cards backup catcher faced Dodgers relief pitcher Paco Rodriguez — and got a strikeout. (Not even our blog namesake ever got a K in his five career innings pitched.) It was the first time a Cardinal position player took the mound since Mr. Schumaker himself, back on Aug. 23, 2011, coincidentally against the Dodgers (and our namesake had a role in that game as well).

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Westbrook: “I’m going to be better.”

It wasn’t Westie’s night. Boo

Five runs on four hits and five walks in five innings.

It wasn’t the rest of the lineup’s night, either. At least not like it had been the previous two evenings.

Just four hits. Three runs. Six runners stranded. One-for-nine with runners in scoring position, and three left with two outs. No magic two-out RBI this time.

And the Pirates won, to boot.

No, it wasn’t the Cardinals’ night. But, they’re going to be better. Winning teams make adjustments. They take nights like last night and figure out how to avoid the same mistakes again. That’s the idea, anyway.

“I’m going to be better,” Westbrook said. “It’s just a matter of figuring it out and getting back into the swing of things and getting back to where I was earlier in the year, getting a lot of ground balls and limiting my walks and getting a lot deeper in the ballgame than I have been.”

You know the best part about this road trip? It’s almost over. One game left today, and it’s over. You know what else? There’s absolutely nothing the Cardinals can do about the last 10 games. The wins were big. They were loud. Yet, the losses were louder. Even so, just like a good pitcher has to have a short memory, so does an entire team. Continue reading

Finding Some Cardinals Bright Spots

None of us as Cardinals fans enjoy what we’ve witnessed on this 0-4 road trip. Longest losing streak of the season — ugh. But how about a little perspective?

sunshineOf course it’s easy to panic and be all doom and gloom and think trades have to be made right this second since the trade deadline is tomorrow and things are terrible today.

And it was terrible to watch Allen Craig and Yadier Molina strike out five times between them last night, a season first. (They did strike out twice each on Opening Day in Arizona — which, after their second back-to-back Ks last night prompted me to see if they’d each struck out that many times in the same game before.)

But we know the team can, and has, played better.

And will again.

So here are some bright spots — in general and from last night in particular.

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