Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Counting Baseball Blessings
June 21, 2010Posted by on
With the Cardinals’ recent winning ways, being a thankful Cardinals fan is a whole lot easier. Focusing on the positive, here are the Cardinals components that are making me smile:
|photo from stltoday.com|
Cardinals pitching has been nothing short of spectacular. Adam Wainwright continues to build on his personal record of 22 consecutive quality starts at Busch Stadium, grabbing his 10th win of the season (plus he’s holding a 2.23 ERA.) Our rookie starting pitcher, lefty Jaime Garcia has the National League’s 2nd best ERA at 1.59. Chris Carpenter’s record is 8-1 so far with a 2.83 ERA. Fans have a lot to celebrate there!
Even with two injured starting pitchers currently out of the mix (Brad Penny returning soon and Kyle Lohse likely out for most of the season after surgery,) the Cardinal hurlers have kept the team at the top of the National League Central division, now 1.5 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. Plus the Cardinals’ recent move, picking up Brewer cast-off (and former Cardinal) Jeff Suppan to deepen the pitching rotation, has gone better than expected with Suppan turning in 4 and then 4 2/3 innings in his two appearances so far, giving up 3 earned runs (2 HR).
|Dilip Vishwanat /Getty images|
The bullpen, an often thankless job, deserves recognition as well – especially with the club’s haunting lack of run support for its starting pitchers over the past month.
Jason Motte, the sometimes ‘Crazy Man’ on the mound with a radar-loving fastball continues to dominate opposing batters. This guy is entertaining, at times yelling manically into his cap or glove and pacing frenetically across the mound between pitches. He also happens to be ON FIRE, nailing his location and throwing heat. Making Motte even more lovable is his alter-personality: laid back, friendly and playful during pregame warm-ups, sometimes calm and controlled in the heat of the action. Not knowing which Motte we will see step onto the bump certainly adds intrigue to the late-inning drama.
|photo by Robert Cohen – P/D|
Ryan Franklin has quieted the early-season skeptics who were questioning his fortitude as closer after Ryan struggled down the stretch in late 2009. Franklin has since deservedly regained the trust of Cardinal nation. Joe Strauss’ article from yesterday (Cardinals closer is closer to the end) highlighted the fascinating personality of Ryan Franklin, an uncomplicated, unpretentious guy from Oklahoma, and shared these statistics on Franklin’s 2010 season as it stands right now:
Entering the weekend, Franklin ranked 12th among NL relievers with at least 20 appearances in ERA (1.86) and eighth in baserunners per inning (0.86) while maintaining the best conversion rate (12 of 13) among closers with at least four saves. Of the league’s 12 closers with at least 12 saves, Franklin maintains the lowest strikeout rate; however, he had walked only three in 29 innings, a ratio second only to Los Angeles Dodgers ninth-inning monster Jonathan Broxton. Franklin had allowed two earned runs in two months before engaging the A’s this weekend. To date, this season has represented a solid follow-up to a season in which he ranked sixth in the major leagues with 38 saves and ranked second in ERA (1.92) among NL closers.
In addition to pride in the pitching, I have confidence that Matt Holliday’s surging power recovery is a good sign that the big bats are indeed heating up. In case you missed it, Holliday hit FOUR homeruns in the last three games! We are certainly seeing more signs of Cardinal magic. Won’t it be fun watching this team finally get it together consistently and go on that winning romp we know is due?
I believe the Cardinals are turning a corner. This team is built to win. We have Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Ryan Ludwick and Matt Holliday. Colby Rasmus and rookie David Freese have both earned NL Player of the Week honors this season. Combine that talent with the skill of the Cardinals hurlers and we have something to be excited about. The summer is heating up and so are our Cardinals!
Enjoy your Monday as the Cardinals take a break and travel to Toronto for interleague play versus the Blue Jays
Next game: Tuesday at 6:07pm CT (yep, I double-checked it… what a weird start time!)
GO CARDS! =)