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Game Recap: Cardinals 6, Astros 1

THE GOOD

Waino Whiffs Wandy  Wainwright was just flat out nasty last night. The wagon maker struck out 8 (including 2 whiffs by his counterpart, Wandy Rodriguez) over eight innings pitched and cruised his way to a 6 – 1 victory. His performance, marred only by an inefficient eighth and a solo blast in the second, lowered his ERA to an eye-popping 2.86. He clearly deserves All-Star consideration, especially considering the fact that he should have at least 8 wins if not for late inning guffaws by the bullpen.

There’s no “K” in Cardinals  Cardinal hitters struck out only twice last night. Once by the pitcher (Waino) and once by the human K machine, Chris Duncan (during a pinch hit appearance). Considering the Cardinals only walked a total of 4 times (and 2 of those in the first inning), that’s an impressive number that demonstrates how effective the Cardinals’ approach at the plate really was.

Barton Back on Track  After hitting his first home run in a pinch hit appearance the night before, Barton went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored from the seven hole in last night’s game. This is a good sign. Because the Cards are basically forced to keep Barton on the roster this season (Rule 5), he MUST produce. Maybe hitting in the top of the order is too much pressure for the rookie. Hitting in the second half of the order may allow him to relax and just put a swing on the ball. We’ll see if his lower-order hitting position continues…

Brendan Ryan Just Says “NO” to Kool Aid  I’ve been pretty hard on this kid – mainly because I expect he has better in him – but he had a great game last night. The kid went 2 for 4 with a run scored and no strikeouts while hitting in the lead-off spot. As if that wasn’t enough, he turned in more than one excellent play at second base. Why is this significant? Because if Barton can’t hit in the lead-off spot, and Skip continues his poor record against lefties, this team MUST identify a right-handed lead-off hitter. Maybe Ryan can be that guy…

THE BAD

Chris Duncan Just Don’t Look Right  Okay…Dunc had started to look a bit better and more confident at the plate, but it’s all gone to hell lately. The guy just looks lost in the batter’s box. Teams seem to want to throw strikes on the outside corner of the plate against the big lefty. If he recognizes the pitch, Chris lays off it knowing it’s not his pitch – and strikes out looking. If he doesn’t lay off it, he takes his full swing and whiffs. The guy has got to learn to fight those pitches off consistently. If he can learn to just stick his bat out there and punch those balls foul pitch after pitch, he’ll eventually get pitches to hit. But right now…it just looks bad…and it seems to be getting worse…

Glaus, Ankiel, and Pujols  It’s a good thing the other guys in the order stepped up, because Glaus, Ank, and Albert combined to go 0 for 10 with 2 walks. In fact, if not for Ludwick’s lone single, the heart of our order (2 – 5 spots) would have gone 0 for 14. For a pitcher struggling with command all night, that’s not good, and it’s certainly not good enough to beat a high-octane team like the Astros. Let’s hope it was just a fluke that doesn’t repeat itself tonight.

Pujols’ Mad Dashes are Starting to Make Me Mad  Albert has got to chill out on the base paths. Last night, the guy tried to advance from first to second on a ball hit to right. Hunter Pence reached back and threw him out. Other than the obvious “It’s very difficult to go first to second on a fly out to right” point, let me make two others:  1. Pujols is not fast…he’s slow. Between heel and hamstring problems, the big guy is no speedster. 2. Hunter Pence had just thrown out Rick Ankiel at home plate the night before by about 552 feet. What was he thinking?

THE UGLY

First Inning Starting Pitching  In game one of this series, Looper handed the Astros a 4 – 0 lead before we even had a chance to bat. Yesterday, Wandy Rodriguez helped the Cardinals get on the board in the first with a 3 – 0 head start. Sure, the runs were unearned due to a fielding error, but three walks, a hit, and a run-scoring wild pitch (all in the first) didn’t help him much either. Let’s hope this isn’t a pattern, because if it is, then in tonight’s game…it’s our turn…

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