Over the past three weeks or so, the Cardinals have kept up their great style of play. They have gone 13-7 in their last twenty games, with a big three game sweep of the Washington Nationals. In addition to picking up key wins against the Nationals, the Cards have played solid, fundamental baseball against their division rivals. In the last twelve NL Central games, the Cardinals are 8-4. As I begin this recap, they have just completed their four game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. They put up a ridiculous twenty-nine runs in those four games, while only giving up thirteen. As play concluded on Sunday, the Cards held a two and a half game lead over the Reds for the lead in the NL Central. St. Louis is on a six game winning streak, with good timing, too, because the Reds are on a three game streak of their own.
As the season is progressing, player statistics are becoming more realistic. Unsurprisingly, Yadier Molina is the offensive MVP of the team so far. Through thirty games played, Yadi is hitting an impressive .328, with two bombs and seventeen runs batted in. Allen Craig is also proving himself as an everyday, middle of the lineup hitter. Through twenty-nine games played, Craig is batting .291, with one home run and twenty-five RBI’s. Once Craig gets the long ball going, watch out.
On the defensive side, the starting rotation has been nothing short of phenomenal. Jake Westbrook is the only starter that doesn’t have at least four wins. Wainwright, Miller, and Garcia each have four, while Lance Lynn of all people leads the team with five. Lynn, also, has yet to lose a start. The story of the rotation (again) is Mr. Adam Wainwright. Since I last wrote about him, almost nothing has changed. Through almost fifty innings of work, Wainwright has only three walks. THREE! That’s unheard of! Things tend to go well when you avoid walks and record an average of at least one strikeout per inning pitched. That’s exactly what Wainwright does.
The Cards should have at least two more wins coming up in the next few days. They have a two game series coming up against the Cubs, which unfortunately for me being from Chicago, should mean two easy wins against the Cubbies. Other key upcoming series include the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, and the surprisingly good Kansas City Royals.
As the Cardinals are now two weeks into the young 2013 season, I figured I would write a recap and discuss some of the highs and lows at this point in the season. After twelve games, the Cardinals have an overall record of 7-5 (4-2 home). They have done a good job against division rivals, taking two out of three from both the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers. They also took two of three from the defending champion San Francisco Giants, which had to feel good after the disappointing NLCS series last October. In the following article, I will list a couple pros and a couple cons of the season so far.
1. Adam Wainwright-Cardinals fans should be ecstatic about the start that Wainwright has had to this point. Although he got knocked around by the D’Backs in the season opener, he has been nothing short of sensational since. In three starts he has a 2-1 record with a 2.05 ERA. In 22 innings of work, he has 24 strikeouts which should not come as a huge surprise, but impressive nonetheless. Perhaps the two most important statistics are innings pitched and walks. Through three starts, Wainwright has 22 IP, which confirms the question of whether or not he is still able to go deep into games. Perhaps more importantly is his walk total…or lack thereof. Through three starts he has not issued a single free pass. You know what they say…walks will kill you. Maybe that’s why Wainwright has let up so few runs so far. With the injuries and contract situation out of the way, look for Wainwright to have a big year.
2. Matt Carpenter- Another pleasant surprise has been the offensive production of Matt Carpenter. He has played in all twelve games so far, and already has fifteen base hits. Though he only has one home run, he is still being very productive. He has fifteen hits, six RBI, and four walks, which shows that he also has patience at the plate. More importantly, six of his fifteen hits have been doubles, which has helped him to score thirteen runs in twelve games. He leads position players with a .319 batting average, and his on-base percentage is slightly higher.
1. Competition Level- What I mean by this is how the Cardinals play against teams with different talent levels. For example, they played extremely well in the two games that they beat the division rival Reds. That being said, they also came out slow against the weaker Arizona Diamondbacks, losing two of three to begin the season. Now that may have been just because it was the beginning of the season, so we’ll see how things play out going forward.
2. Road Play-Through six games on the road, the Cards are a mediocre 3-3. They dropped two of three in Arizona, one of which was a 10-9 loss to a decent-at-best Diamondbacks team. They did take two of three from the Giants, but the game that they lost was one where they could not get a run across throughout the entire game, losing 1-0. A better road record would have been 5-1 or 4-2 at the very least. I have no doubt that they will start to pick it up, but if they want to be a dangerous team, they will have to be significantly above .500 on the road this season.
The next few weeks will be a real test for the Cardinals. Through their next 16 games, they have six against the Pirates, four in Philly, three in DC, and three back at Busch against the Reds.