Sunday, April 17, 2011

Things are looking up.

Just a week ago, even the most optimistic Cardinals fan would have had trouble finding the silver lining to the Redbirds sluggish start to the season. The Cardinals were seemingly finding ways to lose games, and we had just witnessed perhaps the most heartbreaking instance yet -- Ryan Franklin blowing another save and Colby Rasmus turning the final out of the game into a game winning double for Miguel Tejada. Personally, I hang that one on Franklin...Rasmus has no excuse for not making that catch, but Franklin allowed two ducks with two outs. I don't completely disagree with Tony LaRussa's assertion that while Motte and Boggs are viable candidates to close in the future that they may not be any more ready for the task than Franklin is right now. But, I think I'd be a little more inclined to gamble on handing the job to Boggs to see what he can do.

After that loss, the Cardinals picked things up. They pounded the Giants in the series finale and then took 2 of 3 from the D'backs and are on the verge of sweeping the 4 game series with the Dodgers. We've also seen the bats wake up in a big way, which is very likely due to the return of Matt Holliday to the lineup. His recovery from adbominal surgery has been rather amazing, and with him back in the cleanup spot, the offense looks more like what we expected. Lance Berkman's bat has also woken up and he's hit 6 round trippers and driven in 12 runs over the last 7 days -- and is hitting .476 over that same stretch. Rasmus' bat has also continued to be hot as his average sits just below .400.

Of course, a week ago, I was saying it was far too early to hit the panic button, so the same caution has to be applied after a very good week. Both the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks are in the bottom 3 in ERA in the NL and are the two worst in homers allowed per 9 innings (although you could also point to the fact that Cardinal hitters do have something to do with those stats). The more encouraging stat is the fact that Cards have scored at least 6 runs in every game over the last 7 days, which includes a 13-8 loss to the D'backs -- the only loss in that span.

The upcoming week is a big one for the Redbirds...they return home to face the Nationals Tuesday through Thursday and then welcome the rival Reds to town for the first meeting of the year. There's no love lost between these teams, and I have a feeling that Johnny Gomes is going to find himself with a target on his back after the comments he made in response to Wainwright's injury. The Reds are currently 1.5 games ahead of the Cards and leading the NL Central. They figure to be the team to beat in the division, and this is just the first round of what promises to be a great season-long battle.

(Picture courtesy of, stats courtesy of

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