Well it was nice to see the Cardinal offense show up these past two games, albeit against a pitcher who has struggled mightily since leaving Oakland, and the Pirates. And it was nice to see Kyle Lohse pitch pretty well for 5.1 innings in his second start back. I thought, based on his career struggles against Chicago, that starting last Saturday against them was the worst team he could have faced coming back from injury. Three IP? Seven ER? What did you expect?
So to go 5.1 and allow only 2 ER last night was encouraging. Let’s hope he can carry that through to his next start against the Nationals.
Most prognosticators say the Cardinals need to go 6-4 or 7-3 on this swing to stay in touch with Cincinnati. They probably have to do better than that. Cincinnati, who did get pounded last night, does not have favorable matchups in their remaining games by the Bay (Wood vs Sanchez, Bailey vs Bamgarner), but then they go to Chicago and Milwaukee. One thing the Reds have done very well is beat up the weak sisters of the NL (40-16 against sub-.500 teams). It is reasonable to expect them to win at least 4 of those 6 games. Assuming they salvage one of the remaining games in California, they’ll go 5-4 on this trip.
The Pirates can’t match up with St Louis’ pitching. Without Strasburg, Washington can’t put a starter on the mound that matches up with the Cardinal rotation. Houston will throw (projected) JA Happ, Wandy, and Figueroa. Only Wandy Rodriguez can give them fits. St Louis can sweep the Pirates, take 3 of 4 from Washington (or sweep), and taking 2 of 3 from Houston Astros is probable. So you’re looking at an 8-2 trip. Yes everything has to break right, but they’ve got to play each game this trip like their season ends if they don’t win.
An 8-2 trip would put them within 1/2 game of Cincinnati for their final series of the season. It would also mean, after the disastrous opening to their last home stand, they would be back even on the loss side with the Reds. Let’s make this happen, fellas.