The Quiet Man
By Cardinal 70
As I was thinking about the first series of the year, I realized something. Where is Albert Pujols?
Don't get me wrong, it's not like Pujols hasn't done anything. I mean, the man is hitting .500 at the moment. That's obviously helping out the team. But, since the first game was wiped out, he has only one extra-base hit and one RBI.
This is not a criticism of Pujols at all. Small sample size and all that. In fact, his relative quietness may easily come to an end tonight, when one of his favorite foils, Odalis Perez, takes the hill for the Nationals.
It's more that the Cardinals were supposed to be Pujols and the also-rans. Oh, maybe Adam Wainwright would win some games, but that's it. If the Cardinals were going to win any games, it'd be on the back of their big first baseman.
Yet through the first three games, while he's been a productive member of the lineup, he's not been the be-all and end-all. His name has yet to show up on my Heroes list. He's not dramatically brought the team from behind or smacked a go-ahead double. These things are coming, of course, but they haven't been here yet. And this team of also-rans just took two of three from the defending NL champions. There could be some life in these Birds yet.
Of course, that doesn't mean that the cut he received on his finger yesterday didn't get Cardinal Nation a bit on the worried side. Good to hear that the scheduled X-ray was canceled due to lack of need.
Let's take a look at tonight's pitching matchup. There's a good chance that the offenses are going to break out the fireworks.
First off, Odalis Perez vs. the Cardinals. Perez has probably been dreading this all week long, because look at that Pujols line.
13-20, 2 2B, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 1 K, .650/.741/1.500
Oh, my. I remember watching Pujols crush a game-winning home run off of Perez a couple years back, and the announcers at the time noted how he owned the pitcher. Of course, now AP will probably have a 0-0 line as they walk him four times.
Jason LaRue has had some success against Perez, so he could take Molina's slot in the lineup tonight. I'm sure Tony will weigh that history vs. what Looper may need defensively out of Molina.
That leads us to the other pitcher of the night, Braden Looper. Here's his numbers against Nationals hitters. There aren't too many plate appearances there, which is not surprising given Looper's reliever history. Only Rob Mackowiak has gone yard against him, but the batting averages are on the high side.
Looks like a cool but rain-free night at the ballpark tonight. If the Cardinals can get a win tonight, they look good for a series win since Adam Wainwright goes tomorrow.