By Cardinal 70
If there's one thing the Cards have figured out how to do this year, it's to come back from a loss and get a win. There have been six three-game series this month (counting the current one with the Reds) and three times they've lost the first game, only to come back and win the series. They are in position to do that for a fourth time with a win today after last night's big win.
When I first heard that Joel Pineiro through seven innings of one-hit ball, I didn't figure there was any way he wouldn't be the Hero of the Game. I'm still going to go that way, but a 4/3 K ratio isn't necessarily great. Then again, he wasn't looking for the strikeouts with a 7-0 lead. There were numerous others that could have been considered as well, including Skip Schumaker for his 4-5 and Rick Ankiel for his 3-5, 2 RBI day. Of course, you could also give a special Hero award to Cincinnati's base running and fielding, as well!
There are really only two considerations for Goat. Anthony Reyes gave up the two-run homer in the ninth, ruining the shutout. But, on a night when the team piled up 15 hits, only one starter went 0-4. It's a rare one, but we'll give the Goat to Albert Pujols. Glad to see he got his walk, though, and extended his on-base streak.
Reyes continues to be as frustrating as ever, though. Just when you think he is turning a corner, he blows up again. 14 hits and 8 earned runs in 11.2 innings is not what the Cardinals want to see. Then again, it's not like he's getting regular work.
The Cardinals get their work in early today with a 12:15 businessman's special. On paper, the pitching matchup isi pretty heavily tilted toward the Reds, as Aaron Harang takes on Braden Looper.
Since Harang's been an NL Central pitcher for some time now, he's faced all the Cardinals and had pretty good success against them. Pujols has done well against him, including a home run, but other than that, not much at all. Cesar Izturis is a nice 0-17 against him, which would tend to indicate Brendan Ryan should be playing shortstop today, especially since he's got a 1-2 mark against the Reds hurler.
Thankfully, the Reds haven't done much better against Looper. In fact, he's probably been harder on them than Harang has been on the Redbirds. Adam Dunn's two hits off of him are home runs, but he sports a .154 average. Not a lot of plate appearances against Looper by the Red hitters, but it's encouraging.
If Looper pitches like he did last time versus Houston, the Cards have a great chance. If he pitches like he did the time before against the Giants, they are sunk. Removing that Giants game, though, he has a 1.90 ERA, so it does look so far like that game was a hiccup.