Cards Preview: Test for Lohse
By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
Tuesday, Apr. 28 2009
STLtoday.com sports columnist Jeff Gordon previews the Cardinals game every
Monday through Friday, exclusively in the Cardinals Update newsletter.
THE STAKES: The Cardinals have caught the Braves in an offensive funk. Atlanta
averaged just 3.7 runs per game on its recent nine-game trip, then left runners
all over the place Monday night. Timing means a lot in baseball. The Cards have
a real opportunity on this trip, since they head to Washington next to face the
horrible (4-14) Nationals.
OF SPECIAL INTEREST: The Cards feared Kyle Lohse would miss his next start -–
or several starts -- after tweaking his right knee while covering first base in
his previous outing. But he recovered quickly, to Tony La Russa’s considerable
relief. Lohse tests that wheel in this game.
PITCHING FOR THE CARDS: Lohse (3-0, 2.42 ERA). Braves outfielder Garret
Anderson saw plenty of him in their American League days and liked the view. He
has a career .360 mark against Lohse, with a 1.007 OPS. Chipper Jones (5 for 9,
homer, five RBIs) has been a nemesis, too. Yunel Escobar is 3 for 6 against
him. Jeff Francoeur, on the other hand, is just 1 for 10 against Lohse.
PITCHING FOR THE BRAVES: Jo-Jo Reyes (0-1, 7.94): Teams want to load lefties
against the Cards, who are short of righthanded power with Troy Glaus
sidelined. But Chris Duncan has hit .320 against lefties this season to defeat
that strategy. Leadoff hitter Skip Schumaker (.286) is also getting more
Against Reyes, Albert Pujols (4 for 7, homer, two RBIs), Khalil Greene (2 for
4, homer) and Yadier Molina (2 for 6, double, RBI) have had notable success
against Reyes in their careers.
LINEUP INTRIGUE: Rick Ankiel seems all the way back now. He decided Monday’s
game with a pair of RBI singles. La Russa would love to play rookie outfielder
Colby Rasmus in front of the home folks, but the .294 hitter was relegated to
late-inning defensive work Monday with Ankiel and Duncan producing runs.
Neither Ankiel or Rasmus has done great against lefty pitching, so that makes
tonight’s lineup a tougher call for La Russa.
Khalil Greene’s defensive slippage earned him a day off -– and Brendan Ryan
played spectacular shortstop in his absence. Looking forward, could Ryan and
Tyler Greene (hitting .284 at Memphis) fight it out for this job and Khalil
becomes a free agent?
The Brian Barden Insanity continued. His pinch-hit single Monday boosted his
season average to .438. Sports hernia surgery can do wonders for a man. The
red-hot utility infielder likely will start against the lefty Reyes.
BULLPEN INTRIGUE: The back end of the 'pen remains settled. Chris Perez
contributed an impressive punch out. Kyle McClellan barely survived the eighth
inning Monday, but he toughed out the “hold” when La Russa opted to rest lefty
Dennys Reyes. Ryan Franklin remained flawless as the closer (for now).
DOWN ON THE FARM: Brad Thompson’s third start for Memphis was more typical of
his career work. He allowed four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, boosting
his Redbirds ERA to 3.45. On the plus side, veteran lefties Royce Ring (1.08
ERA) and Charlie Manning (1.00) continue to post decent numbers.
Might the Cards add another veteran lefty to their bullpen mix at some point?
Offensively, the Redbirds continue to struggle. Offensive prospects Jon Jay
(.224), David Freese (.148), Joe Mather (.129) and Jarret Hoffpauir (.170)
appear to be in no rush to earn promotions to The Show.