Well I figured this West Coast road trip would be our first real test and we answered the bell last night. It would have been all too easy after getting into Arizona at three or four in the morning to go through the motions and give a game away to a mediocre D-Backs team, especially after getting down 2-0 in the first inning. But we didn't, and that's a mark of a good baseball team. That's a mark of a Cardinals baseball team.
Funny story, I didn't plan on watching the whole game last night. A 9:40 start time here in the Eastern Time Zone is a little late, even for a college student. I was planning on calling it a night after about the fourth inning or so, but then the circumstances changed. Right before I was about to turn the game off, a good looking twenty-year old redhead from Kansas, who apparently is a baseball fan, came into my dorm room to pick something up from my roommate and wanted to watch the game. Well a guy doesn't find himself in a situation like that everyday - at least not in...Hillsdale. So I'm running on about five hours of sleep. But back to the baseball talk...
Two minor concerns for the Cardinals right now: baserunning and our home run reliant offense. Our baserunning has been just atrocious these past four games - Ludwick got thrown out three times against the Mets, two of which were at home; Skip was thrown out at third last night after some indecision. Jose Oquendo is known for being one of the most aggressive third-base coaches in the league, but I'm going to throw something at the television if I see another Cardinal thrown out at third or at the plate. Major League pitchers are too good to give away outs like that. It surprises me, too, because most smart baseball teams are good baserunning teams. We're a very smart baseball team. Nobody expected us to be a blazing fast team, but I think everyone thought we'd be smarter on the basepaths. This is a very minor concern, though; I expect TLR will make baserunning a focal point until we get a little better at it.
The second concern I have right now is our offense. It's been solid, but it's been incredibly reliant on the deep ball (over 60% of our runs have been scored on home runs). Again, like baserunning, this is a very minor concern that I expect will correct itself shortly. Pitchers tend to be a little ahead of hitters at this point in the season - their arms are as fresh as they will be and the weather is still relatively cool. I think our offense will heat up with the weather and we'll begin to manufacture a few more runs. The real concern right now is our bullpen...but I've harped on that enough for a while. Besides, we're 9-4. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
We're going to face another tough arm tonight. Danny Haren was just a notch below Waino, Carpenter, and Lincecum in '09. We're going to face some tough pitching overall on this trip. Lopez wasn't bad at all last night, Haren will be tough tonight, and we still have to face Edwin Jackson, Matt Cain, a much better looking Barry Zito than we've seen in recent years, and maybe even Tim Lincecum. That's why I think this is our first real test: we're going to see a selection of all-star arms and its our first trip outside of the Midwest. Bryan Anderson will get the nod behind the plate tonight. Look for the Diamondbacks to run on him early and test his throwing ability. The knock on him has always been his defense and I think that will be put under a microscope tonight. Other than that, if we can wait out Haren and claw and scratch across a few runs, I like our chances for picking up another victory.
That's all for tonight. The anthem for the evening is "Ain't Back Yet" by Kenny Chesney. Have a good Tuesday.
A look into the 2011 Season
4 years ago