For all intents and purposes, the 2013 season has gotten off to a fine start for the St. Louis Cardinals. Their powerhouse offense is already outscoring the rest of the National League and their starting pitchers are coming off a run of epic proportions. Over the week against Milwaukee and Cincinnati, the Cardinals held their opponents scoreless for 39.1 innings straight, with 32 of those innings coming out of the rotation. Starter Adam Wainwright has been the best of all the birds, throwing 22 innings this year while striking out 24 batters and walking none in an otherworldly display of control.
But St. Louis does have one big issue and that’s shutting the door in the 9th inning. For the past couple of seasons the hard-throwing Jason Motte has taken the mound to turn out the lights for the Cardinals but it appears that he’s going to miss the entire 2013 season to have Tommy John surgery. That’s been bad news in the early going as nominal closer Mitchell Boggs has imploded just about every time his name is called, giving up 8 earned runs in just 6.1 innings of work. His latest detonation job came yesterday in Milwaukee as it took Boggs all of two batters before blowing the lead.
When Cardinals starter/bulldog Chris Carpenter announced that he was going to miss the entirety of the 2013 season with shoulder numbness, it put the St. Louis rotation in a temporary state of flux. Not that this state of flux is a bad thing. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. The Cardinals have weathered injuries to key members of their starting rotation before and they appear more prepared than ever to replace their long-time workhorse. A plethora of young, talented, and hard-throwing starting pitchers stand ready to take Carpenter’s place, which should lead to an intriguing battle for the last couple of spots in the Cards’ rotation. The candidates:
With a dominate 9-0 victory yesterday against the St. Louis Cardinals, the San Francisco Giants became just the 6th team in baseball history to overcome a 3 games to 1 deficit in a League Championship Series. Matt Cain helped lead the way, throwing the 3rd consecutive shutdown start in a row for Giants. Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval rapped a couple more hits a piece, and the baseball Gods smiled once again on the zany Hunter Pence, who’s gutty efforts have come to define San Francisco’s comeback mentality. When all the smoke had cleared and Matt Holliday’s infield pop up was sitting safely in the glove of NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro, the celebration was on in San Francisco. By edging out the Cardinals for National League supremacy, the Giants improbably clinched their 2nd World Series berth in 3 seasons, and they have given themselves a shot at another ring. I’ll look ahead to the World Series tomorrow but for now I want to analyze how San Francisco was able advance pass the Cardinals against the odds, and it all goes back to the mid-season pickup of a 36-year-old journeyman shortstop.