The Cardinals snapped a three-year home-opener losing streak today, shutting out the slumping Astros 5-zip. Adam Wainwright scattered 6 hits and notched 7 Ks. His curve was working well, and in addition to the 7 strikeouts, 10 other batters got the ball on the ground.
Offensively, the Cardinals continue to click. Pujols (he made it plain in spring training he does not wish to be referred-to as “El Hombre,” the intended homage to perhaps the most popular and fearsome Cardinal since Stan “The Man” Musial, so I won’t use that any longer) went 2 for 3 with a home run (his 5th in 7 games) and 4 RBIs (bringing him to 14). Of course, the season is very young, but right now, Albert’s early numbers project to 116 home runs, 324 RBIs, a .407 average, and a .963 slugging percentage. Whoa.
Ryan Ludwick, batting second (yes, I know, I said that was a bad idea, and I still think so), went 4 for 4 with an RBI. Matt Holliday, who went back-to-back with home runs with Pujols yesterday, wore the collar, going 0 for 3.
So we’re 5 – 2 in the first week of the season, which is good, but I have “issues” still. First, Chris Carpenter is not pitching well. It’s early – everything should be qualified with “it’s early” – but he has already allowed 5 home runs after giving up on 7 all last season. See the discussion in the Post-Dispatch: Carpenter discussion
Second, the relief corps, while doing generally well, still makes me breathe faster in the 9th. Both Cardinal losses were the result of walk-off homers. Yesterday, the pitching blew a great comeback to tie the score at 7 all in the 9th, when Kyle McClellan, sent to the pen when Jaime Garcia proved to be so effective in the spring, gave up the game-winner to Casey McGehee of the Brewers. Third (no pun intended), 3rd baseman David Freese already has 3 errors. That can’t continue.
But the offense is certainly there. The starters, as a group, have been decent and sometimes commanding. So far, I’ll take the season.