Kyle Lohse won his sixth game of the season yesterday. It was a game that the St. Louis Cardinals needed badly. It was also a game that Lohse wanted, because it put him one game above .500 for his career.
The Chicago Cubs drafted Lohse in the 29th round of the 1996 draft. He never pitched for the Cubs, which might have been one of the better things that ever happened to him. What was even better was that the Cubs traded Lohse to the Minnesota Twins, where he toiled from 2001-06.
At the 2006 trading deadline, the Twins sent Lohse to the Cincinnati Reds, where he spent one season. At the trade deadline in 2007, the Reds sent Lohse to the Philadelphia Phillies. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Cardinals.
Lohse is one of three American Indian major leaguers. He is a member of the Nomlaki Wintun tribe. Joba Chamberlain (Winnebago tribe) and Jacoby Ellsbury (Navajo) are the other American Indian players.
With the Cardinals, Lohse has become a dependable pitcher. On some teams that don't have Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright, Lohse might be considered an ace.
The Cardinals, after a quick start, have been floundering around. But Lohse's win yesterday was the Cards' third in their last four games. They are currently in third place, two games behind the first-place Cincinnati Reds and one game behind the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates.
After he defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 9, Lohse's next five starts resulted in no-decisions. After the 2-0 win against the Cleveland Indians, in which Lohse worked into the eighth inning, the right-hander spoke to the media.
"We're looking for something to get us going," Lohse said. "I haven't pitched up to my capabilities, I know that, for a while now. It's just getting back to what we were doing earlier in the season."
In his first season in St. Louis, Lohse won a career-high 15 games. He followed that with sub-par seasons in 2009 and 2010, but last season, he rebounded. He won 14 games during the season but was ineffective in the postseason.
This season, Lohse is 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA, a 132 ERA+ and a 1.091 WHIP. In the absence of Carpenter, he has been the ace.
The Cardinals are in good shape despite their recent travails. When Carpenter returns for the second half, he, Lohse and Lance Lynn will comprise a formidable Big Three. Adam Wainright pitched better in his last outing and should also become important during the second half.
The loss of Jaime Garcia will hurt, but the other starters should step up enough for the Cardinals to make noise in October.