Cardinals-Astros: Kyle Lohse Shuts Down Houston in Pitching Gem

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IApril 12, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 1:  Starting pitcher Kyle Lohse #26 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws against the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium April 1, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Closer by committee? Who needs it? Certainly not Kyle Lohse. 

The young right-hander dominated the Houston Astros with a complete game gem on his way to help the Cardinals win 3-0 on Easter Sunday, completing the series sweep. 

Like many baseball fans believe, sometimes the first pitch of a game can reveal just how the rest of the game could turn out.

Lohse's first pitch of the contest equated to a single from Kaz Matsui.

However, he must have been thinking about his new four-year, $41 million contract as he quickly settled down and retired the next 24 batters he faced. Lohse ended the game only allowing two more hits, coupled with striking out three batters.

No, he isn't the ace of the St. Louis Cardinalsbut today's pitching performance was the best a Redbirds hurler has turned in all season: The use of the bullpen was not needed.

The past week encased some blown saves and incomprehensible earned runs for the St. Louis bullpen, which had the most blown saves in the majors last year. Personally, I think they needed a night off and Lohse gave them just that.

The Cardinals got their offense not from the long ball like yesterday, but with the small ball. They took the lead in the fourth inning on an RBI single by All-Star Ryan Ludwick followed by an RBI groundout from platoon outfielder Chris Duncan.

Duncan, who was injured for a good part of last year, has put up some solid offensive numbers so far in this young season. At only 28 years old, he possesses formidable power at the plate, however his defense is what hurts his value as an everyday player.

If only the National League had a DH spot, but that's another argument.

Colby Rasmus then scored on a Khalil Greene two-out RBI single in the fifth to make the final score of the game. Greene, added in the offseason, was considered a better offensive upgrade than Felipe Lopez, whom the Cardinals needed as another solid bat in the lineup.

He isn't considered a power hitter by any stretch of the imagination, but Greene is making the most of hitting in the same lineup as Albert Pujols.

With Houston wrapped up and tied off with a bow just in time for Easter, St. Louis now leaves the friendly confines of Busch Stadium to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hopefully this series won't be an early trap game for the Redbirds, as they will take on their long-time rivals, the Chicago Cubs, in the series after that.