ST. LOUIS—Jason Isringhausen celebrates with catcher Yadier Molina after their victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday. This marks their fifth straight win as they now sit atop the National League Central, their best start since the 2000 season.
It seems as though a different player makes the contribution for each win as Kyle Lohse threw seven shutout innings.
On the offensive side, Rick Ankiel jacked his third home run of the season. Later, he flashed the leather with a fantastic defensive catch.
The offense is coming from all facets of the game—the long ball, as well as the small ball.
During the eighth inning, right fielder Ryan Ludwick led off with a triple and was then drove in by Yadier Molina's sacrifice fly.
The red-hot Cardinals are making a name for themselves as one of the teams to beat not only in their division, but also in the entire National League.
The pitching staff is starting to come into form even without perennial All-Star Chris Carpenter. Todd Wellenmeyer and Kyle Lohse along with Braden Looper and Brad Thompson are turning heads all over the league.
Surprisingly, Ankiel leads the team in RBI, not Albert Pujols. The team still has role players as Edmonds, Rolen, and Eckstein have departed. Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker, Randy Flores, and Adam Kennedy are coming into their own.
Tony La Russa knows when and how to use his players in a variety of situations. He knows his baseball and knows his players.
I know it is early, the first week of the season in fact, but these are great signs to see from a team that was slated to be buried in fifth or sixth place in their division.
The Cardinals will surprise many critics this year.
Better yet, perhaps it is because this is a team who knows how to win.
No one gave them a chance in the 2006 postseason and they fought their way into a world championship.
They have the manager, they have the offense, and they have the pitching.
This is going to be a very interesting season as I look forward to seeing the Cardinals fly under the radar to prove everyone wrong yet again.