Jason Isringhausen celebrates with catcher Yadier Molina after the Cardinals' victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday. This marks their fifth straight win as they now sit at 5-1 and atop the National League Central. This is 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 once again provided the Cardinals with power as he jacked his third home run of the year. He also flashed the leather with a fantastic defensive catch.
The offense is coming from all facets of the game: the long ball and small ball.
In the eighth inning, right fielder Ryan Ludwick led off with a triple and was then driven 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 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.
I know it is early, but these are great signs to see from a team that was slated to be buried in fifth or sixth place in its division. Albert Pujols isn't even the team leader in RBI as Ankiel holds that distinction.
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.
These players are in good hands with Tony La Russa, who knows when and how to use his players in a variety of situations. He knows his baseball and knows his players.
Maybe it is a shock factor by other teams or maybe 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.
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