Monday night the St. Louis Cardinals saw their five game winning streak snapped by a 5-3 loss to their rivals the Houston Astros. Hope sparked late when Ryan Ludwick tied the game on a two RBI hit, but Miguel Tejada destroyed their hopes with a walk off home run in the ninth.
So what can the Cardinals take away from this loss? After all losing is never fun. Despite the loss, Cardinals' fans should look forward to a great season because names like Todd Wellemeyer and Ryan Ludwick are continuing to capture headlines with their impressive performances.
Todd Wellemeyer worked seven impressive innings Monday night, but eventually had to retire from the game after giving up two earned runs. Lacking run support, the young starter had no shot at the big 'W,' but he was relieved from the stein of the 'L' by the end of the game.
Wellemeyer should leave Cardinals' fans feeling good about the team this year. In his outing he managed to strike out 7 while only allowing 5 hits and 1 walk. Adding those 'K's to his totals from last week, he now has 13 in only 12 innings with a low ERA of 2.25.
In 2007, Wellemeyer finished with a 4.55 ERA with a whopping 60 strike outs so some may be less eager to accept him as a keeper in the rotation, but even towards the end of last season Wellemeyer showed enormous signs of improvement. In his last two games of 2007 he allowed only 1 run in 11 innings while striking out 10.
I see this, and I wonder what will become of Wellemeyer over the season. Will he join the ranks of many great aces that the Cardinals have produced over the past few seasons? I would certainly like to think so.
And great pitching is not the only thing Cardinals' fans have to look forward to. Ryan Ludwick has emerged in first seven games of the season as one of the key producers for the redbirds. He is batting .304 with 5 RBIs and 4 runs.
Ludwick even gave the Cardinals a moment of hope in the weening moments of the game. With a timely hit in the final inning, he manage to double off of Jose Valverde scoring two other runners. Although the game was lost in the end, it is hard to ignore a batter who can come through in the clutch like Ludwick did.
This new image of Ludwick that we see this season is very different from last season. In 2007 his hitting stats were characterized by a large number of home runs but a low batting average. In his first six games this season he has one of the highest averages but no home runs.
The new Ludwick could be just what the Cardinals need. They have plenty of power with Chris Duncan, Rick Ankiel and 'poster boy' Albert Pujols, but after losing David Eckstein in the off-season the redbirds could really use a quality lead off hitter. Could this previous power hitter become a top candidate for the lead off at bat? He certainly has the profile with a promising command at the plate and already one stolen base to speak of.
So Cardinals' Fans, do no fret because your team lost yesterday. Losses are a part of every season; they are unavoidable. Instead look at the great young stars that seem to be blooming in the Cardinals' roster.