St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan must have been brimming with pride as one of his pitchers went the distance against their archrivals.
The pitching masterpiece came from one of the most unlikely sources, Joel Pineiro. Pitching a complete game, 3-0 shutout against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, it was a welcome sight for Cardinals nation.
Allowing only three hits and issuing zero free passes, Pineiro was the stopper the Redbirds needed to get back on track after a terrible series against the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend.
Pineiro not only stifled a dangerous Chicago offense, he dominated it by facing one batter over the minimum and needing only 92 pitches to shut down the Cubs as he retired the last 13 batters he faced.
He knew that the Cubs offense was aggressive at the plate, and he took full advantage of it.
"When we had our meetings, we kind of knew," said Pineiro. "They're a very aggressive team. They want to try to knock the pitcher out and get him out of the game early. If you make your pitches down in the zone, they'll be on the ground like they were today."
Pineiro kept everything down in the zone alright, inducing only four fly-ball outs in the entire game.
Everything else was on the ground and as an infielder, Brendan Ryan loved every minute of it.
"As an infielder, you've got to love when a sinkerballer is throwing," said Brendan Ryan, who had six assists among Pineiro's 17 ground-ball outs. "When he's got his stuff, it makes it all the more fun. What can you say about JP? That's as fun as it gets. Everybody got in the act. That's just fun baseball."
Pineiro was on his game, but what about St. Louis' offense? As mentioned, the Cardinals were swept in a pathetic three-game series against Milwaukee that officially knocked them out of first place in the NL Central.
The Brewers were not a team to sneeze at, but St. Louis' offense failed to show up as slugger Albert Pujols continues to struggle with Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel out of the lineup.
Pujols simply isn't getting any pitches to hit as teams pitch around him and challenge the other batters in the lineup to try and do the damage.
Rookie outfielder Colby Rasmus was more than ready to oblige Cubs starter Ted Lilly. Hammering a fastball left over the plate, he destroyed Lilly's pitching mistake in yet another monstrous home run estimated at 417 feet.
It was his fourth home run on the season and his third round-tripper in five games. If not for Friday's rained out contest, he would have tacked on yet another long ball.
He's certainly on a torrid pace and it's a great sight to see as he's been waiting in the wings for so long in AAA. Impressing the Cardinals brass last year in Spring Training, he just wasn't considered "seasoned" enough to be brought up.
Rasmus is certainly making a name for himself now.
Rasmus knew that Lilly was a good, quality veteran pitcher but waited for his pitch at the plate.
"He's tough," said Rasmus. "That curveball, he's good. He makes good pitches. Fortunately, he made a little mistake."
However, Pineiro's pitching performance ruled the contest.
The best way to sum it all up was from the skipper himself, manager Tony La Russa.
"It was a masterpiece," said La Russa.
Quotes and information attributed to MLB.com