Cards-Mets: Joel Piniero's Unlikely Two-Hit Shutout

Brian McDowellCorrespondent IJune 23, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 23:  Joel Pineiro #35 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates defeating the New York Mets with teammate Yadier Molina #4 at Citi Field on June 23, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

The always interesting Joel Piniero pitched a two-hit shutout tonight, as the Cardinals won 3-0 against the weakened New York Mets at rain-soaked Citi Field.

It was a tight pitchers' duel between Piniero and Livan Hernandez, until the Mets' veteran starter started getting sloppy in the seventh inning and stupidly loaded the bases for Albert Pujols, who responded with an RBI single and put the game out of reach for the struggling Mets.

Amazingly, Piniero only struck out one batter, yet pitched a complete two-hit shutout. When he is on at full throttle, he is very talented at getting batters to ground out. Not many hits by New York hitters managed to leave the infield, and the Cardinals fielded the ball well, with Khalil Greene being particularly impressive at third base. Piniero also had two hits in the game. 

Although impressive, the victory was not a perfect one for the Redbirds. Both Joe Thurston and Albert Pujols made potentially costly baserunning mistakes. Once again, Pujols was the only Redbird that had any meaningful offense, even though, to be fair, Schumaker and Ryan did each get a couple of hits.

I find it a little scary to watch the Mets now, as a baseball fan, because I wonder what the Cardinals would look like if they had New York's rotten luck this season. Three of the top four Mets hitters are currently on the disabled list, as well as two starting pitchers. And their ace pitcher, Johan Santana, has seemed a little off his game in his last couple of appearances. David Wright is really carrying the team right now. 

If the Cardinals were in a similar position, if, say, Pujols, Rasmus, and Khalil Greene were suddenly struck with injury, would they be anywhere near the statistical top of their division? I have serious doubts.

It's a good thing that's not the case, and that the Redbirds are looking really good right now. The Cardinals have two more games against New York. Thompson pitches tomorrow and Carpenter pitches against Santana on Thursday, so let's hope those games go something like tonight's game did.