For those of you thinking that the St. Louis Cardinals will get even better once a chunk of their pitching staff returns, you might have to wait a little longer.
Wednesday evening, Mark Mulder made his first start with the Triple A Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park in Memphis.....and it wasn't a good one. In a 10 to 5 loss to the Salt Lake Bees, Mulder gave up 9 runs, 7 earned on 9 hits in 3 2/3 innings. This gave him a game ERA of.....let's see here.....oh yeah.....17.18. He also gave up 3 home runs, once again in 3 2/3 innings of work.
It was a poor performance indeed, however, we have to make note that Memphis was playing by far the best team in the minor leagues. The Salt Lake Bees are 24-2 on the year giving them a .923 winning percentage. We're talking about a team that could give several Major League teams a run for their money.
Up until this point Mulder has been showing great progress. Then again, he was pitching against A and AA hitters. Unfortunately, Wednesday night, he faced up against the caliber of hitters that he'll be facing once he gets back to the top level.
According to the Cardinals and Mulder himself, he feels fine, however I don't think the Cards will be in any big hurry to get him back after this performance. Maybe he'll throw a little more like a pitcher of his stature should, once the Redbirds play a team that has actually lost more than two games all year.
If the Cardinals are looking to establish themselves as the best in the NL Central, then offense alone will not suffice. They can only hit this good for so long. They do have some hurtin' hurlers returns to look forward to but Matt Clement and Chris Carpenter have yet to make their debuts this year and are a long shot for return in the immediate future. Mulder is much closer to returning to the Cardinal's roster but with his latest showing, one has to wonder, "How long is it gonna be before the Cardinals have pitching to match their hitting?"