Here's why writing about the St. Louis Cardinals this year is both interesting and headache inducing. When things should be going well for that storied franchise, like, say, when they've just made a big trade for a popular utility player, the Cards have a series of three terrible games, where, despite consistently impressive performances by Albert Pujols, nothing really goes right for the team as a whole. Then, when everything seems to be falling apart and the player that they traded for turns out to be a bit of an injured dud, they win a fully impressive game that makes it seem, to the average baseball viewer, that there is very little wrong in Cardinal Nation.
The Cardinals' 2-1 victory tonight over the Giants featured most everything that Cardinals fans have been waiting for all year; a consistently good nine inning strikeout heavy pitching performance from Adam Wainwright, rare St. Louis fielding that was truly superior to their opponent's, excitement that carried into extra innings and genuine hitting heroes that weren't named "Albert Pujols". While Pujols had his usual good night, getting on base every time he stepped up to the plate, Ryan Ludwick hit an unlikely RBI. The final walk-off home-run flew off the cold bat of Colby Rasmus. It was nice to see the people that bat around Pujols finally take advantage of that positioning.
It wasn't a perfect night by any means. DeRosa's wrist injury means that fans of this team will be continued to be exposed to the terrible offense and defense of both Joe Thurston and Chris Duncan. There weren't any major defensive mistakes made by this pair of stooges tonight, but their hitting was terrible, especially Thurston who struck out in three of his four at-bats. There were plenty of wasted scoring opportunities; nine Cardinal runners were left on base.
The Cardinals are surprisingly only a game behind in the National League Central. They have one more home game against the Giants, before going to Cincinnati to take on the Red. All and all, if the trends that are started in this game can continue, if the other batters in this lineup can awaken from their season-long slumber and start producing runs, and if we can witness courageous pitching performances like the one we saw in this closely knit game, then maybe things won't be as bad as they've appear to be for the Redbirds.