El Hombre Is Back

Daniel ShoptawAnalyst IAugust 5, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  National League All-Star Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on prior to the start of the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
You like to think with a day off today Pujols could get on track and make this offense more like what was expected.--CATB, August 3

Don't think too many would argue that Albert Pujols got back on track last night.  Nobody would say that it wasn't a welcome sight, especially in a game that, a month ago, the Cardinals would have quietly lost.

You'll have to forgive me forgetting that the team actually has an offense now.  I was out of the house last night and continued to check the score on my phone.  The 3-1 deficit concerned me, especially with Johan Santana on the mound, but to my delight they rallied and went ahead 4-3.  Of course, the next thing I see is a 7-4 Mets lead.  Knowing the Cubs were winning, I resigned myself to a game deficit in the standings.

Last night, though, showed what this offense can do.  It can be relentless coming at a team, with few obvious holes up and down the lineup.  The days of going months without coming back from a three-run deficit are over.  Now, even with an early lead for the opposition, it doesn't feel like the game is over until the last at-bats.

A game last night helps in relieving the fears of Cardinal Nation about a Pujols slump.  When you couple that with the story that John Rooney told on the radio last night, it makes you feel even better.

Rooney said that in BP last night, Pujols was having trouble getting them out of the cage area.  Then, all of the sudden, he put seven or eight lasers together.  It looked like something clicked for him and the results seem to indicate that as well.  National League, you've had your few days off.  Commence cowering again.

Pretty surprising that it came to needing to get serious, though.  Joel Pineiro had his biggest hiccup of the year in a place where you'd least expect it.  He's owned the Mets lately and, with his season going the way it was, I was surprised when he gave up three runs, much less continued to allow the Mets to score.  I mean, he didn't give up seven runs the whole month of July (5 starts).  Blips happen, though, and you hope he shakes it off and gets back to his regularly scheduled season against Pittsburgh on Sunday.

You have to note that Todd Wellemeyer had a successful outing last night, allowing no runs in two innings.  He did allow three baserunners, though, and I didn't see him to know if he was in command or if he was able to tightrope out of things.  I don't expect you'll see him in close games if there are other options real soon, but maybe he can get to that level.

Speaking of an offensive revitalization, as we were earlier, Ryan Ludwick won the NL Player of the Month award for July.  As the article notes, with his month and Pujols winning it twice, only one month this year has the award gone somewhere else than St. Louis.  Albert must have noticed, so he's starting his push to get it back for August.

The Cardinals also have shut Troy Glaus down and odds are he won't see St. Louis again as a Cardinal. We should have known the talk about his return was probably too good to be true.  Though it's too bad we couldn't have him on the field next week when Scott Rolen and the Reds come to town!

Cards have an early game today (one that will be live-blogged by Fox Sports Midwest) as Kyle Lohse goes up against Jonathon Niese.  As a pitcher that the Cards have never seen before, it could be a long game.  Niese has only pitched in four games this season at the MLB level and has had varying levels of success.  Lohse allowed two runs (one earned) in five innings against the Mets in April, though he did allow eight hits and a walk in that span as well.  He alternated good and bad starts in July, so it's time for him to break the pattern and put together two good ones.

UCB Radio Hour will be on tonight at the regular place over at Blog Talk Radio.  Nick from Pitchers Hit Eighth and Josh from Redbirds Row will be your hosts, so give them a call between 9:30 and 10:30 Central at 646-929-1758 and talk Cardinal baseball!