Cardinals Keep Pushing

Daniel ShoptawAnalyst IAugust 11, 2009

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: Outfielder Ryan Ludwick #47 of the St. Louis Cardinals is congratulated at home plate by teammates after hitting a home run against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on September 19, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 12-6. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Another day, another win and another Cubs loss.  I'm pretty sure Cardinal fans could get used to this.  It's nice to have that three-game cushion at the top of the standings.

It's been a while since the Cards put four wins together.  You have to go back to May 19-23, when they swept the Cubs and won the first two against the Royals, to find a streak that long.  As constructed, though, this team could continue to do this for most of the month.

Ironically, the last of those wins in that May streak was the last time Kyle Lohse won a game, until last night.  I think you have to temper the "he's back!" talk because it was the Reds, who aren't exactly an offensive juggernaut right at the moment, but it definitely was a step in the right direction.  Adding him to the already potent rotation could have the Cardinals on a final kick that would rival some of those second-half surges of the early part of the decade, plus give them even more options in October.

Have to give Rick Ankiel the Goat tag last night.  He had good numbers coming in against Johnny Cueto, but with Cueto leaving early he only got one AB against him.  No hits, four at-bats, two left on.

Quite a bit of off the field news from yesterday.  The biggest was the return of Scott Rolen to St. Louis.  I've always felt like Rolen was a class act and that, as much as I like Tony LaRussa, it might have been best to keep Rolen instead.  Part of that was reinforced with the story yesterday that Rolen made the effort to find LaRussa to talk.  It sounds like Rolen really thinks fondly of his time in St. Louis.  It'll be interesting to see if he is involved with the Cardinal organization after he retires.

After all the workup and hoopla, it turns out Todd Wellemeyer won't be pitching tonight after all.  Instead, he'll be placed on the disabled list with his elbow problem, clearing the way for Mitchell Boggs to be recalled and start.  Some people think this is just a convienent way for Wellemeyer not to pitch and LaRussa to save face.  Given the fact that he apparently had a great bullpen and then the elbow flared up, it may be that the mechanics he needs he hasn't had, which caused the problem when he found them.

Whatever the reasoning, most Cardinal fans are pretty happy to see Boggs take the mound instead of Wellemeyer.  Hopefully it can't be any worse!

Shaquille O'Neal will be throwing out the first pitch tonight, as part of the activities surrounding his new reality show (Depending on your political persuasion and point of view, it could be argued that Albert Pujols is making a step up in his batterymates).  Shaq will take on Pujols Thursday on the Cardinals' day off.  I'm interested to see at least this episode of the show when it airs later in the year.

Both pitchers tonight are pretty much unknown to the opposition.  The Reds are throwing Justin Lehr, a guy that my father-in-law, a pretty avid Reds fan, knew nothing about until a couple of weeks ago.  Lehr's definitely had a good couple of games, but his career ERA approaches five.  Boggs has an ERA around three and a quarter right now, though his WHIP is on the high side.  Still, with the offensively challenged Reds in town, he may be OK.

Might be a low scoring game tonight, might be a high scoring one.  Just never know when you have these kind of pitchers going.  We'll just have to watch and find out!