Starting pitcher Kyle Lohse threw six shutout innings, and then left it up to his bullpen to maintain his torrid start. The remaining three innings, one each pitched by Randy Flores, Kyle McClellan, and Chris Perez, respectively, closed the door on Los Angeles.
This game was very important for the Cardinals, as they moved into a tie for first place in the NL Central with the Chicago Cubs. It also marked the fifth of six games on a Wild West road trip that culminates on Sunday. The Cardinals have now won four of their last five, and look to go 5-1 on the road trip when red-hot Todd Wellemeyer takes the hill.
I saw a lot of impressive things in this game. Kyle Lohse was so effective when he mixed up his pitches. Throwing 96 pitches in six innings isn't the best efficiency, but it was clear that Lohse was able to locate his pitches when he needed to tonight.
Perhaps the best thing to see if you are a Cardinals fan is Chris Perez doing well. This young flamethrower has lived up to the hype so far: pitching one inning, garnering three strikeouts. His last out was recorded against third baseman Blake DeWitt, on a 97 mph heater.
That pitch, however, was set up by two sliders in the black, forcing DeWitt to be defensive with his swing. This at-bat, I believe, is finally what Cardinals Nation needed to see to definitively say that Perez needs to be our closer.
Although Ryan Franklin has been the Redbirds' interim closer, his natural role in the bullpen is as a setup man. In fact, Franklin was one of the most consistent pitchers last year for the Cardinals, holding numerous leads and handing them off to the closer. With Isringhausen struggling mightly, in addition to his already old and injury-prone self, it may be best for the Cardinals to look forward to the future with Perez.
After years of failure with the farm system, the Cardinals have finally produced an excellent pitcher. Perez can throw a slider with extreme movement, to accompany his overpowering cheese.
As good as this road trip has been for the team, the Cardinals best player, Albert Pujols, has struggled. He went 3-for-5 with 2 HR in the first game of the Padres' series, has gone 2-for-14 since.
It is awfully hard to complain about a .346 BA, but I suppose when Pujols was .364 just three games ago, there may be cause for concern. However, Pujols almost certainly will break his struggles soon.
The Cardinals must now hope that Wellemeyer turns in another key performance, which would be his fourth consecutive win. For the night though, Lohse was the star.