Is Nick Stavinoha a Diamond in the Rough for the St. Louis Cardinals?

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IApril 10, 2010

JUPITER, FL - MARCH 01:  Outfielder Nick Stavinoha #34 of the St. Louis Cardinals during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on March 1, 2010 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

It was a great night for St. Louis on Friday as the Cardinals defeated the Brewers 5-4 with a little help from an unlikely source.

Nick Stavinoha.

Being placed in a high pressured situation with two outs in the ninth inning, the Texas native blasted a two-run, pinch-hit home run that gave the Cardinals the lead.

It was his first plate appearance of the season.

Everybody dreams about it when they are a kid. In the ninth inning down by a certain amount of runs and one swing of the bat can win the game.

It was a dream that Stavinoha cherished.

"I came through in a spot that everybody dreams to be able to be put in," said Stavinoha. "Obviously, I'm really happy about that. I don't wear my emotions on my sleeve as much as some guys, but understand I'm pretty happy about us getting a win."

Baseball is a game full of opposites and dichotomies. He blasted that round-tripper off of all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. It was Stavinoha's 145th Major League at-bat over three seasons. Hoffman has 593 career saves, converted 37-of-41 saves last year, and already had two this season.

Obviously manager Tony La Russa saw something in Stovinoha that the Brewers did not because they were as surprised as anyone when the ball left the yard.

"I'm completely shocked that [Stavinoha] was able to get that kind of wood on that pitch," said Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun. 

However, there is always two sides to a story and as much as Nick Stavinoha's offensive exploits helped the Cardinals, their pitching suffered once again.

Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse pitched six innings, giving up four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out three in his 2010 debut.

Not the kind of start you want from a man who had a great 2008 season and then disappointed in 2009. His '08 campaign pushed the Cardinals brass into giving him a multi-year deal but has subsequently been a shell of his former self.

Lohse recounted how he was so ineffective against the Brewers lineup.

"I got in trouble when I walked guys," said Lohse. "There were a lot of pitches that were just off [the plate] I guess. You can't walk yourself in trouble like that.

"You can't put yourself in that situation too many times," he said. "I know better than that. I just can't make those mistakes."

Mistakes or not, the Cardinals need Lohse to help out in the rotation as the bullpen cannot be relied upon so heavily after Carpenter and Wainwright.

As Lohse continued to struggle, so did most of the Cardinals offense. Save for Matt Holliday, who was just a triple shy of the cycle, as Skip Schumaker had a single and double. Even the great Albert Pujols was held hitless.

Maybe there is something some of these big sluggers can use from the young Stavinoha.

A kind of confidence when heading to the plate.

"I don't try to get caught up in that game," said Stavinoha. "There's too many guys in this game who have had great success. I've been here for a year. I try not to play that game, otherwise you'll talk yourself out of at-bats."

So the question has to be asked.

Is Nick Stavinoha a diamond in the rough for the Cardinals?

Quotes and information attributed to