This Cardinal club went into the All Star break a second place ball club. While many things were going right for the team going into the break, many questions were raised about their efforts until that point in the season. Just before they took that three day sabbatical from playing games as a team, they were able to salvage a win against a team in Houston that is on the verge of complete rebuild. That victory, though not an easy one, gave the Cardinals yet another series victory against a team that you would expect to win two-of-three games from.
That was before the break. The Cardinals came roaring out of the gate after the All Star Game and the Dodgers fell hapless victims to a team on a roll. Chris Carpenter pitched like the ace fans have come to expect, Adam Wainwright continued his sheer dominance at home, Jaime Garcia was not as dominant but efficient nonetheless and Jeff Suppan put together his best game of the year. The offense started to click, the team showed it could come from behind, and along the way they completed a four game sweep of a team that dominated them in last year’s playoffs. It seems the Cardinals have turned a corner.
If that corner has indeed been turned, they will be tested this week in a four game series with the Philadelphia Phillies. A team that is expected to be a major player in October again this year, the Phillies are a team much like the Dodgers that will test the level of dedication of the Cardinal ball club in a time period that begins to set aside the contenders from the also-rans.
Game 1 – Monday, July 19 – 6:05 P.M. CST
Kyle Kendrick (5-3, 4.44 ERA) vs. Blake Hawksworth (3-5, 4.73 ERA)
It seems to me that these are the games that are waiting to blow up in the Cardinals’ faces. While Blake Hawksworth is a serviceable arm that can be run out there to the mound every five days to buy some time until the injury bug has subsided. That being said, the longer the injury bug is getting drawn out, the more apparent it is becoming that the team is trotting a relief pitcher to the mound once every five days. Something will have to be done.
Kyle Kendrick has owned the Cardinals in his young career. With a 4-0 record and a minuscule 1.67 ERA over 27 innings, he certainly has held the Cardinals to very little production against him. Looking at current Cardinal hitters facing him produces a small sample size, but at the same time reveals that he may be a pitcher that Skip Schumaker is happy to see. Skippy is hitting .556 in 9 at bats against Kendrick with a solo home run to brag about. If Skip is happy to see Kendrick, Felipe Lopez is not. Flip is only hitting .182 against the Phillie right-hander with a single run batted in.
The Cardinals’ Blake Hawksworth has only pitched 4.2 innings against the Phillies, though they were not with the best results. Blake has a loss and a 7.71 ERA to show for his work against the Eastern Division juggernaut. The one thing Blake may have going for him is that the Phillies simply have not seen him, with a collected total of eight at bats against the Cardinal starter.
Game 2 – Tuesday, July 20 – 7:15 P.M. CST
To be determined(0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Chris Carpenter (10-3, 3.16 ERA)
Chris Carpenter has been this team’s ace for quite a few years now. Seeing him take a line drive off of his pitching side forearm caused the entire fan base to gasp. Watching his next two outings, complete with what appeared to be a “flat” curveball, had speculation of an injury running rampant. When Chris took the mound against the Dodgers this past week, he put rumors and speculation to rest and the Cardinals found their staff ace once again.
Carp has not pitched at his peak when facing this ballclub, posting a 3-2 record and a 6.59 ERA over his career against them. He will face challenges against the duo of Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, as they both hold a .333 lifetime average against the Cardinal ace.
Game 3 – Wednesday, July 21 – 7:15 P.M. CST
To be determined(0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (8-4, 2.27 ERA)
Jaime Garcia has shown what just about every rookie shows around this time of the season, it is quite the long season, indeed. Jaime has pitched well, but not as well as his early success suggested. No no expected the youngster to continue on his torrid pace, though many fans made those wishes that he would and placed them under their pillows late at night. Jaime has still produced a season much better than expected when he won the job out of Spring Training and continues to dazzle teams and fight through tough starts, showing signs of a future ace in the making himself. Jaime struggled his last time out and did not make it through four innings and will look to regain some footing here against a team, much like any other, that he has limited experience against.
Game 4 – Thursday, July 22 – 1:15 P.M. CST
At press time, neither team has publicly announced a starter
At this time, no pitching matchup for either team has been officially announced, though the Cardinals will expect to hand the ball to Adam Wainwright in this game.
There are many unnamed pitching assignments for this series at this time….check back with i70baseball.com as we update this article late Monday afternoon with more complete information from the ball clubs.