You know, it's bad when you play the Pittsburgh Pirates
, and they look like the young, energetic, dynamic team, and you look like the tired, poorly constructed and fatally flawed team.
Unfortunately, that's not all that far from how things looked last night. It's much too soon to really start worrying about the Cardinals yet (or at least that's what I keep telling that nagging voice in the back of my mind who demands knee-jerk columns bashing the team be written immediately), but I will admit to being very concerned with how this team has looked in the early going.
The Pirates -- the Pirates! -- are 3-1, and they look hungry. The Cardinals are 1-3, and they look like they're still half-asleep, like it's the first week of March instead of the first week of April.
-- Kyle Lohse
looked better for the first few innings last night than he did at any point last season. Then, of course, along came the sixth inning, and he turned back into a pumpkin. The end result was a fairly typical Kyle Lohse sort of outing. But hey, at least he looked good for a handful of innings before it all went south on him, right?
If Lohse could come even somewhat close to replicating the kind of performance he put together for the Cardinals his first year here in town, it would go a long way toward ensuring the rotation some respectability. For my part, though, I'm expecting a lot of outings this season just like this one: a few positives here and there, but still not good enough to win, and not even close to good enough to avoid being an albatross.
-- It's unfortunate, but it looks like the Cardinals may need to run Jaime Garcia out there more often, because this offense doesn't look likely to produce many non-shutout victories. In fact, the offense of 2011 has looked an awful lot like the offense of 2010 so far. The middle of the lineup looks to be slightly deeper, with a 2-6 that can do plenty of damage, but the other four spots are pretty much a black hole again.
The eighth inning was certainly exciting, and it shows what kind of potential run-scoring ability the lineup should have, even without Pujols producing, but the rally stalled out and went absolutely nowhere once the seventh spot came up. The ninth inning was predictably dull, a quick 1-2-3 of Schumaker, Daniel Descalso (pinch-hitting), and Ryan Theriot. When four of your nine lineup spots aren't producing, it's hard to sustain a rally long enough to put a big number on the scoreboard.
The Cardinals have now played four games, and have yet to score more than three runs in any of them. You're not going to win many ballgames with that kind of production.
-- I wouldn't mind having Joel Hanrahan closing games for the Cards. Just saying, he's got the stuff to actually strike a hitter out now and again, rather than hoping the other team happens to hit it at a defender all the time.
-- I'm hoping like hell David Freese can actually stay somewhat healthy this season. He hasn't hit the ball particularly well yet this season, but watching him play defense has really been a bright spot so far this season. Of course, I won't be surprised in the least when Freese goes on the DL with some sort of ankle injury yet again, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.