Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Molina, Cardinals defeat Brewers 8-5 following late game rally

It certainly hasn't taken the star catcher very long to get back into the groove of things following his minor stint on the disabled list. Yadier Molina went 4-for-5 at the plate and finished with one-RBI as his St. Louis Cardinals rallied for six 2-out hits in a row in an 8 to 5 victory at Miller Park on Monday night in a regular season Major League Baseball contest.

After seeing their 4-2 lead disappear in the bottom half of the seventh-inning once starting pitcher Shelby Miller exited the ball game, St. Louis scored four runs of their own in the top of the eighth, taking the lead for good at 8-5. Matt Carpenter singled to center to drive in Daniel Descalso following an RBI single off the bat of Matt Adams to score the rookie-infielder Kolten Wong to tie the game up.

Wong, the Cardinals speedy utility man that made his MLB-debut on Friday afternoon in Chicago, finished the game with his first-two career hits as well as stolen bases and helped light a spark that this team desperately needed. He beat out infield singles in both the sixth and eighth innings, leading to his stolen bases. With Milwaukee leading 6 to 5 in the eighth, Kolten hit a chopper to the third baseman Aramis Ramirez but beat the throw as ruled by first-base umpire Marty Foster, in what was a hectic game from the start between two division-rivals.

Both Carlos Beltran and Jon Jay homered for the Angry Birds, making it the first time this season that Jay homered on consecutive days. St. Louis totaled 16 hits on the night -- with seven of them coming in just the eighth (six with 2 outs).

Jonathan Lucroy played a good game for the Brewers on Monday, as he finished 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs. Ramirez, who is a long-time division-rival for the Cardinals, hit a home run to deep left in the bottom of the seventh in what was the go-ahead run at the time before the eruption in the next half-inning.

Shelby Miller fanned eight batters in his 5 1/3 innings pitched, but ultimately got a no-decision as he gave up two runs on five hits with four free bases. Michael Wacha ultimately blew the win for Miller as he pitched an inning and gave up three runs on four hits but earned the win to improve to 2-0 on the year. Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings before Edward Mujica earned his 32nd save in 34 opportunities.

Milwaukee starter Marco Estrada pitched six innings and also recieved a no-decision. He gave up four runs on eight hits with four strike outs before Brandon Kintzler gave up four runs on six hits in 2/3's of an inning to earn his first loss on the season to fall to 3-1.

The Cardinals improved to 72-52 overall and kept pace with the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates to stay just one game out of first. The Brewers on the other hand, fell to 54-71 and following a Cubs win over the Washington Nationals, fell into last place in the National League Central division. The two teams will play the second of the three game series at 7:10 pm on Tuesday night.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cardinals look to continue winning ways in Milwaukee (Off. Lineup)

1. Matt Carpenter (Third Base) .312 Batting Average
2. Carlos Beltran (Right Field) .300 Batting Average
3. Matt Holliday (Left Field) .285 Batting Average
4. Allen Craig (First Base) .310 Batting Average
5. Yadier Molina (Catcher) .328 Batting Average
6. Jon Jay (Center Field) .273 Batting Average
7. Kolten Wong (Second Base) .000 Batting Average
8. Pete Kozma (Shortstop) .223 Batting Average
9. Shelby Miller (Starting Pitcher) .105 Batting Average

Shelby Miller (11-8, 2.97 Earned-Run Average)
against
Marco Estrada (5-4, 4.71 Earned-Run Average)

A Look Ahead at the Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers three game series

St. Louis Cardinals (71-52, Second Place in the National League Central division) 1 Game Behind
Milwaukee Brewers (54-70, Fourth Place in the National League Central division) 18.5 Games Behind

Three Game Series in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Miller Park
Cardinals lead the season series between the two 8 games-to-2 games (9 games remaining)

Monday, August 19th -- 7:00 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
Shelby Miller (11-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (5-4, 4.71 ERA)

Tuesday, August 20th -- 7:00 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
Lance Lynn (13-6, 3.89 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (8-8, 3.17 ERA)

Wednesday, August 21st -- 12:45 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
Jake Westbrook (7-8, 4.35 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (3-4, 2.95 ERA)

Cardinals take 4 of possible 6 games against division opponents

On a week that the St. Louis Cardinals began three games behind the first-place leading Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central division title race, the team seen the return of their heart and soul in starting catcher Yadier Molina -- and following two wins in each of the three-game series', starting this new week clean, the team is now just one game out.

Just as the baseball world was beginning to say that the 2011 World Series champions were looking to go on a major downslide, the team once again stepped up with adversity starring them right in their face and did what this franchise almost always seems to do -- fight back until they can't fight it any more. St. Louis earned two extra inning victories against the Pirates in which they had to come back after the ninth-inning, making it their first two wins of the 2013 season after trailing after eight-innings of baseball.

Not many teams have faced injuries to the magnitude that this seasons team has so far, but considering them, they have done a great job battling around it. Despite the lengthy time that the ball club has spent struggling as of late, entering Monday night's series-opener against the last-place Milwaukee Brewers, they are one game behind the Pirates for the division lead -- and own a 1.5 game lead over the Cincinnati Reds for the number one Wild Card spot and 6.5 games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the last and final playoff spot; so while it isn't an insurmountable lead; it is still somewhat of a cushion.

The Cardinals will open up a three-game series at Milwaukee beginning tonight and will end the week with a four game series at home inside Busch Stadium against the MLB-leading Atlanta Braves.

St. Louis Cardinals Baseball: 71 Wins, 52 Losses (.577 Winning Percentage)
[1 Game Behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for First Place in NL Central division]
[1.5 Games ahead of Cincinnati Reds for Wild Card lead/6.5 Games ahead of Arizona for final spot]

Game 118: (Game 1 of 3 in the Series)
Pittsburgh Pirates 3, at St. Louis Cardinals 4 [14 innings]

Game 119: (Game 2 of 3 in the Series)
Pittsburgh Pirates 5, at St. Louis Cardinals 1

Game 120: (Game 3 of 3 in the Series)
Pittsburgh Pirates 5, at St. Louis Cardinals 6 [12 Innings]

Game 121: (Game 1 of 3 in the Series)
St. Louis Cardinals 0, at Chicago Cubs 7

Game 122: (Game 2 of 3 in the Series)
St. Louis Cardinals 4, at Chicago Cubs 0

Game 123: (Game 3 of 3 in the Series)
St. Louis Cardinals 6, at Chicago Cubs 1

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beltran starting for the Cards in series opener against Pirates (Lineup)

Pittsburgh Pirates (70-47, First Place in the National League Central division)
1. Starling Marte -- Left Field
2. Neil Walker -- Second Base
3. Andrew McCutchen -- Centerfield
4. Pedro Alvarez -- Third Base
5. Russell Martin -- Catcher
6. Garrett Jones -- First Base
7. Andrew Lambo -- Right Field
8. Jordy Mercer -- Shortstop
9. Charlie Morton -- Starting Pitcher

St. Louis Cardinals (67-50, Second Place in the National League Central division)
1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base
2. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field
3. Allen Craig -- First Base
4. Matt Holliday -- Left Field
5. David Freese -- Third Base
6. Jon Jay -- Center Field
7. Tony Cruz -- Catcher
8. Pete Kozma -- Shortstop
9. Adam Wainwright -- Starting Pitcher

Pitching Matchup:
Charlie Morton *Pittsburgh* (4-3, 3.88 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright *St. Louis* (13-7, 2.66 ERA)

National League Central Division Standings

1. Pittsburgh Pirates -- (70-46, --)
2. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS -- (67-50, 3 GB)
3. Cincinnati Reds -- (66-52, 4.5 GB)
4. Chicago Cubs -- (52-66, 18.5 GB)
5. Milwaukee Brewers -- (51-67, 19.5 GB)

(updated through official standings at 9:17 pm CT on 8/13/13)

Molina, Cardinals looking to turn things around in the final months

Despite an ultimately fast start to the first couple of months to the 2013 Major League Baseball, second year manager Mike Matheny and the St. Louis Cardinals are in a slump as we speak -- but as not only Cardinals fans know, but even the casual fans, if there is one team that has proven over and over again to overcome adversity, this team is certainly it.

Injuries have plagued this team it seems all season long as they have seen numerous key players land on and off the disabled list, but it certainly isn't an excuse. For a team that has been without their starting closer (Jason Motte), a future hall of fame starter (Chris Carpenter), as well as others including MVP canidate (Yadier Molina), a break seems to be something that the Birds just cannot catch.

Entering tonight's battle at Busch with the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates, the Yadi-less Cardinals are three games behind their opponent for first-place and will be looking for revenge as just a week ago the Pirates won 4-of-5 at their home ball park to take first place away. The Cardinals enter the series at 67-50 overall, while the Pirates are 70-47.

The team currently holds one of the two wild card spots with a sizeable lead of 7.5 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but just by 1.5 games over another division-rival, the Cincinnati Reds. The way that things stand now, the National League Central holds 3 of the 5 playoff spots for the National League with just 51 games remaining until October baseball begins.

Molina, who is currently on the disabled-list, was seen working out this afternoon and could make his return to the ball club on Thursday afternoon, which is when he becomes eligible to return. In 98 games this season, Yadi is batting a team-best .330 with 8 home runs and 54 RBIs while being the heart and soul for this team.

Allen Craig is soundly having MVP-like numbers this season as well though, as he is batting .319 with 11 home runs and 87 RBIs in 113 games. Matt Carpenter became a first-year All-Star this season as he is becoming a very good table-setter for the team. Carpenter is batting .308 this season with a team-high 139 hits and has drove in 57 runs with 9 home runs. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are having solid seasons as well, as Holliday enters tonight with a 9 game hitting streak and is batting .485 in the month of August. On the season though, Beltran is hitting .305 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs while Holliday is batting .290 with 15 bombs and 59 RBIs.

The pitching has had a large part to do with the success the team has had so far as well and while they have slowed down just a bit, they are still putting the team in a position to win on a consistent basis. Team ace Adam Wainwright has slowed down a bit as of late, but even now he still has put together another ace-like performance. In 24 starts this season, he is 13-7 with a 2.66 ERA while leading the team in strike outs with 156.

Shelby Miller has put together a great season so far as well, as he is 11-7 with a 2.89 ERA and all across the board is among the top rookie starters number wise and has 132 strike outs himself. Lance Lynn put together an amazing first half, but since has slowly started to taper off despite still having good numbers. In 24 starts, Lynn is 13-6 with a 3.79 ERA through 149 2/3 innings.

The rookies have done an excellent job this season along with the bullpen, and ultimately are a large part to the teams great start. Guys such as Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, John Gast, and Tyler Lyons have all made starts that resulted in wins so far this season -- while the likes of Tyler Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Kevin Segrist and Keith Butler have all had pretty big roles from the bullpen.

One guy that you have to mention though, who highlighted one of the teams biggest question marks entering the season, is Edward Mujica. When the news broke out about Jason Motte, whose season ended before it even started, the team had no closer. 6 months later, Mujica has proven to be one of the best closers in the league and has played a huge role. In 33 save opportunities, he has saved 31 and has allowed just ten runs through 49 2/3 innings with an ERA of 1.81.

To make it short and sweet, the Cardinals have an awful lot of baseball left and as well know, anything can happen. The team is three games out of first place with just over 50 games remaining and will be getting their team leader in Yadier Molina back in just a few days. All that can be said at this moment and time, as La Russa used to say, this team needs to leave it all out on the field and play a hard nine every single night.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kelly, Cards look to end Kershaw, Dodgers road win streak (Lineups)

St. Louis Cardinals (65-46, Second Place in National League Central division)
1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base -- .305 Batting Average
2. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field -- .302 Batting Average
3. Allen Craig -- First Base -- .321 Batting Average
4. Matt Holliday -- Left Field -- .278 Batting Average
5. David Freese -- Third Base -- .273 Batting Average
6. Jon Jay -- Center Field -- .260 Batting Average
7. Tony Cruz -- Catcher -- .234 Batting Average
8. Pete Kozma -- Shortstop -- .235 Batting Average
9. Joe Kelly -- Starting Pitcher -- .231 Batting Average

Los Angeles Dodgers (62-49, First Place in National League West division)
1. Carl Crawford -- Left Field -- .279 Batting Average
2. Mark Ellis -- Second Base -- .273 Batting Average
3. Adrian Gonzalez -- First Base -- .297 Batting Average
4. Yasiel Puig -- Right Field -- .379 Batting Average
5. Andre Either -- Center Field -- .269 Batting Average
6. A.J. Ellis -- Catcher -- .256 Batting Average
7. Juan Uribe -- Third Base -- .256 Batting Average
8. Nick Punto -- Shortstop -- .247 Batting Average
9. Clayton Kershaw -- Starting Pitcher -- .137 Batting Average

Starting Pitching Matchup:
Joe Kelly (2-3, 3.10 Earned Run Average) vs. Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 1.87 Earned Run Average)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pre-Gamin' with T-Cobb: Cardinals against Cubs Game 1 Lineups

St. Louis Cardinals (44-25, First Place in the National League Central division)
1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base
2. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field
3. Matt Holliday -- Left Field
4. Allen Craig -- First Base
5. Yadier Molina -- Catcher
6. David Freese -- Third Base
7. Jon Jay -- Center Field
8. Pete Kozma -- Short Stop
9. Shelby Miller -- Starting Pitcher

Chicago Cubs (28-39, Fourth Place in the National League Central division)
1. Luis Valbuena -- Third Base
2. Starlin Castro -- Short Stop
3. Nate Schierholtz -- Right Field
4. Alfonso Soriano -- Left Field
5. Anthony Rizzo -- First Base
6. Ryan Sweeney -- Center Field
7. Welington Castillo -- Catcher
8. Darwin Barney -- Second Base
9. Travis Wood -- Pitcher

Pitching Matchup:
(STL) Shelby Miller [7-4, 2.21 ERA] against (CHC) Travis Wood [5-5, 2.65 ERA]

The game is currently under a rain delay at the moment that has been in progress right at the two-hour mark but the tarp is off the field and the game is about to start at 8 pm Central Time, live from Busch Stadium in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Yadier Molina continues to master the art of America's Past time

As the league-leading St. Louis Cardinals continue their fantastic start to the season and hold down the best record in all of major league baseball, starting catcher Yadier Molina continues to prove why he is considered one of the very best all-around players in all of the game today.

As the team steps onto the field on Monday night in the first game of the four game-series against the division-rival Chicago Cubs and the first of their seven game home stand that will conclude over next weekend in a rematch of the historic' 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers, Yadi will begin with the best batting average in all of the MLB as he is currently holding an electric average at the plate of .352.

Everybody slowly has been awaiting for his down fall at the plate -- and as manager Mike Matheny stated earlier on Sunday, this guy really has no limitations as he has already proven to be the top defensive catcher for over a couple of years now -- and now he is proving that he is not only elite behind the plate at calling the game for all of his pitching rotation, blocking balls in the dirt and throwing out the theives that try to steal bases -- but he is also just as elite at the plate and as an all-around baseball player.

After sitting out in Sunday's rubber match and finale at the Marlins, Molina had started 63 of the teams 69 games behind the plate and was on pace to start the most games at catcher since Ted Simmons started 153 games back in the 1973 season -- and note that no catcher in major league history has started over 135 games and finished that sea

"I've really stopped putting any limitations on what he can do, he just wills it to happen," said Matheny early on Sunday before the Cardinals 7 to 2 lost at Miami. " With catching everyday, there is an added component that a lot of players don't have to go through -- the grind mentally and physically. But he does a nice job seperating his offense from his defense. There's just so many things that he does. We've talked about it at length and I'll continue to talk about it, because it's pretty special."

One thing that certainly makes Yadi so special is the fact that he cares more about winning ball games for his team behind the plate than he does over individual records and awards -- which in today's game, whether you want to believe it or not, is a lot more rare than finding a four lear clover in the month of December.

When asked politely about how he felt about leading the league in the batting average category at the moment on Sunday afternoon before the loss that he didn't even get the start in (and knew about it before the interview), he replied with one of the most humble replies that I have ever seen and heard.

"I don't want to think about it. Baseball is up and down and I know that. My main concern is all about winning. As long as we'll be winning, I'll be OK."

The guy is simply a special player that does nothing but put his team first. It's rare to find someone that is of his calibar and that isn't cocky about being listed among the top players. Remember how special Mr. Albert Pujols was throughout his entire eleven seasons sporting the 'Birds on the Bat'? Well, let's just say he did this organization a favor by taking his $250 million dollar contract to Anahiem so we could afford the smaller, more reliable and comfordible contract with Yadi.

No disrespect at all pointed towards Albert -- especially after what he gave us in his 11 year-career in a Cardinals' uniform before making what you would call a 'business' decision in todays game -- but Yadier is truly the definition of what the 'Cardinal Way' is all about and respresents. Winning and loyalty describes this franchise more than anything -- and Yadi, you truly represent that.

Thank you for resigning for much less and doing much, much more. You are truly a special and loved player, and I will sign this sincerely by ALL of Cardinal Nation on that note.

A Look Ahead at the Upcoming Week in Saint Louis Cardinals Baseball

**(Monday, June 17th through Sunday, June 23rd)**

Monday, June 17th --- Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
(6:00 pm Central Time, ESPN Nationally/FOX Sports Midwest) -- Game 1 of 4
PITCHING MATCHUP: [CHC] Travis Wood against [STL] Shelby Miller

Tuesday, June 18th --- Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
(7:15 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest) -- Game 2 of 4
PITCHING MATCHUP: [CHC] Jeff Samardzija against [STL] Adam Wainwright

Wednesday, June 19th --- Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
(7:15 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest) -- Game 3 of 4
PITCHING MATCHUP: [CHC] Edwin Jackson against [STL] Jake Westbrook

Thursday, June 20th --- Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
(7:15 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest) -- Game 4 of 4
PITCHING MATCHUP: [CHC] Scott Feldman against [STL] Lance Lynn

Friday, June 21st --- Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers
(7:15 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest) -- Game 1 of 3
PITCHING MATCHUP: [TEX] Derek Holland against [STL] Tyler Lyons

Saturday, June 22nd --- Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers
(6:15 pm Central Time, FOX Nationally Televised) -- Game 2 of 3
PITCHING MATCHUP: [TEX] Nick Tepesch against [STL] Shelby Miller

Sunday, June 23rd --- Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers
(7:05 pm Central Time, ESPN Nationally Televised) -- Game 3 of 3
PITCHING MATCHUP: [TEX] Yu Darvish against [STL] Adam Wainwright

A look ahead at the Cardinals-Cubs four game series at Busch Stadium

Chicago Cubs (28-39, Fourth Place in the National League Central division) -- 15 Games Back
St. Louis Cardinals (44-25, First Place in the National League Central division) -- 2.5 Games ahead

Four Game Series in St. Louis, Missouri at Busch Stadium
(Season Series between the two teams are tied at 1-1 after 2 game series in Chicago)

Monday, June 17th -- 6:00 pm Central Time -- ESPN Network
(CHC) Travis Wood [5-5, 2.65 ERA] versus (STL) Shelby Miller [7-4, 2.21 ERA]

Tuesday, June 18th -- 7:15 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
(CHC) Jeff Samardzija [3-7, 3.46 ERA] versus (STL) Adam Wainwright [10-3, 2.18 ERA]

Wednesday, June 19th -- 7:15 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
(CHC) Edwin Jackson [3-8, 5.40 ERA] versus (STL) Jake Westbrook [5-2, 2.05 ERA]

Thursday, June 20th -- 7:15 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
(CHC) Scott Feldman [6-5, 3.05 ERA] versus (STL) Lance Lynn [9-1, 3.56 ERA]

Nolasco dominates Cardinals as Marlins end streak with 7-2 win

The Miami Marlins came out focused on this Fathers Day as they defeated the major-league leading St. Louis Cardinals 7 to 2 behind a dominant performance from veteran starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco and ended their run at the record books on a beautiful day today in a major league baseball regular season contest.

Nolasco pitched seven innings of work as he gave up just one run on three hits and improved his record for the season to 4-7 overall. Entering this afternoon's game, in his previous eight starts, the Marlins were just 1-7 -- which wasn't all because of his performance, but because he had gotten just 12 runs combined for support.

The Cardinals seen their series winning streak end at a franchise-tying 14 consecutive wins while the Marlins won their very first series of the 2013 marathon outside of a team called the New York Mets -- and are playing their best stretch of baseball through out the first two and a half months of baseball.

Miami got their party started early on as Justin Ruggiano had a two-run single in the bottom half of the first-inning off the Cards' rookie starter Tyler Lyons as he was roughed up for most of his time of work. Lyons, who fell to 2-3 on the year, allowed six runs on eight hits and finished with three walks -- watching his earned-run average jump all the way up to 4.65.

To go along with the two RBIs from Ruggiano, both Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco finished with two runs batted in as well, as the trio of Marlins combined to drive in six runs and seven hits. Pierre extended his hitting streak to 12 games as him and Ruggiano finished with two hits apiece while the former Cardinal Polanco finished with three, helping their team out hit the Cardinals 11 to 5 for the contest.

Matheny opted to give Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday the day off but had both appear off the bench as pinch hitters in the top of the ninth-inning -- the only inning that they really showed any hops in their jump for the entire contest. Both Jon Jay and Matt Adams were the only Cardinals to drive in runs as Jay did so in the third and Adams in the ninth.

The Cardinals got more base runners off the three bullpen pitchers for Miami than they did off Nolasco through seven innings. Four reached base off the starter while five reached off the relievers. Steve Cishek picked up his ninth save of the season as he faced only one batter -- Matt Holliday -- as he struck him out to end the contest with bases loaded following two hits and two walks off Miami' reliever Chad Qualls in his workload of two-thirds of an inning.

Miami improved their record to 21-47 on the year as the Cardinals fell to 44-25. St. Louis will be heading back home on a 'Not-So-Happy-Flight' back to Busch Stadium as they will be opening up a four-game series against the arch-rival Cubbies for a 6:05 pm Central Time first pitch. The game will feature a pitching match up of Travis Wood (5-5, 2.65 ERA) and another Cards' rookie in Shelby Miller (7-4, 2.21 ERA) and will be televised live on the national network of ESPN.

Cardinals chasing the record books in rubber match (Lineup)

St. Louis Cardinals (44-24, First Place in the National League Central)
1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base
2. Jon Jay -- Center Field
3. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field
4. Allen Craig -- Left Field
5. David Freese -- Third Base
6. Matt Adams -- First Base
7. Daniel Descalso -- Short Stop
8. Tony Cruz -- Catcher
9. Tyler Lyons -- Starting Pitcher

Miami Marlins (20-47, Fifth and Last Place in the National League East)
1. Juan Pierre -- Left Field
2. Ed Lucas -- First Base
3. Giancarlo Stanton -- Right Field
4. Justin Ruggiano -- Center Field
5. Derek Dietrich -- Second Base
6. Adeiny Hechvarria -- Short Stop
7. Placido Polanco -- Third Base
8. Jeff Mathis -- Catcher
9. Ricky Nolasco -- Starting Pitcher

Pitching Matchup:
(STL) Tyler Lyons [2-2, 3.51 ERA] vs. (MIA) Ricky Nolasco [3-7, 3.80 ERA]

12:10 pm Central Time -- FOX Sports Midwest
Live from Miami Stadium in Miami, Florida
[Partly cloudy. Winds blowing in from left field at 10-15 mph.]
[Game Time Temperature estimated around 90 degrees]

Happy Fathers Day to all of the dads in Cardinal Nation (and my dad)

As the St. Louis Cardinals get prepared for the rubber match of this current three game series against the Miami Marlins later on this afternoon in Florida, I wanted to take out the time to wish all of the father's that are involved in Cardinal Nation a very, very special Happy Fathers Day -- and in specific, my father, Bill Cobb!

It is days like today that make you sit back and think about life, and as I sat up late last night, I thought and thought and thought. Being as big as a sports nut as I am, usually sports are what are on my mind -- unless something else big is going on of course. But with today's technology, every time my phone lights up, or my TV or radio is on -- it is usually all related to sports in a way. It never gets annoying though, and honestly, I have my very own father to think for that.

I was lucky enough to have a dad that I also consider my best friend -- which is something that I don't think enough people have these days even though each and every individual deserves to. I learned a lot from my father, and as I reflected on that last night, it actually hit me pretty hard (but in a good way of course).

Thanks to my best friend and father, I was brought up the way that every kid should be. He disciplined me in the correct manner, he taught me more than a fair share for me to become a very mature adult, and most of all he was a great guidance for me through my child hood and as I sit here today writing this, I know that if it weren't for him then I wouldn't be into writing and have the dream that I have -- nor the fandom of such that I do for sports and for the beloved Cardinals.

If you're lucky enough to have a dad like the one that I have -- one that may not have given you everything you wanted -- but more like everything that he possibly could, then make sure you let him know. I was introduced to the Birds on the Bat thanks to him, and that in itself is a huge blessing as they are a huge part of Tyler-being-Tyler (or myself being myself).

Being 22 years young, I got to experience a lot of things that some kids only dream of. I witnessed more than enough Cardinals games in person and he helped me learn and know what being apart of Cardinal Nation really felt like and what it is all about. I witnessed, live in person, Ozzie Smith in his last season at the old Busch Stadium, an unassisted triple-play (something that very rarely happens....EVER...at ANY level of baseball), the Albert Pujols era many times live, Mark McGwire live, an NLDS game, numerous NLCS games, the 2004 World Series clincher as the Red Sox ended their curse, and the second game EVER played at the new Busch Stadium -- along with much more historic things.

Thank you dad for giving me everything that you could as I grew up, and always being there for me. You helped me become me and there is honestly no possible way of me repaying you at an equal price aside from becoming successful and being the absolute best person that I can be -- because that is what you taught me to do. Even though we are so far apart miles wise, there is nobody that could come close in the father term and how much you mean to me. You and mom helped show me the light to always enjoy life no matter the hand you're dealt.

There is no better thing in life than being able to look back as you are growing up and having both parents to look at and being able to look up to them and thank them for always putting you first just because that is what parents do. Not everybody can say that but luckily I can look back and say that I am one of the very few that really and truly can.

As I finish this off though, as it was more of a post to my father, I would like to wish a very, very Happy Father's day to each and every father out there that has done and is doing their jobs. Cardinal Nation or not, you're all true heroes in my books. Enjoy your days today and don't let anything stand in the way. Mothers and Fathers day is something that should be celebrated every day, but sadly it isn't.

(As I am now officially ending my rant though, this post goes out to all of the fathers including every Cardinal player, every individual on the coaching staff as well as front office, as well as every fan -- HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!!!!!!!!!!)

Lyons, Cardinals look to set new franchise record on Father's Day

When the league-leading St. Louis Cardinals hit the diamond on Sunday afternoon in Florida against the Miami Marlins, not only will they be looking to win the three game series in the rubber match, but they will also be looking to set a brand new franchise record.

That record is for the consecutive strand of series' that the team has gone without losing a single one. Dating back to April 26th through April 28th, when the Cardinals lost two games in a three-game series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis hasn't lost in it's last 14 series -- with 11 wins and then three split-decisions with two of them in two-game series and one of them being in four games.

For a group of hard-working individuals of players and coaches -- all the way up to the front office management -- this would be an amazingly huge accomplishment as it would be a new record for such a rich and storied franchise such as the most-winningest team in National League history, along with the second-most winningest in all of America's past time.

What makes this even more of a feel-good story though -- besides the fact that it would stand in the Cardinals' record books -- is the fact that it is part of the teams motto as winning every series (and not every game) was what former Cardinal manager and soon-to-be hall of famer, Tony La Russa, tried emphasizing so much to his past ball clubs, two of which that won World Series titles.

Although it is most certainly still to early to really talk about 'World Series' conversation, are these starting to become shadows of the 2011 team? Remember the team that fought for a hard nine and never, ever gave up? The team that was down to their last strike too many times to count before Lance Berkman and hometown hero David Freese came through in the clutch with hits that were heard about all around the world?

That same group of Cardinals won its last 10 regular-season series that season just to sneak into the playoffs before stunning three teams (Phillies, Brewers, Rangers) that were huge favorites as they went on to win the World Series in seven hard-fought games.

This run started at home inside 'Baseball Heaven' on the confines of Busch Stadium on April 30th after the Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds 2 to 1 after falling in the series opener the night before. Since then though, a lot of things have changed.

Two relievers that were in massive roles, both Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepcynski, have been sent down to the minors since blowing saves in the Pittsburgh series when St. Louis last lost a series --  and Edward Mujica has his spot justified in the bullpen for this season as he has extended his streak of consecutive saves to 19 games in a row. The Cardinals have gotten 17 wins from rookie pitchers, with 12 of them coming from rookie starters.

One thing that has stayed the same though, Adam Wainwright. Waino is still the ace of the pitching staff that is currently the youngest in all of baseball and following his start on Thursday in New York when he tossed seven scoreless, he was the first and is the only pitcher in baseball with 10 wins at the moment.

The Cardinals will be giving the ball to rookie starter Tyler Lyons this afternoon -- and with the streak on the line, it most certainly could be a rewarding feeling for both himself as well as everybody that is involved in 'Cardinal Nation'. To say the least, the Cardinals have some business to take care of on this Father's Day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Beltran and Lynn lead Cardinals past Marlins 13 to 7 in wild game

Carlos Beltran hit two home runs with one coming from each side of the plate, while Lance Lynn did his job on the mound -- as well as at the plate -- and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Miami Marlins 13 to 7 in Florida on Saturday afternoon in a major league baseball regular season contest.

The first inning was a pretty wild one to say the least as the two teams combined to put up nine runs. In the top half of the first inning, St. Louis scored five runs as Yadier Molina had a two-run single that drove in both Jon Jay and Matt Holliday to get the party started. David Freese then singled to center to drive in Allen Craig which was followed up by an RBI double off the bat of Daniel Descalso and ended with Pete Kozma driving in Freese due to a fielders choice.

Down 5-0 entering the bottom half of the first inning though didn't affect the Marlins at the plate though. Miami scored four runs themselves as Ed Lucas started it off with an RBI single that brought home Juan Pierre -- and he scored after Adeiny Hechavarria him home with an RBI single of his own. Rob Brantly drov in the final two runs in the inning with a 2-out two-run single and finished the contest 2 for 3 at the plate with three RBIs.

Beltran started off the second inning with a bomb to right field as it was his first of the game. Giancarlo Stanton responded in the bottom of the second with a home run of his own and his was a two-run homer that drove in Lucas for his second run of the game -- and after two innings of baseball in the great state of sunshine, it was a 6-6 tie.

It was a game that seen 28 hits as the Cardinals out hit the Marlins by a total of 17 to 11 and had every single starter for St. Louis finish with at least one hit -- with five of them having two or more.

Despite the fact that it was one of his worst starts on the mound stat-wise so far this season, Lynn recieved the win which jumped his record to 9-1 overall on the season as he allowed seven runs on nine hits in just five innings. In his final at-bat of the game though, as the Cardinals were ahead 7-6 following a third-inning home run from Freese, he drove in two runs himself with a single to shallow right. His hit broke the game open at 9-6 at the time, which ultimately proved to be the game-winning hit.

Molina, who has the leagues highest batting average at .352, went 2-for-5 at the plate and finished with three RBIs himself. Also driving in multiple runs for St. Louis was Beltran (2), Freese (2), and Lynn (2).

Tom Koehler lasted just 4 2/3 innings on the mound for the Marlins though, as he allowed nine runs on eight hits and seen his record fall to 0-5 for the season. Also, the bullpen for the Marlins pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on nine hits as they used four players. As for the Cardinals bullpen, who used four guys that included three rookies, performed four innings of work as they gave up no runs on two hits.

With the win, the Cardinals improved their record back to 20 games over the .500 mark at 44-24 and evened up the series and keep their streak alive as they will be going for 15 consecutive series wins tomorrow afternoon in the rubbermatch of this three game series. With the loss, the Marlins fall to 20-47.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cardinals road performance has been vital to the teams' record start

The St. Louis Cardinals are off to a record-setting pace in the first two and a half months into the major league baseball season, which isn't really that much of a surprise to many Cardinals fans -- including myself. There is one thing that does stand out and that does impress me with how great of a start this really is though -- and that's that not only are they playing well at home, but the fact that they are also playing even better on the road in front of the visiting crowds.

As we are now 67 games into the 2013 marathon that we all call baseball season, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny has his team revved up and playing some damned good baseball. While they currently own the best record in all of the entire MLB, they are seven games above the .500 mark at home inside 'Baseball Heaven', and on the road, where history shows that they normally struggle, they are 12 games over.

How is it that they are playing so well, everywhere they go? Especially considering the fact that through all of this, they are the youngest team in all of the baseball based upon the average ages of the players. It could be the pressure of performing in front of the home crowd, which would be my only guess with so many rookies playing in such big roles. But then again, it doesn't make much sense that the same rookies could flourish so well away from the place they are so-well loved at [Busch Stadium].

At 43-24 overall, the Cardinals are 24-12 on the road -- which also is another category that they are tops above all teams. While there are a few teams that own a better home record, the closest team to them on the road in all of baseball owns just 20 wins -- which is four games behind -- owned by the likes of the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics.

A lot of experts and baseball fanatics seem to believe this is just a stretch run of 'luck', which could very well be your opinion as well -- and hey, everybody and everything on this earth has the right to have their own opinion, but one thing that I know is for sure; numbers don't lie.

As an offensive unit on the road, the Cardinals are the second best hitting team as they have posted a team batting average of .270 -- which is behind just the Baltimore Orioles (.279) for the best. They have a league-best 173 RBIs and while they've only hit 28 home runs (compared to the Orioles' leading 47), they own a .336 on-base percentage as well as a slugging percentage of .403.

The real key to the road though has been the pitching staff. The Cardinals pitching unit as a whole has combined for a league-best 2.99 earned-run average while having the top WHIP in all of baseball as well as they stand at 1.24 -- which are two of the biggest indications' stat-wise on how well a pitcher/pitching staff is doing as a whole. In the 36 road games so far, they have racked up 262 strikeouts compared to just 87 walks as well, which has been huge for the young rooks in both the starting rotation as well as bullpen towards their youth of gaining confidence.

With the lost in the opening game of this weekends three game series against the Marlins in Miami, the Cardinals' streak of series-wins on the road will be on the line with them needing to win both Saturday and Sunday's games if they want to keep it going. Since losing two of three to the Diamondbacks in Arizona the opening series of the season, the team has yet to lose again as they have won ten out of eleven with the only series they didn't end up winning being a one game split with the Cubs' in a two game series in which dates back to May 7th and 8th as the Cubs won the first game 2 to 1 before St. Louis took the second game 5 to 4.

Nobody can really put together why the Cardinals are playing this well away from home -- or why they are for that matter. The only thing that you can do for the moment is to just watch and see how these rookies continue to grow and see what they learn from it. Matheny has these youngsters playing to their max potential right now and they aren't showing any signs of slowing down, either. As any baseball fan knows though, one of the biggest keys to winning a world title has a lot to do with how well you can perform on the road -- and these guys are doing just that!

Stanton comes through in clutch as Fernandez, Marlins beat Cards 5-4

In a match up between the best team in baseball and one of the worst teams in the game, Giancarlo Stanton came up big with the bat and rookie starting pitcher Jose Fernandez did it on the mound as the Miami Marlins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5 to 4 on Friday night in Florida in a Major League Baseball regular season contest.

With the Marlins holding a slim 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, Stanton came through with a clutch two-run double to bring in both Juan Pierre and Ed Lucas to bust the game wide open, making it 5-2 at the time and ultimately providing the hometown fans with what eventually the game-winning hit. Stanton finished the game at the plate 3 for 4 and with the 2 RBIs.

Fernandez out-pitched a rusty Jake Westbrook on the night of his return from the disabled list as well. The rookie went seven innings deep and allowed just three runs (two earned) over six hits and finished the night with a career-high ten strike outs -- improving his record for the season to 4-3 overall.

Allen Craig led St. Louis in hits with two, as he also drove in a run along with the likes of Yadier Molina, Jon Jay, and then David Freese -- who had a huge RBI double at the time in the top of the eighth off the Marlins bullpen to make it 5-4. The Cardinals were out-hit in the contest 10 to 8 by Miami, who earned their 20th victory of the season with this win.

Westbrook fell to 2-2 following the loss and seen his earned-run average rise to 2.05 for the season through seven starts so far as he allowed five runs on the night -- with just three of them being earned. Matt Carpenter made a costly error with two outs and thats when Stanton made them pay as he recorded his two-run double in a spot that shouldn't have even been possible. Both teams finished the night with an error, but the Cardinals couldn't overcome their mistake in the end.

Steve Cishek recorded his eighth save of the season in ten opportunities as he had a quick fix in the top half of the ninth, finishing with one strike out as well. The Marlins took the opening game of the three game weekend series and will need one more win in the final two games to give the Cardinals their first road series loss since the opening series of the season when they lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Marlins improved their record to 20-46 overall while Matheny and his Cardinals fell to 43-24 overall. Game two will be on Saturday afternoon with the first pitch coming at 3:10 pm Central Time with a pitching matchup between St. Louis' Lance Lynn (8-1, 3.00 ERA) and Miami's Tom Koehler (0-4, 3.91 ERA). The game will be televised on FOX Sports Midwest.

Cardinals continue to get better following fast and furious start

The St. Louis Cardinals are off to one of their best starts in the franchises' long storied history as they own a major league leading 43 wins through 66 games -- and even with all of the injuries they have dealt with through out the first two and a half months -- they somehow, some way, continue to get better and stronger.

General Manager John Mozeliak took a big risk in hiring former player and now the current manager Mike Matheny -- and it has paid it's own dividends as he his doing way more than what was expected out of him through his first season and a half into his managerial career as he was brought in with having no prior experience outside of being a catcher on the players side of the game.

He managed to finish one win away from the World Series in his first full season. The Cardinals lost to the eventual champions in the San Fransisco Giants in a series that they had led three games to one after the first four. To reach the National League Championship Series, the team had to defeat the Atlanta Braves in the one game playoff -- then they defeated the Washington Nationals in a desicive game five that was capped off by an electric seven-run ninth after trailing by six at one point during the game.

Following the heart-breaking end to the season and looming into the off-season and into Spring Training was even more dramatic, unexpected bad news. On February 22nd, right before the Cardinals first practice game, Chris Carpenter was placed on the 60-day DL and at the time was hearing the word 'retirement' uttered around by the media whirlwind, as well as the media. Then, on March 30th, just days before the teams first regular season contest, Jason Motte was placed on the 15-day DL which eventually led to the news of Tommy John Surgery, and the end to his season before it had even began.

A year removed from losing an all-time great in manager Tony La Russa, as well as eleven-year icon in Albert Pujols, who would have thought that on June 14, 2013 -- 66 games into the baseball calendar year -- that the new-look Cardinals would be 20 games over the .500 mark, own the best record in baseball, and making it happen with one of the youngest teams in all of baseball -- with the youngest pitching staff in the league too.

The team lost one of their best pitchers in Chris Carpenter and starting closer in Jason Motte, both of which played huge roles last season -- as well as in 2011 when they won the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

They replaced the Carpenter loss with young talented pitchers such as Shelby Miller, Tyler Lyons, John Gast, Michael Wacha -- who all have done great jobs in their roles as starters as they are all rookies as well -- and they replaced the Motte loss with Edward Mujica, who is flourishing in his role as the closer with 19 saves in as many opportunities, and numbers that arguably make him the best pitcher in baseball in the ninth inning.

The pitching staff as a whole has given up 210 total runs on 548 hits which has them as a unit owning an earned-run average of 3.17 and a WHIP of 1.19 . The bullpen has consisted of rookies playing a lot in big roles as well as Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez and Lyons have all had some major impact in one way or another. The starting pitching has seen injuries to Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook as well, which is three starters theyve been without that were opening day rotation guys projected heading into the spring. Adam Wainwright has been the anchorman as always and leads the majors in wins with 10.

The offense was one of the best last season, and is continuing to be again this season. The power trio of Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig have put a lot of pressure on opposing pitchers and have made Cardinal Nation forget all about (dare I say it) the days of Albert Pujols and company. Craig leads the team in RBIs with 50 while Beltran leads the team in home runs with 14. Yadier Molina, along with consistently being one of the best -- if not the best -- catchers in baseball behind the plate, he has the best batting average (.353) in all of baseball while leading St. Louis in hits with 83.

Although its still early on, Mo and his Cardinals have the largest differential in baseball at +102 (329 runs scored, 227 runs allowed), the best road record in baseball at 24-11, and the best record in the league and the NL Central.

They are third in runs scored (329), second in batting average (.276), third in on-base percentage (.336) and 12th in slugging percentage (.409). The offense overall ranks first while the pitching staff as a whole does as well. They are first in ERA (3.17), fourth in quality starts (42) and WHIP (1.19), and 10th in batting average against (.246) as well.

As the past has shown us over and over again: winning is just the Cardinal Way. Everybody knows that the Major League Baseball season isn't a sprint, but rather a marathon. With that said though, through 66 games, it's hard to put into perspective what this team has really done so far -- but one thing that I feel 100 percent positive in saying, is that even with this amazingly fast start from the Cardinals, they will still only continue to get better and better as the youth will get more experience and confidence. Will this translate into a 12th World Series championship though? That is a question that only these individuals -- as well as time -- has the ability to show us. Grab your popcorn and soda, this summer is going to be magicful in Baseball Heaven.

Westbrook makes return from DL as Cardinals visit Marlins (Lineup)

The major league leading St. Louis Cardinals are coming off yet another series win following Adam Wainwright's electric performance on the mound yesterday in New York as they defeated the Mets 2 to 1 and are looking to end their current road trip on a good note as they are hosted by the Marlins for three games in the beautiful city of Miami.

As the Cardinals are 20 games over the .500 mark, they are also a league-best 24-11 on the road this season and are currently holding a three and a half game lead over the Cincinnati Reds for first place in the National League Central division. While Miami is just 11-22 overall at home -- and 19-46 overall for the season -- they are a young team with confidence and certainly should not be taken lightly.

Tonight marks the return of starting pitcher Jake Westbrook for St. Louis as he hasn't pitched since he got the win in the teams' 5 to 4 win over the Cubs on May 8th. He is returning to the leagues best starting rotation after spending well over a month on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Before the injury and so far this season, Westbrook is 2-1 with an Earned Run Average of 1.62 through six starts. Arguably the most impressive stat from him before his injury was the fact that he had yet to allow a home run in 39.0 innings -- and had a major league-best 76.5 percent ground-ball rate.

David Freese is batting .464 (13 for 28) against Marlins pitchers in his career. Beltran, who is currently looking to extend his overall hit streak to 13 games tonight as he is 20 for 55 (.364) in that span with four home runs and 13 RBIs, is a career .333 hitter against the Marlins.

The game will deliver the first pitch at 6:05 pm Central Time as it will be televised locally on FOX Sports Midwest. Here is a look at the Cardinals lineup that Mike Matheny has put together to face Jose Fernandez (3-3, 3.17 ERA) of the Marlins:

1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base
2. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field
3. Matt Holliday -- Left Field
4. Allen Craig -- First Base
5. Yadier Molina -- Catcher
6. David Freese -- Third Base
7. Jon Jay -- Center Field
8. Pete Kozma -- Shortstop
9. Jake Westbrook -- Pitcher

Wainwright outduels Harvey, Cardinals beat Mets 2-1 in rubbermatch

Matt Harvey pitched great. Adam Wainwright just pitched better than great to say it with ease, and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Mets 2 to 1 inside Shea Stadium in New York on Thursday afternoon in the third and decisive game of the three game series' rubber-match in a Major League Baseball regular season contest.

This game was an instant classic thus far throughout a majority of the games played so far in this 2013 season. Wainwright earned the win and became the first pitcher in baseball this season to reach double-digits in the win column from a starter. He went 7 innings in the game and gave up no runs on four hits -- including six strikeouts and two walks.

It was an ending that made Cardinal Nation sweat it out though -- which hasn't been the case very many times in the situation of a two-run lead and Edward Mujica being the closer. Mujica earned his 19th save in as many opportunities but gave up a 430 feet bomb off the bat of Marlon Byrd, breaking up the almost-combined shut out and was just the fourth home run he had given up all season. Trevor Rosenthal pitched a scoreless eighth-inning frame for St. Louis too help Wainwright's cause though.

Matt Harvey matched Wainwright in the innings department with seven -- but he ended up giving up one run on five St. Louis hits -- and seen his undefeated record crumble to 5-1 even after such an impressive start that ended with seven strikeouts.

The bullpen for the Mets used three men -- Scott Rice, LaTroy Hawkins, and Josh Edgin. The three combined for two innings as Rice gave up one run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning before Hawkins finished the Cardinals off in the same inning. Edgin pitched a scoreless ninth inning frame himself as he struck out a batter and gave up just one hit.

The Cardinals got the first run of the game in the top of the third when Matt Carpenter tripled to center field and drove in Pete Kozma from first base. Allen Craig then made it 2-0 in the eighth inning as he drove in Matt Holliday with an RBI single to right field. Allen Craig has driven in 49 runs on the season so far, while Matt Carpenter has drove in 25 himself.

St. Louis left New York with another 'Happy Flight' as they improved the leagues best record to 43-23 -- 20 games over the .500 mark with a 3.5 game lead over Cincinnati for the Central division lead -- while the Mets fell to 24-37 overall, and are now 12.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves for first in the East. 

The Cardinals will now travel to Florida where they will begin a three game series in Miami against the Marlins. The Marlins enter the weekend with a record of 19-46, which is among one of the worst in baseball and are just 11-22 at home while St. Louis is a league-best 24-11 on the road this season. The series opener on Friday will be televised on FOX Sports Midwest with the first pitch coming at 6:05 pm Central Time. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wainwright, Harvey battle in Rubbermatch of Cardinals vs. Mets

The St. Louis Cardinals are in position once again to do what manager Mike Matheny and his ball club set out to do in each series that they play in -- which is win it. With that being said, who better to have on the mound in that sort of game rather than a former CY Young award winner and the teams ace?

The Cardinals will be sending Adam Wainwright to the mound this afternoon as he will go up against the new and improved number one for the Mets in Matt Harvey, who is currently 5-0 on the season right now despite battling some personal injury issues.

Wainwright enters this afternoons game with a 9-3 record and has a chance to win his fifth consecutive start in a row -- the bad news? He hasn't defeated the New York Mets in his last four starts (0-4). Leading the majors with a 13.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio -- which is more than twice as high as the next guy, Adam has struck out 28 batters and issued just two walks during his current four game winning streak. There is a reason why Cardinal Nation calls him the 'streak-stopper', as if those numbers don't explain it.

St. Louis won the series opener on Tuesday night by a score of 9 to 2 before the Mets took the second game to even it up last night by a score of 5 to 1. Allen Craig was the only run producer for the Cardinals on Wednesday night, as the bats will look to get back on fire for today's 12:10 pm Central Time first pitch.

Here is a quick look at the lineup that Matheny has put together for todays decisive rubbermatch inside Shea Stadium in New York:

1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base
2. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field
3. Matt Holliday -- Left Field
4. Allen Craig -- First Base
5. Yadier Molina -- Catcher
6. Jon Jay -- Center Field
7. Daniel Descalso -- Third Base
8. Pete Kozma -- Shortstop
9. Adam Wainwright -- Pitcher

Pitching Matchup: (STL) Adam Wainwright (9-3, 2.21 ERA) vs. (NYM) Matt Harvey (5-0, 2.06 ERA)

MLB Power Rankings -- TCobb's Top 10 MLB Teams as of June 13th

As the 2013 Major League Baseball season continues to roll on as we have hit the start of summer and will be in the dog days before we know it, I have decided to start posting my own power rankings every couple of weeks or so up to my top ten teams. Sports are nothing exciting without a little bit of debate, so it's about time that I bring a little bit of heat to the plate.

My rankings are based upon my actual honest opinions from what I know and have seen about the teams, with all of my bianess towards the Cardinals set aside. With myself getting involved with baseball since the minute I arrived at the old Busch Stadium as a toddler for the very last opening-day game ever as a player for Ozzie Smith, besides the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals came apart of me -- so did the entire sport that we call America's Pasttime -- baseball.


1. St Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have been on fire, and their best-in-the-MLB record of 41-22 proves it. Numerous Cardinals have been successful in their lineup, including Molina with a .354 batting average, Holliday with 45 runs, ten homeruns, and 37 RBIs, and Carpenter with a .332 average, five homeruns, and 50 runs. But offense is not everything, pitching has also been strong. Wainwright has nine wins on the season, 91 strike outs, and an impressive 2.34 ERA.

2. Boston Red Sox
The AL East race gives me a headache. Currently, it is the Red Sox with the lead, thanks to their 40-25 record on the season. Pitcher Buchholz has been nothing but dominant, he has nine wins, 81 strikeouts, and a 1.71 ERA. He has also given up two homeruns on the season.

3. Atlanta Braves
The Braves have been leading the NL East since the very beginning. At 39-25, they are currently ahead of the Nationals by seven games. Of the two Upton brothers, it is Justin who has been the more contributing factor. Justin has 43 runs to BJ’s 14, 56 hits to BJ’s 31, 14 homers to BJ’s 6, and 29 RBIs to BJ’s 12. Justin also is currently hitting a .250 batting average, while BJ is struggling at .165. While BJ’s struggling hasn’t necessarily been hurting the Braves, it would definitely be a successful factor come the postseason.

4. Texas Rangers
It seems two people are to thank for the Rangers’ success: Beltre and Darvish. Beltre has been an offensive leader in the lineup. He has a .304 average, 38 runs, fourteen homeruns, and 38 RBIs. Yu Darvish has been the most dominant in the Texas starting rotation. He has seven wins, 118 strikeouts, and a 2.75 ERA, all team-leading stats. They are only half a game ahead of the Athletics, but these two will help bring them to success.

5. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have one of the best records in the league, but they are currently second in the NL Central four games behind the Cardinals. Their pitching is solid; Latos has an ERA of 2.87, Leake with 2.93 and Arroyo with 3.35. And hitting has been strong thanks to Joey Votto, hitting .325 with 50 runs, 78 hits and ten homeruns.

6. Oakland Athletics
The Oakland-Texas AL West race will be a fight to the finish. It is the only real AL West competition; seeing as the third place Mariners are ten games back. The Athletics have seen an increase in improvement from someone not Crisp. It actually comes in the form of 3B Josh Donaldson, with his .324 average, 33 runs, nine homers, and 42 RBIs.

7. New York Yankees
While there is not a set superstar on the Yankees, they have managed to stay in the hunt despite numerous injuries. They are currently one and a half games behind the Red Sox. Gardner leads the lineup in batting average at .284, which isn’t great but makes up for it with his 34 runs. Cano is also staying consistent with his fifteen homers and .272 average.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates are definitely proving themselves as the Cinderella team of this season. Which is surprising, seeing their 37-26 record puts them at third in the NL Central. They owe a portion of their success to Andrew McCutchen, who is hitting .290, with 40 runs, seven homeruns, 30 RBIs, and fifteen stolen bases.

9. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are still holding on to their lead of the NL West. Their pitching can be summed up in one word: Patrick Corbin. Corbin has an 1.98 ERA, 65 strike outs, and is 9-0. Hitting is also lead by one bat: that of Paul Goldschmidt. He leads his team with his .318 average, 43 runs, fifteen homeruns, and 59 RBIs.

10. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles bats have come alive this season. Chris Davis has been on fire since the start of the season and has shown no signs of slowing down. Davis (.335 average, 45 runs, 20 homers, and 52 RBIs), Machado (.315, 41 runs, 27 doubles), and Jones(.301, 45 runs, 13 homers, and 43 RBIs) ) have been the teams leading contributors. Bats like these will help them potentially push past the Yankees and Red Sox for the AL East crown.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mets defeat Cardinals 5-1 behind dominant performance from Gee

On a night where David Freese and his Cardinals offense just couldn't come up with any timely hits, Dillon Gee had one of his best starts on the mound so far this season and the New York Mets defeated St. Louis 5 to 1 at Shea Stadium on Wednesday night in a Major League Baseball regular season contest.

Freese, who entered the contest with a league-high hitting streak, finished the night 0 for 4 from the plate and seen it end after recording a hit in 20 consecutive games.

Gee had a dominant performance from the mound in his start tonight though, as he gave up just one run on six hits in 6 and 2/3 innings pitched. He improved his overall record on the season to 5-6 while he also finished with just two walks and seven strikeouts against the National Leagues' best offensive unit.

The Mets bullpen did a great job in a short-but-time role to finish the game out though as the used a total of three more players who combined to give up no runs or even a single base runner in 2 and 1/3 innings. Scott Rice pitched just two-thirds of an inning, while both Brandon Lyon and Bobby Parnell pitched one full inning each as Parnell closed out the ballgame with a quick 1-2-3 frame in the top of the ninth.

Despite the final score and the result for St. Louis though, rookie pitcher Shelby Miller had one of his more impressive starts so far this season -- at least in my honest opinion. Even though he seen his record fall to 7-4 for the season, he finished with a season-high in strikeouts with 10 -- and even more impressive to go along with it, he didn't walk a single batter. It was a start in which he made very few mistakes, but them very few mistakes turned out to be crucial.

Cardinal manager Mike Matheny only used two members from his bullpen though, as both Seth Maness and the closer Edward Mujica appeared in the loss for a combined two innings. Maness gave up the only other run in the game as Marlon Byrd homered being the first batter he faced in the seventh as Miller went six innings.

New York got on the scoreboard right away as both David Murphy and Lucas Duda got RBI singles in the first to put the Mets up 2-0. Then in the bottom half of the fourth, Duda homered deep to right center off Miller and made it 3-0 after four innings of play.

Allen Craig got the Cardinals on the board in the top half of the sixth inning though as he hit a deep long bomb to left field. That proved to be St. Louis' only run of the game in the loss -- while Yadier Molina went 3-for-4 in the game.

The two teams both finished with six hits each, but three home runs from New York proved to be the difference. David Wright hit a homer to center field in the sixth inning and then Marlon Byrd hit one to deep left in the bottom of the eighth. New York scored in the first inning (2), fourth inning (1), seventh inning (1) and in the eighth inning (1).

With the loss tonight, the Cardinals fell to 4-2 head-to-head against the Mets in the season series so far and sets up tomorrows game as a rubber match for the current three game series as St. Louis will be sending their ace Adam Wainwright (9-3, 2.34 ERA) to the mound, while the Mets still have Matt Harvey (5-0, 2.10 ERA) listed as their probable starter. The game on Thursday will be televised live on FOX Sports Midwest at 12:10pm Central Time.

Cardinals Aim for Series Win in Game Two against Mets: Lineup

The Saint Louis Cardinals will be looking to follow up last nights series-opening win and take yet another three game series when they are hosted by the National League East's New York Mets at 6:10 pm Central Time for game two at Shea Stadium in New York.

St. Louis will be sending rookie starter Shelby Miller out to the mound to go up against Dillon Gee as he looks to continue his success and bolster the team with the best record in all of the Major Leagues at 42-22 -- currently 20 games over the .500 mark just 64 games into the 2013 campaign.

The Cardinals offense, as well as pitching, has been getting the job done all season long as they are batting a National League-best .277 to go along with their major league-leading earned run average of 3.17. Miller, who is 7-3, has been a very big part of the success as his ERA of 1.91 ranks second best in all of baseball behind just Clayton Kershaw (1.88) of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In Miller's last two starts, he is 2-0 as he has allowed just two runs in 13 innings pitched to go along with 16 strikeouts.

The brand-new reinstated 'MV3' for the Cardinals offense has most certainly been stepping up and also look to continue their big ways with the bat. Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and David Freese have been huge -- especially as of late -- and look to keep this train moving just as fast as it was when the team came to New York.

Freese has a career-high 20 game hitting streak going, which is currently the longest in the majors this season and during that stretch, he is hitting .382 as he finished last night with two hits in the 9-2 win.

Holliday is batting .438 in his last eight games as he has driven in eight runs and scored 12 runs himself too. Last night he had three hits, which led to him scoring three runs on the night as well. Meanwhile, Craig hit a three run home run last night while he has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games.

Here is a look at the Cardinals lineup for tonights contest in which will deliver the first pitch at 6:10pm Central Time. The game will be televised on FOX Sports Midwest in just a little under 30 minutes:

1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base -- .327 Batting Average
2. Carlos Beltran -- Right Field -- .305 Batting Average
3. Matt Holliday -- Left Field -- .271 Batting Average
4. Allen Craig -- First Base -- .313 Batting Average
5. Yadier Molina -- Catcher -- .351 Batting Average
6. David Freese -- Third Base -- .287 Batting Average
7. Jon Jay -- Center Field -- .251 Batting Average
8. Pete Kozma -- Shortstop -- .254 Batting Average
9. Shelby Miller -- Pitcher -- .077 Batting Average

Pitching Matchup: (STL) Shelby Miller (7-3, 1.91 ERA) vs. (NYM) Dillon Gee (4-6, 5.20 ERA)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wacha earns first career victory; Cardinals beat Mets 9-2 in opener

Michael Wacha earned his first of what many expect to be a lot of victories throughout his career as a starting pitcher as the Saint Louis Cardinals defeated the New York Mets 9 to 2 inside Shea Stadium on Tuesday night in the series opener of the current three game set in a Major League Baseball regular season contest.

After allowing two runs to New York in the bottom half of the first-inning, Wacha settled down and shut the Mets down for his last five innings of work. The 21 year-old earned his first career win in third career Major League start as he went six innings on the night and gave up two runs on five hits and three walks -- he struck out four batters on the night too though.

The Mets got on the score board first following a solo home run off the bat of Omar Quintanilla and then Marlon Byrd drove in David Wright on a sacrafice-fly to center field, which gave New York a 2-0 lead -- and their only two runs for the entire contest.

The Cardinals got themselves on the scoreboard themselves in the top of the fourth when Matt Adams brought home Matt Holliday from third-base on a double play with the bases loaded, cutting the lead in half at the time and starting the offensive flooding gates with Jeremy Hefner still in the ball game.

Hefner, who was one of four New York pitchers to appear on Tuesday night, recieved the loss following a start in which he gave up six runs on eight hitsand seen his record fall to 1-6 overall.

With the Cardinals trailing 2-1 heading into the fifth inning, Wacha helped his own cause as he brought home Jon Jay on a ground out to the shortstop. St. Louis added five total in the inning as Yadier Molina drove in one himself before Allen Craig hit a three run bomb following Matt Carpenter and Holliday getting themselves on base.

After owning a 6-2 lead in the sixth inning, Holliday drove in Molina with an RBI-single to shallow center field and proceeded to make the score 8-2 as Holliday was awarded to walk in ninety feet from third base as Jay was walked with the bases loaded.

Shane Robinson hit just his second home run of the season in the top of the ninth-inning, which put the score at 9-2 St. Louis and proved to be the contests' final score. Both Randy Choate and Keith Butler appeared out of the bullpen for manager Mike Matheny as they combined for no runs and no hits -- and their only baserunner allowed was a walk from Butler in one of his two innings pitched.

The Cardinals out-hit the Mets 12 to 5 total in the game and improved baseballs' best record to 42-22 overall, while New York fell to 23-36 on the season. Following wins from both the Pirates and Reds though, St.Louis held their division lead in the Central race at four games ahead.

The two teams will play the second of the current three game series tomorrow night (Wednesday) with the first pitch being delivered at 6:10 pm Central Time on FOX Sports Midwest. Shelby Miller (7-3, 1.91 ERA) will be on the mound for the Cardinals while Dillon Gee (4-6, 5.20 ERA) will be on the mound for the Mets. With tonight's win, the Cardinals are now 4-1 in the head-to-head season series between the two teams.

Cardinals-Mets Series Opener Lineup; Wacha still going for ONE

With the rain more than likely to hit Shea Stadium pretty hard in the New York area, who would be more fitting to get the start on the mound for the MLB's best team overall, record wise? If his first couple of starts showed us anything, that would be rookie pitcher Michael Wacha.

Wacha, who is 0-1 with an ERA of 5.49 in his first two career starts, will get his third crack at picking up his first win of his Major League career as Jeremy Hefner and the struggling Mets will be hosting the two ball clubs at 6:10pm Central Time tonight.

Cardinals' manager Mike Matheny made a few changes to the lineup due to the weather forecast that we have -- as well as a few players in need of a day or two more off after either struggling at the moment, or well, just in fact needing a little breather this early on into the season. Here is a quick look at what Matheny put together for the three game series opener at the all infamous Shea Stadium;

1. Matt Carpenter -- Second Base
2. Yadier Molina -- Catcher
3. Matt Holliday -- Left Field
4. Allen Craig -- Third Base
5. Matt Adams -- First Base
6. David Freese -- Third Base
7. Jon Jay -- Center Field
8. Pete Kozma -- Shortstop
9. Michael Wacha -- Pitcher

Lyons unable to pitch in New York; Westbrook starts Friday

Veteran sinkerballer Jake Westbrook will start Friday in Miami for the Cardinals in his first start since going on the disabled list with elbow irritation.

Westbrook made two rehab assignment starts in the minors and threw a bullpen this afternoon at Citi Field. He said the elbow feels its best of the season -- including spring.

The Cardinals' move to make a spot on the roster is to be determined and could be based on the outcome of tonight's start by Michael Wacha. Friday is Tyler Lyons' scheduled start. He will be moved off it but could remain on the roster if the Cardinals elect to go with three lefties in the bullpen or keep Lyons in the majors and return Wacha to the Class AAA rotation.

Lyons will not be available to pitch in this series in New York, manager Mike Matheny said.

Cardinals Sign Draft Pick Marco Gonzales

The Cardinals have signed first round pick Marco Gonzales, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter).  The left-hander's deal is worth $1.85MM, less than the recommended $2.056MM for the No. 19 pick.

The Gonzaga product is the most polished arm in the draft and boasts the best changeup of any pitcher in this year's class, in Callis' estimation.  Gonzales, a client of Randy Rowley, is a polished hurler but doesn't have a terribly high ceiling, according to BA.  There's no question that his changeup is his best attribute and it grades as a 70 pitch on the 20-80 scale.

Gonzales ranked No. 28 on BA's top 500, 23rd on Keith Law of ESPN's list, and No. 14 on Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com's top 100.  The pitcher is the fourth first-round pick to sign so far.

Three Game Series Preview at Shea: Cardinals at New York Mets

When the New York Mets open up the three game series at Shea Stadium against major league baseballs' best, the Saint Louis Cardinals, it will include two ball clubs that seemingly seem to be heading into completely opposite directions.

The Mets swept their interleague and in-state rival New York Yankees in a four game series just a little over a week ago, they have now proceeded to lose six of their last seven ball games and look like a complete mess at the moment. Five of the six losses came to the hands of defeat to the Miami Marlins, who are currently one of the worst teams in baseball' record wise -- and also seen their team ace Matt Harvey having to leave his last start with tightness in the lower side of his back and is listed as doubtful for the series finale on Thursday afternoon.

The last time these two teams met, in which the Cardinals won three of four games in the series, have since made a few moves and have shuffled their lineup quite a few times to try getting some successful results. New York, who signed former Cardinal' Rick Ankiel the day of the first game of the two teams' opening series this season, cut him after a short stint in which he hit hit seven home runs but batted a lowly .188, while striking out 60 times in just 128 at-bats.

Entering the opener tonight, the Cardinals still hold the MLB's best record at 41-22; while the Mets enter in on a slide as they own an overall record of 23-35. Here is a sneak peak at the pitching matchups for all three games of this week's series:

Game 1: Tuesday, June 11th: (STL) Michael Wacha (0-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. (NYM) Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.36 ERA)
Game 2: Wednesday, June 12th: (STL) Shelby Miller (7-3, 1.91 ERA) vs. (NYM) Dillon Gee (4-6. 5.20 ERA)
Game 3: Thursday, June 13th: (STL) Adam Wainwright (9-3, 2.34 ERA) vs. (NYM) Matt Harvey (5-0, 2.10 ERA)**

Die-Hard Cardinals fans can calm down: We ARE Postseason Bound

Baseball has conditioned us to believe that nothing worthwhile ever happens in a flash. There’s a reason this is the sport that takes you from the end of one winter season to the brink of another. Everything about the game, from the benefits of its strategies and the ultimate validity of most of its bedrock statistics, is meant to unfold slowly, the better to appreciate and evaluate them.

Yet the 2013 Cardinals are trying hard to shatter that long-haul concept. At the rate they’re going, this 162-game marathon will be wrapped up before the All-Star break. The Cards have sprinted out into the lead so quickly, so emphatically, that Usain Bolt might not catch them. I don’t know how this season will ultimately play out, because strange things happen in the championship rush to October. But for the time being, I have chosen to make a rash baseball judgment:

These Cards are damned good.

We’re not supposed to make such proclamations in the middle of June. We’re still a few days shy of Flag Day (June 14), one of the first significant markers on the calendar that portends a season’s future. But it’s hard to imagine what could keep this ball club from reaching the postseason now. The best team in baseball (41-22) is still rolling along on pace for 105 victories and showing no signs of slowing down. They win on the road (22-10, best in baseball), they win at home. They have outscored their opposition by nearly 100 runs (+98), 26 runs better than the second-best team in the majors. Only Atlanta and Pittsburgh have given up fewer runs. Only Boston has scored more runs.

So please just enjoy this. I have tried to find something to fret about, and I just can’t find it. They pitch. They hit. They play defense. They’re smart. They’re deep. The manager has become a quick study as a strategist. The general manager pushes every right button and the owner just quietly creates the environment that makes everything work.

So barring some bizarre collapse between now and October, this team is headed to the playoffs, and it’s OK to acknowledge that this might be one of those rare seasons worth savoring. It’s OK to embrace the fact that even all of your normal Midwestern paranoia about never being appreciated by the East Coast-biased sports media powers is something that no longer applies, since Sports Illustrated and USA Today have already written about The Cardinal Way with deep and abiding passion.

And ESPN? Well, they are putting St. Louis games on prime time TV so much, you’d think the Cards must have changed addresses and moved to Times Square.

So now that everyone outside of our city is appreciating the Cardinals, maybe it’s time for even that most annoying subset of Cardinals Nation – the lunatic fringe that finds fault even in the best of times – to surrender to the inevitable.

This is a very good baseball team that doesn’t appear to have many noticeable faults. There really is nothing to complain about. Nothing at all.

The last fragments of the lunatic fringe’s obsessions – struggling hitters Jon Jay, David Freese and Matt Holliday – are beginning to heat up at the plate. Holliday has raised his batting average 19 points over the past seven games with four doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs and nine runs scored. Jay, who in three previous major-league seasons had a career batting average of over .300, is finally starting to get his stroke together. Over the past five games, he’s batting .470 and raised his average by 16 points, scored five runs and also drove in five runs. Most impressive of all is Freese, who is on a current 19-game hitting streak, has raised his batting average by a stunning 71 points during the streak and is hitting at a .375 clip during the streak.

So what else is there left to complain about?

I believe the answer is “nothing.”

And now after taking two out of three games in Cincinnati last weekend, the Cards have a 10-game stretch on the road and at home where they play three teams (the Mets, Marlins and Cubs) whose combined records put them an astonishing 48 games under .500. Meanwhile, the Reds and Pirates, who trail St. Louis in the NL Central b y four games, have a far more difficult stretch. Cincy faces three teams with a combined 87-98 record while Pittsburgh faces three teams with a combined 97-90 mark.

The Reds and Pirates also get to beat up on each other for four games next week, which means the Cards could build on their lead and basically put this division on lockdown before the All-Star break.

And now starting pitcher Jake Westbrook seems to be healthy again, which means the strength of this team – the starting rotation – is about to gain additional power. With Westbrook back in the rotation soon, Mike Matheny has options at hand that would allow him to move either of his impressive rookies, Michael Wacha or Tyler Lyons, out of the rotation and into a middle-relief role to bolster the bullpen.

This is the sort of good news that could send a paranoid, doom-and-gloom fan of the perennially cursed Cubs into an uncomfortable, dreary fit. The overwhelming fear of failure – built up over a century of so many ill-fated teams – has conditioned Cubbie lovers to anticipate the sky falling in some weird and demented fashion.

But Cardinals Nation should know better. There’s no need to wait any longer for this season to unfold slowly. And there’s certainly no reason to flinch and fret like Cubs fans waiting to get mugged in a dark alley. In Cardinals Nation, early success does not translate into a summer of discontent.

Instead, it ought to translate into this simple phrase: Don’t worry. Be happy.
(**credit for entire article by Bryan Burwell**)

A Look Ahead at the Upcoming Week in St. Louis Cardinals Baseball

**(Monday, June 10th through Sunday, June 16th)**

Monday, June 10th--St. Louis Cardinals off day
No Game on this Date; Travel Day for Cardinals

Tuesday, June 11th--Cardinals at New York Mets
(6:10 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest)--Game 1 of 3.

Wednesday, June 12th--Cardinals at New York Mets
(6:10 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest)--Game 2 of 3.

Thursday, June 13th--Cardinals at New York Mets
(12:10 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest)--Game 3 of 3.

Friday, June 14th--Cardinals at Miami Marlins
(6:10 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest)--Game 1 of 3.

Saturday, June 15th--Cardinals at Miami Marlins
(3:10 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest)--Game 2 of 3.

Sunday, June 16th--Cardinals vs. Miami Marlins
(12:10 pm Central Time, FOX Sports Midwest)--Game 3 of 3.