Won Series two games to one (season series record: 2-0-1)
7-3 (first place)
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Starting pitching: C-
After a good start to the series with a pitchers duel win, the Cardinals rotation was dealt a serious blow in the middle contest when ace Chris Carpenter was injured after hurling three scoreless innings. Then Joel Pineiro, fresh off an excellent season debut, returned to his customary form and allowed the Diamondbacks to get back into game three after being handed a 6-0 lead. They don't call him Joel Pinata for nothin'.
Relief pitching: C-
Game two should have been a win. But Josh Kinney walked a man, hit a man and then surrendered a three-run homer with a one-run lead to cough up another save opportunity. Brad Thompson was terrible, earning a ticket back to Memphis. The lefties, however, have continued to impress.
After being held to two runs in the opener, the Cardinals scored early and often in the next two tilts. I have few complaints. But one that stands out is the failure to score what would have been the winning run with a man at third and one out late in game two. Brendan Ryan struck out weakly after being sent to the dish in place of Ryan Ludwick. You have to put the ball in play in that situation. Preferably at least a lazy fly ball to sacrifice the runner home.
Khalil Green and Chris Duncan kicked balls in the series. But the team defense was excellent when you factor in the great plays Albert Pujols and Yadi Molina consistently make to pick off runners trying to take extra bases. As a fan it can be frustrating to watch the tying run score, so when Pujols cuts off the ball and nails the hitter trying to head to second it seems like a minor victory. But in effect, Pujols snuffs out potentially big rallies time and time again with his heads up play and gives the Cardinals a chance to stay in and win games. The play Brian Barden made in game two to field a bunt, wheel and nail the runner heading to third was perfectly executed and bold. It was reckless and I would still be pitching a fit if he failed to get any outs on the attempted sac. So I have to applaud him for getting it right.
The Birds were one swing of the bat away from winning all three games, which would have been huge. But you can't complain about winning series. Hopefully they can keep it up in the Crumbly Confines on Chicago's north side.