As a season of disappointment winds down, the Cardinals got a dose of something to look forward to in the future as rookie hurler PJ Walters pitched a gem against the Pirates.
Walters hurled seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits and a walk, while he waited for a team of substitutes playing behind him to score some runs. The Birds won their 82nd game of the year by a 4-1 margin and guaranteed a winning season despite their stumbles in 2010.
Allen Craig started the scoring for the Cardinals with a solo homer in the fourth. He was 2-for-4 on the day, adding a double, to raise his season batting average to .243. That's not a number that jumps out at you. But Craig was hitting .053 at the All-Star break. He's hit .421 for the last month to make the back of his baseball card something he can live with.
Cardinals second baseman Aaron Miles turns a double play in the second inning as Pirates outfielder Andrwe McCutchen slides beneath him. AP photo.
Mark Hamilton, a 26-year-old first baseman subbing for Albert Pujols, infielder Tyler Greene and catcher Bryan Anderson also each had two hits on the day as the Cardinals padded their 1-0 lead with runs in the seventh and eighth. And it's a good thing since closer Ryan Franklin gave up two hits and a run in the ninth before closing the door.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Walters
Cardinals Play of the Game: Craig's homer
Lowlight: Outfielder Jon Jay was hitless in three at-bats to slip below .300 to .298. That's not a criticism. The kid has played so well that I feel bad for him that he might not be able to hang on to his .300 season. But he's still got a few games to try to get back there.