Ol' Abner's done it again.
Thanks to a rain out Wednesday in Chicago, former Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse's turn in the rotation was pushed back a day and now he'll face his former team at Busch Stadium. But not only will he see some familiar faces in his return -- he'll square off against the guy who took his job.
Rookie starter Shelby Miller will take the hill for St. Louis.
Miller (1-0, 3.38) got his first win as a starting pitcher in his most recent appearance. Lohse will be making his second start with Milwaukee after signing near the end of spring training. He's 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA after suffering a hard luck loss in his season debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lohse allowed one run on five hits over six innings. But Milwaukee ended up losing the game 3-1. He's 2-2 with a 3.34 ERA in his career against the Cardinals. At Busch Stadium III he's 30-17 with a 3.40 ERA.
The Cardinals are tied for first place in the National League Central with the Cincinnati Reds with a 5-4 record after beating Cincinnati in two of three games in a series that wrapped up Wednesday. Milwaukee is in last place with a 2-6 record in the NL Central after being swept by Arizona and splitting a two-game set with the Cubs. After notching an opening day win the Brewers embarked on a five-game losing streak.
Milwaukee is off to a hot start at the plate with four guys in the starting lineup hitting .385 or better: Shortstop Ryan Braun (.500), Jean Sequra (.458), rightfielder Norichika Aoki (.389) and third baseman Aramis Ramirez (.385.) But their pitching has been atrocious.
Lohse is the only starter with an ERA of below 4.50. Yovani Gallardo has a 5.73 and has allowed 19 hits in 11 innings of work. Mike Fiers is 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA and nine hits allowed in five innings on the mound. But the real trouble is in the bullpen where John Axford has lost his role as closer after allowing nine hits and nine earned runs in 3 1/3 innings which works out to an eye-popping 24.30 ERA.
The Cardinals are starting to see their offensive stats come around after a slow start with the bats.
Matt Carpenter has earned the playing time he's received as a starter with a .400 batting average and a .462 on-base percentage with a team-leading five doubles. Matt Adams is demanding that he be shoe horned into the lineup with a pair of dramatic home runs in the last two games of the Cincinnati series. He's hitting .643 with seven RBIs in 14 at-bats.
Meanwhile the Cardinals only have one starter with an ERA as high as 4.50, Lance Lynn. He pitched well in his first game before running out of gas in the fourth inning thanks to a high pitch count. But Lynn was more economical the second time out and pitched fantastically to earn a win. He's struck out 13 in 10 innings of work.
Lynn's whiff total is only good enough for second on the team. Jaime Garcia (1-0, 2.92) has struck out 12 hitters in 12 1/3 innings on the hill. Jake Westbrook, oddly, has walked 10 while striking out four in two starts. But he's avoided letting the free passes come back to haunt him, allowing no earned runs so far this season. He's 1-1. But the loss he suffered in his first outing belongs squarely on the shoulders of the position players who gave the opposition a run on an error and then didn't provide any offensive support of their own.
Despite Mitchell Boggs' high ERA, manager Mike Matheny seems content with him as the Cardinals closer. Boggs chiseled away some of the damage from his disastrous ninth inning in the opener against the Reds in game two of the series with a shutout inning. His ERA stands at 11.81 but he's only allowed four hits in 5 1/3 innings on the mound. Rookie Trevor Rosenthal has a 3.00 ERA with eight strikeouts against one walk in six innings.