It's one thing to take two of three from the Marlins on the road; it's another to beat the Cardinals at their own game. I watched tonight's contest on MLB.tv, listening to the Cardinals announcers the whole way. They never missed a chance to point out the quality of the Cards defense, and how important it was to Jeff Suppan's success. Oh, and the Brewers defense wasn't good last year, they reminded us.
Well, fine. It's a new season, a new team, and a new look in the standings. The Brewers defense looked every bit as good as their opponent's, and Jeff Suppan pitched wonderfully--defense-aided and not. You don't need gold glovers behind you when you're striking out Albert Pujols.
The only misstep tonight was Yost's strange handling of the seventh inning. I don't really question leaving Suppan in to start the inning--in retrospect, of course you wouldn't, but he did look great up to that point. However, going to Shouse when you know full well that LaRussa will counter with a righty? After all, LaRussa wrote that book. Ned should know: that's the book he spent all offseason reading. It was the seventh inning: that's Matt Wise's role, especially in a tight game against a tough opponent. I'm all for getting Greg Aquino some work, but come on Ned, save it for the Pirates.
One nifty detail is in the line score. The Cardinals scored two runs on eight hits, while the Brewers scored three on only five. Combined with a couple of walks, the Brewers actually capitalized on their opportunities. We got a sac fly to break the scoreless tie, and Rickie's homer came with a runner on. It would've been nice to get more than one run out of the one-out, bases-loaded situation in the 3rd, but hey, better one than none, right? Baby steps.
Due to the rainout, the rotations are switched up, making tomorrow's matchup Braden Looper versus Ben Sheets. I'm not going to get too confident about that for fear of jinxing anything...but...well, you make your own judgment. Oddly enough, the Cards announcers were referring to Looper, Wells, and Wainwright as the "big three," the guys who are being lined up every fifth day, with Reyes and Keisler bumped as needed. Those three guys may be pitching well, but that ain't no Zito/Hudson/Mulder. On the Brewers, I'm afraid that'd be #4, #4a, and #4b. Not that they aren't useful stopgaps, but it's getting easier and easier to see the Cardinals sliding to a 75-win season.