Game one of "The Rivalry" is in the books, and I'm happy to say that my Redbirds managed to find a way to eek out a victory yesterday. It was a game that could have gone either way, but Adam Wainwright wriggled his way out of a tight jam in the 6th with the bases loaded in a tie ball game. Errors by Chris Duncan and Brendan Ryan didn't help the Cardinals hurler, but he got a favorable called 3rd strike on Milton Bradley, and a routine fly ball to left off the bat of Soriano to end an intense, pressure packed inning. Duncan and Yadier Molina each had clutch RBI singles in the top of the 7th, giving St. Louis all the insurance they would need to help make Wainwright 2-0 on this young season.
As much as I'd like to use this first meeting between divisional foes as a barometer for things still to come, I have to admit that it is WAY too early in the season to get either too high or too low. So far, the Cardinals look to have a scrappy team thao could have enough to put it all together. Leading the division with an 8-3 record and already having two one run victories under their belts, despite the fact that we still haven't established a legitimate closer, is somewhat impressive. One run victories have been a rare commodity in recent years, so I'm taking this early success as a good sign.
With the good comes the bad, and Chris Carpenter on the DL, especially after how he has performed in his first two starts, is a little deflating. I suppose the good news is that the injury has nothing to do with his surgically repaired shoulder or elbow. An oblique tear that he incurred during an at-bat in Arizona will have him sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks they say. That means P.J. Walters will make his MLB debut this afternoon against Carlos Zambrano at Wrigley. As long as Walters doesn't put too much pressure on himself, he should be fine. Zambrano is one of those guys that you just never know which Carlos will show up on the mound. If the Cardinals can put a few runs on the board early, like they have been doing frequently this year, that just might be enough to rattle the "Big Z" and we can take some shots at the Cubs bullpen.
No matter what happens today, a win or loss isn't going to make or break the season for either of these teams. With that being said, a win from P.J. Walters in his Major League debut, against the ace of the Chicago staff, could be huge and have long term effects on both teams. A win today could go a long way in giving the Cardinals and their rookie pitcher a boost of momentum that could help shape the Central Division race.
It should be a fun weekend. I hope you all enjoy it!