Brewers 3 Cardinals 0
MVPs of the Game:
CC Sabathia: CG, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K (W)
No one stands out for the Cards.
CC Sabathia showed up in a beastly fashion yet again last night, tossing his third consecutive complete game, this one in the form of a shut out in only 106 pitches. The Cardinals looked flustered and overpowered at the plate, likely a domino effect from the previous two evenings combined with the overall nasty stuff of the big guy. While the Brewers offense struggled a bit, the top of the lineup performed more than enough to send CC to his fourth victory since 'the trade'. Weeks, Hardy and Braun combined for nine of the Brewers eleven hits including Hardy and Braun's solo homeruns.
Wednesday night's game looked like it was finally going to start with momentum in the Brewers favor as Rickie Weeks was able to lead off with a bloop double down the right field line. It should have been a triple, but veteran Caesar Izturis played the phantom ball game and pretended to catch the ball from the outfield. That loomed huge for me as the game progressed, but JJ could not advance him and Looper was able to work around it without any damage done.
And then the CC show started. After walking the lead off man, LaRussa decided to waste an out in the first inning using one of his best hitters against left handed pitching, Ryan Ludwick, to bunt him into scoring position. That was a big concession to CC and he took off, getting Pujols to ground out in front of the mound and Glaus to fly out to left. Fast forward to the sixth and Cardinals hadn't had a baserunner, amounting to 17 batters mowed down in a row. Back to back two-out singles made CC look human, but back to the beast he went, getting Pujols to fly out.
An inning earlier JJ blasted his 14th homerun of the year and in the top half of the inning, Rickie knocked in Mike Cameron on a sacrifice fly to make the game 2-0. And that's all Sabathia would need. CC walked the lead off man in the 7th, but got some defensive help after inducing a double play ball to JJ Hardy. He put the finishing touches on the Cardinals by getting Albert Pujols to flail at strike three in the ninth, losing his bat down the third base line. It was basically a metaphor for the whole game. You don't see Pujols get off balance very often. It appears the Cardinals are teetering on coming back down to Earth.
Game Changing Play:
There wasn't one particular game changing play as CC pretty much dominated from the very start. If something had to be chosen, I would say it was the JJ Hardy's homerun or CC getting Pujols to fly out in the sixth with two outs and two on.
- What most excited me about yesterday's game was not CC Sabathia. It was the fact that Brewers had a lot of very solid at bats. It may not show up in the box score, but Looper was forced to throw over 100 pitches in just five innings of work and the Brewers only had two walks and seven hits over that time frame. The result was getting into that St. Louis bullpen which is so fragile. It's a sign of good things to come.
- As for CC, it's hard not to be pumped about the guy. The battery of he and Jason Kendall is something to behold. To have a guy come in and adapt so well with his mate at the plate is astounding. CC said that he only had to shake off three pitches in his time with the Brewers. Combine the veteran game calling of Kendall and the nasty stuff of CC, you might find Sabathia fighting for at least a glimpse of Cy Young contention. So far he's 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA in 33.0 innings of work.
- The Cardinals are in dire need of some offense. A very aggravated Tony LaRussa could be seen going off on reporters after Tuesday night's game because they had only scored six runs in the first two games. And he has every right to after the media for not paying attention. Yes their bullpen has struggled, but giving up around three or four runs a game is what's expected from most major league teams. If your offense can't muster more than that, your offense is terrible. I'm not sure how the return of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright can solve that problem.
- With the win on Wednesday, the Brewers take a two game lead in the NL Wild Card, but remain a game behind Cubs who beat up on Micah Owings in a relief last night. Next week's four game series against the Cubs at Miller Park looms big. The Brewers will have the benefit of tossing their two aces to start the series, but Sheets will have to face Zambrano on Tuesday. Should be a great game.
What's on Tap?:
The Brewers go for the rare four game sweep this afternoon, as Ben Sheets toes the rubber against Todd Wellenmeyer. Wellenmeyer pounded the Brewers for six innings the last time he faced them, giving up two unearned runs. But he's fallen off quite a bit in recent weeks and is carrying a 7+ ERA in his last four games. Sheets has struggled some in his last couple of outings, but it's hard to go against him with the Brewers carrying this much momentum.