(Baseball StL) -- No team is perfect. Even if they think they are they're not. Everyone team has some sort of issue that keeps the manager, general manager and owner up at night.
Some issues are bigger than others. There's quite a few teams that can't hit. Period. Well, I'm sorry, but those clubs aren't going to the playoffs. Your issue is too big to be fixed in a day.
For others, the issue or issues are much smaller. And fixable.
The St. Louis Cardinals' problem in 2012, more than anything, has been the 7th inning. And in the grand scheme of things, that's awfully small. And, more importantly, quite fixable.
By and large, the Cards' starters have been terrific. They've got the 4th best ERA in all of baseball at 3.56 behind the Nationals, Dodgers and Giants.
The 8th and 9th innings have been fantastic behind Mitchell Boggs (1.51 ERA) and Jason Motte (2.68) respectively.
Offense? Please. It's only 2nd in MLB with 538 runs scored and 1st in on-base percentage at .345 for the season.
So, let's review. Scoring runs hasn't been a problem overall. The starting pitching's been fantastic. And the 8th and 9th inning has been terrific as well.
Hmmmm. So all that leaves is, simply, bridging the gap between the starters and the back end of the 'pen.
Well, folks, it looks like those 7th inning issues might be coming to an end. Edward Mujica, in 3 appearances since getting traded over from Miami, has looked excellent.
Now...I've always subscribed to the Tony La Russa belief that you should "never fall in or out of love too early". Technically, he meant that in spring training but I think it applies here.
But Mujica has the kind of arm and stuff the Redbirds have been lacking for the last few months. Actually, it's what they've been lacking since Victor Marte decided to start getting drilled in late June.
I like the command that Mujica has been able to show. I especially like the fact that, in 3 perfect innings, he's gotten the majority of his outs via the ground ball. The thing that plagued Mujica the most in his time with the Marlins (and prior to that too, actually) was his tendency to give up a lot of home runs.
When a pitcher gives up bombs regularly it means he's leaving the ball up in the zone (more often than not) and not pitching down to induce ground balls.
So far, and yes I know it's early, but Mujica's done a very nice job of just that.
Keep ball down. Get ground ball. Watch defense make play.
If the riddle of the 7th is indeed fixed, this could be a very dangerous Redbirds club over the course of the rest of the season.