Jeff Abeln, News 4 Sports
Am I concerned about the Cardinals' 2-4 start? Absolutely. But am I worried, absolutely not.
For Cardinals' fans out there who are ready to jump off a bridge just one week into the season, i say 'just chill.' I promise you six games will not define the Cardinals 2011 season; at least I sure hope not. You can't read too much into the first week because the Birds' hottest hitter coming out of spring training, Matt Holliday has been in the line-up just once. When Holliday returns, hopefully soon, I think you'll see a different offensive team. But don't get me wrong, scoring less than three runs in a division which only got better in the off season, will not cut it, but I believe the bats will heat up.
So you ask, 'okay, when will the bats heat up?' Good question. The Cardinals begin a ten game road trip Friday starting in San Francisco. The Giants pitching staff is one of the best in the game so if the Redbirds couldn't generate any offense against the Padres and Pirates, it's going to be extremely difficult to do so against San Fran's rotation. We've seen a few times thus far the Cardinals resort to small ball, and I like that. When your bats are not hot, you must do anything to generate runs, so a hit n' run once in a while isn't the worst thing, but I just ask Tony La Russa please do not call a hit n' run when Albert Pujols is batting. (I saw this a couple of times last year and it blew my mind)
It will be interesting to see what the Redbirds' record will be when they return home April 19th. You would think the Cardinals would have put their offensive woes behind them, but until they do the pitching staff must continue to keep them in the game. Besides a few pitches Kyle Lohse looked pretty good, and Kyle McClellan threw a great game although I was surprised to see Gerald Laird get the start that night. Laird will be a very good back-up for Yadier Molina, but if I am McClellan, I would have wanted my two-time all star, three-time gold glover behind the plate during my first major league start; but didn't seem to matter, McClellan went six innings, two earned runs, struck out seven, and walked just one batter.
Every team is full of "ifs" and the Redbirds are no exceptions. If Kyle Lohse and Kyle McClellan can continue to pitch well...If Chris Carpenter can stay healthy...If the bullpen can be consistent...If Matt Holliday can come back strong(I highly doubt he won't be able to) then the Cardinals will be okay. But to judge the 2011 Redbirds based off six games would be ludicrous, but if we're seeing the same performances at the end of April then you starting worrying.
Jeff Abeln is part of the News 4 Sports team. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org