ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- This one was big. No doubt about it. I’ve never been one to say, before a series even starts, that a team needs to sweep someone.
I just can’t do it. No one wins every game they play in baseball. No one. But winning the series? That’s the goal. That’s something you can demand of a squad. If you win every series you play, by definition you win the World Series.
Well, after taking the first 2 games of this 3-game set versus the lowly Astros...the Redbirds had an opportunity to sweep. And they took advantage of it.
On a day when starter Jake Westbrook was not good (his words) the offense was terrific and picked him up. Everyone can see what the middle of the order can do when all is right. Matt Holliday is a certified star. Allen Craig will be one soon—if he’s not one already—and the whole world got to see what David Freese is made of last October. And that Yadier Molina guy, yeah, he’s not bad.
But what I liked the most was what Jon Jay continues to offer at the lead off spot. After 2 more hits today, the Miami product is now hitting .316 with a .393 on-base percentage. He’s also playing gold glove caliber defense in center field.
Jay is arguably as important to this lineup, right now anyway, as anyone. Rafael Furcal started the season on fire but is hitting just .246 with a .315 on-base percentage since the All Star break. There’s no one else on this team other than Jay that’s capable of being a table setter for the big boys like Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, David Freese and Yadier Molina.
Without him getting on base at the top of the lineup, runs would be much harder to come by.
Either way, the Cards now ride a 3-game winning streak into a crucial 10-day road trip that takes them to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Washington. That’s 10 games against teams either in 1st place or contending strongly for the wild card.
The Cards were challenged. They met the challenge. Now...they head to Cincinnati and the challenge continues.