Down by two runs and to their last strike in the top of the ninth inning on Monday night, it surely seemed as if the Cardinals were going to squander away yet another game in which they had ample opportunities to score, leaving them unable to take advantage of a Cincinnati Reds’ loss. However, the St. Louis Cardinals proved even the most faithful wrong – again – on Monday night. After a Rafael Furcal single, a Skip Schumaker walk, and a clutch base hit by Matt Holliday (who by the way now holds a 15-game hitting streak), the Cards tied the game at two apiece, leading to an Allen Craig go-ahead single just a few moments later. John Axford, who clearly seems lost compared to 2011 when he earned 46 saves and a 1.95 ERA, walked off the mound in disgust, and Jason Motte took the mound in the bottom of the ninth to notch his fourth win of the season and save a 3-2 victory for the Redbirds.
After losing three straight to begin the second half, there is no question that the Cardinals had to win this game. They now move to 47-43 on the season and move within 3.5 games of the division-leading Cincinnati Reds. Though their situational hitting continues to worry me, as they still left 11 men on base tonight, I am very much hoping that this victory, perhaps the most exciting of the season for this team, will allow them to catch a bit of fire and move up in the standings.
On another note, Lance Lynn (11-4, 3.41) was terrific tonight, going seven innings while allowing six hits and one earned run. He continues to make good pitches when he needs to, and as was the case with Jake Westbrook on Sunday night, Lynn kept his team in the game, which is all you can ask for. He continues to be one of the more exceptional stories of baseball in 2012, and it certainly seems now as if his first half-success was no fluke.
What’s Next: The Cards look to seal their first series victory of the second half on Tuesday night when rookie Joe Kelly (1-1, 2.70) takes on veteran Randy Wolf (2-6, 5.80). The game starts at 7:10 CST and can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest.