Perhaps You Might Be Interested

07 May 2011

Cardinals Jaime was El Jefe Tonight

Jaime Garcia (source: Wikipedia)
Everyone in Cardinal Nation - if not baseball - is agog at the performance of Jaime Garcia tonight at Busch Stadium against the Milwaukee Brewers.  I have to admit I missed most of it as my sister-in-law had an automobile emergency at game time that I had to respond to.  I wasn't happy about missing the game, but a man must do what a man must do.

I caught the game in the top of the sixth via at bat on my iPhone as we drove back across the city towards home.  It did not take long to notice how quickly Garcia was getting the ball, getting signs, and delivering.  The score was 6-0 at this point, and Garcia's actions made me think more was involved.  A quick touch of the box score showed that my instincts were correct.

What I did see of the sixth and seventh inning told me that Garcia had it all working.  Every pitch was low in the zone, and the movement was exceptional.  The furtive swings of the Brewers' batsmen told me the backstory I had missed, and their body language as the looked at called strikes solidified my extrapolations.

In our house lives a beautiful 15 year old girl.  A girl who has lately  discovered the joys of baseball (I thank the Arizona Diamondbacks and their fun ball park for this).  After one out in the eighth, I was thinking I had the perfect opportunity to show her the second-by-second drama that only sports can provide.  And the build-up/release rollercoaster that is at the heart of what baseball is about.  But before I could stand up to do this, Garcia walked a man.  Now pitching from the stretch, he promptly lost the no-hitter to Yuniesky Betancourt (of all people) on a sharp ground ball that found the hole between second base and shortstop.

The quick loss of the no-hitter once a man reached base did not surprise me.  In fact, I was looking for it.  The past week taught me some lessons.

It marked the fifth time this week that such an event occurred.
I first noticed the trend during Garcia's last start on Sunday when he started the game with four perfect innings.  But the fifth inning started with a single.  The it went  out, 2-run HR, walk, single, and a run-scoring single.  Then on Monday, Kyle Lohse was lights out again through two 1/3 innings, then he lost all control.  The Gaby Sanchez grand slam punctuating my point.  I thought it all a fluke until Jake Westbrook cruised through 4 2/3 innings Thursday without allowing a Florida Marlins getting a runner on base.  But once Greg Dobbs reached base and Westbrook began delivering from the stretch, the Marlins next 4 batters reached base and two runs scored.

Of course, the Marlins getting their first hit with one out in the eighth is hardly evidence of some latent failing amongst an otherwise outstanding starting staff.  But once Garcia finally let a runner reach base and approached Betencort from the stretch, the no-hitter was lost.

Why?  I don't know.  Perhaps losing a good groove then pitching from the stretch  is just enough to tip the balance of competition to the favor of the hitters.  It has also been a certain something the Cardinal hitters have exploited.  If nothing else, it's an interesting trend - one I noticed only because all the starters were lights out...until someone got on base.

No comments:

Post a Comment