Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 7/29/13
The Cardinals are in town for this week’s absolutely enormous five game series, and since the Pirates haven’t seen the Cards since April, Christine Coleman of Aaron Miles’ Fastball was nice enough to gives us a quick summary of what the Bucs will be up against. I sent her a similar post on the Pirates that will be up on her site today as well. Christine: It’s been an eventful three months since the Pirates and Cardinals last met, hasn’t it? Both teams with mostly ups but a few downs, and now 14 games to be played between them between now and Sept. 8. Oh, and of course just 1 ½ games separating them right now. Surely you know their record, as you no doubt are keeping track of what the Cardinals do daily just like we Cards fans are keeping track of what the Pirates (and the Reds) do every game. But here are five things about the Cards to catch you up with the team — one for each game in the next four days. 1. The Cardinals offense can be really streaky, with this weekend in Atlanta just the most recent example. Four hits and one run scored on Friday, then two hits and shutout on Saturday. On Sundaythe offense came a little more alive with eight hits and two runs, yet they grounded into three double plays. They’re really good at doing that — they became the first National League team to hit into more than 100 this season, as they currently have 101. 2. Speaking of the offense, the Cardinals do overall have a very good team batting average: .275 going into Sunday’s game, which tops the NL, and they also lead in in RBI with 474. Yadier Molina, Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter are all in the top five for NL batting average, and Craig is in the top three in RBI. But one offensive category where they really lack is home runs. They’re 13th in the NL with 83. Yadier Molina has the two most recent homers, which came on Saturday … and on July 14. Carlos Beltran, the team leader in homers with 19, hasn’t hit one since June 30. 3. Allen Craig was hitting .261/.298/.352 on April 28, when the Cards and Pirates last met. Going into Sunday’s game, he was hitting .329/.377/.483, which — given a recent mini-slump — was down from his season high of .337 on July 24. Where he really excels, though, is hitting with runners in scoring position. He’s hitting .485/.509/.670. Of course, runners need to be on base for him to have that opportunity … which didn’t happen very much over the weekend. 4. The Cards starting pitching isn’t quite as dominant as it was earlier in the season (hey, who’s the team that’s taken over the major’s ERA lead??) but Adam Wainwright is still Adam Wainwright. He does lead the NL in wins with 13 (understanding that wins are not necessarily an accurate measure of performance) and is fifth in ERA at 2.51. And proving that wins aren’t necessarily an accurate measure of performance is Lance Lynn, who has 12 but an ERA that was 2.72 in May, 4.13 on July 20 and is now 3.98. So it’s hard to know just what you’ll see from him on Tuesday. Tonight you’ll get to see Jake Westbrook, who’s been injured and is now healthy since the Cards and Pirates last met, along with Wainwright on Wednesday and Joe Kellyon Thursday. Kelly battled for the fifth rotation spot in the spring that went to Shelby Miller, began the year in the bullpen but has now made a couple of starts and done well — he pitched 6 ⅓ scoreless innings against the Braves on Saturday. Rookie Tyler Lyons is being called up for the first game on Tuesday. He was in the big leagues for about a month in May/June, with a great couple of games to begin with before running into some trouble for several starts and was sent to Triple A. He has a 1.33 ERA in his six starts since he went back to Memphis. 5. At the end of April, Edward Mujica was newly installed as the Cardinals closer and had only four saves. He now has 30, in 32 chances. And while he hasn’t been quite as automatic as he was earlier on, giving us a few nervous outings recently, he’s still been getting the job done nearly all of the time. Mujica’s only pitched four times since the All-Star break, though he did earn saves in each appearance.
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