We have a day game to attend to today, so in the interest of getting this post up bright and early to foster the requisite pre-game discussion, I'll keep it relatively short and relatively sweet.
-- It was nice to see Albert drive in a couple runs. No, that's not quite right. It was more than nice. It was...relaxing. Yes. Relaxing. It was that feeling you get when things have been all out of whack and up in the air for god only knows how long, and then finally you get all the pieces of your personal world put back together the way they're supposed to be. God is in his heaven and all will be well, that sort of thing. Albert coming through when there are runs to be driven in is the correct order of things, and it feels wrong when he isn't doing it.
That being said, does anyone else still think Albert's swing looks a little busy at the moment? I'm not basing this on any sort of detailed analysis, but watching him so far this season it just looks like he's moving around more than he does when he's really locked in. Too much hands, his feet seem to be moving a little extra as he starts his swing. The most remarkable thing about Albert's swing, to me at least, has always been the almost inhuman stillness contained within it. He pumps his hands, yes, but there is no waggling, his head never moves, and his lower body is incredibly quiet. Watching him swing from such a coiled, quiet position is like watching a perfect battojutsu. At the moment, though, it just looks like Albert is moving around a bit too much at the plate. To my eye, anyway, which means virtually nothing.
-- Kyle McClellan looked better last night than I would ever have allowed myself to hope. I've been a K-Mac doubting Thomas for a long, long time now, and I'm pretty sure one good start won't change my feelings, but a couple more like that one just might do the trick.
The strikeouts were the most remarkable facet, coming from a pitcher whose K rate in the past (as a reliever, no less), have tended to hover at the lower ranges of usefulness. It seemed to me the Pirates took an awful lot of strikes, though, so the high strikeout may be a function of an in-between offense or a generous strike zone. I haven't looked up the numbers, so I could be wrong, but I got the feeling watching the game that K-Mac wasn't getting a ton of empty swings, but rather lots and lots of called strikes at the edges. Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken, though.
-- From the Bureau of Credit Where Credit Is Due: Ryan Theriot had a very nice game last night. It doesn't change my overall feelings about him, but if I'm going to bash the guy when he's bad (and trust me, I'm going to), then I figure I should be willing to offer up praise when the performance warrants it. It isn't a coincidence that the Cards plated Theriot two of the three times he got on base, and it should underscore quite effectively why it's so important to have players with better on-base skills batting in those spots ahead of Albert and the rest of the thumpers. (I like to call them the Thumpy Bunch in my head when I'm alone, and dream of the day when Marky Mark Hamilton will join their ranks to complete my sad little fantasy world.)
-- It appears we're going to have to see Miguel Batista in close games a lot this season. Best just get used to it now. Sigh. On the upside, Trever Miller looks pretty awesome again this year, so I'm sure we'll get to see lots and lots and lots of him coming in to strand Batista's runners.
-- Overall thoughts on the first week: they are who we thought they were. The offense looks good in the middle and thin on both ends, the bullpen looks iffy (though it would look a whole lot better if the manager weren't convinced Batista's wealth of experience trumps his dearth of success), and the Wainwright-less rotation is going to be a rollercoaster ride all season, even when they do get the job done.
Have a nice day everyone, and enjoy the game. I'm off to compose my first haiku of 2011 for the game thread. I'll schedule it for about 11:45, I believe. Now let's all clap our hands and let the Cardinals know we believe they can get to .500 today. Sort of a Tinkerbell situation.
The Baron's Playlist for the 6th of April, 2011 -- Girls are Awesome
"Youth Knows no Pain" - Lykke Li
"Wicked Heart" - Tristen
"Over the Ocean" - Best Coast
"Natural History" - the Finches
"A Wish" - Gregory and the Hawk
"Cherry Tulips" - Headlights
"Little Deschutes" - Laura Veirs