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i guess isringhausen's not quite washed up yet. a particularly encouraging sign: three swinging strikes. granted, he wasn't blowing the ball past anyone, but he kept the hitters off balance and uncomfortable, which is his m.o. even craig wilson, ahead in the count 2-0 with two outs, took a defensive swing to make the game-ending out. so are izzy's woes all behind him now? probably not; he's still not locating his fastball reliably. but the guy is a grown-up: after the leadoff double he didn't panic, just made good adjustments and closed out the inning. i think he's gonna be fine.

re marquis, i'm still in wait-see mode. he pitched an almost identical game exactly one year ago -- 8 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned in a 3-2 win over the brewers on april 17, 2005 -- but didn't build on the success. indeed, his first three starts as a whole this year very closely track last season's:

ip h w so w-l era whip
2005 20.1 17 4 15 2-0 1.33 1.03
2006 19.1 15 4 12 3-0 2.79 0.98

jason's problem last year was consistency, and it's what i need to see from him in 2006 before i'm a believer. so far he's turned in one excellent start and two mixed bags.his walk total is encouragingly low, but his groundout-flyout isn't where it should be -- at 1.6 to 1 it's down from last year -- and he's neither fooling nor overpowering many hitters. the pirates obliged him last night with some impatience during the middle innings; from the 3d through the 5th, 8 of 10 pirate batters swung at the first strike jason threw. then apparently the hitting coach said something, because in jason's last three innings almost every hitter (8 of 11) took strike one. he threw a nice game, and as long as he keeps his walk total in check he'll keep winning, but i remain skeptical whether marquis is on the verge of a breakout season. hope he surprises me.

the cardinals' hitting fielding and baserunning woes have drawn attention away from the pitching staff's very strong showing to date. stl pitchers are 2d in the league in era and have allowed the nl's fewest walks; they're a strong 2d in on-base allowed, 4th in batting average allowed, and first in groundout-flyout ratio by a wide margin. their high double-play rate from last season has carried over too; they're on pace to turn 186. but the cards' three strongest divisional rivals are also pitching well -- chicago houston and milwaukee rank 3d through 5th in the league in era. shaping up as an interesting season, and it's just getting started.