i'll admit i thought the game was over after the top of the first; didn't realize that sunday was this year's designated hitting day. i won't make the same error next weekend. . . . whatever the day of the week, maybe i was too quick to assume that 2 runs constituted an insurmountable deficit for this offense. in the 8 games since the abysmal season-opening sweep, the cards have averaged 4.5 runs a game and are hitting .270 / .310 / .390; in the 5 games vs pittsburgh and milwaukee, the cards went .290 / .330 / .400. these are still pretty feeble numbers, but there are a few glimmers of life. i wouldn't bury the offense just yet.
somebody suggested on here a few days ago that only pujols' wife, deidre, can save us now --- a reference to the batting advice she famously some years back to help snap albert out of a slump. never fear: she's on the case.
weird split out of hombre in the early going: .862 OPS vs righthanders, but .231 vs lefties (he's 0 for 10 vs them so far with 3 walks, 2 intentional). he did have a mild reverse split last year and over his career has hit and slugged slightly better vs rhp . . . . but still. rolen's 0 for 6 vs left-handers, spiezio 0 for 7; preston wilson, whose value lies in his ability to hit southpaws, is 3 for 15. as a team, the cardinals are an average offensive club vs right-handers so far this year (8th in the league in OPS) but well below average vs lefties (12th); last season they ranked 4th vs righties and 15th vs lefties. same roster; same results. thanks to the pair of rainouts in pittsburgh over the weekend, the cards will dodge an lhp this week; the pirate rotation had been lined up to send two wrong-handers vs st louis, but instead rhp ian snell will face st louis tonight. they will not face zito in san francisco but will draw noah lowry, who has pitched better than barry so far.
the other cardinal who has trouble with lefties, braden looper, has handled them so far . . . . sort of. on the season he's held them to .259 / .333 / .444, well below his career line vs them (.305 / .371 / .464) and about equal to his performance vs them last season. yesterday the brewers' three lefties did most of the damage vs looper --- went 3 for 8 with a walk, drove in both runs. ned yost omitted two left-handed platooners from the lineup yesterday; could have had counsell at 3d (instead of graffanino) and gross in right field (instead of hart). a big part of looper's long-term success will rely on his ability to keep left-handers under control; so far the jury is still out on that score.
as for the other big doubt about looper --- his ability to get through a batting order 3 or 4 times --- the early returns are slightly more encouraging. after a difficult go on opening night --- mets went 4 for 7 with a homer and a walk the 3d time through the order --- looper mowed 'em down the 3d time through vs both pittsburgh and milwaukee, holding opponents to 1 hit in 11 at-bats (plus a walk and an hbp). it's awfully early to be declaring this conversion a success, but we haven't seen any evidence so far to suggest that it's not going to succeed . . . . . knock on wood.
nothing more to tell you this a.m.; apologies for the rushed entry. there's a full prospect report over at erik's site (both hawksworth and cate pitched for memphis yesterday), with a focus on adam ottavino; you might also be interested in Baseball Analysts' look at what happened to prior and wood.