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well, there's nothing to clean the foul taste of two ugly losses to the padres out of your mouth than scoring 15 runs in 18 hours.

all the enjoyment of yesterday's game and we still ended up in second place to the reds. the reds lit up wandy rodriguez - so it wasn't a total loss for the cardinals - for eight runs, then tagged the houston bullpen for seven more. backup catcher kevin cash pulled an inning's worth of work for houston, giving up one run.

high on the list of great outcomes in the past couple games -- including boog's 4-4 effort (now with bonus dinger!) and the first inning yesterday -- was pj walter's win without him allowing a run. i personally like pj walters a lot - though my expectations of him are low - and his tragic story this year make him impossible to root against. seeing him bounce back to win his first ML game is great. all in all, i'd prefer a healthy kyle lohse, but walters and today's finally official starter, adam ottavino, both are interesting pitchers, and i would not be shocked if one of them ended up a tolerable fifth starter.

speaking of new folks, we caught our first pro glimpse of fernando salas yesterday. there was nothing not to like in his perfect ninth, even pitching around a throwing error by felipe lopez. the rumblings were that salas was up only temporarily, pending ottavino's interjection in the rotation. i'd be sorry to see that happen. i'd much rather see hawksworth put on the DL for a time.

the other option seems to be demoting joe mather. joey bombs' return from wrist ailments has been conditioned on him demonstrating that he can still produce the power that gave him his nickname. wrist injuries are especially debilitating for hitters (see derosa, mark - .194/.279/.258 in 2010). so far, mather has not shown us anything to be interested in - a .191/.208/.277 line is nothing to be proud of.

the sample size remains small (50 PA), so i'm not ready to write him off, but it seems appropriate to let him work out his issues in memphis. his primary function has been to spell colby in center against lefties, but his .203 wOBA in 24 PAs versus lefties this year doesn't make him anybody's platoon partner (colby rasmus - .207 wOBA v. lefties this year in 25 PAs; .216 career in 146 PA), assuming you put any faith in mather's numbers so far. while the sample size doesn't mean much, i approached mather this off-season with some serious reservations about the likelihood that he would return and be effective. at minimum, his hitting has not reassured me.

i am perfectly content to let ludwick and jon jay fill in in center as needed, even though jay's roaring start at memphis has not carried over to the majors and ludwick defense in center is below average. if mather goes down, i would rather see an interesting position player come up, like tyler greene or allen craig. for all the handwringing about aaron miles, i could handle his arrival provided that he remains a bench player.  

in the interim, though, the resurgent offense should give some reassurance to cards fans out there that we can get through the next two weeks without brad penny. hopefully, over the next three or four starts walters and ottavino will make good showings, and we can look forward to a decent lohse replacement from the farm this summer (does anyone not think that lohse's recovery time will be measured in months plural?).