Today was a good day for the Cardinals. After bouncing back from a devastating Opening Day loss on Thursday with a win, the Birds followed it up with an offensive explosion, scoring nine runs against a deep Blue Jays pitching staff. In the end, the Cardinals took two out of three against the Jays and are heading into their series with the Braves with a lot of momentum.
Nolan Gorman led the way with two home runs. Brendan Donovan and Alec Burleson each provided some power as well. This was good to see, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’m very confident in what the Cardinals have on the offensive side. To see everybody in the lineup pick up a hit is encouraging and it goes to show just how good this offense could be.
Jordan Montgomery was okay. I didn’t think he was dominant by any stretch, but he wasn’t bad. I was a little concerned when he ran into some trouble in the second inning, as I had hoped that the four spot in the first would settle him into a groove. Montgomery allowed three runs in that inning. However, I was encouraged to see him rally and get through the next three innings with relative ease, as he ultimately earned his first win of 2023.
Here are a couple of takeaways from today’s 9-4 win.
The outfield produced quite well in this series, but especially today. With Lars Nootbaar out, Alec Burleson took advantage of his opportunity. Dylan Carlson also had a good day, picking up three hits. This was nice to see. Many Cardinals fans, including myself, have speculated that Carlson could be trade bait at the deadline. But we may not want to jump the gun just yet.
We know that when Carlson is healthy, he can be a key contributor for this team, and I personally liked what I saw out of him this afternoon. It was also further proof that the Cardinals have an enviable amount of outfielders within the system and on the roster that can do some damage, and it could mean that they’ll be able to trade from that surplus of talent to land a top-of-the-rotation arm, whether that includes Carlson or not.
The production of the outfield was a major key to the win today and could be an X-Factor for the team going forward.
The Jeff Albert Effect Is Real
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the offense is truly clicking now that former hitting coach Jeff Albert has disappeared. I’m no analytical genius, but it’s obvious that his approach wasn’t working. Willson Contreras being back in the lineup certainly helped, but I think we got a glimpse this weekend of what the Cardinals offense is like at full strength, especially today.
We already touched on Nolan Gorman’s day at the plate, but he’s somebody who clearly has benefitted from a new perspective and found his groove. With Gorman producing at a high level, I think it’s very likely that the Cardinals will have another swiss army knife at their disposal as the season progresses. But I also believe that this is the true identity of the team’s lineup. With so many stars from top to bottom, this is what we were expecting.
Packy Naughton Was Lights Out
Like many Cardinals fans, I was skeptical at first about Packy Naughton being named to the Opening Day roster. He’s proven to be a valuable asset against left-handed hitters, but has struggled against righties.
Not today. This may have been the best we’ve seen out of Naughton so far. He got some key outs against hitters such as Alejandro Kirk and George Springer and even went multiple innings, closing the door and securing a series win for the Birds. For all the question marks surrounding the left side of the bullpen and who would be the second lefty next to Zack Thompson, Naughton sure made a good first impression and I think this is a good sign for the Cardinals going forward.
The Cards will be back in action tomorrow at 6:45 as they open up a series with the Braves.