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Credit Greene with Cardinals "shot in the arm"

Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012, at 8:42 AM


It's time to give credit where credit is due.

I know Tyler Greene is the Cardinals resident Twitter punching bag, but his Monday night heroics were just what the doctor ordered.

His eighth inning 2-run homer that gave the Cardinals their final lead clearly energized a team that had taken all of the adversity any team should have to handle.

Since returning home from the west coast, Greene has gone 4-for-10 with 3 RBIs, 2 walks and a homerun. He's hit the ball well and seems to be coming into his own. While he still has room to grow, obviously, he is a well-liked guy around the clubhouse and everyone wants to see him succeed.

Before I go any further, I know the Padres aren't the Dodgers. That doesn't mean a 3-game sweep can't energize the Cardinals, regardless of who the competition is.

Greene's homerun on Monday was just the first of many things that have started going right this week. I'm not saying he's responsible for all of this, but sometimes teams just need a spark to remember how good they really are.

1. The Defense has turned around. A road trip filled with bumbled defensive plays and give-away runs has now turned into a 3-game stretch at home without an error. At this point, the Cardinals have quit giving runs away. Three "web-gem" style plays were made on Wednesday night alone between Holliday, Schumaker and Furcal. This is the key element to winning games, so don't give them up on bad fielding. While May was so bad defensively, April was so good that the Cardinals overall still have the third best defense in the National League with only 24 errors. Compare that to the league's worst defensive team, the San Francisco Giants, with 46 errors. That makes 24 look pretty good.

2. Adam Wainwright put together only his third career shutout Tuesday night. Not bad for a guy who gave up more homeruns in his first seven starts than he did in all of 2010. Wainwright, as I mentioned in yesterday's column, is making progress. A night like Tuesday could propel him farther in the right direction.

3. David Freese ended a monster slump on Wednesday when he homered and went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Apparently a couple of days off were exactly what he needed. Welcome back, Mr. Freese.

4. Carlos Beltran, who has also been a bit stagnant of late, blasted his 14th homerun of the year and worked his average back up to .292. Matt Holliday also continues to hit the ball well. With a walk and a hit he went 1-for-3 Wednesday bumping his average up to .270. It still sounds low, yes, but he's getting it together offensively and defensively. He's definitely a threat at the plate again. When he and Beltran heat it up together, I fully expect them to be one of the best 3-4 punches in the National League. When you add power in the 5-7 slots as well, who knows what can happen.

5. Matt Adams went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a double Wednesday night. Both hits were within just a few feet of leaving the park. Twice I thought he had left the park for his first time in the big leagues. If those hits are any indication, that first one isn't far away. The big guy showed us Wednesday night that he's pretty fast as well when he ran out his double. The future is limitless for this kid.

6. Three of four position players currently on the DL are hitting over .300 (Carpenter is close behind at .288). To keep things going with those guys out, means bringing them back to the club will be that much more important. Anytime you can add multiple .300 average hitters to your lineup, that's a very, very good thing. Most teams only wish they had that many on their 40-man roster.

The sweep against the Padres is obviously huge for the Cardinals mental health and that's something that needs to be on top of its game because starting tonight they will be playing a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.


To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com, call (573)624-4545, or fill out the form at http://dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynol...

Follow him on Twitter @coreynoles

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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