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Saturday, Apr. 19, 2014

Any flight out of New York is a "Happy Flight"

Posted Tuesday, June 5, 2012, at 12:10 PM

By COREY NOLES

What a weekend. The St. Louis Cardinals helped make history in several ways this weekend, but none of them were good.

Johan Santana's no-hitter on Friday night was really an impressive outing. I know Beltran's ball hit the foul line, but sometimes things are just meant to happen (see 2011 Cardinals).

When a night like that is in the cards, no pun intended, there is little that can be done to stop it. Santana was having one of those nights.

While his fastball averages in the upper-80s, his change-up lands in the mid-70s. That throws batters for a real loop. He likes to throw his change-up high where batters think they're looking at a high fastball, but they're halfway around before they realize the ball has dropped 16 inches.

That's not luck; it's just being a great quality pitcher.

What happened on Saturday shouldn't come as a huge surprise either.

After a night against Santana throws your timing off, facing a knuckleballer is cruel.

If their timing wasn't thrown badly enough out of whack on Friday, R.A. Dickey made sure to finish the job.

Dickey throws his knuckleball 85 percent of the time. Literally.

It comes in at the speed of a good changeup; the only difference is it could go anywhere from the catcher's mitt to a hot dog stand in the main concourse. Saturday afternoon, he did a fine job of keeping control of his knuckleball. The Cardinals did a horrible job of keeping up with it. That's the way it goes with a knuckleballer.

Fortunately, they are usually either on or off. Dickey was on this weekend.

I was glad to see that by Monday the team managed to get its offense back on track because guys like that can mess up a hitter's timing for days or even weeks. Knuckleballers make good slump-starters.

Sunday evening the Cardinals finally started hitting the ball, but not before a 26-inning scoreless streak. They were one inning away from having not scored in the equivalent of three full games. That's never a good sign.

Monday the Cardinals 'offense showed back up, posting five runs on eight hits with a homerun and two stolen bases.

Matt Holliday and David Freese both posted 2-for-4 days as they try to nudge their averages back up. Holliday has worked up to .276 with Freese shortly behind at .263.

Allen Craig went 2-for-3 and has an average of .355, but he has played far fewer games at this point. When we see how he is doing at the end of June we'll have a better gauge of where he stands. Looking from right now, though, he looks like he is ready to crush some more baseballs.

In the midst of the offense returning, something very important got pushed to the side - Kyle Lohse.

Lohse gave up only two hits over six innings, and one of those was a homerun. He was lifted in the seventh inning when his spot in the lineup came around with two on and two outs. It was a shame to have to pull him, but it was a gamble that had to happen.

Of course, it resulted in a Matt Adams strikeout. I guess hind-sight is 20-20.

The Cardinals desperately need to carry their Monday momentum into Tuesday's game with the Astros if they want to make up some of the ground they have lost as they cling to second place in the National League Central division.

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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 dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/

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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