Cardinals Major League Notebook: 10/02/10

Jake Westbrook continued the Cardinals' post-elimination surge with a Friday win over the Rockies.



Jake Westbrook, the controversial pickup by the Cardinals from Cleveland in July when popular outfielder Ryan Ludwick was sent to San Diego, gave the Busch Stadium fans something to remember him by Friday night if this was his last game in a St. Louis uniform.

Westbrook, a pending free agent, threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 3-0 Cardinals victory over Colorado. In his final two home starts of the season, Westbrook didn't allow a run and gave up just 10 hits over 15 2/3 innings. He fanned a career-high-tying nine.

"He made so many movement pitches, both sides of the plate," said manager Tony La Russa. "What a performance."

La Russa was on board with general manager John Mozeliak's trade of Ludwick for Westbrook, and he stood by it again Friday.

"In my opinion, Mo couldn't have made a better trade," said La Russa. "I don't know who he could have traded for who would have pitched better than this man has pitched for us."

Westbrook, in 12 Cardinals starts, worked six innings or more 10 times and allowed three earned runs or fewer nine times. In his last two starts at home, he pitched 15 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just 10 hits.

"Game after game after game, he's given us an outstanding chance to win," said La Russa. "We just haven't supported him in some of them.

"He did his part consistently. It was an outstanding trade for us."

And, admittedly not a good hitter, Westbrook knocked one of the three Cardinals' runs with a second-inning single.

CARDINALS 3, ROCKIES 0: While the Rockies, also out of contention for the playoffs, limp to the finish line with 11 losses in 12 games, the Cardinals have won seven of their last nine games. Reliever Trever Miller bailed RHP Jake Westbrook out of a bases-loaded spot in the eighth by retiring Colorado LF Carlos Gonzalez on a tapper to the mound with the bases loaded.


Rookie C Matt Pagnozzi, who has driven in eight runs in his last six games, squeezed home one of the Cardinals' three runs. Earlier in the week, he had hit his first big-league homer, but he said he valued more the squeeze bunt called by manager Tony La Russa. "There's more risk involved," he said. "They're expecting me to get the bunt down. They're not expecting me to hit a home run." It was the first successful suicide squeeze for an RBI by the Cardinals since April 2008.

RHP Jake Westbrook, Friday's winner, and the Cardinals have expressed mutual interest in Westbrook, a free agent, coming back next year. But he will command a multi-year contract. Can the Cardinals afford him and still upgrade their offense?

RHP Chris Carpenter, the Cy Young Award winner in 2005, said this year's race will be interesting but he sees only two competitors—his former Toronto teammate Roy Halladay, now with Philadelphia, and Cardinals teammate Adam Wainwright, the other 20-game winner in the National League. "Those are the only two that should have consideration," said Carpenter. Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez can gain his 20th win against the Cardinals on Saturday, but Carpenter, a 16-game winner himself, doesn't rank him as high as the other two. "He's won five games in the second half," said Carpenter. "Not that he isn't a great pitcher. He's had a great year. But the other two guys had much more consistency."

The Cardinals' shutout game was the 28th in which they had been involved. At home they are 11-1 in shutouts. On the road, they are 4-12.

LHP Dennys Reyes is done for the season with a strained ligament in his left elbow and probably won't be re-signed. "The only way to heal it is to rest it," Reyes said. "Why risk it? If you go out there, you could pitch and lose the tendon. Then you're looking at missing a year and a half instead of a few games. If we were still in the race, I'd still pitch."

By the Numbers:

2 - Saves blown by RH reliever Ryan Franklin, the Cardinals' closer, through the first 25 weeks of the season. The problem was that he had only 28 save chances in that time.


Quote to Note:




- Manager Tony La Russa, about his team dropping eight straight games to teams with losing records before finally winning at Pittsburgh.




Medical Watch:

LHP Dennys Reyes (strained ligament in left elbow) is done for the season.

1B Albert Pujols (mild hamstring strain) was hurt Sept. 30 but returned Oct. 1.

RHP Adam Wainwright (right forearm strain) was shut down for the season Sept. 28.

RHP Blake Hawksworth (mouth, lip lacerations) was struck in the face by a line drive Sept. 25 and was hospitalized for observation. He was discharged from the hospital Sept. 26 after requiring almost 30 stitches to close wounds in his mouth and upper lip. He won't pitch again this season.

C Yadier Molina (sore right knee) hasn't played since Sept. 21. An MRI on Sept. 22 found inflammation in the knee, and he was shut down for the season.

LHP Jaime Garcia (arm fatigue) missed starts Sept. 18 and Sept. 23, and the Cardinals announced Sept. 24 that he had been shut down for the season.

C Jason LaRue (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 13. He was moved to the 60-day DL on Aug. 19, ending his season. He has announced that he will retire.

3B David Freese (right ankle surgery in August 2010, left ankle surgery in September 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 15. He was originally out due to a bone bruise on his right ankle, and then he broke his left big toe in mid-July. He tore a right ankle tendon Aug. 2 in his first rehab game with Class AA Springfield, and he had season-ending surgery Aug. 6. He underwent surgery on the left ankle a month later, but he expects to be ready for spring training.

RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 because of tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7 that found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. As of Aug. 5, he was playing catch but not throwing off a mound. Penny is out indefinitely.

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