When right-hander Kyle McClellan won the starting spot vacated by injured right-hander Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals were looking for the same sort of pitching that McClellan had displayed in the Cardinals bullpen for the last three seasons -- just for a longer period of time.
Expectations met. After allowing just two runs in 23 innings in spring training, McClellan has given up only three runs in 12 innings in the regular season over his first two starts. But what the Cardinals surely didn't count on was McClellan's offensive punch.
A 1-for-13 hitter for his career, McClellan reached base in all three of his at-bats Monday and knocked in two runs -- the first two of his career. He had an RBI double (on a hit-and-run with slow-running catcher Yadier Molina in first base) and a run-scoring single.
The Cardinals have their
first winning streak of the season (two games) after an 8-2 win at
McClellan managed to make six innings despite having to run the bases three times. He did walk four, unusual for him, but he was touched for just one run, in the fourth inning, an inning he finished by getting opposing pitcher Barry Enright to ground into a double play.
"Four walks isn't what you want," said McClellan, "but I made pitches when I needed to."
His last out in the sixth was important, too, because McClellan got dangerous pinch hitter Russell Branyan, representing the tying run, to ground out with two runners on base.
As for his own hitting, McClellan said, "I got fastballs 'up' to hit and I got lucky. You just don't want to give up on at-bats."
Lance Berkman snapped an 0-for-11 skid with consecutive home runs to the opposite field in his final two at-bats, driving in a total of three runs. Jon Jay followed Berkman's ninth-inning homer with one of his own, marking the first time the club had hit back-to-back homers since last July 19.
Albert Pujols singled in the ninth inning. Modest news perhaps, but he had been in a 1-for-19 slump, with his average dipping into the .120s.
GM John Mozeliak, something of a prophet before Monday's game, said, "There's reason to think there's going to be some good news ahead." Mozeliak then watched his team score a season-high eight runs, eclipsing the previous season high of six achieved the day before.
RHPs Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs, both of whom had uneven springs and also up-and-down performances in the early part of the season, were perfect Monday. Motte retired all four men he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, and Boggs wrapped up the game by fanning the side in the ninth.
RHP Kyle McClellan drew high marks for his six innings of strong starting, but he also had two hits, driving in the first two runs of his career. "Kind of good-looking swings he had," manager Tony La Russa said. McClellan was 1-for-13 in his career before he doubled home C Yadier Molina in the third inning.
CF Colby Rasmus continued his penchant for reaching base at least twice a game. He had two singles Monday, and he has been on base 22 times in the Cardinals' first 10 games.
LHP Trever Miller retired
the only batter he faced in Monday's win at
RF Lance Berkman hit his first two homers as a Cardinal after his average had dropped under .200. "I just knew it was a matter of time before the hits started falling," he said. Speaking of the team's offense in general, he said, "We haven't dug ourselves a huge hole because we've gotten good starting pitching."
BY THE NUMBERS: 329 - Home runs by RF Lance Berkman, who is fifth on the career list for switch hitters.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If he didn't do anything else, he did elevate himself as far as pinch hitters among the pitchers."
- Manager Tony La Russa, talking about RHP Kyle McClellan's two hits and two RBI.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.
INF Nick Punto (hernia surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He hopes to return in late April.