Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/11/10

The St. Louis Cardinals starters continue to rack up quality starts this season.

INSIDE PITCH

 

In their first 32 games, Cardinals starters have turned in a remarkable 28 quality starts, i.e., three earned runs or fewer allowed in at least six innings pitched.

 

Right-hander Brad Penny, who will take the mound against the Houston Astros in St. Louis on Tuesday night, has had six of those quality starts. Right-hander Adam Wainwright has seven, while lefty rookie Jaime Garcia, like Penny, has had quality starts in each of his first six appearances this year. Chris Carpenter has six quality starts out of seven.

 

Only right-hander Kyle Lohse, who has had three non-quality starts out of six, has struggled to produce quality starts.

 

"I like the prospects of the depth we're going to have with our starting staff," pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "I really believe Lohse is going to find a groove and be a big contributor to our staff. And if Garcia continues to be what he appears to be, that's five pretty good starters.

 

"I'm not too sure that anybody else would have five better starters than them."

Penny, 3-2 with a 1.98 earned run average, has given up only two home runs -- both in his last start in Philadelphia -- and is averaging just more than 13 pitches an inning, down a couple of pitches an inning from his statistics for most of his career.

 

"Fifteen (pitches an inning) is the measuring stick," Duncan said. "Anything below 15 is good."

 

Wainwright is under 14 per inning but Carpenter, still searching for command of his fastball, is at 15.

 

"(Carpenter's) fastball is a valuable pitch to him, but he doesn't have to have it to win," Duncan said. "He can pitch around his fastball with other stuff."

 

NOTES AND QUOTES

 

Neither the Cardinals nor the Pittsburgh Pirates hit a home run in their three-game series over the weekend. The Cardinals, in fact, had just one homer—by OF Nick Stavinoha—on their seven-game trip to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

 

In the Cardinals' first 13 home games, they've given up just one home run—by Atlanta's Jason Heyward. Their home record is 10-3.

 

1B Albert Pujols, who hasn't struck out more than 69 times since his rookie season of 2001, when he fanned 93 times, has 21 in 32 games so far. He also has walked 21 times, but 11 of those have been intentional, suggesting that Pujols might be expanding his hitting zone too much sometimes.

 

The Cardinals will get another crack at Houston RHP Bud Norris on Thursday. In three starts against them, covering last year and this year, Norris hasn't allowed an earned run and has won all three games. Norris has just one win this season, a 5-1 victory on April 15 in St. Louis.

 

Although the offense hasn't helped the pitching staff all that much, the defense has. The Cardinals lead the league in double plays turned with 37, and they're also ranked first in total chances accepted by a wide margin.

 
By The Numbers:

 

21—Games in which a Cardinals starter did not give up a home run before RHP Brad Penny permitted two against Philadelphia on May 5.

 
Quote To Note:

 

"We're patiently impatient."

—Manager Tony La Russa, waiting for a resolution of INF Felipe Lopez's throwing arm difficulties.

 

ROSTER REPORT

Medical Watch:

 

LF Matt Holliday (strained groin) left the May 7 game, and he appeared as a pinch hitter May 8. He did not play on May 9 and is day-to-day.

 

INF Felipe Lopez (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 26.


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