Okay, I think we all know who the Man of the Match is going to be. 2010 came early this week, and it looks like Bud "The Troof" Norris. Baseball history has been littered with great first games of careers that flamed out (I'm looking at you, David Clyde), but this just might be different. Bud Norris absolutely dominated a Cardinals team that pretty much dominated the Astros all weekend long, and got one back with a 2-0 win.
Matt Holliday came into this game hitting .606 and left hitting .375 as he was held hitless for the first time since coming to St. Louis ten days ago. I believe, and I also believe that you believe, I can handle losing this season if it means getting better in 2010+.
I'm excited, let's do the thing:
Norris: 7IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:4BB, 17/27 first-pitch strikes, 25/55 non contact strikes (16 called:9 swinging)
Wright: 0.1IP, 0H/0ER, 0/1 FPS, 1/2 NCS (1 called)
Sampson: 0IP, 1H/0ER, 1/1 FPS, 1/5 NCS (1 called)
Valverde: 1.2IP, 0H/0ER, 1K:1BB, 1/5 FPS, 6/16 NCS (2c:4s)
All four of Norris' Ks were swinging strikeouts, and Astros pitchers only allowed 4ABs with RISP, and didn't give up a hit, including 2 hitless ABs with RISP for Holliday and Pujols. The crucial inning was the bottom of the 6th. With Houston enjoying a 1-0 lead, Norris allowed a leadoff single - the first Cardinals hit of the game - to pitcher Adam Wainwright, and walked Colby Rasmus two batters later. With Rasmus on 1st, Wainwright on 2nd, 1 out and Pujols/Holliday up, Norris needed six pitches to get Pujols to pop up to third, and Holliday to strike out (looking, foul, swinging) to end the inning.
Offensively, we saw a different lineup, with Tejada being dropped to 5th in the lineup (2x3, 1RBI), and Pence moving up to 3rd (2x4). Blum was pushed to 6th and Pudge to 7th. Bourn's RBI double provided the two-run margin.
Man of the Match: Come on. Bud "The Troof" Norris. Here's to a long, healthy career.
Goat of the Game: Geoff Blum had the most opportunity to break the game open for the offense with 2ABs with RISP. He ended three innings, left five men on base including Pence on third twice.