From the way the TV cameras caught Yadier Molina pumping his fists, the Cardinals seemed more excited than might be expected after their 4-3 victory over the Braves on Monday night.
Perhaps that’s what happens after you win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly three weeks. Perhaps that’s what happens when you win consecutive one-run games for the first time this season. Perhaps that’s what happens when a player who hasn’t contributed much this season — Peter Bourjos in this case — plays a key role.
Or perhaps the Cardinals were just glad to be playing in 80-degree temperatures after freezing all weekend at Wrigley Field.
Whatever the reason, with everyone on the roster beginning to make contributions, the Cardinals might be ready to go on the kind of roll for which Mike Matheny has been waiting. They have already caught a break going into Tuesday night when they will face Gavin Floyd in his season debut rather than Ervin Santana, who is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA. The Braves are passing over Santana because of a bruised thumb.
— Bullpen. Four relievers covered four innings and while they were short of dominant, they kept the lead. Pat Neshek and Carlos Martinez retired all three batters they faced, in the sixth and eighth, respectively. Kevin Siegrist was touched up for a homer and double in the seventh, while Trevor Rosenthal gave up a single and a walk but struck out Justin Upton — on a 98-mph fastball — to secure his ninth save in nine chances.
— Bourjos. He didn’t hit the ball that hard but, when you’re in an 0-for-19 rut, you’ll take hits anyway you can. Bourjos got his first on an excuse-me swing that resulted in a soft liner up the middle and went for a single. An inning later, he managed to ground a two-seamer from Aaron Harang through the right side of the infield for an RBI single. Bourjos, in the lineup because he had been 4 for 10 against Harang, also showed off his speed on a running catch in center field. It would have been nice to see him try to steal when he had what appeared to be an ideal opportunity, but he played it safe and ended up scoring anyway.
— Jhonny Peralta. The hits are starting to pile up. In his past 10 games, Peralta has gone 15 for 39 and his batting average has climbed to a season-high .232 from .151. He has had two hits in six of the games and been held hitless only once.
— Shelby Miller’s efficiency. He picked up his fourth win, lowered his ERA to 3.20 and showed plenty of resolve escaping difficult situations. But once again, he did not go as deep into the game as he and the Cardinals expect. Miller did not allow a run in the first five innings even though he allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in four of them. In the sixth, he wasn’t so fortunate. After he allowed the first three Braves to get on base, he was removed from the game after 86 pitches and would up being charged with two runs. On the plus side, Miller walked a season-low two.
— Middle of the order. The 3, 4 and 5 hitters — Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and Allen Craig — batted 12 times and did not hit the ball out of the infield. Holliday and Craig both had infield hits, however, with Holliday’s driving in the Cardinals’ third run. Adams struck out three times, all on breaking pitches against a right-hander. Craig, who seemed to have found a groove on last week’s homestand, is 2 for 16 on the trip with no walks.
— Harang vs. Cardinals. Even though six of his seven starts qualify as quality, including this one, anyone who remembers Harang’s years with the Reds should not have been surprised that he didn’t beat the Cardinals. He came into his 26th start against St. Louis with a 7-13 record, 4.37 ERA and 21 homers allowed in 154 1/3 innings.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.