Westbrook stays grounded to sink Tigers
Jake Westbrook, at 91-90 for his career and 6-6 this year, is the model of consistent inconsistency. But when he has that sinking feeling, it generally means that all is well.
Westbrook on Wednesday night saved the Cardinals from falling under .500 for the first time this season -- they have had four chances. He threw his first complete game in more than two years and first in 59 starts as a Cardinal when he held Detroit to an unearned run in a 3-1 triumph. Westbrook had 15 groundball outs with his trademark sinker.
The Cardinals eased back above .500 at 35-34 and, for the fifth consecutive series, will play a rubber game in Thursday's finale.
Manager Mike Matheny said he hadn't been aware of the Cardinals' repeated threats of falling under .500.
"My response to whatever our record is is that we're better than what it is," Matheny said.
Westbrook, whose last complete game was on May 16, 2010 at Baltimore when he pitched for Cleveland, said, "It's a great feeling. Every time you go out there, you want to finish what you start. But to have an opportunity to do so is pretty special."
Defying theory that a sinkerballer is more effective when he is tired, Westbrook has had two strong games in succession while pitching with an extra day of rest each time. He has allowed runs in only two of his last 15 innings.
"I guess the older I get (he is 34), the better it is to get more rest," Westbrook said.
DH Carlos Beltran, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, reached base all four times he came to the plate on two hits and two walks. In his streak, he is 21-for-46 and has hiked his average to .311.
SS Rafael Furcal, after going hitless in three at-bats, extending his slide to 2-for-39, singled in each his final two at-bats. "That's huge for his confidence," said manager Mike Matheny. "We talked to him before the game, regardless of whether the hits come, we needed him to be himself. He was. He was chirping in the dugout and barking and saying stuff. Some of it you can't understand. But it's just funny. And then a couple of hits followed."
RF Allen Craig jammed his left wrist diving for a ball, unsuccessfully, in the sixth inning. He said he felt a twinge when he hit the next time and then he came out of the game for defense. But he didn't think the injury was serious. "It didn't feel good," he said. "But I think I got lucky. It could have been a lot worse."
Detroit RHP Jacob Turner, who will oppose the Cardinals on Thursday, is friends with Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who offered advice to Turner when the former was pitching for a St. Louis county high school that Matheny's children also attended. As for how he would view Turner's game, Matheny said, "I'm a fan. But I'm not that big a fan. I do want the best for him in his career. But my priorities are very stable. And they're in this clubhouse."
RHP Chris Carpenter, steadily building strength in his troublesome right shoulder, threw another bullpen session Wednesday afternoon, and he is expected to face some Cardinals hitters Friday night in Kansas City before the Cardinals' interleague game at Kauffman Stadium. Asked to compare his progress now to a typical spring training, the 37-year-old Carpenter said, "I'm right where I need to be."
INF/OF Matt Carpenter (strained right oblique) and CF Jon Jay (sprained right shoulder) should be back very soon. Carpenter played nine innings, going 0-for-4, for Class AA Springfield on Wednesday night, and Jay homered and tripled in a 2-for-4 day for Memphis at Omaha on Wednesday afternoon. Jay is 3-for-7 in two rehab games, playing center field both times.
14 Career complete games for RHP Jake Westbrook.
"I'm having stretches. It's a matter of making the bad stretches not quite as long ... and making your good streaks longer than your bad ones." RHP Jake Westbrook, who is 6-6 this year and 91-90 for his career after his second straight win.