Ok, the headline’s a bit apocryphal. I hope, anyway.
Playing in what looked to be a monsoon, the Rams gutted out a 19-17 win at Cleveland. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest win, and it was a pre-season game, but hey, any port in a storm.
Thoughts on the game:
– A.J. Feeley isn’t ready to give up his hold on the starting spot just yet. On the opening drive, he showed why the Rams picked him up this offseason, leading the Rams to its lone touchdown of the game. He went 5 for 6 for 45 yards and a TD pass to tight end Daniel Fells. He also banged up his hand on that opening drive and did not return, possibly paving the way for Sam Bradford to start Thursday against the Patriots.
– Speaking of Bradford, who went 6 of 14 for 24 yards, don’t judge him too much on his performance. Yes, the numbers are lousy. But ever thrown a football? Isn’t easy. Now try throwing it in pouring rain. During those conditions in the regular season, the Rams will most likely be running the ball the majority of the time. The guy’s still learning.
– Steven Jackson looked decent in the short time he was in, gaining 20 yards on four carries. Look for him to play significantly more Thursday, especially if Bradford starts.
– The offensive line performed better than last week. Granted, the bar wasn’t set very high. But the unit as a whole was more cohesive and didn’t allow a sack. It didn’t really do much for the run game, however, as the Rams gained just 57 yards on 33 carries.
– The defense also performed reasonably well, forcing five turnovers. If the defense can do that in the regular season, the Rams would have a legitimate shot in a decent amount of games.
– The Rams added some locally-connected talent, signing former Missouri receiver Danario Alexander and cutting Brooks Foster. Durability will surely be an issue, as he’s had four knee surgeries already. But his potential is high, and he adds some much-needed size (6’5″, 221lb.) to the receiving corps.
On to the Cardinals.
Winning two out of three against the Giants halted a five-game skidmark on the underpants of the 2010 season. Graphic? Certainly. But somewhat appropriate.
Both Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia were terrific this weekend. Carpenter allowed just one earned run over 7.1 innings Saturday, outdueling Giants ace Tim Lincecum as the Cardinals won 5-1.
Albert Pujols is on one of his patented hot streaks. Riding an eight game hitting streak, he’s hitting .400 (12 for 30) in that stretch with four home runs and five RBI. During that streak, he’s also slugging .866 and has an on-base percentage of .486.
The star of the weekend, though, was Garcia, who pitched a complete game shutout Sunday as the Cardinals trounced the Giants 9-0. It was perhaps the most complete victory of the season thus far, as the Cardinals got offensive contributions from everyone up and down the lineup. Every starter got a hit. Pedro Feliz looks rejuvinated thus far, as he’s 6 for 13 with 2 RBI thus far in his stint as a Cardinal.
This upcoming series against the Pirates is a terrific chance for the Cardinals to make up ground on that 3.5 game deficit. If the Cardinals face another long losing streak, the season’s pretty much over, barring another late-season miracle like 1967.
Finally, farewell to Lou Piniella, who stepped down as manager of the Cubs after 48 years of playing/managing in the majors. He’d originally planned to step down at the end of the season but expedited his retirement to be with his ailing mother, whose condition is deteriorating. Cubs manager or not, Lou’s one of the better baseball minds in the game, and he’s certainly always been entertaining.