Lohse hopes to build off last season’s success starting Tuesday night when he tries to help the Cardinals bounce back from a frustrating opening-day loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
A year ago, Lohse wasn’t sure where his career was headed after he signed with St. Louis near the end of spring training after going 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA for Cincinnati and Philadelphia in 2007.
The right-hander didn’t make the Cardinals regret their decision by turning in the best season of his eight-year career. Lohse went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA to help anchor a St. Louis rotation that was again without former ace Chris Carpenter most of the season.
Lohse’s 2008 success earned him a four-year contract and some confidence while still remembering there’s always room for improvement.
“You’re always going to be working on stuff,” Lohse told the Cardinals’ official Web site. “That’s what pitching is. You’re not going to be great every time out there.”
Lohse has been close to great against Pittsburgh in his career. He is 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA in five starts against the Pirates.
The Cardinals will likely need him to be at his best as they try to even their record after falling 6-4 to Pittsburgh on Monday.
“It’s just one of those things,” said Motte, who won a three-way competition for the closer’s job in spring training. “You can come back out there tomorrow and be the hero. You’ve just got to put it all behind you.”
The loss overshadowed big days from St. Louis All-Stars Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick. Pujols was 3-for-4 while Ludwick went 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs for the Cardinals, who look to avoid opening with two straight losses for the second time in three years.
Pujols is batting .366 with 35 homers and 106 RBIs against the Pirates, while hitting safely in his last six games against them. He is batting .424 (14-for-33) with four home runs and eight RBIs against Pittsburgh’s scheduled starter Ian Snell.
Snell, who was 7-12 with a career-high 5.42 ERA in 2008, will try to improve on his 4-4 record with a 4.93 ERA in 13 starts against the Cardinals.
The right-hander, who went 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts against St. Louis last season, looks to help Pittsburgh open 2-0 for the second time in three years.
Wilson’s game-winning double was his only hit and a bit of a relief for the shortstop after batting .170 in 21 spring training games. He is hitting .308 (4-for-13) against Lohse.
“He’s got a new approach up there and I don’t think he felt that comfortable in spring training,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “Hopefully, this will help him to relax.”