Actually, don't ask Mulder, because he insists that his back-to-back excellent starts this past week weren't that much different from his first two games in a Cardinals uniform. However, his outstanding week -- 18 innings pitched, two wins, no earned runs -- earned him recognition as Bank of America Presents the National League Player of the Week for April 18-24.
Mulder entered the week with an 8.18 ERA and finished with a 3.10 mark, thanks to an eight-inning, one-unearned-run win at Pittsburgh on Monday and a 10-inning shutout of the Astros at home on Saturday. He was the first National League pitcher to throw a 10-inning complete-game shutout since Greg Maddux on May 11, 1988.
"I'm throwing strike one," Mulder said. "I'm getting ahead. So it's enabling me to do a lot more things as far as working both sides of the plate. I was throwing strike one with two or three different pitches [Saturday], both on the inside and outside. But that's for any pitcher. Anybody who does that is gonna be successful."
The Cardinals acquired Mulder from Oakland in December in exchange for Dan Haren, Kiko Calero and prospect Daric Barton. He wasn't particularly sharp in his first two games, including the club's home opener against the Phillies, but seems to have found something recently.
"He's just getting better every time," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "I just think from the first day of Spring Training to now, he's getting a little stronger and a little sharper. He and [pitching coach Dave Duncan] have got a nice thing going."
The left-hander led the National League in innings for the week. He permitted seven hits and three walks while striking out seven batters. Other nominees for the award included Mulder's fellow St. Louis starters Chris Carpenter (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 SO) and Matt Morris (2-0, 2.45 ERA, 11 SO).
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Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.