The 2008 Cardinals are young, hungry, strong, tough and resilient. Their ability to improvise, overcome, adapt and bounce back from adversity has been tested over and over. It was tested again this week.
The little two-game series against the Brewers was probably the BIGGEST series the Cardinals have played this year. The Brewers are the team to beat for a team trying to make a playoff run. We could not afford to lose ground.
The first game was a humiliating 12-0 loss. Just one of those nights where everything the Brewers did worked. Everything the Cardinals did flopped. Wellemeyer kept us in it, but got no run support. Then the Brewers had a run against the Cardinals bullpen, and there was no catching up.
The second game started much the same. Good starting pitching by Wainwright. The Brewers able to eek in three runs. The Cardinals leaving runners in scoring position. In the 6th, Ryan Ludwick finally broke 14 2/3 innings of scorelessness against the Brewers with a solo home run. But, when the Cardinals had the bases loaded in the 7th and couldn’t come up with a run, the game seemed lost. Then the tide turned.
The Brewer reliever, Villanueva, thought he’d really done something we he got out of that bases loaded inning. He made the mistake of gesturing toward the Cardinals dugout. Pujols took exception to the lack of respect. Villanueva then made the mistake of saying something foul in Spanish to Pujols. The umpires put out the flames, but the fire still smoldered.
The fire translated into an amazing 8th:
· Franklin‘s strong pitching allowed no runs.
· Pujols came up to bat and hit a lead-off double.
· Ludwick copied with an RBI double.
· After a three K night, Glaus finally got a piece of one for an RBI single.
· Molina hit behind the runner to sacrifice himself and advance the runner.
· Glaus beat the throw to home on Aaron Miles’ pinch hit grounder. (Why isn’t Miles playing everyday?)
· Looper came in the game to put down a sac bunt.
· Lopez scored Miles on a single.
The Cardinals lead 5-3. Would it be enough?
It might have been an even more amazing 9th:
Rookie, Chris Perez came in to shut the door. The anticipation and expectation hung in the air as heavy as would in any game 7 of the World Series.
Chris Perez slammed the door hard, fanning 3 of the 4 batters he’s faced. The Cardinals fans went home happy.
Tonight the Cardinals played the kind of game that winners play. They kept themselves in the game, took advantage when the chance presented itself, and finally went for and got the kill.
Now, on to Houston! I’m looking forward to this series because will be in the stands watching Saturday and Sunday’s games live! I’m excited to check out Minute Maid Park, and watch the Cardinals take the Astros.
Must hate the Cubs…must hate the Cubs. Repeat with me…must hate the Cubs.
As soon as I fell in love with Cardinals, it was amazing how quickly the Cub hating began. It’s like they are oxygen and carbon dioxide. You breathe in the Cardinals and exhale the Cubs. In with the good air. Out with the bad.
The loathing didn’t begin in earnest until I attended a Cubs-Cardinals game in St. Louis last year. The Cubs fans that had made the trip to Busch pretty much sealed it for me. There were a number of smaller things, but my biggest objection was the booing. Maybe I’m alone on this, but when you are on the road with your team, visiting another team’s park, I believe it is rude to boo the home team. When you are at home, you can boo whoever you want, but on the road you should limit yourself to simply cheering (or booing for) your own team.
Seriously, do you go to a party at someone’s house and boo the host even if the party sucks? No, you don’t because your momma raised you better than that.
Enough on ballpark etiquette, lets play ball!
8/8/08 Cardinals 2, Cubs 3
This was the kind of game good rivalries are made of: tight score, strong pitching, a few long balls, aggressive base-running and extra innings.
The Cardinals gave their old buddy Jim Edmonds the cold shoulder in July, not allowing him a hit in three games. Braden Looper struck him out twice. When he finally got on with a walk, Yadier Molina tagged him out soundly at home. In this game, Edmonds repaid the chilly hospitality by lifting two home runs off Looper and robbing Molina of a base hit to center.
Rookie Joe Mather answered the former Cardinal veteran with a home run ball of his own. He has been making a real case for himself as a big leaguer.
The Cardinals did some very aggressive base running, which I like to see even though it didn’t really pay off. In the 5th, Izturis stretched a double into three bases on a bad throw, but was unable to score on the suicide squeeze play. In the 6th, Schumaker hoofed it to third on a Mather single, which put him in position to score a run on Kennedy’s force out, tying the game. Later in the inning, Mather tried to tag up and score on a Glaus fly ball, but was put out with a perfect throw from Soriano. In the 9th, after getting on with a walk, Izturis was able to steal 2nd and 3rd, but was left there when Ankiel popped up. Pujols got caught stealing in the 10th to end the inning. So many chances…so few runs to show for it.
Other than the long balls, Looper pitched a beautiful game. McClellan gave up only 1 hit in the 8th and struck out two. Perez came in the 9th, gave up 1 hit and struck out the lead off batter. (But, remember, he’s NOT “The Closer”). Unfortunately, Franklin did not get one out in the 10th, giving up two walks, two hits and the winning run.
8/9/08 Cardinals 12, Cubs 3
Game 2 of the series was a home run derby, which I sure didn’t expect with Zambrano on the mound. Cubs got their two home runs and not much else. Edmonds followed up his two home run day by going 0 for 4, striking out three times. Pujols and Shumaker got solo shots. But, nobody can snap a slump like Troy Glaus.
He came into the game 0 for 29 against the Cubs this year. If I was the manager, I probably would have given him the day off. I would have been wrong. He left the game 3 for 34. Glaus hit two back-to-back home runs, for 5 RBI’s and a 9th inning single.
As exciting as the home runs were, I was more excited to see the string of hits the Cardinals put together in the 9th. I can’t remember seeing any team this year with more people hitting above .300 than the Cardinals. Yet, it seems like we’ve had trouble stringing those hits together in a way that produces runs. The 9th went down like this:
Pujols: 1B (Izturis to 3rd)
Ludwick: Sac Fly (Izturis scores)
Ankiel: PH-1B (Pineiro pinch runs)
Glaus: 1B (Bases loaded)
Molina: 1B (Pujols and Pineiro score. 2 more 2-out RBI’s for Molina)
Total Result: 3 runs on 5 hits
Hats off to Todd Wellemeyer. In his last two starts, he’s finally seemed back to form after his injury. He gave up two long balls and not much else. Russ Springer did some fine pitching as well, giving up 1 hit and then proceeding to strike out 4 Cubs in a row. Thompson finished off the job in the 9th.
The Cubs don’t lose many games at home, but it’s not everyday they play the best road team. Everything came together for the Cardinals like the perfect storm of hitting, pitching and defense.
8/10/08 Cardinals 2, Cubs 6
What started out as a nice tight pitching battle, turned into a heart-breaker in 6th. Chris Carpenter was efficiently putting away batters, giving up 2 runs, only one of them earned, when he left the game with a strained triceps.
After that, the Cardinals fell apart for the rest of the inning. An error was made on a double play ball that would have ended the inning. Instead, the inning continued and the runs tallied in surmountable lead. The Cardinals finally got it together, but the damage had been done.
What about Carp? It’s been such a shot in the arm having him back. We’ve been waiting for it FOREVER. I was just getting used to seeing him in the line-up again.It seems like the Cardinals can’t catch a break.
I want to say, “Maybe, it’s not that serious.” But, I’m reminded of the scene in Apollo 13 when they are working to overcome all these obstacles: the CO2 problem, the trajectory correction, how to power up the command module, etc. Then, this guy says there is a typhoon warning near the landing site. He says, “Maybe, they’ll miss it.” Deke Slayton replies, “Only if their luck changes.”
The Cards could use some new lucky cards. Maybe, they’ll get them this time.
I run into a lot of Braves fans down here in Oklahoma. Much of that is owed to fact that the Braves used to be on cable TV all the time. My grandpa watched them every night while listening to whatever other game he could get on the radio. I was looking forward to seeing the great Chipper Jones, although we were probably better off with him on the DL. I hadn’t heard the good ol’ “tomahawk chop” in years. I still think it’s one of the best battle cries ever.
With Chipper on the DL, the All-Star catcher McCann’s head still spinning from a collision on Sunday, big hitter Teixeira traded to the Angels after the first game and the long awaited return of Cardinal ace, Chris Carpenter, this was a series with a lot of potential.
7/28/08 Cardinals 12, Braves 3
There’s nothing like winning the hard fought close game. Unless of course you’re coming off a string of hard fought close games coupled with some disappointing loses. Then, a blow out is a welcome relief for both the players and the fans.
Yadier Molina and Joe Mather teamed up for a single and a homer to get 2 runs in the second. The rookie, Joe Mather, had a big league night where he was one-oh-so-elusive-triple short of the cycle.
In the third, Troy Glaus knocked in Skip Schumaker who had walked (always bad news to walk the lead off guy). Then with Pujols on with a walk and Glaus on with a force out, Molina hit an in-the-park 3-run homer. OK, fine. It was technically a 2 RBI double, with Molina scoring on a throwing error, but the effect was the same and it was just as exciting. All those runs were two out RBIs. Very clutch.
It was great to see Izturis reach on a walk, 1B and 2B, picking up an RBI. Pujols picked up 3 RBIs. Miles got on and scored twice. Ludwick went 3 for 5 with an RBI. Wveryone was having a good night.
Looper put in one of the best starts we’ve seen in a while. Seven innings, 2 runs. With no walks and only 3 strikeouts, he had help from a solid Cardinals defense. Ron Villone got two outs, got in trouble, gave up a run, but was relieved by Russ Springer who with the help of centerfielder Skip Schumaker, pitched a perfect 1/3 of an inning. Flores faced three batters in the ninth giving up a hit, but getting his third batter to ground into a good old 6-4-3.
7/29/08 Cardinals 8, Braves 3
There’s nothing like winning the hard fought close game. Well, it was a hard fought close game until the Cardinals put up 5 runs of insurance in the ninth.
It was a game with a little bit of everything. Good pitching. Good hitting. Good plays. Bad plays (2 errors a piece). For Wellemeyer’s second time out he’s proved that if you just hang with him and have a little faith, he’ll finish stronger than he started and keep his team in the game.
Favorite play of the game: With Brave runners at 1st and 3rd, Wellemeyer throws a K for out number two. Yadier Molina fakes a throw to 2nd and gets the runner at 3rd to bite. Then, he throws to 3rd and the Cardinals get Kotsay in the run down. It was a HUGE play to end the inning in a 2-2 game with two runners on.
Second favorite play of the game: Albert Pujols hits a big lead off double at the top of the 8th. Then he steals third base and scores when the Braves catcher’s throw went to left field. In the 6th, Pujols led off with a solo home run. Pujols is a great player, but geez does he have to do it all himself?
Both of those plays are the epitome of why I think having a great defensive catcher is so important. We are so fortunate to have Yadier Molina, and Jason LaRue for that matter.
7/30/08 Cardinals 8, Braves 2
Just like old times. Carpenter on the mound. A Cardinal win. Life is good.
Since April, 2007, most conversations about the Cardinals that go beyond the depth of “how ’bout them Cards’ have included phrases like, “when Carpenter comes back” or “if we could just get Carpenter back” or “have you heard how Carpenter’s doing?”. To say his return was much anticipated would be an understatement.
Everyone in Cardinal’s country from the front office to the coaches to the players to the fans to Carpenter himself was filled with excitement and anticipation as he took the mound. We all wanted him to succeed so badly because he’s worked so hard to get there, and we need his ace arm and his leadership.
There were no disappointments. Other than maybe Carpenter’s that he wasn’t allowed to pitch longer, but he knows realistically that he shouldn’t push it. It was a fine outing, giving up only 1 run, getting out of tight innings and the most important thing: giving the Cardinals a good chance to win. Is Carpenter the best he can be? No. But, he’s still one of the best out there, and he’ll be even better next time.
Carpenter seemed to be fuel for the fire that has been building in the Cardinals. Everyone seemed to up their game last night. Great hitting, great defensive plays and a bullpen that delivered. And, now we’re looking forward to seeing him again in just a few days against the Dodgers.
Two nights ago, I loved the lineup with Mather behind Molina. I was excited to see it again tonight. Often, Molina often gets on base without a power hitter behind him to knock him in. On Monday, Molina and Mather tag-teamed with a Molina single and a Mather home run. They did it again tonight. If a LaRussa line up basically has two leadoff hitters, it seems like it should have two cleanup hitters, too.
7/31/08 Cardinals 4, Braves 9
Trade deadline day. I wonder if Griffey will get a world series shot with the White Sox. I wonder if California is big enough for Manny’s ego. I wonder how many catchers the Yankees need. But, I know I was happy to see the trade deadline come and go without the Cardinals making a major league move. In my humble opinion, I believe with everyone healthy, we have all we need to make an October run, although it may not have looked like it tonight.
The last three games were those magical nights when everything comes together: hitting, starter pitching and relief pitching. Tonight was one of those nights that it magically comes together for the other team.
Yes, we gave up way too many runs, but with Schumaker, Ankiel, Glaus and Molina not in the starting lineup? Well, that’s a lot of bat left on the bench. Even so, the Cardinals got the four runs that would have won any other game in this series.
Cesar Izturis deserves a big hand. He did a great job of holding down the lead off spot tonight going 3 for 6. It’s so great to see him getting hot.
I admit that I whined more than just a little bit about the proliferation of Cubs on the All-Star team. In particular, I could make cases why Yadier Molina, Rick Ankiel and Kyle Lohse were as deserving if not more deserving of the All-Star nod than some of the Cubs that got to make the trip.
I had almost gotten over it when the American League proceeded to steal 6 out of 7 bases. I just could help but know if there had been a Molina behind the plate (any NL Molina–Yadier or Bengie), that the AL would not be so bold or successful. It was embarrassing.
I consoled myself thinking, “Fine, you bunch of Cubs all go party in NYC and wear yourselves out. We’ll stay home, rest and be ready for the second half. Enjoy your All-Star honors. We’re going to be ready to go all the way.”
So, far…the second half could not have started off any better. The possibly hung-over Cubs got beat up by the Astros, and the fresh Cardinals swept the Padres.
7/17/08 – Cardinals 4, Padres 3
This was the game of the long ball. Four solo home runs and Lohse’s magical pitching got the job done. Glaus got 2 dingers in a row. Ankiel went back-to-back with Glaus. Then rookie, Joe Mather, added the final run, which at the time was gravy, but ended up being the game winner.
7/18/08 – Cardinals 11, Padres 7
Tonight the Cards put together runs the old fashioned way. Sure, Ankiel and Ludwig both homered, but most of the runs were scored by stringing together singles and doubles. The 8th inning was huge with Yadier Molina hitting a 2 RBI single to put them over the top. Molina gets a lot of hits without a lot of glory. I loved seeing him get the big hit that makes you the KTRS Star of the Game
7/19/08 – Cardinals 6, Padres 5
A rough start with a happy ending. After pitching two innings and giving up 5 runs, it looked like Wellemeyer had dug a hole that the Cardinals would have a hard time crawling out of. The bullpen had put in more than their fair share of innings the night before and with the Brewers coming to town, they couldn’t afford to do it again. So, Wellemeyer went back to the mound, found his grove and didn’t give up another run. It was one more example of a Cardinal just gutting it out and finding success.
His effort was rewarded when Pujols bailed him out. It seemed like it had been a while since Albert Pujols had a big day. Today was a very big day for Pujols. On a single and a double, he picked up 4 of the 6 RBI’s of the day. Of course, to do that you got to have the batters ahead of you get on, and they did that. Not to leave them out, (we did need 6 after all) Schumaker and Ankiel picked up the other RBIs.
7/20/08 – Cardinals 9, Padres 5
Another hard fought battle. I was driving to the Memphis Redbirds game, listening to the Cardinals game on the radio. Tied 5-5 in the 9th, 1 out, with Pujols at third on a throwing error. The Padres inentionally walk pinch hitter, Molina and Schumaker to load the bases. When Miles stepped up to the plate, I knew the game was won. He would get something out of the infield to score: a sac fly, a flare, a blooper, just something. However, I was not thinking Grand Slam, but that’s what he got
If there’s anything I love almost as much as good catching (and I love my catching), it’s a utility player, and Aaron Miles is a good one. He impresses me all the time with his glove, his switch-hitting bat, his speed and his versatility. He says he’s never had a walk-off anything. Seeing him get that big walk-off Grand Slam was just icing on a great series against the Padres. Hopefully, the momentum will carry us into the series with the Brewers.