Tagged: Molina

A Hair off the Dog

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for WBCLogo.pngA few days ago, I wrote about going on a baseball bender when I saw how much baseball there was to see over the weekend.  I mentioned that I might have a baseball hangover this morning.  They say that the best cure for a hangover is the “hair off the dog that bit you”, so the best thing for a baseball hangover had to be a little more baseball.



Fortunately, Korea and Japan were already playing in the Pool A finals of the World Baseball Classic when my alarm went off this morning.  So, I turned on the TV and took my medicine. 


Korea vs. Japan

Japan humiliated Korea in their first match up.  Korea had their revenge today.  Korea plated one run in the fourth, and it was all they needed.  Both Korea and Japan will advance to the next round, where they will face the top teams from Pool B (Cuba, Mexico, South Africa and Australia).


Just a couple of aesthetic notes:  I love the way the Japanese fans sing to their batter.  Also, Japan‘s black batting helmets with the matte finish look tough.  Nice change from the shiny ones we usually see.


Canada vs. Italy

This game was going on at the same time as the game between Puerto Rico and Netherlands.  I had one of the TV and one on my computer.  Very hard to keep track of both, and I admit a bias toward watching the Puerto Rican game.


I do know this:  Canada had lots of runners that they could not bring home.  Eleven runners left on base.  There have been other upsets:  Netherlands over the Dominicans and Australia over Mexico.  But, this might be the biggest because it eliminates Canada.  The Italians will advance to face the Venezuelans once again.


Puerto Rico vs. Netherlands

For an awfully long time in the game, it appeared that the Netherlands would continue their role as spoiler and upset the Puerto Ricans.  In their home country.  In a 1-0 game.  The humiliation would have been unbearable.


The Netherlands eked in a run and pitched seven shut-out innings.  Pudge Rodriguez, who had a huge 4-4 game on Saturday, served as DH, and except for a single, the Netherlands pitching had him looking very uncomfortable at the plate.


I will admit I was very frustrated during this game.  OK, fine.  I became that angry, shouting fan that I so dislike.  They sent Bernie Williams from second on a single.  I have nothing against being aggressive, but bless his heart, he was dead before he rounded third.  Then, there was the wild pitch, and Aviles at 3rd did not go.  He could have been in the dugout drinking Gatorade before the catcher tracked down the ball.  Instead, he joined the long list of runners stranded.  Perhaps, Puerto Rican Manager and St. Louis Cardinals Third Base Coach, Jose Oquendo should have been coaching third, rather like a minor league manager.


I have no problem with small ball and bunting the runners over, but when Oquendo asked Yadier Molina to bunt with a runner at 2nd, I disagreed with the decision.  Even though, I could see the point, I loudly disagreed.  The bunt was botched.  Enough said.


I disagreed even louder when he asked Pudge Rodriquez to bunt.  How often do you think Pudge has been asked to bunt?  Not a lot, since he is a good hitter.  Let him swing away and play to his strengths instead of having him waste two strikes trying to get a bunt down


I should have been more grateful for these debacles, because they set up one of the most beautiful things I have seen in this tournament.


Many of the highlights of this Classic have come from the catchers.  Catching runners stealing, pick-offs, blocking wild pitches, clutch hitting, power hitting and even base stealing.  This game was no exception.  Enter:  Gold Glove Catcher, St. Louis Cardinal, proud Puerto Rican, clutch hitter and my personal favorite, Yadier Molina.


First, (because defense comes first with catchers) Molina had a beautiful strike ’em out, throw ’em out double-play to end the seventh inning.  The throw was perfection!


Next, in the eighth inning, the Netherlands pitching finally started to crack, walking the bases loaded.  With one out, Molina comes to the plate, and drives the second pitch down the 3rd base line for a double, scoring two.  This not only puts the Puerto Ricans on the board, but it puts them ahead.


I shouted so loud, my dogs left the room.  Not the angry shouting of earlier, but joyous shouting. A giant “YES!”  I watched all weekend as various catchers had great games, and I enjoyed every single one, but I wanted MY catcher to have a great game, and he did!  Yadi “Clutch” Molina strikes again.

























Jesus Feliciano drove in one insurance run, and the Puerto Ricans held on to the 3-1 lead in the ninth to win it.  The Netherlands will face the Dominican Republic once again.  Puerto Rico will wait to play the winner of that game.


Mexico vs. South Africa

After being blown away by the Australians, Mexico needed to have a win.  Not just to stay alive, but to salvage their pride.  They got one.


To the credit of the South Africans they managed to stay with in striking distance for much of the game.  South African 2B, Gift Ngoepe hit back-to-back triples in his first two at-bats.  On his third at bat, he was asked to bunt.  What is the deal with asking the hot slugger to bunt?  This was the third bunt attempt of the day that I questioned.  And, the third one that failed.


I am sure there is some baseball bible that lists the Ten Commandments for when a bunt is called for, based on outs, score and runners on base.  I do not know these “rules”.  And, if tonight was any indication, I do not think knowing them helps.


In the seventh, Mexico took advantage of a walked in run and a throwing error that scored two.  Adrian Gonzalez drove a nail into South Africa‘s coffin with a three-run homer in the eighth.  Mexico got the decisive victory they needed, winning 14-3, eliminated South Africa from the tournament.  Mexico will go on to face the loser of the game between Cuba and Australia.



My copy of the video game, MLB 2K9, arrived yesterday.  I only played for a short time, but as with most PS2 games, I was pretty horrible.  Adam Wainwright and I were starting to get the hang of pitching, and my fielders were starting to get to the ball although they have to stop and think which button they need to hit to throw.  Oh wait, that’s me.  


However, I can not figure out how to get the batters to swing the bat.  It has something to do with the joysticks because every once in a while I could get one to swing, then I would try the same thing on the next pitch and my batter would just stand there.  I know, I am a retard.  Anyone know how to hit the ball?


There is a two page list of commands, but no where does it tell you how to swing.  It does tell you how to bunt, but we all know how I feel about that.


Photo Credits:  Getty Images/Al Bello

I’m Ready for the WBC. Or, am I?

WBCLogo.pngIs anyone else excited about the World Baseball Classic?


Homer left a comment on my “I hate the Offseason” entry saying that he would looking forward to this ”dose of relief” from the offseason.  I’m with him.


I know Japan, the reigning WBC champs, must be excited to for the opportunity to repeat, especially after just missing a medal at the 2008 Olympics.  The Cubans, who finished 2nd in both the 2006 WBC and the Olympics, must be looking forward to proving they are the best.  And, there are the South Koreans, who were beat out in the semi-finals of the last WBC, but won the gold last summer.  You know, they are pumped.


What about the USA?  Were we embarrassed by our middle-of-the-pack finish in the 2006 WBC?  Are we really better than our bronze medal finish at the Olympics?  Looking at how we’ve performed on the international field, one might night argue that baseball is no longer our game.


The WBC seems like a great opportunity to put together the best Team USA ever and prove to the world that baseball is really America‘s game.  But alas, it’s not that simple.


I am bothered by reports of front offices asking/telling players not to play in the Classic.  I know they are concerned their valuable players could be injured, but I don’t see any greater risk for injury in the WBC than I do in Spring Training or working out (or just hanging out) in the offseason.  Stuff happens.  Didn’t Sosa hurt himself sneezing?  Boggs strained his back putting on cowboy boots.  Kerry Wood fell out of a hot tub.  There is no safe place for a ball player.


However, I do sympathize with one argument that I’m hearing from players that are opting out of the honor of playing in the WBC:  My Team.  Spring Training is a time where individual players come together to form a team.  Having to miss a big chunk of that time, could compromise or at least retard the growth of that synergy. The argument is particularly valid for catchers, pitchers and new players.  So, for many players, the question will come down to:  Team or Country?


I checked out the provisional rosters for the Classic that were announced this week, looking to see which of my Cardinals got an invite.  For Team USA, only Ryan Ludwick is on the list, and he has indicated that while honored, he will most likely not play.  The only team that will potentially have two Cardinals is Puerto Rico.  These two guys:


Yadier Molina and Joel Piñeiro




So, for all that I was set to root for good ol’ Team USA, I find that I’m asking myself the same question as the players:  Team or Country?”  Do I root for Team USA, which is comprised of players that I hope to see lose any time they play the Cardinals?  Or, do I pull for Yadier and Joel, the guys that I cheer for all year? 


Would it be un-patriotic?  Would I be a traitor?  Puerto Rico is a US Territory, so it would be more like rooting for a cousin rather than an enemy, right? The two teams must make it to the second round to even face each other.  So, I have until the middle of March to decide:  Team or Country?


prflag.jpg   OR 

Journey to the Juice Box

Welcome to Minute Maid

The Park

I traveled to Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas to watch the Cardinals take on the Astros on August 30 and 31.  I had never been to the rather unique Minute Maid Park.  Earlier this year, I ran across a forum where Cardinal fans were discussing how much they hated the park, so I was curious to see if my impression would be the same.  I should have known better.


When  I walk into a beautiful Cathedral, there is a hush and awe that comes over me, like I’m standing on holy ground, perhaps in the company of the saints that have gone before and the saints that will come after.  It doesn’t matter that I’m not Catholic.  I simply feel connected to all of Christendom.


This may be blasphemy, but when I walk into a major league ballpark, I feel the exact same way.  In that first moment when I enter the hallowed halls, I am overwhelmed with awe for the great games and players that have gone before, and the ones that are to come.  I feel connected and a part of this grand old game.  In that moment, I’m not a Cardinals fan or a Cub-hater.  I’m just a humble girl, who loves the game of baseball.


Minute Maid Park was no different for me.  Oh sure, I hate the hill in centerfield (sprained ankle waiting to happen or a concussion from a collision with the flag pole).  The outfield grass looked like it could stand the roof being open more so it could soak in real sunshine and rain.


But, in this ballpark’s young life, it has hosted an All-Star game and a World Series.  The greats of our age have played here.  In fact, a few of them were playing there this weekend.   So, except for the hill, I appreciate the uniqueness of the park and the history in the making that happens there each day. 



Citgo Astro fans never forget that Albert Pujols hit a big homer over the top of this sign.


One of the great things about the park is there are a lot of really good seats.  I sat in the 2nd tier even with 3rd base the first night.  I was looking down right on top of the game.  The 2nd game, I sat in the Crawford boxes, which is another great view.  The Crawford street entrance is right behind these seats, so getting in and out is no hassle at all.  However, if the roof is closed, bring a sweatshirt.  The air-conditioning blows straight down on these seats.  Very weird to be cold at a baseball game in August.


As for the Astros traditions, I like that they play “Deep in the Heart of Texas” after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the 7th inning stretch.  They must only play “God Bless America” on Sunday, which seems plenty to me.  I didn’t test the security to see if I would be arrested for trying to go to the bathroom during the song, but I figure this is Texas, not New York City.  If freedom still rings anywhere, it’s here.  Don’t get me wrong “God Bless America” is a wonderful, meaningful song, but seriously when did it become the second national anthem?  And since when is being apathetic akin to treason.  Sorry, that’s another subject entirely.  Back to baseball.


The Place to Stay


If you visit Houston for a game, and your budget allows, I highly recommend the Inn at
View of Minute Maid Parkthe Ballpark right across the street from
Minute Maid Park.  I had originally booked at the Hilton a few blocks away because the Inn was a little out of my budget.  But, I checked rates a couple days before my trip and was able to get a room priced about the same as the Hilton room.


This is a view of Minute Maid park from the 10th floor of the hotel.


The hotel is very plush.  Everything is baseball themed, yet elegant at the same time.  I knew when there was a picture on my wall of a catcher that they had put me in the right room.  The Lobby Bar is a great place to meet other Cardinals fans, grab a quick bite, celebrate after the game, or in our case…drown our sorrows.  The fare is pricy, but good.


The Experience


One of the best parts of the trip was meeting the other out-of-town Cardinals fans.  Cardinals fans are among the best fans in the world.  They know and love their baseball.  It was nice to be among others that share my obsession.


The other thing I enjoyed was seeing the fathers and sons taking in the experience together.  I had the opportunity to talk to a couple youngsters, one a Cardinals fan and one an Astros fans.  These boys knew their baseball.   Despite all the other distractions (TV, video games, movies, computers, other sports) there are still boys that still live, eat and breathe baseball, just like their fathers and grandfathers before them.  Maybe, I’m just a sap, but there is just something beautiful about the tradition.


MilesI missed getting a picture of it, but there was a birthday party of about a half dozen
little boys (maybe 5 or 6 years old). They were all wearing #12 Aaron Miles T-shirts.  There were almost enough of them to cover all the positions that Miles can play!  Which brings me to the question I’ve been asking a lot lately, how do you not put a guy batting .320 in your lineup everyday?


Here’s Miles getting ready for batting practice.














SchumakerJoe Mather was giving the lineup on TV the other day, and he said Skip Schumaker was the most intense guy on the field.  In watching him prepare for a game, I believe it. 


Here he is before the game, getting in the zone, taking some practice swings.






















The Games 


The only thing that would have made the trip perfect would have been a couple Cardinal wins.  However, there were some great performances to be noted:


In Saturday’s game, Albert Pujols went 4 for 4, collecting career hits 1499, 1500, 1501 and 1502.  Number 1500 was a double in the third.  It’s fun to be able to say, I saw that.


Also, in Saturday’s game, Braden Looper had a dismal first inning…career high dismal…giving up 6 runs.  He managed to pull it together and get 3 outs in a row to end the inning.  Then, he pitched three solid innings.  My hats off is off to him.  It’s one thing to start a game pitching well and keep that going.  It’s another thing to be on the ropes and battle your way back.  He’s a professional.


In Sunday’s game, Todd Wellemeyer turned in as good a game as you could ask of your starting pitcher.  In seven innings, he gave up 4 hits and 1 run.  He had three innings of 3 up, 3 down.  He struck out 4, walked no one and hit no one.  He even laid down a nice sac bunt.  Yet, he still got the loss. 



Wellemeyer is ready

Todd Wellemeyer is ready to go, as he, Dave Duncan and Yadier Molina make their way from the bullpen to the dugout.


Miles at the plateYa’ll are going to be sick of me talking about Aaron Miles, but that’s too bad.  Aaron Miles got one at bat on Saturday and four on Sunday.  He was 3 for 5 with a stolen base, and the only Cardinal I saw get a hit off the Astros flame-throwing closer, Valverde.  Here it comes again…why is he not in the lineup everyday?



McRaeSpeaking of guys batting over .300, the Cardinals have more than their fair share:  Pujols, Miles, Molina, Schumaker and Ludwick.  When you have that many guys getting on base a high percentage of the time, I have to believe the common denominator is hitting coach, Hal McRae.  Some of our guys are having the best year they have ever had at the plate.  A big nod to Hal McRae.

















It ain’t over ’til it’s over…

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.

Wainwright is Back!!!

Six innings.  72 pitches.   47 strikes.  25 balls.  1 run.  5 hits.  1 walk.  4 K’s.  Batting 3 for 5 with 1 RBI and a run.  And, most importantly a win. 


Going up against his boyhood home team, the Atlanta Braves, Adam Wainwright gave us far more than we could have asked for or expected from a guy coming back from the DL.  Seems like he was trying to make up for lost time.   Or, trying to make the Braves question once again, what were we thinking when we traded Adam Wainwright to the Cardinals.


He could have gotten a win with only four Cardinal runs on the board, but the Cardinal bats were hot-hot-hot, putting up 18 runs on 26 hits–most hits for the Cardinals since 1929. 


When we faced the Braves in Atlanta, we took three out of four, but they were missing two of their best:  Chipper Jones and their fine young catcher, McCann.  Although they are a team that has struggled this year, I would never have guessed that a score this lop-sided was possible, especially with those guys back.


It was one of those nights when the stars seem to align and everything the Cardinals touched turned to gold.  All they had to do was make contact, and the ball would fall.   Nothing fancy:  a bunch of singles, few doubles and quite a few walks. 


Molina led with 4 RBIs.  Pujols and Ankiel had 3 a piece.  Schumaker and Ludwick both had three runs.  Molina and Izturis both hit 4 singles a piece.  The only extra base hits were doubles hit by Pujols, Glaus, Mile, Lopez and Joel Pineiro–who got in on the hitting fun when he came into to finish out the game for Wainwright, pitching 3 innings and getting the save.


By the same token, the Braves couldn’t get a break.  The Cardinals defense was a nearly impregnable fortress.  The only bright spots in their day were a pinch hit solo home run by Norton, a little 2-run surge in the 9th, and the arm of their catcher, McCann, who caught two Cardinal runners in a row trying to steal 2nd.


There’s been much discussion about what Wainwright’s role will be in relationship to Carpenters availability.  Tonight, Adam made a very strong case that he is a starter.


Fishing for Wins in Florida

The Cardinals traveled to Miami to take on the hard hitting Florida Marlins team.  They took 3 out of 4 in front of a sparse crowd at Dolphins Stadium.   It’s rather a shame that the winning Marlins can’t pack in a crowd in a city the size of Miami.  However, except for the Marlin fans that stuck out the rain delay in game three, the fans that did show up this series would be disappointed.


8/11/08  Cardinals 4, Marlins 2


Well, ya’ll were going to figure it out sooner or later, so I might as well come clean.  If the Cardinals are my favorite team and catching is my favorite part of the great game of baseball, then it’s no surprise that the Cardinal jersey I own has a number 4 on the back. 


Yadier Molina.  There are so many things I love about this player.  From his work ethic to his enthusiasm, he’s the type of player that makes the game great.  As a great contact hitter, he doesn’t get very many homers.  So, I loved watching him get his 2-run dinger tonight.  Not just because it was the difference in the game, but because hardworking, good defensive, catchers batting over 300 just don’t get as many moments in the sun as power-hitters.  And, no one deserves the spotlight any more than Molina. 


You cannot over-estimate what Molina brings to this team, especially in terms of leadership and game-calling.


I enjoyed the homerun for him and for the team, but the part I loved the most was watching him catch Uggla stealing second…twice.  Uggla must be a slow learner.  It will be fun to see if he tries it again in the series.  Helping Molina gets those plays was Aaron Miles, my favorite utility player, who finally got the start at 2nd tonight.


Great to see Ankiel back in the lineup, and contributing offensively.  It looked like he was a little rusty in the outfield scoring to E’s on one play.  Brutal.  But, it didn’t matter because….


…Kyle McClellan got three outs stranding the runner on third.   Great bullpen pitching tonight between McClellan and the closer, Chris Perez.  Oops, did I call Perez, “the Closer”.   I mean, if you hear the door slam, somebody must have shut the door, right?  I don’t know if we’ll ever get LaRussa to call Perez, the Closer, but I guess as long as he’s closing, I don’t care.  It was great to see him do well in basically his hometown in front of family and friends.


Wins have not come easy for starting pitcher, Joel Pineiro this year, often being a victim of the no-decision, but tonight Pineiro got it done and got the win to show for it.


Finally, how about that Joe Mather, pinch-hit homer?  Pretty sweet.



8/12/08  Cardinals 3, Marlins 4


Field got wet; bats got dry.



8/13/08  Cardinals 6, Marlins 4


I believe I saw somewhere that LaRussa called this one a real “grinder”.  I can’t think of a better word.


Nothing came easy.  Lots of hits producing a few runs.  No homers for either team.  Pitchers getting out of tough innings.  In the end, we had more runs than them, and that’s all that matters.


Looper pitched an excellent 7 innings only giving up two runs.  Hats off to him for keeping all the Marlins in the park.  That is huge with this team.


McClellan struggled, but Perez once again closed the door coming in to a mess in the 8th.  In the 9th, he had to get four outs to do it with Baker advancing to 1st on a strike out/wild pitch.


Runs did not necessarily come from the usual suspects.  Adam  Kennedy racked up two RBI’s on two sac flies.  Backup catcher, Jason LaRue, got a 2-RBI double.  Schumaker scored Kennedy.  Glaus scored Lopez that had a big triple in the 9th.  Glaus reached base all 5 times with 3 singles, 1 double and an intentional walk


Defensively, Joe Mather saved a big inning by climbing the wall to get an out.  Albert Pujols tracked a foul ball that spun fair.  The batter didn’t even really run, but Pujols stayed with  it  and got the out.  Glaus had a big double play at 3rd and 1st to end the 8th.



8/13/08  Cardinals 3, Marlins 0


TODD WELLEMEYER.  The longer he pitched, the better he got.  He gave up a hit a piece in the 1st and 2nd.  His pitching seemed to go a little crazy, walking 3 batters in the 3rd, hitting one in the 4th.  But, maybe he was crazy like a fox–he walked some serious home run hitters.  After that, he settled in for 14 outs in a row. 


Welly got in a bit of bind in the 8th, but Russ Springer came in and struck out Cantu for out three.  Ron Villone and Ryan Franklin took out 3 batters in the 9th to finish the shut out.


There’s been a lot of talk about Cardinal pitching this year, much of it negative.  But, tonight they showed what they were capable of.  Wellemeyer went 8 2/3 innings– his longest start of the year.  Then the bullpen got the job done.  Maybe, the pitching staff is starting to peak…just in time for a playoff run.


Runs were hard to come by.   Cesar Izturis’ hot streak continued.  He singled twice and Ryan Ludwick knocked him in both times on a double and a homer.  LaRussa put up an unusual lineup with a lot of power at the top.  There could be arguments about the effectiveness of the lineup, but Ludwick and Izturis were definitely batting in the right places.  Ludwick now has 90 RBI’s



Must Hate the Cubs

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:

                                  Schumaker:  F-7

                                  Izturis:  1B

          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)

          Mather: F-8

          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.