Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mather Up, Duncan Down; Franklin Loads them Up

I blogged Thursday about the crowded Cardinals outfield. I thought Chris Duncan was the one guy, of the 3 currently sharing time in LF, who would remain on the roster for the foreseeable future, if for no other reason than his ability to play 1B.

Shows how much I know.

Duncan was sent down before Friday's game, and Joe Mather (who was tearing it up at Memphis) called up to replace him. Of course, Mather is an outfielder, too, so this does nothing to alleviate the logjam in the corner outfield spots. But he is hitting the ball better than Duncan, as has been well documented elsewhere, and hopefully more at bats will help Duncan get back on track.

I have been critical of Duncan's OF play since he started out there in left, but a post I read recently (which, of course, I can't find now that I'm looking for it) stated Duncan's defense isn't all that indefensible. He actually gets to all the balls he should, and occasionally gets to one he has no business catching. So I've begun to change my tune on that score. Based on his injury and aggressive efforts to rehab from it, he strikes me as a guy who really wants to play and really wants to prove he belongs here. So here's hoping he fixes his power stroke quickly and gets back soon.

I looked at the box score a little more closely and discovered that Franklin didn't start the ninth last night; he came in to clean up the mess Flores left him. But, he did allow a soft single to load the bases, which got me thinking. Hasn't Franklin pitched in more bases-loaded situations than anyone else on the roster? Is there a stat somewhere that tracks this kind of stuff? I haven't watched as many Cardinals games this season as I usually do, but it seems that every time I see Franklin on the mound the bases are chocked full of opposing runners.

Anyone else out there notice this? Again, no hard metrics, just a feeling.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Cardinals beat Oswalt; Hand out Cigars

Did you know that Oswalt hadn't lost to St Louis since 16 July 2005? I didn't either until I read the game summary here. Thank God that long national nightmare is over.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wainwright Rights the Ship

I hadn't realized Wainwright has never lost to Houston until that little factoid appeared in the Post-Dispatch this morning. His excellent effort was sorely needed following Looper's lackluster outing yesterday.

This sets up an interesting finale of the series today between Oswalt and Lohse. Oswalt hasn't pitched like his normal tough self so far this year, posting a 5.61 ERA and a 4-4 record. For this fan, however, seeing his name on the ledger brings to mind his two 2005 NLCS starts against the Cardinals. I will not be surprised if that Oswalt shows up today to pitch.

Brendan Ryan led off yesterday and played 2B. That marks the 4th game in a row he's appeared in. It has been said elsewhere in the blog-o-sphere that the Cardinal second sackers aren't hitting much (Miles, Kennedy), so initially I thought this meant LaRussa is going in another direction. However, so far this season his best leadoff hitter has been Schumaker, so why put Ryan in the 1-spot?

Then I noticed Schumaker wasn't in the lineup at all, with Barton playing LF and hitting seventh.

What gives?

At some point, you'd think LaRussa would settle on a standard lineup and go with it. It's tough to argue with the way he's managing the team; afterall, they're 31-22 and 1.5 games out of first in the NL Central. But trying to spread the wealth so much can't be good in that no one really knows their role; you might start tonight, then be a bench hitter tomorrow, then be a defensive replacement the next day, then start in a different position the next, etc.

The only thing I can think is they're auditioning some of their extra outfielders for a potential trade down the line. I think it's reasonable to assume Ankiel isn't going anywhere, and Ludwick has hit his way into the regular RF position (and his glove is pretty good, too). There aren't enough at bats to keep Duncan/Schumaker/Barton happy playing part time in LF. Even if you slot Duncan as Pujols' back-up at 1B to guarantee him a roster spot, he won't get that many at bats, just the occasional off-day for AP (since AP's a potential gold-glove winner, Duncan wouldn't be spelling him in the late innings for defense, and LaRussa certainly wouldn't want to take AP's bat out of the lineup unless he had do), so Duncan would still need playing time somewhere.

I wonder which one they're trying to move?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sounds Like They Got Pounded

Looper had a rough outing and the Cardinals trailed 4-0 after a half inning. It got worse from there. 8-2 your final.

Not much else to add today.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quick Update

I'm a little pressed for time this morning. I'm working on a post for today, but whether or not it gets up on this calendar day will depend on my work load this morning.

The day after a holiday is always rough, as you know, trying to cram a 5-day work week into 4 days.

I had duty yesterday (relieved this morning), which didn't lend itself to posting in the morning as has become the norm around here.

Speaking of that, an update which will be reflected later in the margin. My work schedule has shifted to allow me a posting window in the mornings during the week. I'm (as can be seen by recent posts) trying to get stuff out there during the work week; most posts are up by 0800 Pacific Time, so feel free to stop by more often.

One more thing: There was a pretty bad fire on the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON last Friday. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, but the in port time to recover from this may be significant. Please remember those sailors in your prayers; there is nothing scarier than a multi-deck fire at sea.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cardinals Win in Rout; Young, Bard Injured

Not much more to say than that. Lost interest after seeing Bard writhe in agony following AP's slide in the third.

Both plays were clean. Just the way it goes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Leave a Pitch In The Middle Of The Plate, Get Burned

AP Photo/Larry Ignelzi
Piniero made one mistake in a bad spot - 2 on, 2 out in the sixth against the Padres #5 hitter - and Kevin Kouzmanoff hit it out to dead center for a 3-R HR.

Padre color commentator Mark Grant thought it was a slider that didn't slide. Whatever. It was definitely a breaking ball, and it hung in the middle of the zone, the proverbial "ball on a tee". Kouzmanoff didn't miss it. It was Piniero's 88th pitch of the game. He would throw 2 more, the second turning into a sharp single to LF by Khalil Greene, before exiting.

The warning signs were already up before Kooz hit his HR. Piniero missed his targets badly while striking out Adrian Gonzalez for the second out of the sixth. His 1-0 pitch was supposed to be on the inner half, but actually got a lot of the outer half of the plate. I can only assume Gonzo wasn't looking for that pitch in that spot, because that's a pitch he usually handles with power. The other pitch was on 2-1, I believe; Molina set up inside and Piniero missed way outside.

I have noticed that LaRussa tends to let his pitchers work out of trouble, even when they are missing their spots; he did it in 2006 with Carpenter on several occasions, for example. Carp is a good enough pitcher to battle through when he's tired. Piniero is hit or miss. I thought, watching that game, that perhaps LaRussa should have gotten Joel after he retired Gonzo. Hindsight is always 20-20, of course. There were good reasons to leave him in. It was only the bottom of the sixth; Piniero had barely cracked the 80 pitch mark; the Padres had only 2 hits coming into that inning (although they had matched that total in the sixth); he had just struck out the Padres best hitter. Of course, some of those reasons are also good ones for taking him out.

Can't really blame the offense for this one. Maddux pitched well other than the second inning, and the Cardinals managed to plate 2 runs. It could have been at least one more if Piniero gets a better bunt down. Credit the rookie Carlin with a good play to retire Kennedy at second. Other than that threat, Maddux pitched like he always does against St. Louis - Tough.

In other news, AP went 0-4, but that o-fer included a line shot in the first right at Gonzo that turned into a DP, and a hard ground ball in the sixth that Kouzmanoff made a real nice play on diving towards the LF line.

AP gave an interesting interview to the Padres radio pre-game show yesterday afternoon. I caught about 2/3 of it before pulling into my driveway. In addition to the usual platitudes about the team and LaRussa (and that' s not a dig at AP; just good interview-ese), he was asked about his approach, specifically if he changes his approach for a notorious pitcher's ballpark like Petco. His short answer: No. His longer answer focused on keeping his routine, which includes video of that night's pitcher and time in the batting cage to get loose.

He also said "I don't worry about the ballpark. I can hit it out of anywhere." Not boastful, just matter of fact. I thought that was cool. His approach during BP, if you are interested, is to make good contact and concentrate on hitting line drives gap-to-gap (this matches what he told Joe Morgan during an interview ESPN played on Sunday Night Baseball about 2 weeks ago). If it goes out, it goes out. He wants to get the ball deep in the power alleys on a line. Real interesting to me to hear what he focuses on. I know I'm only a beer-league softball player now, but I tend to get caught up trying to hit it 350 feet plus (because I can) instead of concentrating on making solid contact and hitting a line drive.

Which, incidentially, is what my father tried to impress on me. Since AP does the same thing, looks like my dad knew what he was talking about. And that doesn't surprise me one bit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cardinals Pummel Padres 8-2

A good friend of mine offered me last-minute tickets to the game. With regret, I had to turn him down.

Boy, what I missed.

If I ever need a photo of a half-hearted effort, I'll use this one:

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

That's as high as Hairston could get? I can jump higher than that, dude.

And thanks for challenging Pujols - two HR. The one off the Western Metal Building was a moon-shot, and his eighth inning effort was gone when he hit it. Beautiful.

Just three other comments:

- Brian Barton had by far the worst AB I've seen in a long time with the bases loaded in the seventh. Caught looking at three fastball strikes in a row? Come on, Brian. How can you be sitting on an off-speed pitch in that situation? I was always taught to look fastball and adjust - it's easier to slow down your bat to meet a breaking ball than to speed it up after a fastball. And the 0-1 pitch looked really, REALLY fat to me (in perfect position to see it, 10 miles from the game on my couch, of course). Strike 3 was a tough pitch, but that 0-1 pitch? Wow. You got to swing in that situation, don't you?

- Love Russ Springer's beard. The first thing I thought of was "Shaggy" from Scooby Doo, except Shaggy doesn't have a full beard like that. Grizzly Adams, perhaps?

- You may have heard about the explosion yesterday in downtown SD. The Hilton that's under construction which suffered the blast is right across Harbor Drive from the Ballpark. It, as you migh expect, was the lead story on the late news, and has been blamed on a slow gas leak in a machinery room; apparently the leak had been present for a while, for it filled the room and then something sparked it. 14 injured, 3 seriously (second and third degree burns). Keep them in your prayers, please.

Maddux tonight. The Padres look like a beaten down team.

Post-script: The hot topic this morning? Edmonds' catch. Now the wagging tongues are saying, why didn't we give him a longer look? Hilarious. Also, Kevin Towers is pretty pissed off about his team's effort; stand by for more knee-jerking from the left coast.

Monday, May 19, 2008

You Just Don't Know, Do You?

This Cardinals team, although very entertaining, is going to drive me crazy over the next 4 months. How do you drop 2 of 3 to the Pirates, then turn around and take 2 of 3 from the best team in the AL? Crazy.

Cardinals flat-out stole one yesterday. Tampa Bay has had, statistically, the best bullpen in the AL this season. To trail 3-0 after 6 and win 5-4 in the ninth against that group is quite the achievement.

There's been a lot of ink spilt discussing the propensity of this team to leave men on all over the place, and rightly so. They stranded 6 on Friday, 16 on Saturday, and another 10 yesterday. The silver lining is they're getting guys on consistently; the hits with men in scoring position will eventually come. I'd be a lot more concerned if they were hitting .800 with men in scoring position and only stranding 2-5 runners a game, because that success rate is not sustainable over the season.

Shore up the bullpen, and get some hits to fall in, and this becomes a VERY dangerous team.

So it's off to the west-coast to complete their swing through California for the season. One of the things I liked about the old schedule (and this goes back to the 12-team NL, when they played 18 games against teams in their division and 12 against the NL West) was they had 2 nine-game road trips through the coast a year, and hit SD, LA, and SF all in the same trip. If you were so inclined, and could get the time off, you could follow the team up the coast. Why they made the trip out to SF in April and then swing through LA/SD now is beyond me. I can see why a lot of folks in the league think this schedule stinks.

For the first time in 10 years I won't be going to see the Cardinals in person. My schedule is too chock-a-block right now to afford taking 4 hours to attend a baseball game. That's a sad state of affairs, but it's reality. Since we're back on Cable TV (having told ATT to shove it with regard to Dish Network), I'll be able to watch all 3 games from the comfort of my own home, so at least I'll get to see them play.

Pitching matchups for the next 3 days:

Wellemeyer vs Ledezma
Piniero vs Maddux
Looper vs Young

Maddux has owned the Cardinals during his career, and Young is very tough at home; I think we'll be fortunate to take 2 of 3 in this series, even though we're playing the Padres, who were anointed the worst team in baseball yesterday by virtue of dropping 2 of 3 to the Mariners. Talk about the Toilet Bowl - a weekend series that pitted the worst AL team against the worst NL team.

Giles is hot, Adrian Gonzalez is tearing the cover off the ball, but the rest of the lineup is scuffling right now for San Diego.

In-depth analysis over the next 3 days for this series. Go Cards!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Even Jim Edmonds Can't Make This Uni Look Good...

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The San Diego paper points out Edmonds didn't improve much from his Padre stint, but he is hitting .250 as a Cub. That's 72 points better than with the Padres! Go Jim!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Looks like the bullpen has become a major problem.

Lost 2 of 3 to the Pirates. Blew a 5-1 lead. Izzy and Villone can't get anyone out. Whoo, boy; doesn't bode well for the home team.

Izzy seemed so despondent in his post-game comments, I wonder if he's mentally tough enough to pitch at all in pressure situations anymore. He also seemed to indicate he expected the Cardinals to make a move regarding his status on the roster.

Boy I hope they offer to send him down to Memphis vice releasing him outright. Somehow, I don't think designating him for assignment is the right answer. It (one more time) also seemed he would be willing to spend some time at AAA to clear his head.

That's one problem. What do we do with Villone? He's one more team away from tying Mike Morgan's 'most city stickers on your bag' record for a reason. I say we punt him outright and bring someone else up. I don't care who accompanies Chris Perez to the majors, whom I would expect to be called up if they make a roster move with Izzy.

Reyes' line from tonight: 3 2/3inn, 6 H, 2 ER, 2BB, 3K, ND (Memphis won in 12). Recap didn't say why he was pulled in the fourth; his pitch count might have been high, or they're working on lengthening him out to pitch more innings per appearance.

Now this is funny

I've been wracking my brain looking for something to blog about today.

So far, I've got nothing.

Edmonds signed with the Cubs this morning and was rumored to be in the lineup today.

Let's check CBS Sportsline. Yep, he's there, hitting sixth. Had a hit in his first AB off Maddux.

Then I noticed something was amiss with the box score:

If you can't read that, it shows Edmonds replaced in the Padre lineup, and in the Cub lineup.

Yep, apparently Edmonds was in the Padre lineup, was substituted for, but still wanted to play today, so he went over to the Cubs side and is now in CF hitting sixth.

They better run a breath-a-lyzer on the guy covering this game.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Was Villone the best option?

It sucks when you fight back from an initial 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the eighth, then lose in extra innings. I didn't realize that Villone was the guy tagged for 4 ER in the 10th until seeing the highlights (lowlights?) on ESPN.

Which got me thinking: Was he really the best option at that point in the game?

LaRussa famously remarked about Braden Looper's 6 May start, that Loop needed to go deep into the game, because the bullpen was gassed. Why the bullpen was gassed given the excellent April our starters had is a whole other discussion; but I figured that was a good point to start from when looking at bullpen loading leading up to last night's game.

Here's the usage graphic:

If that were at all legible you'd see what I mean.

What it does show is that Villone had only been used one time in the previous 7 games, thrown 5 pitches, and not gotten anyone out. It also shows that Parisi wasn't available for extended duty, and that Izzy and Flores probably could have gotten one guy out. McClellan, however, was fully rested. Franklin and Springer had already been used.

Lets look at the lineup Villone faced. He started with the top of the order (Sanchez). Sanchez is right handed. In fact, other than McClouth (hitting behind Sanchez), LaRoche (hitting seventh), and Mienkiewicz (isn't there a 't' in there somewhere) hitting ninth, the lineup was right handed, and Villone wouldn't face 2/3 of the lefties until the bases were loaded and 2 out (assuming no runs had scored).

So why throw him in there? Even if you want to use him there due to his lack of work, why leave him in to face the 3-4-5 hitters, all right handed, after McCouth sacrificed Sanchez to second?

Why not bring in McClellan?

I don't understand the logic there. Why save McClellan for a protracted extra inning game when the game was on the line there?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Better 201st Post - Anthony Reyes

Let me pull out my old moniker (The AngryRant, for those of you new to the site) to discuss Anthony Reyes for a moment.

As you know, Reyes was sent back to AAA Memphis on 4 May. He wasn't happy about it, and I don't blame him; I don't think his performance was so bad it merited his being demoted. But let's look at the data to see what it tells us.

In his first 6 appearances, he pitched very well. He did have a hiccup in his second, against the Nationals; he gave up a 1 out 2 run HR to Flores, Washington's catcher. He got the next guy out and was replaced by LaRussa, getting credit for a hold.

For his first 6 games, his line looked like this:

9 2/3 IP, 3R (all earned), 8 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 holds, 1 save, 1-0 overall record, 2.79 ERA, WHIP 0.93.

Pretty darn good.

LaRussa at least evinced some faith in him then, using him in tight, close games. You get holds only if you come into the game in a save situation; his save was in the 10th inning against the Giants, who the Cardinals had trouble with (they went 4-3 against St Louis this season). Reyes was pitching about every 3 days to start the season. Since he had gone through spring training as a starter, I thought that was a reasonable approach to a kid now shifted to the bullpen, as you work him into working on consecutive days.

Reyes' 6th appearance was as the long man out of the pen, spelling Looper after Loop gave up 6 runs in the third to those same Giants. He pitched as he had in the previous 5, but he was working on 4 days rest.

It's his next appearance that apparently did him in. Entering in the 8th, against Pittsburgh's 4-5-6 hitters, he gave up 4 hits, one loud flyball, and a groundout. The damage might have been worse had Schumaker not cut down Mientkiewiez at second trying to stretch a single into a double.

After that, he pitched at the back end of 2 blowouts, and got sent down.

Why would a poor outing after 6 good ones get him reassigned? Putting on my JFK "there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll" conspiracy hat, doesn't this ooze something nefarious?

It's almost as if LaRussa and Duncan gave Reyes just enough rope to hang himself. It's no secret neither one of them trust Reyes, otherwise why would he have spent the better part of 2 seasons wearing out the road between St Louis and Memphis? If they really bought into Reyes as a top-flight pitching prospect, why did they not let him work out his problems in 2006 and 2007 at the big league level, like other teams have done with Edwin Jackson, Cole Hamels, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and several other young pitchers over the past 4 years?

But they didn't; they turned him into a yo-yo, and in the process sapped his confidence to the point he was a wreck last season.

And this year was even crueller. The kid worked his butt off in spring training but would have been sent down anyway if not for the intervention of Mozeliak at the start of the season. So LaRussa and Duncan (seemingly, I have no proof of this) went into a dark room and decided to let the kid pitch out of the bullpen until he made enough of a mistake to justify sending him down.

Which he did in that game against the Pirates.

1-1, 2 holds, 1 save, 1 really bad inning, and back to Memphis you go. Obviously I think he got the shaft...again.

He's pitched only once since returning to Memphis - 3 shutout innings in an abbreviated start on 9 May (4 hits, 3 walks, 3 K). He should start again Thursday (Memphis is off tomorrow) at home against Oklahoma City.

Clearly I want him to have a chance to succeed at the Major League level for the Cardinals. I think he's good enough and the team was foolish for cycling him between St Louis and Memphis last year (yes I know he was 2-14 in 20 starts over 107+ innings). But it may well be time to trade him away, especially if he continues to have this to look forward to as long as LaRussa and Duncan are in charge in St Louis.

GALA 200th POST!

Too bad it follows a lack luster effort at Milwaukee. It's tough to go 3-5 on a road trip when you won the first 2 games.

And as a reward, they come home and get the Pirates, winners of 7 of their last 8.

It doesn't get any easier.

Padres are in Chicago this week, so I get a close-up look at our rival (courtesy of local TV). They exploded for 6 runs in the 5th and 5 in the 6th enroute to crushing San Diego 12-3.

Kyle Lohse tries to stop the bleeding, both personal and team, against Phil Dumatrait of the Pirates. Dumatrait is 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA lifetime against the Cardinals. Lohse is slightly better (2-0, 1.78) lifetime against Pittsburgh.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A new blog of note

My thanks to USS Mariner for mentioning this item and providing the original link.

You may remember from reading this blog that Paul DePodesta, former GM of the LA Dodgers, is now a consultant for the San Diego Padres. He spoke to the local SD SABR chapter; a synopsis of that presentation can be found here, and here, and here.

Paul has started his own blog, to provide 'some unfiltered access to [the Padres'] internal conversations and feelings.' If the blog approaches the quality of Mr. DePodesta's presentation to SABR, it should be well worth the read.

There's a permanent link to his site in the margin.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Izzy OUT as closer

That's what I get for posting before finishing my morning round of sports websites.

Here's a link to the story about it.

Wow. My respect for Izzy just went through the roof. How many guys wouldn't have the guts to tell their manager, "Hey I need a break," instead going out there day after day with a hole in their bat, or their glove, or throwing meatballs?

Looks like it's just a re-shuffle of responsibilities. No word on if there will be a call-up from AAA (Chris Perez?) yet.

Stay tuned.

Edmonds released; Izzy struggles

Yesterday the biggest news locally was the release of Jim Edmonds. Normally on the drive home I have the radio tuned to XX 1090, which covers the Padres; they either have Padres pre-game programming on the air or, as has been true over the past week with the Padres on the East Coast, the game in progress. Because the Padres are at home this weekend, they were doing pre-game stuff, so the Edmonds release was a hot topic.

Edmonds was bitten by two things - a slow start to the season (hitting .180), and becoming an unexpected liability in the outfield. As the Padres continued to struggle (losing 18 of their last 22 after last night's 4-2 decision to Colorado), the discussion became more and more animated out here that something needed to be done; and local fans focused on Edmonds.

He's the new guy, he's making a lot of money, and they jumped on him.

For argument's sake, here's what the other Padre regulars are hitting (minimum 81 AB; that's within 10% of Edmonds' total before he was released): Giles .269; Gonzalez .303; Bard .204; Greene .205; Hariston .208; Iguchi .252; Kouzmanoff .279. Edmonds certainly wasn't the only one struggling at the plate. Also, he wasn't the only one kicking the ball around in the outfield; witness Giles' 2 errors in one inning last week in Miami that torpedoed that game for Maddux, as an example.

I think most of us will agree Edmonds hasn't been the same player he was since the concussions he suffered in mid-2006, but I also think he got a raw deal from the Padres. And I'm sad to see him go; I didn't get a chance to see him in person at the ballpark, which I was really looking forward to doing, seeing as St. Louis comes through the week after next.

I doubt Jimmy will latch on somewhere else; he's probably finished as a major leaguer.


Speaking of players who look finished, Izzy blew his fifth save of the year last night against Milwaukee. What makes it even more painful is he had 2 outs when the rally started. Viva El Birdos had a graphic up this week detailing how Izzy's swing and miss percentage is way off this year; if I remember the article correctly, historically he's missed bats at a 11% rate, but this season it's closer to 6%. If he can't throw it by you anymore, given his recent (as in since 2006) trouble getting his curve ball over for strikes on a consistent basis, he's going to have trouble getting guys out.

This is also the third game already this season that the Brewers have rallied to score runs off him; he's lost 2 of those games, and in the third the Cardinals prevailed in extra innings.

Alarms should be going off in the Cardinal front office. They need to take a close look at Izzy and, frankly, Franklin; neither is pitching as effectively as they did last season. We cannot expect the starters to be as good over the whole season as they have been for the first 6 weeks, which means LaRussa needs a reliable option at the back of the game. Yes, Izzy has 11 saves so far, but the recent trend (1 save, 3 blown saves, runs given up in 3 of his last 4 outings) is disturbing to say the least.

I hope their record going into Wednesday's game at Coors wasn't the high water mark for the season; they've lost 3 in a row since, and two of those games they led in the eighth.


Until next time. Links to it from your site are always welcome.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

If anyone has a video link...

To either of Ankiel's two throws last night, please email me or post a comment. I can't find one, and I really, really want to see them.

Boy what must it have been like to be at the last 2 games at Coors? First Pujols' mad dash, then the Rick Ankiel Show. Wow.

I hope they're still playing that well when they hit the West Coast in 2 weeks.

I'd have that look too if I had the game he just did (AP Photo/David Zalubowksi)

[Update 1124: I found the video on, but it WON'T PLAY ON MY WORK COMPUTER! AARGH!!]

Monday, May 05, 2008

Way to go, ALBERT!

Was anyone else reminded of the final play in Major League while watching AP round third and sprint for home? I hope Shannon said 'Good GOD Almighty, Albert's trying to score!' while calling it on the radio...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

United Cardinal Blogger Project - Cubs vs Cardinals

Our pregame prep for this game can be found over at C70 at the Bat.

Thanks Dan, Hi everybody, and a veeeery pleasant good afternoon wherever you may be; welcome to today's game between the 17-12 Cubs, and the 19-11 Cardinals. St. Louis enters today's game in first place in the National League Central, leading Chicago by 1.5 games. The Cardinals fast start over the first 30 games of the season is surprising, given the uncertain nature of their pitching rotation coming out of spring training and the significant changes to their everyday lineup from last year. What's more surprising, however, is that as of today, the Cardinals are the best team in the National League in defense, and have the league's #1 rated pitching staff.

The old mantra is you win with pitching and defense, which they are certainly doing so far.

Your line-ups for today:

Soriano LF
Theriot SS
Lee 1B
Fukudome RF
DeRosa 3B
Soto C
Fontenot 2B
R. Johnson CF
Lilly P

Schumaker LF
Ryan 2B
Pujols 1B
Ludwick RF
Glaus 3B
Ankiel CF
Molina C
Lohse P
Izturis SS

The most glaring omission is Aramis Ramirez, who is not in the lineup. He took an Adam Wainwright fastball off the wrist in the sixth inning of last night's game. Ramirez is 5-5 with a HR lifetime against Lohse, so I'm sure Kyle doesn't miss him in the lineup.

Game time temp is a cool 57 degrees, and we're ready to begin!

(Note: I'm listening to the game on XM radio, because, even though the #2 and 3 teams in the NL (by won/loss record) are playing in this game, FOX has decided we'd rather watch Arizona play the Mets. I miss the old NBC Game of the Week, which was actually the Game of the Week, not the regional game of the week.)

Lohse, who's 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA lifetime against the Cubs, starts Soriano with a strike, ball outside, another ball outside. On the 2-1 pitch Soriano hits a shallow pop to right. Ludwick does a nice job fighting the sun and makes the catch.

We're joined today by my youngest son, although he's more interested in chewing on the stuffed dog he brought with him and examining every power cord in the room than the excitement on the radio. I am chasing him around as I try to keep some notes on the inning.

Theriot is next: Strike, off-speed away for a ball, then he hits the 1-1 pitch to Izturis, who retires him 6-3. Two out.

The missus has returned with lunch, and we will all be eating while listening to the game.

Derrek Lee with two away. Cutter away, foul ball to right, ball inside, fastball outside and low, called strike, foul to RF, and on the 3-2 pitch he pops out to first.

1-2-3 go the Cubs, after a half inning, Cubs 0, Cardinals coming up.

In the meantime, my sons are chasing burritos, soda cans, shoes, and whatever is not bolted down to the rug. So far, there's a lot more action at my house than at Busch. Maybe I should do a running play-by-play of the events here?


Bottom of the first. Lilly is 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA lifetime against the Cardinals.

Schumaker gets a nice hand as he steps in. Lilly starts him with a strike; Schumaker hits a chopper to Lee and is retired 3-1.

There is a significant amount of burrito stuffing spread all across the room. It's being used as a diversion by my oldest; we go to clean it up, he takes off for another item (like the soda cans). High comedy.

Brendan Ryan digs in; he's 3 for 11 lifetime against Lilly. Ball high, strike, breaking ball high, swinging strike, and he strikes out swinging on a 2-2 fastball. Two out.

I've hidden my soda under the bed. My youngest, undeterred, has crawled to the bed, and is reaching under it for the can. He now has managed to get his head wedged under the bed. A brief time out as I pull him free.

AP is 5-16 against Ted Lilly. Curve ball for a strike, fastball high, another fastball high, another fastball high. AP tries to hit the 3-1 pitch to East St Louis and swings through it, losing his balance (his loss of balance is not something you see everyday). He fouls the next offering back to the screen, fouls the next pitch out of play off to the right, and then hits a weak grounder back to Lilly. Albert is retired 1-3.

1-2-3 go the Cardinals; after 1, no score.

Lunch is proceeding here at the homestead; the youngest is done, and still annoyed he didn't get the soda can. I need to assist the Missus with the oldest, so thanks for stopping by, and over to John at The Cardinal Virture for the second inning. John?

Until next time...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Cubs vs Cardinals - Game 1

Thank goodness for WGN. The Cubs are back to broadcasting their games on the superstation. The majority of Cardinals games I will see this year will be played on WGN. I ignore the announcers for the most part, so it really isn't so bad.

Of course, with all that's going on I didn't think to check and see if they were showing the game until almost 1900 PDT, by which point it was 2-1 Cardinals, bottom of six. But a little baseball is better than none.

What a strange game. Alfonso Soriano had a seventh inning to forget; first he struck out with runners on second and third to end the top half, then he lost Pujols' pop-up in the lights (that was charitably scored a single), then he made perhaps the worst effort for a lazy (although well-struck; it was very high) fly ball off Molina's bat, and missed the catch. I'm not sure he got any leather on it at all. That was even more charitably scored a ground rule double, although if he didn't touch it how can you give Soriano an error?

Franklin proceeded to ride the ragged edge of disaster in the top of the eighth, but induced Soto to ground to third and end the inning. However, he faced six hitters, which meant Soriano would get a chance to redeem himself in the ninth.

I will now validate my soothsayer credentials by reporting that, as Soriano strode to the plate, I remarked to no one in particular, "Don't be surprised if he hits a 2-run homer here."

Wouldn't you know it.

At least the Cardinals pulled it out in the eleventh. Single by Miles, wild pitch, well executed sacrifice bunt by Ryan (on a 3-1 pitch, no less, on a pitch that was high), then Schumaker's 2-run shot.

Izzy didn't look comfortable to me warming up in the bullpen before he came in. I'm certainly not an expert, but he didn't look comfortable. And I swear he was aiming his fastball. He had a good curve tonight (except for the one he hung to Soriano), but can't locate his fastball at all. No wonder he's blown 3 saves so far this season. He looks like he did in 2006, when his hip was really bad. Perhaps it's time to call up Perez from AAA Memphis.

And although I understand why the fans were booing him, I don't agree with it at all. Izzy's been a rock for this team for years; he's not the Cardinals all-time saves leader for nothing (and considering that Bruce Sutter and Lee Smith pitched for this club, that's saying a lot). He deserves better. He's being treated much like Trevor Hoffman's being treated here in San Diego, another guy who deserves much better from his fan base.

On to tomorrow. I'll be reporting on the first inning of tomorrow's game, and hope to see you then.

Until next time...