Plate Savvy The Cardinals showed a bit more savvy with the bases loaded this time around. In the sixth inning, Albert Pujols walked to the plate with no outs. El Hombre promptly lifted a fly ball to center field to score the runner from third. Ryan Ludwick followed with a fly ball to right field and another run scored. I couldn’t help but breath a sigh of relief. Could it be that these young players have finally learned something about situational hitting? Have they finally figured out that you can’t step up to the plate expecting to bust the game wide open with every at-bat? We’ll see…but I think it is key to point out that the man doing the teaching was Albert Pujols. When he came to the plate in the sixth, I made a simple, slightly audible request – “Show ’em how to hit with the bases loaded, Albert. Show ’em how it’s done.” Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.
Mound Dominance Wellemeyer continues to impress. With the way he is pitching this year, it’s going to be very difficult to determine exactly who should be the odd man out when Mulder returns. Todd pitched an effective 4 innings and an eye-opening 3 to equal his career high mark. When he left the game in the 8th, his fastball was still tipping the scale in the low 90’s. Atta’ boy, Todd…
Defensively Sound Rick Ankiel made a Sportscenter catch to rob the Buccos of a much needed homerun in the 2nd inning. Sprinting to the center field wall, Ank twisted his body, jumped, and snagged the ball well over the fence. His back slammed into the wall and Ank the Tank quickly recovered to return the ball to the infield. I know the man loves fishin’…and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was casually saying to himself, “Nah…that’s not a keeper…I’m gonna’ throw it back.” Not to be outdone, Ryan Ludwick also made an athletic catch as he dove forward in right field…but Ank clearly stole the show last night.
Troy Heating Up For the first time this season, Troy Glaus posted back-to-back multi-hit games going 3 for 5 last night with an RBI and a run scored. Johnny Mo said he believes the primary problem with the offense is a lack of extra base hits, and he believes Glaus is the man to end that frustrating trend. I think he’s right, and Glaus seems to agree. But the best thing about these multi-hit games for Troy? He’s doing it at home, a welcome change from his up-to-now home and away split.
Izzy’s Return Jason Isringhausen had a good outing in the ninth, even though he did give up a couple of well hit balls to the deeper part of the field. At this stage in his “comeback” (can we really call it a comeback?), getting a few 1-2-3 innings under his belt will significantly boost his confidence and speed his recovery. Just an observation – the famed Izzy Curveball was just flat out nasty last night…just nasty…
Stranded Cardinals hitters still left 15 men on-base last night. This just cannot continue throughout the season. If so, our hopes of winning the division must end now so we can all get on with our lives. A team that consistently leaves between 10 and 15 runners on base per game simply cannot hope to beat the Zambranos and Webbs of the National League in a short series.
Barton’s Slide Brian Barton seems to be showing his baseball age. After last night’s 1 for 4 peformance (his one hit was a seeing-eye grounder up the middle…could have easily been 0 for 4), Barton’s average is down to .267. You could easily blame lack of consistent playing time and at-bats for the slide, and I certainly think that’s a factor, but I have to wonder about Barton’s fundamentals. Coaches have already said this guy is less than impressive in practice, on the tee, etc. but gets it done in a game. At this level, that worries me. A guy with poor fundamentals is going to get “found out” and exposed by Major League pitchers. Let’s hope Hal can help him eliminate some of those holes in his swing.
Ryan’s Whiff Considering our lack of efficiency when it comes to scoring runs, the play that stuck with me the most was Brendan Ryan’s at-bat in the 7th inning. Yadier Molina walks. Cesar Izturis singles. Todd Wellemeyer bunts them over. Brendan Ryan walks to the plate with one out and men on second and third. He strikes out on a foul tip to effectively kill the Cards’ momentum and strand the runners. I don’t care how young you are or how much Kool-Aid you drank before the game…you HAVE to bring in at least one run in that situation. Hopefully, Albert will pull the kid aside before the game today and show him how to hit with men in scoring position.
That’s all for today! Gotta’ a noon game against the Bucs comin’ up, so…