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Game Recap: Cardinals 2, Dodgers 1

THE GOOD

Lud the Stud Goes Yard  Ryan Ludwick went 3 for 4 last night and continued his massive assault on Major League pitching with his team leading 13th home run. Lud the Stud also leads the team with a .348 batting average (.001 more than Pujols) and 37 RBIs. At the beginning of the year, Ludwickwasn’t even assured a spot on the 25-man roster, but with the predictable injury to “Juan Gone,” Ludwick’s first full season with the Cardinals began. Now, he finds himself in contention (and with a somewhat commanding statistical lead) for an All-Star outfield appearance – unthinkable considering his so-called “come from nowhere” hitting barrage. Let’s hope fans are smart enough to check the stats comparison this year before casting their popularity All-Star vote.

The Wagon Maker Crafts a Win  Adam Wainwright had been struggling lately – if posting a 3 – 2 record with a 3.25 ERA (tied for the team lead) could be called struggling. But last night’s start finally looked like the kind of start you expect from your staff ace (de facto or not). Waino looked shaky early on, but soon settled in and hurled seven strong innings of one-run ball with less than 90 pitches thrown. He struck out 5, walked 2, and managed to craftily escape a runners-on-base situation in every inning. With the recent inconsistency of our pitching staff, Wainwright needs to deliver that type of start more often than not if this team is going to remain in contention until Carpenter returns.

Frankie Goes the Distance  Ryan Franklin locked down last night’s game despite a one hour and five minute rain delay with 1 out and a full count in the bottom of the ninth inning. When Franklin returned, I was sure La Russa would be forced to spend another bullpen pitcher – a wasteful expenditure considering last night was only the first in a 3-game weekend series – but Frankie quickly regained his focus after putting the tieing run on and closed out the game with a strikeout of Andruw Jones. His gutsy performance not only saved the bullpen for today’s game, but also provided a much-needed win to the game’s starter, Adam Wainwright.

THE BAD

Yadi Ain’t Lookin’ Like Yadi  Yadier Molina is having a tough year behind the plate. The normally “lights out” catcher is allowing more steals, more past balls, and committing more errors this season than any season I’ve seen since he came up. In what would eventually become a one-run game in the sixth, Yadi made a rare throwing error by attempting his patented pickoff attempt at first base. As the ball skipped off Pujols’ glove and into right field, the runner advanced to second and into scoring position. Later in the game, Yadi failed to complete what could have been a critical strike ‘im out, throw ‘im out double play to end the game. Cardinals’ broadcasters have attempted to downplay Yadi’s season by blaming it on slow-to-the-plate pitching and other oddities, but regardless of the reason – and despite his as-of-yet outstanding handling of the pitching staff – it’s clear the 2008 Molina is falling slightly short of the Molina of years past.

What Was He Thinking?!  Tony La Russa never fails to amaze me. Don’t get me wrong – I love TLR as a manager, but last night, he was wrong. With Adam Kennedy in a deep slump, La Russa promptly inserted him in the lead-off spot of last night’s lineup. Apparently, AK has a tremendous record against Lowe and a .291 lifetime average in Dodger Stadium. Um…who cares? Right now, Kennedy can’t hit the broad side of a barn…and Skip Schumaker is HOT! In the previous game, Schu turned in a 4 for 5 night with a walk in the lead-off spot. What did Kennedy do in the same spot last night? 0 for 5 with no walks and 2 left on base. The moral of the story? I don’t care if the guy is 10 for 12 lifetime against Big Bird – when the man is slumping as badly as AK has been, Skip Schumaker gets the call when the Cardinals play the Sesame Street Muppets on the baseball diamond. Simple as that.

Waino Decides He’s a Pitcher, not a Belly Itcher – or a Hitter  Adam Wainwright is arguably one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball – but not last night. Last night, Waino went 0 for 3 with 3 – count ’em…3 – strikeouts and no less than 4 left on base (including a bases-loaded strikeout). It seemed that, at least last night, Adam traded a bit of his hitting mojo for some pitching mojo. Good thing he turned in a gem on the mound, ’cause he was more than a liability at the plate as he even failed to properly execute a sacrifice bunt. Of course, we’ll take that if he continues pitching as he did last night…

There’s Your Runs, Big Boy! The Cardinals offense looked anemic last night. 6 hits, 4 walks, and a Dodgers’ error led to just 2-runs (and that on a 2-run shot by Luddy) all night. I ain’t gonna’ say nothin’, but Adam Kennedy was flat-out non-existent as the Cardinals’ table setter. As Mike Shannon would say to Bob Gibson after providing him a one-run lead, “There’s your runs, big boy!” It’s a good thing Waino and crew were up to the task.

THE UGLY

Rules Were Made to be Broken  Major League Baseball MUST change the rain delay rule that states a game will pick-up exactly where it left off after a rain delay. Last night, Franklin was working with a full count in the bottom of the ninth of a one-run game when the home plate umpire suspended play for more than an hour. Upon returning, in accordance with MLB rules, play resumed as it was when play was suspended – meaning a cold hitter and a cold pitcher had to face off with 3 balls and 2 strikes. Franklin walked the batter with his first pitch, and the tieing run was on. This is ridiculous. When a game is delayed due to rain, I don’t care what the situation is, the balls and strikes count on the hitter should be reset to 0-0. No hitter should be expected to step up and swing the bat when a single pitch could lead to a strike out, and no pitcher should be expected to resume pitching with a full count and zero margin for error. It’s just flat out nuts. I hereby call for an amendment to the rules that states a count will be reset to 0-0 in the case of a rain delay. Get on it Mr. Selig…

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