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May 2010

UCB Progressive Game Blog: Ninth Inning

Posted on May 29, 2010 at 10:59 PM
When you look at the calendar and pick out a game to do for this type of project, you never know what kind of game you are going to get.  A triumphant blowout for the good guys?  A nailbiter into the ninth?  None of the above?

At least the good part about bringing up the rear in a game like this is that there's not much to discuss.  Justin will be discussing/has discussed the eighth inning and the rest of the UCB has taken their cracks at their portions of the game.  So it's time to take a look at the ninth of today's loss to the Cubs.

One of the good things about this team is that, so often, they've made a game of things in the ninth.  No matter how dismal and dreary the offense has been during the game, they so often seem to be able to get the tying or winning run to the plate in the end, even if they don't get them in.  No game is ever quite a foregone conclusion.

Every game, of course, save the game I have the ninth to write about.  Today, the Cardinals went down like they had a plane to catch, even though it was just the middle of the series.

The Cubs replace their multi-million dollar setup man, Carlos Zambrano, with Jeff Stevens, a rookie making his third appearance this year.  As we know, the Cardinals often struggle against pitchers they've never seen before, and this game was no different.

Even though the team trailed 5-0, they were set up in the lineup to at least make some noise.  The same players that jumped on Randy Wells for five runs in the first yesterday were up again in the ninth, starting with the new leadoff hitter, Felipe Lopez.

Lopez, however, is unable to get anything going, striking out looking.  Next up is Ryan Ludwick, who keeps the futility working by grounding to third.  With no one on and a five run lead, you'd think that Stevens would feel comfortable challenging Albert Pujols, but perhaps mindful of keeping the shutout intact, Pujols draws the walk.

It was noted earlier in the week that Matt Holliday has only driven in Pujols twice this year.  While that may be a bit outdated, the premise holds.  People are tending to get on for Pujols, but when people do put AP on, Holliday is not making them pay, at least not as of yet.  Today fits in with that, as he flies out to right to end the game.

After scoring five runs before one out was made in this series, the Cardinals are just a Ludwick home run shy of going 18 actual innings without a run.  The offense that we thought was coming around after the getaway game in San Diego and the beginning of the series opener in Wrigley may still be as elusive as it has been most of the month.

Travis at Fredbird Follys has the wrapup of today's game and reminds us of one important, elemental truth: at least we still aren't the Cubs.

United Cardinal Bloggers Announce Third Annual Progressive Game Blog

Posted on May 28, 2010 at 8:45 AM
The United Cardinal Bloggers would like to announce their third annual progressive game blog, set to cover Saturday's game against the Chicago Cubs.

Each blogger will be responsible for one inning of this Saturday's matchup.  The blogger will not only describe the action, but use that as a jumping off point for other related tangents.  Each blogger will link to the one before and after to form a circular chain that will encompass nine innings of baseball.

This progressive dinner version of game blogging will span numerous platforms, writing styles and locations and can be seen as an anthology of Cardinal blogging thought.  A pre-game post will set the stage and then the action moves through the other blogs, wrapping up back at the beginning for a post-game thought.  (Note that these will not be live postings, but should be up Saturday evening or early Sunday.)

See the game through various perspectives.  Get a taste of Cardinal Nation!

The United Cardinal Bloggers would also like to encourage other bloggers or media members to highlight this project when they can.

The order of the participating blogs is as follows:In 2008, the inaugural progressive game blog, the first of its kind as far as the UCB can determine, covered the Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs facing off.  The pregame post of that one can be found here, along with links to all participating blogs.  Last year, a game between St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals were covered.  The 2010 game will be the first that will not feature Kyle Lohse pitching, as he was shelled by the Cubs two years back and pitched a solid game last year, though was hit in the forearm with a pitch, the repercussions of which are still felt today.

The United Cardinal Bloggers is an collaboration between roughly 35 blogs that focus on the Cardinals.  Members participate in coordinated projects throughout the year.  The UCB also hosts a weekly internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio talking about the Cards.

All questions about this project can be directed to Daniel Shoptaw at cardinal70@gmail.com or can be found at www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com.

Their Reputation Preceeds Them

Posted on May 26, 2010 at 7:40 AM
You know that going into San Diego, it's going to be a tough place to score runs.  The park is designed for pitching and the Padres usually take advantage of that with some pretty solid pitchers.  Last night was a textbook example of that.

Even though Adam Wainwright deserved so much better, striking out 12 and making just the one mistake, a solo home run to Jerry Hairston, the offense again couldn't come up with the big blow that would get him a win.

Being that it was a late game, I really only got to see the early innings, but that was frustrating enough.  Loading the bases with one out should always get you a run if you can stay out of the double play, but instead David Freese and Colby Rasmus both struck out to end the threat.  Then you have two on after two out in the second, but can't get them in.  A double play to end the third.  A strike 'em out-throw 'em out double play to end the fourth.  The runners were there, but they never could be brought home.

Really rough night for Rasmus, who went 0-4 with two strikeouts and a double play.  He's down to .261 now after a strong start.  He's not alone in this, of course, but it's still distressing to see.

You really hope that, at some time, Albert Pujols can get going.  Even the national guys are noticing that AP isn't quite his normal dominating self.  You figure some time that he'll correct what he's doing and start to just tear up the league, but to do that he's going to have to get back to hitting left-handers.  If he continues to keep hitting under .200 against those that throw with the wrong hand, teams will be able to throw out basically anyone that throws that way and beat this team, what with Rasmus and others having issues with the lefties as well.

Simple fact is, this offense will probably start clicking when Pujols does.  Hopefully last night's three hit game is a start in the right direction.

Kyle Lohse sees the specialists today and, right now, he has no clue what kind of timetable he's on.  It looks more and more certain that Adam Ottovino will be making the start against the Cubs this weekend, which will be an interesting experience for the rookie.  As for Lohse, you hope that they can figure out something quickly, because otherwise he could be looking at a career-ending thing.  All because Ron Mahay couldn't control a pitch last year.

How aggravated do you think the people at Beverly Hill Sports Council are now that the guy representing Pujols has taken off to presumably start his own firm?  I'm guessing that they'd at least gotten some portion of Pujols's next deal, but now his agent will clear it all.  Nice timing on his part, it appears. 

Cards try to break this first place tie again and see if they can actually score tonight against Kevin Correia.  After a fairly effective year last year, Correia has struggled some in 2010, going 4-4 with a 4.57 ERA.  Without digging, I'm guessing he's the weak point in the Padres lineup.  How have the Cards fared against him in the past?

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Felipe Lopez 29 25 5 2 0 0 2 3 2 .200 .286 .280 .566 1 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 25 23 7 2 1 1 6 1 1 .304 .360 .609 .969 0 0 0 1 0
Albert Pujols 13 10 4 1 0 0 2 3 3 .400 .538 .500 1.038 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 9 7 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 .143 .250 .143 .393 1 0 1 0 0
Skip Schumaker 8 7 3 1 0 0 1 1 1 .429 .500 .571 1.071 0 0 0 0 0
Jason LaRue 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .333 .500 .333 .833 0 0 1 0 0
Ryan Ludwick 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Brendan Ryan 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Carpenter 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Colby Rasmus 3 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 .333 .333 1.333 1.667 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 104 91 25 6 1 2 13 10 8 .275 .353 .429 .782 2 0 2 1 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/26/2010.

Some pretty solid numbers, especially from the big boys. Pujols hasn't gone yard on him, but he's hit him well. Matt Holliday has gone yard and has a good sample size from which to work with.  You'd like to think they'd put up a few runs tonight, though you never know.

Jaime Garcia is an enigma to the Friars, as they have a total of five at-bats against him.  Garcia has been such a find for this team this year and hopefully he'll be able to continue that rookie season that has him in the ROY talk.

I also want to give a shoutout (as the kids say) to my friends at Fox Sports Midwest.  Due to the "work" I've done with them in helping them promote things and get connected with the UCB, a care package of FSMW stuff showed up at my door yesterday.  Lots of neat stuff, but the highlight had to be my own personal Hungo Award.

Hungo1.jpg
Another late one tonight.  Enjoy the game, everyone!

Signs Of Cardinal Life

Posted on May 25, 2010 at 7:54 AM
It wasn't a perfect weekend for St. Louis.  Not that it was bad, mind you; anytime you win two of three it's a pretty good set.  However, the signs from this weekend indicate that as nice as this series with the Angels was, better days are a-comin'.

Heroes and Goats, quickly:

Friday (9-5 win)
Hero: Jason Motte.  All the offensive fireworks were nice, but if Motte is his flammable self, it wouldn't have mattered.  Throwing two solid scoreless innings in this one kept it from being a really wild game or a tough loss.
Goat: Matt Holliday.  In a game where almost the entire offense joined in the fun, Holliday went 0-5.
Notes: Brad Penny's grand slam was nice, though it'd have been nicer if that wasn't just evening up the four runs he'd already given up.  And, of course, it'd been much nicer if he hadn't strained his lat while doing it (or, at least, aggravating a pre-existing condition).  Nice night for Felipe Lopez and Skip Schumaker as well.

Saturday (10-7 loss)
Hero: Matt Holliday.  Finally got a home run in front of the home fans.
Goat: Kyle Lohse.  Yes, he wasn't at 100%, or even maybe 70%.  But six runs in 3 and a third is going to get you the tag anyway.
Notes: Nice to see Brendan Ryan with a couple of hits, including a double.  If he can start getting back to being some sort of offensive contributor, things will improve immensely.  It was also nice to see the team rally a bit, even if it fell short.  When I saw them get down 9-2, I never would have expected a final score as close as it was.

Sunday (6-5 win in 10)
Hero: David Freese.  Three hits, two RBI, one run scored.  Are we sure he's just a rookie?
Goat: Ryan Ludwick.  0-5, 4 K is not a good afternoon.
Notes: Really thought about giving Ryan Franklin the Hero tag, with his two scoreless innings in a spot where he had to hold the Angels if only for morale's sake.  Chris Carpenter could have had the Goat--I know he said afterwards he felt like that was one of his best days command wise, but five runs (four earned) is not a good day at the office.

The biggest news out of this weekend, of course, was the DLing of Penny and the potential loss of Lohse.  While it's good to see PJ Walters get the callup (especially after his strong work in Memphis) and it'd be interesting to see Adam Ottovino make his debut, it's still in the best interest of the club to have a healthy and effective Penny and Lohse.  (Whether or not that's a state of nature that's actually possible is completely debatable.)

At least Walters and Ottovino were doing well in Memphis and were legitimate callups (assuming they add Ottovino, but I really can't imagine they won't, especially if the specialists in LA can't quite figure out what the problem with Lohse is).  If they hadn't been, this would be a bigger problem.  As it is, Carpenter is going to have to get back to Carpenter levels and the offense is going to have to start clicking, because the pitching staff may not be able to do all the work anymore.

You can't expect the new recruits, as it were, to live up to the level of Jaime Garcia.  Even with his success this year, the team is carefully monitoring him.  I don't think we'll see a complete game or anything from Garcia and Tony LaRussa probably silently cheers every time Jaime gives up his first hit, so he doesn't have to ponder that "leave him in with a no hitter" question.  

The other news of the weekend involved the first ever public dispute between TLR and Pujols.  Pujols's level of frustration is growing immensely and it is showing in actions that we haven't seen out of him in his decade in St. Louis.  An 0-10 series?  No RBI in 10 games?  One home run this month?  We saw him struggle a few years back, but once he got going, he tore it up.  We've never seen him go strong, then go this cold.

No matter what he's doing on the field, though, TLR was completely in the right to tell him to knock it off and fire back at any criticism.  It's easy to let ego get the best of you and frustration can build into how that is reflected, but getting put in place, as it were, should be a good thing for him.  Not that it's a big deal, but everyone needs correction at some point or another.

On a more light-hearted note, there was a nice article about the Cardinals and their walk-up songs today in the Globe-Democrat.  I think it's pretty funny to see Wainwright taking such a personal interest in both changing Schumaker's song and trying to come up with one for Franklin.  Occasionally, you have to think that starting pitchers have too much time on their hands, but it makes for a fun clubhouse, I'd think.

Also, the Cardinals have announced a push for everyone to Stand For Stan.  If there's anyone that deserves some recognition, it's Stan Musial.  He's been a great symbol for St. Louis for a long time and has never gotten the attention he deserves.  He had to be added to the All-Century Team by the commissioner's office after being left out of the fan voting.  He's never even discussed in the "Greatest Living Ballplayer" discussion.  Even last year, on his own turf, he was relegated to the back burner during the All-Star Game due to the president's decision to attend.

President Obama owes Stan for that slight, at least.  He needs to award the Medal of Freedom to Stan the Man while there is still time.  Be sure to print out your Stan and sign the petition at the link above.

Cards get to head into San Diego today for a series against the surprising Padres.  San Diego holds a one game lead in the NL West at a time when most people thought they'd be weighing offers for Adrian Gonzalez.  Going into Petco, you know that the offense is going to be struggling on both sides, so hopefully the Cardinal pitching can hold out.  At least the Wagonmaker takes the hill first.  Here's what he's done against the Padres:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
David Eckstein 9 9 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 .222 .222 .222 .444 0 0 0 0 0
Adrian Gonzalez 5 5 2 1 0 0 1 0 2 .400 .400 .600 1.000 0 0 0 0 1
Yorvit Torrealba 4 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Everth Cabrera 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0 0
Kevin Correia 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Tony Gwynn 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jerry Hairston 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Chase Headley 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Will Venable 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Mat Latos 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Stairs 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 39 39 12 2 0 0 2 0 6 .308 .308 .359 .667 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/25/2010.

Not a lot of exposure here. Interesting that old friend and former Cardinal David Eckstein has had the most at-bats against him.  He's kept them in the yard, even though some of the Friars have a pretty tolerable BAA vs. him.  Still, if he can scatter singles, he'll be OK.

Jon Garland goes for the Padres.  Being that he's spent a lot of time in the AL in his career, there's not a lot of data to work with:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Albert Pujols 9 8 2 0 0 2 3 1 1 .250 .333 1.000 1.333 0 0 1 0 0
Ryan Ludwick 6 5 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 .200 .333 .200 .533 0 0 0 0 0
Colby Rasmus 6 6 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 .167 .167 .333 .500 0 0 0 0 1
Skip Schumaker 6 6 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .500 .833 0 0 0 0 0
Felipe Lopez 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Yadier Molina 5 5 5 0 0 0 2 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167 0 0 1 0 0
Jason LaRue 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .333 .000 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Carpenter 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Brendan Ryan 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 47 43 12 2 0 2 7 4 3 .279 .340 .465 .806 0 0 2 0 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/25/2010.

Cards have seen Garland about as much as the Padres have seen Wainwright.  Pujols has enjoyed his time against him, but no one else has gone yard.  Hopefully they've seen him enough to stay out of that "new pitcher" trap the Redbirds seem to find themselves in a lot.

Late start with that West Coast game.  With my schedule the next few days, I'll probably not be back until Friday, after the series has wrapped.  Hopefully we'll have good things to talk about then.

Just Enough

Posted on May 21, 2010 at 8:04 AM
The cliche is that, for good pitchers, you have to get to them early or you don't get to them at all.  Apparently Adam Wainwright, if you didn't know, is a good pitcher.

After the Marlins scored two in the first off of Wainwright, it kinda seemed like it was going to be another one of those days.  After all, with this offense, there was no telling when or how long it'd take them to come up with two runs to tie.

Turned out, it didn't take too long, with David Freese getting an RBI single in the first, then the offense tacking on three more in the second.  After that, the bats did their customary shutdown, but with Wainwright clicking on the mound, that's all they needed.

The game story at the Post-Dispatch sheds an encouraging light on the outing of Matt Holliday.  (And it's from Joe Strauss, whose picture you won't find next to optimistic in the dictionary.)  Holliday seems to finally be getting a bit comfortable at the plate.  Whether this is from Albert Pujols hitting behind him or it is just about the time he starts to warm up in a year (remember, he was hitting in Oakland before the trade last year), I don't know, but it bodes well for the Cardinals if he can get on track.

This seems to be a good time to mention a new app for your iPhone and iTouch.  If you are a Holliday fan, LMK has created an app that focuses completely on him.  You get news stories that he's in and pictures that pop up on the web with #7 in them.  LMK provided me a free copy of the app and I've tried it out.  If you are a big Holliday fan, it's probably worth the couple of bucks to download this.  As I look at it now, the news stream has stories from the Post-Dispatch, the New York Post, and Sports Illustrated, among others.  Plus, if you find an article you like, there's a feature to save it to a different tab so you can refer to it later if you want.  As I say, the only thing I got out of this was a free review app, so this isn't a paid endorsement.  Search for Holliday or LMK at the App Store and take a look.

Goat for the game goes to Joe Mather for his 0-4 day.  Even tried to bunt his way on once, which was original, but not successful.  Hopefully Colby Rasmus used his day off to get straightened out, as he's looked a little lost lately at the plate.

It can't be all that good that this incarnation of the Cardinals is actually producing less at this point in the season than last year's version did.  A team with Chris Duncan, Rick Ankiel and Joe Thurston in the lineup scored more runs than this one with Holliday and an every-day Rasmus?  That just doesn't make logical sense.  If the law of averages holds, this team is going to explode soon, just because they'll have to have a big run to make it to their norms.

The Cardinals get another taste of interleague play as the Angels come into town.  If you've read this blog for very long, you know every year when this comes up I express my dislike of interleague play.  I have heard a few others in the media think that it's time has come and gone, but I'm sure that as long as Bud Selig is commissioner, it's going nowhere, and I'm doubtful his successor would look at it either.

Anytime the Angels come into Busch, my mind goes back to that 2002 series, the first time they were in town.  It's a different stadium now and very few players are the same, but the emotional impact of that series, with Jack Buck passing on the evening of what turned out to be Darryl Kile's final start, has stayed with St. Louis for these many years.  If they are still doing this in 25 years, I'm sure that's still the first thing I'll think of when the Angels and Cardinals get together.

Former Cardinal Joel Pineiro returns to his old stomping grounds.  I'm sure Pineiro wants to show that the Cardinals should have at least made an attempt to resign him last year, but with his results and Brad Penny's results this year, I don't think the Cards are that disappointed.  It'll be interesting to see if having Pineiro on staff the last three years gives the Cards a bit of an advantage in knowing what he'll throw.  Here's what he's done against the current Redbirds:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Felipe Lopez 22 21 5 1 0 0 0 1 4 .238 .273 .286 .558 0 0 0 0 0
Albert Pujols 7 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .143 .143 .286 .429 0 0 0 0 1
Matt Holliday 5 5 3 2 0 0 2 0 0 .600 .600 1.000 1.600 0 0 0 0 0
Brad Penny 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jason LaRue 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 37 36 9 4 0 0 2 1 5 .250 .270 .361 .631 0 0 0 0 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/21/2010.

He hasn't faced too many of these guys, though Felipe Lopez has at least had a number of at-bats against him, even if they weren't anything special.  If Pineiro is getting the ball down tonight, it's going to be another quiet night for the bats.

Coincidentally, Penny is Pineiro's mound opponent tonight, so we'll get to see the decision in a microcosm.  Penny's had a little experience with the current Angel squad:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Bobby Abreu 57 49 16 3 0 2 6 8 6 .327 .421 .510 .931 0 0 0 0 1
Juan Rivera 11 11 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 .182 .182 .273 .455 0 0 0 0 1
Torii Hunter 9 9 3 1 1 0 4 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Kendry Morales 9 8 2 0 0 0 0 1 4 .250 .333 .250 .583 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Napoli 8 7 3 0 0 2 4 0 0 .429 .375 1.286 1.661 0 1 0 0 0
Erick Aybar 5 5 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 .200 .200 .600 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Hideki Matsui 5 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 .250 .400 .250 .650 0 0 0 0 0
Kevin Frandsen 4 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .667 1.000 1 0 0 0 1
Howie Kendrick 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Joel Pineiro 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Reggie Willits 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 .500 .667 .500 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Total 117 103 31 6 2 4 15 11 17 .301 .365 .515 .880 2 1 0 0 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/21/2010.

Bobby Abreu has done some work on Penny in the past, but that's the big bat he'll have to avoid.  Other than him and keeping the ball away from Mike Napoli, he can make this into a pitcher's duel.  With Penny's recent struggles, that'd be a good thing to see.

Cardinal Offense Still Sputtering

Posted on May 20, 2010 at 11:30 AM
Even though they've split the last couple of games and won two of three since the lineup swap, the offense still isn't a well-tuned machine.  Save for that first inning against the Nationals on Monday, it's still been a struggle to score runs.

Tuesday, they were able to scratch enough to take out the Nationals 3-2.  Give Hero status to Ryan Ludwick, who bailed out/rewarded a ton of people with one big swing.  Chris Carpenter pitched well enough to win, so Ludwick's big fly allowed that to happen.  Carp threw quite a few pitches (118) but still only allowed one earned run.  Skip Schumaker had two errors, including one that led to the tying run, so Ludwick took the focus off of him.

Then there is Brendan Ryan.  As soon as I saw that he was the pinch-runner, I mentally said, "Please don't get picked off."  Of course, because this is The Lost Season (not to be confused with LOST's Final Season) for Ryan, he was, unsurprisingly, picked off.  Cole and I discussed this some during last night's UCB Radio Hour, and I make the point that he's probably trying to do too much right now.  He's got to want to make something positive happen, helping the team and hopefully jumpstarting his season and confidence.  However, by pressing that much, it becomes even less likely that the positive moment, that spark, is going to happen.

You wonder if they won't suggest that the wrist is bothering him more and wind up putting him on the DL so they can get him some rehab/reps in the minors.  He's out of options, so that's the only way the team can do it.  We'll see if that happens in the near future, especially if Aaron Miles is still hitting in the minors.  Should Miles be a candidate?  No, probably not, but that doesn't mean he won't get a shot at it.

Wednesday, the offense again just couldn't get anything going.  Anibal Sanchez is a very good pitcher, of course, with no-hit stuff.  However, that's not necessarily a requirement for the opposition right now to hold down the Cardinal lineup.  Then, when Sanchez was removed and the first two men in the eighth walked in front of Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols, did it pan out?  Were they able to take advantage?  No, Holliday struck out and Pujols grounded into a double play, a very similar result to a recent game where Pujols grounded out and Holliday then hit into a double play.  Flipping the slots didn't flip the results.

Jaime Garcia again pitched a wonderful game.  The only knock on Garcia is that he's not as able to get deep into games as some of the other pitchers.  Last night, that wasn't completely his fault, as there were grounders in the first and other innings that should have been turned into outs but weren't, forcing Garcia to see more batters.  Still, four walks didn't help his cause much.

Being that he didn't get to go deep meant that the Cardinals had to go into the soft underbelly of their bullpen.  Right now, that means Blake Hawksworth, who gave up two in his first inning of work, then put the game out of reach by allowing two home runs in his second.  With the offense struggling, there probably is some pressure on the pitchers, especially the relievers, to make perfect pitches knowing that a run may be more than the offense can overcome.  Hawksworth didn't make perfect pitches at all, though.

Today, if the weather allows it, Nate Robertson goes for the Marlins while Adam Wainwright, who is the focus of my segment on Redbirds of a Feather's Sunday podcast, goes for St. Louis.  Which should mean that, if the Cardinals can squeeze out a couple of runs, they can split this short series.  Here's Robertson's numbers against the Cards:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Ryan Ludwick 11 10 2 0 0 0 0 1 2 .200 .273 .200 .473 0 0 0 0 0
Jason LaRue 9 9 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 .111 .111 .222 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Albert Pujols 7 4 4 0 0 0 0 3 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 1 0 0
Felipe Lopez 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 4 3 2 1 0 0 2 1 0 .667 .750 1.000 1.750 0 0 0 0 0
Brendan Ryan 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167 0 0 0 0 0
Total 38 30 10 2 0 0 2 8 6 .333 .474 .400 .874 0 0 1 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/20/2010.

Not a lot of exposure, though Pujols is perfect against him.  Hey, Ryan's hitting .500 against him (SSS), so maybe he'll get a chance to start!  (I haven't seen the lineup yet, but I wouldn't be shocked if that happened.  Tony LaRussa has to take whatever he can grasp to get Ryan rolling.)

Wainwright against the current Marlin squad:
  
PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Ronny Paulino 18 16 5 0 0 0 0 2 0 .313 .389 .313 .701 0 0 0 0 1
Hanley Ramirez 17 16 2 0 0 0 1 1 4 .125 .176 .125 .301 0 0 0 0 1
Dan Uggla 15 15 2 0 0 1 2 0 6 .133 .133 .333 .467 0 0 0 0 0
Jorge Cantu 11 10 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 .300 .364 .300 .664 0 0 0 0 0
Cody Ross 10 10 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 .300 .300 .400 .700 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Coghlan 8 7 2 0 0 0 0 1 3 .286 .375 .286 .661 0 0 0 0 0
Wes Helms 3 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0 0
Cameron Maybin 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Josh Johnson 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Volstad 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Total 89 84 20 2 0 1 4 5 17 .238 .281 .298 .579 0 0 0 0 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/20/2010.

Pretty good success for the Wagonmaker.  Dan Uggla's taken him deep, but that's not surprising, since Uggla's done that to a lot of pitchers (ask Hawksworth about that).  Interesting that Wainwright has had a little trouble with Paulino, so if he can navigate that trouble and he's got a feel for his curveball, it could be a good day in Cardinal Nation.

Be sure to head over to Fox Sports Midwest for their live chat during the game.  Always fun to interact over there during the day games!

Cardinal Numerology

Posted on May 18, 2010 at 10:10 AM
On a night when seven became three and five became four, it was seriously good that it all added up to six.

Batting order probably is overrated and it is hard to know if the swap of Matt Holliday to third and Albert Pujols to fourth really had that much of an impact.  I think the four-run first, though, might not have happened if the two were in their normal positions.  So many times Pujols has gotten on this year, but Holliday's followed with a little grounder.  With Holliday walking in front of AP, Pujols got a solid base hit and the two-out rally was on.  At least early, the change in scenery (as it were) paid off.

Kyle Lohse finally was able to figure out something, though I thought it was going to be a long night when I saw the deep fly ball outs he was getting early.  You had to figure that eventually those things were going to start dropping or going a little farther, winding up over the wall.  Instead, he was able to pitch out of the trouble he created at spots in the game and give a solid outing over to the bullpen, which did their job (with a little help from Ryan Ludwick).

If Lohse actually has turned a corner, it'll be a big boost for this team, of course.  He got ahead of the hitters, which was key, though he still had a weaker GB/FB rate than I would like to see.  His next outing is against the Angels.  If he can put back-to-back strong starts together, maybe I'll at least check out the bandwagon.  Until then, I'm not sold.

Goat last night would be Felipe Lopez, though you have to cut him a little slack since he had just been activated off the DL.  Still, if the team is benching Brendan Ryan for the time being and letting Lopez play short and lead off, he's going to have to get on base.

Cards go for the sweep (and, if Cincinnati would kindly lose, first place) with Chris Carpenter on the mound.  This is usually a good thing, his recent non-dominance (and inexplicable expressive moodiness) notwithstanding.  Here's what Carp's done against the Nats:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Ivan Rodriguez 31 28 10 5 1 0 7 3 5 .357 .419 .607 1.026 0 0 0 0 1
Adam Dunn 28 24 4 0 0 1 2 3 10 .167 .250 .292 .542 0 1 0 0 1
Cristian Guzman 8 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 5 .125 .125 .125 .250 0 0 0 0 0
Livan Hernandez 6 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 1 0 0 0 0
Adam Kennedy 6 6 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 .167 .167 .333 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Zimmerman 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Miguel Batista 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Nyjer Morgan 3 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Sean Burnett 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Tyler Walker 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 95 86 16 6 1 1 11 7 25 .186 .245 .314 .559 1 1 0 0 2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/18/2010.

Looks pretty good for the Cardinal co-ace.  Pudge Rodriguez has hit him fairly well, but that's it, and only Adam Dunn has taken him deep.

The Nationals counter with John Lannan.  His results against the Cardinals: 

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO