I figured that both the Cardinals and the Astros hadn't forgotten about the Pujols/Towles-Backe issue but I wasn't expected a couple of bench clearings this weekend. Playing Houston another 12 times or so could enliven the summer, especially if the team slides out of contention.
That's not the case right now, though, as the Cardinals take the series from Houston. And, with regular results, would have swept their way into first place.
Friday night, the loss all comes down to Jason Isringhausen
, the Goat of the Day. Giving up three runs in the ninth, with only one coming on a home run, is unacceptable for a closer that's getting paid as much as Izzy is. Of course, these things happen, but lately they've been happening with much more regularity with Izzy, bringing back memories of his disastrous 2006 campaign. He doesn't seem to be hurt now, but that 6.55 ERA is going to have the phone in Memphis ringing for Chris Perez pretty soon if he doesn't straighten it out.
The Hero of Friday night had to be Braden Looper
, who saw possibly his best ever start go up in smoke in the ninth. But seven innings of two-hit ball is pretty impressive, even if you don't have the W beside your name afterwards.
After getting quite excited about the Oswalt/Wainwright matchup, my Saturday got eaten up and I wasn't able to see any of the game. While it wasn't quite as great as the 1-0 Mulder/Clemens matchup of three years ago, it didn't disappoint by much, with the Cardinals pulling it out in the bottom of the ninth.
The big number that jumps out at that game is 126. That's how many pitches Adam Wainwright
threw. I understand that, especially on the heels of Isringhausen's Friday, LaRussa may not trust the bullpen as much, but that's pushing it, I think. The last thing this team needs is for the Wagonmaker to blow out his arm. I'd hope that next game TLR thinks about removing Wainwright around the 90 pitch mark. It probably also helps that there is a day off in this run through the rotation, which means that he'll get an extra day of rest before taking the mound again. Still, for his effectiveness and durability, you've got to give him the Hero award, though Pujols with his two RBI would come close.
Saturday's Goat would probably be LaRussa for leaving Wainwright in so long, but I'm trying to limit it to the players. Most everyone had a similar batting line, with nobody having more than one hit. Even Troy Glaus, who went 0-3, drove in a run. So, just because his season has been so bad and he didn't do anything to redeem in, the award goes to Jason LaRue
for his 0-1, plus forcing TLR to pinch hit for him in the ninth.
Oh, and there's no doubt that Wainwright was trying to send a message to Ausmus without causing any damage. After a couple of your players get thrown at, you want to make sure you stand up for them. There wasn't any chance Ausmus would get hurt, at least it didn't look like it from the replays. I've got no problem with that at all, as long as you aren't throwing at the head. At least to some, that was the play of the game
Sunday, you just knew something was going to happen with Brandon Backe on the mound. He stymied the Cardinals for a while, but after Ludwick's double to break the scoring seal for the Cards and then Hero Troy Glaus
going yard for the first time this year, he seemed to come a little unglued, as we saw in his confrontation with Molina.
And, boy, was Yadi steamed about the whole thing. He was still talking after Backe was out of the game. If you see a fastball in your face, I'm sure it does tend to rile you up. Like I said early, I doubt this is completely over. Mark your calendars for May 27-29!
I gave Glaus the Hero because he finally got the home run, which put the game out of reach, but there were a number of players you could have chosen. Kyle Lohse pitched a great game. Kyle McClellan got his first save by going three strong innings. Pujols hit a home run.
The Goat is a little harder because most everyone did play a solid game. For one of the rare times he's not had a good game in the leadoff role, though, the Goat goes to Skip Schumaker
for his 0-4 day. You don't often see 0 in the hit column for Skip lately.
The Cards start this series with Cincinnati just a 1/2 game behind the Cubs, making that loss on Friday (after the Cubs had already lost as well) very costly. Tonight, Brandon Arroyo and Todd Wellemeyer meet up as the other two contenders in the NL Central, the Cubs and Brewers, clash. A win tonight could move the Cards back into the penthouse.Some mixed results
for the Cardinals against Arroyo. For instance, Pujols has a .233 average against him, but does have two home runs. Chris Duncan should be in the lineup tonight, since he's hitting .316 with a long ball against Arroyo. Izturis and Ludwick both have good numbers in limited action against the pitcher, so expect Izturis to return from his injury tonight.
The Reds haven't done well
against Wellemeyer, though only Adam Dunn has more than 10 plate appearances against him. Scott Hatteburg and Edwin Encarnacion combine for five of the nine hits the Reds have managed against the Cardinal hurler.
Programming note: There's been a change in the lineup of the UCB Game Blogging Project. CardinalsGM
is going to take the fourth instead of this blog. Instead, I'm going to have the pre-game and post-game post. Tom's done a lot of the UCB activities in the past and it's great to have him on board for this one as well.
The CardsClubhouse preview will be up later today, and there's still time to get into the Reds YNOT
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