Lots of stuff floating around today, as the Cards made some moves on the field and off of them. Let's hit the game first, followed by the cavalry.
Sometimes I think Kyle Lohse just shouldn't be allowed to pitch against the Cubs. I've noted before that he seems to get beat around by them in our UCB Progressive Game Blog days. Today wasn't much different, at least to start with. The error by Daniel Descalso to start the game didn't help, of course, save that it kept Lohse from getting any earned runs. We pointed out that Alfonso Soriano had done well against him in the past and that showed again today with the big three-run bomb.
Something funny happened on the way to that rout, though. Lohse settled down and kept the Cubs off the scoreboard while the Cardinal bats started to come alive. They got two quick ones back, then they blew up in the fifth.
Which is why I'm giving the Hero tag to Matt Holliday for his takeout slide at second, knocking Starlin Castro not only to his knees, but also rattling him enough that an extra run scored on the play. Watching it live, I thought it was a perfectly clean slide, aggressive to be sure, but clean. He didn't go out of the baseline, going straight to second base with his hands going over it after the slide. He dropped down late, sure, and threw his legs out, but that's the way you are taught to go into second, isn't it? He didn't chase Castro down to get in his way.
Everything went south from there for the Cubs and the Cards put on a trouncing. A win tomorrow and they can have that 5-2 homestand that I thought was the minimum they had to do against the Astros and Cubs.
Other positives: Being that his job was in jeopardy (and more on that in a bit) it was good to see Ryan Theriot 1) start at second base (where he should have been all year) and 2) get a couple of big hits in his 4-5 day. He looked a lot better and could be on the rebound after his terrible stretch. That said, if he plans to play he better get happy at second.
Also, Albert Pujols went 2-4 with a home run. I can take days like that, can't you?
Lohse's line was pretty good all the way around. For the second straight start, though, he had to be pinch-hit for in the fifth with a great scoring opportunity. This time, Tony Cruz came through and kept the inning going and the runs flowing. It'd still be nice to see if Lohse could keep his good starts past the fifth, though.
Not sure why Tony La Russa feels the need to throw Octavio Dotel every single day. He's gone three in a row, which should mean he's unavailable tomorrow night. As long as we get him ready for Milwaukee, though, that'll be OK. Bullpen all around was solid with Lance Lynn and Fernando Salas also throwing scoreless and efficient frames.
Looking for a Goat and I guess it has to be Daniel Descalso. No hits, two strikeouts and that error in the first. Did score a run after an intentional walk, though, so it wasn't completely wasted, just not that good in comparison to pretty much everyone else.
Then, late tonight, the Cards finalized a deal with the Dodgers that is sending Rafael Furcal here to lead off and play shortstop. Like I said this morning, it looks like he's got a good case for a rebound and has been hitting much better of late. He should be able to catch what comes to him and give the team a bit of a different look in the leadoff slot. Apparently the cost was pretty cheap--a minor league outfielder not on the 40-man roster (name still not identified, though it's been confirmed it's not Thomas Pham) and the Dodgers are even kicking in some cash.
I like the deal. Seems like it's a low-risk way to improve a pretty glaring hole. At worst, it's a Mark DeRosa-type deal with less of a cost in players. (Much less of a cost in players!) At best, it revitalizes the top of the lineup and gives another dimension to this offense. It looks like Furcal should make it to St. Louis in time for tomorrow night's game against the Cubs, so we won't have to wait long to see what he can do in Cardinal red.
According to the rumor mill, the Cards are still in the picture for Heath Bell as well. I'm not so excited about that, due to Bell's declining production and the fact that the bullpen has already been made over. Texas looked like the sure-fire winner in that derby, though, but they traded for Koji Uehara and are reportedly not close to any other deal. If that's true, San Diego might have to drop their asking price and maybe the Cards could meet it. Then again, it seems just as likely that the Padres would keep Bell and get the two picks when he walks in the offseason, but sometimes getting sure things is better than the gambles two picks could be. I don't think the Cards will do it, but you never know.
All of this activity this week has reminded me of the 2000 trading deadline. I think that might have been the first time the deadline was moved to 3 PM Central rather than 11 PM. Anyway, I remember being at work monitoring the deals and it seemed like Walt Jocketty was making a ton of them. First Will Clark, then Carlos Hernandez. Seems like there was at least one other move as well. It's always fun to see the Cardinals not only tied to rumors but actively doing some work as well. Even if they are done, it's been a fun week and will give Bill and I plenty to talk about on tomorrow's Gateway to Baseball Heaven.
Let's preview the Sunday night ESPN game. Jake Westbrook tries to keep his current run going. What's he done against the Cubbies in the past?
I hate to mention it, seeing as how pointing out Soriano's numbers this morning didn't work out well, but Carlos Pena has owned Westbrook. I didn't know it was possible for Pena to hit anyone for a high average, but he's done it against Westbrook. Some intentional walks may be in order.
It'd be really nice if Lance Berkman could get back out there for this one. He and Pujols have done quite well against the Cubbie pitcher. Then again, looks like a lot of the team has, which is funny, because I had it in my head Dempster gave the Cardinals some trouble.
Break out the brooms and get out the welcome mat, tomorrow night should be a lot of fun!
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
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ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball