Posted on October 5, 2011 at 6:44 AM
Filed Under: Philadelphia Phillies
| St. Louis Cardinals
The beginning of October, I always have a bank audit to do for my real job. (If only blogging paid the bills!) It's a two-hour drive, so I'm out of the house before dawn and back not much before dark, with kids to see and things to do before getting to bed earlier than normal to make sure I don't snooze on the next day's drive.
Sometimes, that's not a huge deal. If the Cards miss the playoffs, as they have three of now-five postseasons since I've started blogging, it's not like I'm missing much. However, when they make it like this year, it leaves me behind the eight ball.
Which is a long winded way of saying I wish I could be writing about these games and probably will try to look back on them this weekend if I can get a chance. However, I have a couple of minutes this morning before I head out of town and I want to talk about a point in yesterday's game that could have been the turning point of the whole series.
A lot of focus
is being put on the seventh-inning intentional walk of Carlos Ruiz
, and with good reason. I listened to most of the game driving back in my car yesterday afternoon and I was talking to the radio much of the drive, but especially then. I know there was sound baseball logic to it--Ruiz was probably more likely than a pinch-hitter to get a base hit that would have driven in Shane Victorino
from second. It sets up a force play as well and gets Cole Hamels
out of the game (though at 117 pitches, he probably was out anyway).
So I understand why Tony La Russa made the call. I just know that so often times, that kinda thing backfires. He got away with it earlier by walking Hunter Pence
to get to Ryan Howard
, which I thought was a gutsy but smart move with the way Howard had looked against Jaime Garcia
(and his typical struggles against lefthanders). I just wasn't sure that he could get away with it again and, sure enough, Ben Francisco
put one over the wall.
However, that might not have been the turning point of the game.
I wasn't on Twitter at the time and I've not had a lot of time to look at our intrepid Cardinal bloggers, but I'm not sure a lot of discussion is going on about the bottom of the sixth. After two strikeouts, Ryan Theriot
singles and they wind up walking Jon Jay
with Garcia up next. Two on, two out against Hamels, who really seemed to be laboring from what I was hearing on the radio.
Now, I know Garcia was pitching a strong game up to that point. That said, it's October. Don't you have to take a better shot there than letting Garcia hit?
You've got a rested bullpen for the last three innings, allowing you to mix and match however you want. Garcia had just gotten past Howard after walking Pence, so you aren't going to have him come back up and you are looking at 5-6-7, which is less formidable than 2-3-4. A base hit here gives you the lead, which would have been huge in a 0-0 game.
If this was April's bullpen, I'd have understood the move more. You wanted to keep that bullpen off the field as much as possible. Now, though, the pen is a strength, or at least not a weakness. You'd feel pretty confident with those guys and a one-run lead, also figuring that the bullpen moves for Philadelphia might be different if they are behind than if they are ahead and you can likely hit them better than you have Hamels anyway.
Cards have their backs against the wall today, sending Edwin Jackson
out against Roy Oswalt
. Oswalt's been tough on the Cardinals in the past, but after facing the other three Philadelphia pitchers, I feel pretty good about the Cardinals' ability to put good at-bats together and score a few runs off of him. This will be Jackson's first postseason start, though, so I'm a bit concerned with how his game is going to go. You have to figure he'll be yanked at the first sign of trouble because of the import of the game.
No matter the outcome of today's game, it's been a good series. That said, be nice to see Roy Halladay
vs. Chris Carpenter
in a Game 5, wouldn't it?
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