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Razor Thin Margins

Posted on September 21, 2009 at 9:48 AM
Filed Under: Chicago Cubs | Heroes and Goats | Houston Astros | St. Louis Cardinals
If Ryan Ludwick hits a fly ball, the Cards would have won three straight games against the Cubs in the ninth inning.  What a weekend series, huh?  Let's recap:

Friday (3-2 win)
Hero: Matt Holliday.  Walk-offs in your first game in the Cards/Cubs rivalry will do that.
Goat: Albert Pujols.  Don't expect the only guy that's hitless to be him, but there you have it.
Notes: John Smoltz had his second straight rough beginning to a game, then settled in.  However, when this offense isn't clicking, you really run a risk by putting them in a hole.  They can come back, but there's no guarantee that they will.  Plus, does that bode ill for Smoltz coming out of the pen in the playoffs, if he does?....Nice to see a sharp Kyle McClellan.  Having him on track could be a huge thing, especially if Ryan Franklin continues to stumble.

Saturday (2-1 win)
Hero: Brendan Ryan.  Even if he got an assist on his home run, he still drove in the only two runs of the game with three hits.
Goat: Ryan Franklin.  Before his first pitch, I was really thinking Tony LaRussa needed to leave in Chris Carpenter.  Carp threw 101 pitches and wasn't showing signs of tiring.  I'd have rather had him start the inning, at least, before moving to Franklin.  And for his blown save and ruination of Carp's great day, he gets the win.  Baseball's not always just.  LaRussa's not worried about him yet, but I'm not nearly as confident in him as I was just a month ago.
Notes: Carpenter was dealing.  Getting that win might have bumped him to the front of the Cy Young race, though there's no doubt the outing as a whole helped a lot....when your #2 and #3 hitters don't get a hit, you know it's going to be a low-scoring game.  Ryan Dempster was on almost as much as Carpenter was, which made for a memorable game.

Sunday (6-3 loss in 11)

Hero: Adam Wainwright.  If he'd gotten a better turn on the double play, he might have left the game with it tied.  Just looking at some of the games he has lost this season, with some decent run support in those games, he'd already have 20 locked up.  Another special outing that shows why you can't necessarily name the "ace" of the Cardinal staff.
Goat: Mitchell Boggs.  I hate to give it to him because the game never should have gotten there, but not only does he give up the winning home run, but puts more runners on after that.
Notes: If anyone really should get the Goat, it's Tony LaRussa.  Bunting Mark DeRosa in the ninth inning just didn't make sense on any level.  If he's successful, then they walk Pujols.  Even if he hits into a DP, that means Pujols bats.  Take your chances, see if you can't put another runner on or even put runners on the corners with nobody out.  (They'd have still walked AP, but at least then even a DP--unless it goes home--would score the winning run.)  When you have such a weapon as Pujols, you want to make sure he hits in a situation like that.  Don't give the other team a reason to take the bat out of his hands.

You can argue about that play in the ninth all day, though.  I don't know how much of a comparison you can make to the one in the sixth when the Cubs forced Brendan Ryan to throw the ball away trying to turn two.  (He should have eaten it and not done a double pump.)  I don't know if the Cub runner was as far out as Holliday was in the ninth or not.   After watching Ludwick scramble to the base after Derek Lee missed the tag, though, it was pretty heart-rending to have that kind of call decide the game.  But if it's the rules, it's the rules, and you can't argue, in my mind, terribly much about it.  It was preordained, anyway, since the ESPN guys had just finished talking about how Ludwick had the highest fly ball to ground ball ratio in the bigs.  After that, how could he NOT hit a grounder?

Coming out of the weekend, though, the Cards are still within 4 games of clinching the division.  While it was nice to think, briefly, that it was at 2, winning two out of three against Chicago is a good thing, especially with the solid pitching they faced this weekend.  It's not the ideal result, surely, and it'd been nice to see them score a bit more often, but you can take it and like it.

After working on my Top 7 prospects for Friday and getting them published, the news comes out that Wagner Mateo has some sort of vision problem and it could be to the point that he'll never play for anyone.  You can read the Future Redbirds discussion on this over here, but you have to feel pretty bad for Mateo if it is true and it is a degenerative condition.  Having vision problems at 16?  And having a dream (and a possible fortune) taken away at the same time?  That'd be pretty bad for anyone, especially someone in this situation.

Cardinals head down to Houston tonight, with the chance to clinch while they are down there.  (The Cubs get to go to their home away from home in Milwaukee, but the Brew Crew did just beat them twice last week.)  Kyle Lohse continues to try to show that he can do something for this team.  Lohse has had a season to forget, especially on the injury front, but he still has time to look sharp and take that fourth starter role.  He's had reasonable success in the past against the Houston hitters, but if he's not on the top of his game this one could be out of control fast.

Not only because of Lohse, of course, but because the Cardinals get the rare good fortune of facing Wandy Rodriguez.  On the list of Cardinal killers, Rodriguez is right up there.  After Pujols belted a home run of Jeff Suppan the last time the Cards were in Milwaukee, Rodriguez moved to the active leader in most ABs against AP without El Hombre going yard.  Heck, it was just his last game against Wandy that Pujols finally got an extra-base hit off of the guy.  If Lohse doesn't have it early, this could be a long night.

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

Sorry Dan - Sunday's goat should be Ryan Ludwick. Bases loaded, 1 out, everyone in, and you ground into a DP? Boggs doesn't get a chance to throw the gopher ball if Ludwick does his job at the plate.

I wouldn't argue that too much, though you do have to give him credit for getting to first and avoiding Lee's tag. If the ump decides not to call Holliday for interference, that could have been the difference in the game.

But, yeah, looking back at the box score as well, Ludwick should have been the call there. You are right, Boggs was in my head because he didn't just give up one, he really put the game out of reach.

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2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
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Jon Jay (6)
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2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
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Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
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Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
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Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
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Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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