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Taking Advantage

Posted on June 24, 2009 at 8:12 AM
Filed Under: Heroes and Goats | New York Mets | St. Louis Cardinals
You know, when the total active roster of the New York Mets has just one more home run than Albert Pujols has by himself, games like last night should be the rule, not the exception.

No matter who was on the field, though, Joel Pineiro did a masterful job on the mound.  Getting 23 of 27 outs on the ground (when you count the double play) is incredible.  Pineiro has really stepped up this year by throwing that sinker more often.  The comment was made at VEB, I believe, how Pineiro and Todd Wellemeyer have kinda switched places this year.  It's a good thing someone has stepped up to cover Wellemeyer's failings!

Kudos again to Albert Pujols as well.  You have to wonder what Livan Hernandez was thinking walking Chris Duncan on five pitches with runners at second and third with just one out.  I know that AP grounded into a key double play in Monday night's game, but do you really want to count on that happening again, especially with his success with the bases loaded this season?  Hernandez is probably lucky it was just a hard single that scored two.

That said, what the heck was Joe Thurston and then Albert thinking after that?  Two on with one out and Ryan Ludwick, who followed AP in the lineup, never gets to actually hit.  I really don't know what Thurston was doing, though he almost caught a break with both the shortstop and second baseman covering.  If they'd have run into each other, he might have made it back.

As soon as he was picked off, I said, "Now Albert's going to have to steal second."  He gave it his best try and if Hernandez had actually gone to the plate, it'd have been a heck of a jump.  Being that he didn't, though, it was pretty easy to throw to second and catch him.

The Goat of the game is probably Ludwick, who went 0 for 4 and left five men on base, not counting the two baserunning blunders mentioned above.  Striking out after Hernandez had intentionally walked Pujols won't give Albert more pitches to hit for the most part.  It wasn't necessarily a bad at-bat, but getting something there, even a fly ball, would have been helpful.

Off the field, Troy Glaus has popped up in the news again.  The story goes that he's starting to get some hitting in, but he still can't throw.  Being that the Cardinals are a National League team with a fairly tolerable first baseman, that doesn't leave him a lot of options with the club, leading to some trade speculation.  I'd think, though, he'd have to be back playing first in the minors on a rehab assignment around the All-Star Break for the Cards to have a legitimate chance of moving him, something I don't expect will happen.  He may wind up as an expensive bench guy and caddy for Pujols.

In better injury news, Kyle Lohse threw a bullpen session and the biggest complaint was not his arm, but his command.  Sounds like a step forward to me.  I would hope/expect that this time, the Cardinals would see fit to have their injured player get a rehab start or so in the minors, so seeing him before the All-Star Game would be pretty surprising.

Yesterday, Mike from Stan Musial's Stance had a great interview with Hall of Fame reliever Bruce Sutter.  In fact, we thought the UCB was breaking some news when Sutter mentioned that he and the other living Cardinal Hall of Famers were throwing out the first pitch at the game.  However, as if to spite us, the news then comes out that President Obama is apparently going to have the honor.  I guess they may have a couple of different "first pitches", I don't know.  I'm sure that's something we'll talk about on tonight's regular UCB Radio Hour.

Speaking of internet radio shows, if you are interested in listening in I talked about the Cardinals and the upcoming series with's weekly podcast last night.  It was good to talk to some fans of another team and Seth will return the favor tonight on our show.  And while I'm self-promoting, you can read my June recap up now at Baseball Reflections.

Tonight, the Cardinals throw Brad Thompson while the Mets counter with Fernando Nieve.  Thompson has been pretty solid since joining the rotation, much to my surprise, and is making a bid to keep his spot there even when Lohse returns.  Historically, the Mets have done pretty well against Thompson, but with their depleted lineup, I would think he could limit the damage and keep the team in the game.

Nieve is basically a blank slate to the Cards, as it looks like he's pitched an inning against them in his career.  He's only made two starts this season, though he's been very impressive in both.

Should be a good game, a game the Cards really would like to win.  Having the series split guaranteed before heading into the stellar Chris Carpenter vs. Johan Santana matchup Thursday afternoon would make for a good road trip.

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Continuing with my latest rant. Why the heck is Pujols allowed to run? Every time he does that he is showing up the rest of the guys behind him in the batting order and taking a chance of getting hurt. Besides, long term, since the out is so much worse than the gain of one base, stealing bases doesn't help very much at all.

So, since TLR and AP are both smart baseball men, I can only presume they are trying to force the FO hand to get more offensive help. AP should wear a large sign between his large shoulders, "will do anything to win", and then have it nailed to his locker while he is in rehab.

I don't know about that. For one thing, he's 9 of 12 in the SB department this year, with that third CS coming last night. He's done it before--was 16 of 18 in 2005, a pretty good year for him--and sometimes relying on two hits is a dangerous thing, especially, as you say, with this lineup.

I do think AP will do whatever it takes to win. I think sometimes he thinks differently than TLR (I don't think TLR wanted him to go yesterday) but he does what he can do and, more often than not, he is successful at it.

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