If you had told me prior to tonight’s game that the Cardinals would back Carp with 8 runs, I would have breathed a sigh of relief. A pitcher that has notoriously been under run-supported would finally be vindicated. His 0-1 record so far this year is terribly unfair for how he has pitched.
And yet? 8 runs would not be enough and Carp would be chased after 4 innings giving up 8 earned runs on 8 hits and 3 walks. It was a very un-Carpenter like performance. Last year, he gave up 6 or more earned runs only twice. And the last time he gave up at least 8 earned runs? I had to go all the way back to September 23rd of 2005. In fact 8 earned runs is a typical months worth of starts for Carp.
Hopefully, this is a fluke and he’s still right and will come back to his normal self next game. And speaking of flukes, Pujols started to show signs of breaking out of his early season slump. He went 3 for 5, although he’s yet to find his power stroke. His swing still looked very awkward on his first hit and it was just as much luck as anything. But as the game progressed, he started looking better at the plate. If that continues, expect him to have a multiple home run game in the near future.
Aside from the Cardinal loss, this was a great game. It had everything. And I really do mean EVERYTHING. 4 Cardinals had home runs, 5 had RBIs, 3 with 2 outs. 3 separate D-backs had home runs as well. Pitcher Bryan Augenstein recorded his first Major League hit immediately after giving up a 4 run inning and then left with a groin injury. We even had a heated ball cap to cap argument between the home plate ump and D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, leading to the ejection of Gibson. The only thing this game was missing was an inning-ending pick-off by Yadi.
It was really a great game, but it’s hard to enjoy when your team still ends up in the loss column. The main positive is that the offense continues to roll. So I have to feel that we will be winning more than we will be losing as long as the pitching staff continues their overall success.
Rubber match is tomorrow,
So I have decided that the Cardinals are trying to kill me. There is no other explanation for today’s game. And it nearly worked.
They started their first road trip of the season tonight by traveling to San Fran and taking on the reigning World Series champs. The first 8 innings were typical Cardinal baseball of late. Scratch together a hit here or there, plate a runner or two, but fall just short of victory.
And then the 9th inning happened.
In the bottom of the ninth, the first two Redbirds went down quietly to bring Yadier Molina to the plate. And that’s where the fun began. Down to his last strike, Yadi drew a walk. Newcomer Daniel Descalso (who I hope keeps his blog going) somehow magically beat out a dribbler and Jon Jay was just barely grazed by a pitch. Things suddenly had gone from bad to interesting.
It was now the top of the order and the weight of the world had landed on the shoulders of Ryan Theriot. I looked at the TV (as I’ve previously stated, I do talk to players during the game) and said, “Ok Theriot, if you want Cardinal Nation to love you….here’s your opportunity.” He must have heard me because after working the count full and fighting off what seemed like a million foul balls, he hit a single between third and short, plating two Redbirds and giving the Cardinals their first lead of the game.
At that point, I was hoping they’d score a few more because then maybe Franklin wouldn’t be brought in to pitch the 9th if it wasn’t a save situation. No such luck. Rasmus walked and the still cold Pujols flied out to end the inning.
I was at my folks house during the game and my exact words to my mom prior to Franklin starting the 9th were… “You know his MO is to get two quick outs before he walks the bases loaded.” Though that wasn’t 100% accurate, it was pretty darn close. Franklin did get two quick ground outs before the bottom fell out. Aaron Rowand singled, then moved up with a wild pitch by Franklin. He walked Posey and Pablo Sandoval proceeded to tie the game with a base hit.
On to extras.
It was really bad at this point because the Cardinals had no one left on their bench, except for Holliday who hasn’t been cleared to play. This is normally a spot for someone like Adam Wainwright, but he is, of course, out this year. So Kyle Loshe got the nod to pinch hit. Nothing really interesting happened until the bottom of the 11th.
Bryan Augenstein then pitched some of the most nerve wrecking baseball I have ever seen in my life. He gave up a leadoff double to start the inning and it seemed all was lost. If you have a runner in scoring position with no outs, it seems pretty safe to say you will be able to score him. However, he then delivered some of the most important strikes of his career to strike out Freddy Sanchez. Rowand again is trouble when he rips a ball to what looks like will go down the left field line. But the Cardinals are playing with 5 infielders at this point and Allen Craig makes an incredible play to stop the ball and get Rowand into a rundown. He gets tagged out and two batters later we are out of the inning. Major props to Augenstein and Craig for that inning.
In the 12th the Cardinals were sat down 1-2-3. In the Giants half, it was the last Cardinal reliever in Brian Tallet. He struck out the leadoff man to bring up Miguel Tejada who singled to left. A double play would have ended the inning and I thought we had one. It was Pujols to Theriot and back to Pujols. Tejada was out at 2nd, but they called the other runner safe at first. Even with replays I really thought he was out. The inning would have been over with the next batter anyway, except when Tallet tossed the ball to Pujols, he somehow missed it which allowed everyone to be safe.
What happened next I had a bad feeling about as it was happening, although I don’t disagree with LaRussa’s decision. There were runners on 2nd and 3rd, so Tallet intentionally put on Freddy Sanchez to get to Aaron Rowand. With 1st base open it’s pretty much a rule that you put on the next hitter.
The only problem was that from the moment he entered the game, Rowand seemed to have the Cardinals number. He was 2 for 3 and his only out was almost the game winner and would have been if it wasn’t for Craig’s stellar play to the plate. This time he made sure to get the job done, however, as scorched the ball to the warning track.
The Reds are getting killed right now, but it’s the same problem as September of last year. It doesn’t matter how much they lose, if we can’t win and take advantage of it. I do like that the Cardinals did not just roll over and play dead when down to their final strike. But it’s still frustrating that they can’t seem to get that big hit that puts the game away for good.