Game Observations - March 20

Cardinals (split squad) 4 @ Tigers 8 and Cardinals 2 @ Braves 1

With the split squad game Sunday, I chose the Fox Sports Detroit television broadcast from Lakeland. Chris Carpenter took the mound, having given up just one run in 11 innings. That changed on this day.

The Cardinals lineup included three regulars, three projected backups and three projected minor leaguers, including two who had already been sent down, one formally (Skip Schumaker) and one informally (Rick Ankiel).

Nunez, Cedeno (RF), Edmonds, Rolen, Mabry (1B), Luna (SS), Ankiel (DH), Molina and Schumaker (LF).

Umps spread thin, too
With all the split squad games, there were only three umpires presiding over Sunday's contest.

Looking sharp, looking back
Against another team with traditional uniforms, the Detroit Tigers, the Cardinals looked perfect in their road grays and red caps. It was almost like being transported back to 1968.

Moon man stays on
Mike Shannon agreed to a contract extension that will keep him calling Cardinals radio through 2006.

Sanders out of hospital
Reggie Sanders has been released from the hospital and stopped by the Jupiter complex. There is no firm schedule for his return to the field.

Upcoming match-ups
Against the Braves Monday, Jason Marquis will start. Eldred, Myers, Pulsipher, Izzy and File should be available. The Braves will start John Smoltz.

Tuesday will be an off-day for the Cardinals.

On Wednesday night, Matt Morris opposes Kris Benson of the Mets. Catch that game on Fox Sports Net Midwest (and KMOX).

On to the game…

Starting off right
Against Jason Johnson, Nunez led off the game with a single and took second on an error by Craig Monroe in center. Edmonds easily plated Nunez with a double to left. Cards 1-0.

Luna jittery
Luna muffed a routine grounder by Omar Infante to lead off the home first. He didn't square up well on the ball, dropping it and making it worse by throwing late and far wide of first. Coach Joe Pettini could have used a glove. Nunez bailed Luna out by starting a 4-6-3 twin killing. Luna looked fine on the turn.

Luna threat
Luna led off the second with a bloop single to right. A pitch after almost getting picked off by Pudge Rodriguez, Luna stole second without a throw. Ankiel fanned looking. Luna took third as third baseman Dean Palmer bounced a throw to first, allowing Molina to reach. Schumaker fanned looking on three pitches and Nunez dribbled to the pitcher.

Tigers back
Dmitri Young singled to right with one out in the second. After fanning Rondell White, Carpenter balked Young to second. Young scored as Monroe slammed a stand-up triple over Edmonds' head in deep center. Tie 1-1.

Three in third
In the third, Rolen walked and was singled to third by Mabry. It was first and third with two out when Luna singled up the middle, bringing Rolen home. After completely missing two pitches, Ankiel hit a ball with home run depth, but it went just foul of the pole in right. After fouling off a few more, Ankiel worked a free pass. Molina plated two more with a single. Cards 4-1.

Tigers hunt Carp
In the home third, nine men came to the plate. Omar Infante singled and Carlos Guillen doubled him home. Rodriguez quickly singled Guillen in. Pudge took third on a sharp hit by Magglio Ordonez off Nunez' glove. Dmitri Young stroked an RBI single to tie the game. Five consecutive Detroit hits with no out before Rondell White walked to load the bases. Another run scored before Edmonds nailed Young at home with a good throw to Molina. Tigers 5-4.

Threat quashed
In the fourth, Edmonds stroked a two-out double the other way to deep left. But, Fernando Rodney fanned Rolen to end the frame.

The "other" Reyes runs out of gas
Al Reyes spun a 1-2-3 fourth and got the first two in the fifth, including a 11-pitch at-bat against former Cardinal Dmitri Young. He then walked two straight, as the Tigers were laying off his breaking ball, moving away from the right-handed hitters. After walking the leadoff man in the sixth, his third inning, Reyes was visibly upset. That is a bit surprising coming from a veteran. Omar Infante followed with a two-run jack to left on a hanging breaking ball. At that point, Tony La Russa made his first appearance of the day to remove Reyes in favor of Carmen Cali. Tigers 7-4.

Cali cleanup
Cali covered the rest of the sixth and seventh without incident, a good showing after having struggled a bit lately.

Another pair of threats dulled
Rolen singled to lead off the seventh off St. Louis native and resident Steve Colyer. Pinch-hitter Wilton Guerrero reached on an error. But, Ankiel fanned for the tenth Cardinals whiff of the day and the next hitter was thrown out at first to end the frame. Schumaker and Guerrero worked walks off Colyer to open the eighth. But, a pop out sandwiched between two ground outs ended the inning.

Luna not helping Wainwright
Adam Wainwright came in to pitch the eighth. His first batter reached on the second fielding error of the day by now third baseman Hector Luna. Luna had better start packing for Memphis. Wainwright dropped a beautiful curve in to fan Bobby Higginson, however the next two hitters singled. The latter one drove home a run. Tigers 8-4.

Percy punishes
New Tigers closer Troy Percival put the Cards away in order in the ninth to end it.

Braves report
After the game, I'll also provide a report from the other split squad game against the Braves at Disney's Orlando complex, which was also the KMOX Sunday broadcast. Anthony Reyes got the start, having fanned eight in 7-1/3 innings coming in.

Anthony Reyes stars with bat and glove
In the other split squad game Sunday, the Cardinals defeated the Braves 2-1, as Anthony Reyes slammed a two-run home run to left field in the top of the fifth inning and pitched four shutout innings. However, the high-socked #79 was in trouble often, giving up six hits, a walk and a hit batter.

Larry Walker made a nice running basket catch up against the right field wall and the Cards' double play combo continued to look good. The run came off Randy Flores in the seventh. Julian Tavarez closed out and got the save, as the final out was a grounder from short to first baseman Chris Duncan.

Cardinals line: 2-9-0. Braves 1-9-0.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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