Game Observations – March 23

In-game reports from Wednesday night's contest.

What a treat! The first FSN Midwest telecast of the season. Old friends Dan McLaughlin and Al Hrabosky are back for their seventh season together. I am really glad they are here. It always gives me something else to write about.

Lineup
Eckstein, Walker, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Mabry, Grudzielanek, Molina, Morris.

Upcoming starters
Thursday vs. Washington – Mark Mulder
Friday vs. Detroit (split squad) – Jeff Suppan
Friday at Dodgers (split squad) – Chris Carpenter
Saturday at Houston – Anthony Reyes
Sunday vs. Florida – Jason Marquis

Keystone hotties
Mark Grudzielanek has reached base in 12 consecutive contests and came into the game hitting .355 on the spring. David Eckstein has reached in 12 of 14 spring tilts.

Hungo's first word expected
It was "Absolutely." Count the number of times that Hungo says this as his initial on-air comment this season. I am betting on 112.

Dan and Hungo half-partners?
As they closed their initial segment, Dan said to Hungo, "Ready to go, partner?" To which Hungo replied, "Ready to go, Dan." It doesn't look as odd in print as it sounded live.

Benson and Glavine
Am I the only one who thinks Wednesday night's Mets starter Kris Benson looks like another Mets starter, Tom Glavine?

Pitching still tops
Despite losing seven of their last 11 games coming in, the Cardinals still lead all Grapefruit league teams with a 3.81 ERA.

Pujols K-less
In 39 at-bats prior to tonight, Albert Pujols was hitting "only" .343 with a slugging percentage of .743 and has yet to strike out. However, he got a break on his first at-bat of the night as Benson dropped in a breaking ball that looked like strike three.

Polanco had a chance
According to this story in the Bucks County Courier Times, Placido Polanco's former agents did not tell him the Cardinals allegedly made a three year, $12 million contract offer last winter. story link

Pujols in Men's Health
Good story on Albert's training regimen. story link

On to the game…

Fast start
Jose Reyes belted a stand-up triple to center to lead off the game and scored on a bloop single to left by Carlos Beltran. Morris fanned Cliff Floyd looking on a very nice curve. Mets 1-0.

Back just as quick
Albert singled with two out in the bottom of the first and was followed by a Rolen walk. Edmonds singled Albert home to tie the game. Benson had to throw about 30 pitches in this first inning as the Cards hitters showed their patience. Tie 1-1.

My first disagreement of the year with Hungo
On Rolen: "He has to work a lot harder than Albert."

Triple K for Mo
Doug Mientkiewicz singled to start the second inning and easily stole second base. Morris then fanned the #7 and #8 hitters before walking Benson. He ended it with another whiff, of Reyes this time.

Rough third for Carlos
Eckstein doubled down the third base line starting the home third. All-Money Team captain Carlos Beltran dropped a Pujols fly to deep center. The error placed runners on the corners. Eck slid home to the first base side of the plate after tagging up on a fly to short center by Rolen. Cards 2-1.

Wild fourth
Ray King made just his third appearance of the spring as he walked his leadoff man in the fourth. On a likely double play, Eckstein dropped a very catchable throw from King at second. The inning ended with a strikeout and a pickoff off first base. Dan and Al missed the third out, but it's their first game, right?

Cal comes in
Cal Eldred pitched the fifth and Einar Diaz joined him behind the plate. Rain began to fall. Eldred was beaten up by the Mets on the 12th, giving up two runs in two innings, taking the loss. He's thrown two shutout innings since. Reyes doubled with one out and took third on a ground out. Beltran hit a foul ball with home run depth over the berm in right and over the TV truck in the parking lot before Cal fanned him to end the frame.

Groodz vs. Grudz
The proper pronunciation of the Cards' new second baseman's last name remains in play. Dan and Al say "groods-zuh-LAN-neck". I say "grud-zuh-LAH-neck". Wayne Hagin came up to me last week and asked me if it wasn't the latter. When I agreed, Wayne said he would make sure to pronounce it properly on the radio. Since then, I verified in the Media Guide that Wayne and I are right. Dan and Al need to get with it!

Flores not in bloom
Randy Flores pitched the sixth. Nunez took over at short. Taguchi came in to play left as Mabry moved to first. Cedeno took over in right. David Wright doubled off the right center field wall and scored on a single to right by Eric Valent, who was picked off first base to end the frame. Tie 2-2.

Jarvis sharp
Kevin Jarvis took the mound in the seventh and came out throwing strikes. In the drizzle, Jarvis retired his men 1-2-3. John Gall had taken over in left.

Cali sharp, too
Carmen Cali took over in the eighth and fanned two of three. He looked very good in going so.

Rolen and Luna take lead
In the home eighth, John Gall looked at one pitch as he ground out sharply to third. Rolen doubled off the base of the center field wall. Pinch-hitter Hector Luna singled him in and took second on the throw home from center. Cards 3-2.

Julian fine
Julian Tavarez pitched the ninth and ended the game without incident. Bo Hart got some limited time at second, including throwing out former teammate Kerry Robinson.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net


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