In the first minute of the telecast, Hungo had the cliché machine working at maximum efficiency. Jeff Suppan is "an innings-eater". He keeps "them in the game" and "gives his club a chance to win". But Hungo's best line was when he pointed out Suppan's "nemis is Jim Thome".
From the beginning, I knew it would be ugly. Lofton reached, the ball bounced off Suppan, then Sanders misjudged a fly ball. Before the fans were in their seats, the Cards were behind, never to catch up. What more is there to say?
A bright spot
I will say, however, that despite what the box score says, Randy Flores pitched well. He would have escaped his third inning, the eighth, until Einar Diaz dropped strike three against Jim Thome. Interestingly, it was scored a wild pitch. Pat Burrell followed with a three-run home run, extending the 7-1 lead to 10-1.
On to Sunday…
I could have watched the game live, but it was a nice day, so I decided to do yard work instead. I also had a bad feeling about how the first week's lethargic play would continue. By the time I turned on the VCR after dinner, I knew the outcome. Yet, like slowing down on the highway when there is a car accident, I had to see it. It wasn't pretty.
Five Cardinals Hall of Famers were the first to receive rings before Sunday's game and were supposed to help hand out rings to the 2004 National League Champions. This squad was the 16th Cardinals champions in history, third to the Dodgers (18) and Giants (17). Actually Walt Jocketty and Bill DeWitt passed the rings out, enclosed in a wooden case with a glass front. First the coaches, then the players received their rings, then filed by the HoFers for handshakes. Sadly, the stands were half-empty at the time. The Hall of Famers were the usual suspects – Stan, Red, Gibby, Lou and Ozzie.
Roger Cedeno and Abraham Nunez each received their first starts of the season in left field and second base, respectively. They hit sixth and seventh ahead of Molina. Sadly, they had one-third of the team's six hits, including a meaningless home run in the eighth by Nunez.
Rollins first-pitch singled and scored on an Abreu double over Edmonds' head and again, the Cards were behind in the first inning. Pat Burrell slammed a pitch into the visitors' bullpen at a distance of 395 feet for a 5-0 lead in the third inning. I am ready to hit fast-forward on the VCR.
By the time Carpenter departed after getting just ten outs, his team was behind 8-0. He gave up ten hits and two walks in 80 pitches, barely half of which were strikes. The offense did not have a hit against Jon Lieber to that point. Ugly.
Sunday's silver lining
Al Reyes fanned five of the six men he faced in the fourth and fifth.
Tavarez and Edmonds torched
Julian Tavarez continued his perplexing pitching. He gave up three in the seventh, allowing the Phils to move into double-digit runs for the second consecutive day. After allowing two hits, he plunked Mike Lieberthal with a pitch and Tomas Perez' single got under Edmonds' glove, allowing the third run. Even with one run unearned, Tavarez' season ERA stands at 19.29.
Way too little way too late
Alber Pujols' home run with one out in the seventh was the second Cardinals hit of the day.
Big bats silent
In case there's any doubt about where the problem is with the offense, after the first week of the season, Pujols is hitting .250, while Rolen and Edmonds are batting just .200.
No lights out for Generation K
Bill Pulsipher again allowed one of his two runners to reach before leaving the game likely due to his sore toe. Same kind of result with Izzy, who followed him in the eighth – two outs and two baserunners.
The Cards fans still in their seats in the eighth urged So Taguchi into a curtain call following his home run. Sorry, but that was totally ridiculous.
I didn't think I would be looking forward to an off-day so early in the season. However, with the type of play we've seen this year from the Cards, Monday's day off may be a blessing. Let's hope they can kick it up a notch. Make that two notches.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.