Walton's Game Observations – Friday, May 6

The Cardinals were defeated by the Padres 6-5 Friday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals were defeated by the San Diego Padres for the second night in a row of their four-game weekend series by the score of 6-5 Friday evening at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals' record is now 18-10 as they lead the division by four games over Milwaukee.

Jeff Suppan took on Darrell May. Neither made it through six innings, though Suppan left with a one-run lead that was later erased when the losing hurler, Randy Flores, was on the mound.

The Cards batters had only eight hits. Reggie Sanders slammed a solo home run. Einar Diaz had two hits and two RBI. Jim Edmonds was on base three times, with two walks and a single. He also scored two. Albert Pujols' 16-game hit streak ended.

Knock on Wood
Startling news out of Chi-town. Pitcher Kerry Wood's mechanics will be studied via game film by pitching coach Larry Rothschild in an effort to get to the bottom of recurring shoulder problems Wood is suffering. Wood is expected to miss at least five to six weeks and isn't assured the problem will not occur again. Well, duh! Larry, you should have studied his motion years ago and gotten outside help, too. It is sad to see a young talent wasted, even if he is a Cub.

Ozzie sings
And you thought the singing talent in the Ozzie Smith family was just his son, Nikko, who appeared on American Idol. Wrong. The Cards Hall-of-Famer himself sings Sam Cooke's "Cupid" on a new charity disc titled "Oh Say Can You Sing?" Details here. Good Sports Recordings

Astros news
Jeff Bagwell's arthritic shoulder is the worst it's ever been, he says. The first baseman has missed time already due to the problem as his late-career decline continues. Outfielder Lance Berkman is scheduled to be activated Friday night after completing his rehab assignment. His knee was injured in the off-season. Pitcher Brandon Backe was hammered again his last time out. The 2004 playoffs seem like a long time ago. The reeling Astros have lost eight straight on the road and nine of their last 12 overall. I wonder what Jimy (buy me a consonant) Williams is up to these days?

Cubs news
Newsday, that pillar of accuracy in reporting, says the Cubs are talking with the Yankees about acquiring reliever Felix Rodriguez. Former closer Joe Borowski is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A, but there is no timetable for his return. La Troy Hawkins took losses on Thursday and again on Friday. His 4.22 ERA is actually better than five other members of the Cubs' pen. Chaos. What's new?

Suppan concern
With his 2-2 April record and decent ERA of 3.45, on the surface Suppan looks like he had a typical decent month. However, he has allowed almost ten base runners per outing and if that continues, there will be trouble ahead.

Exactly, how does that work, Hungo?
Al must have slept through science class in high school. Said Hungo about So Taguchi on the pre-game show, "He's one of the favorite sons of his teammates."

Weird schedule
In the odd world of the unbalanced schedule, the Cardinals and Padres will face each other seven times in 2005, while each face most other NL non-divisional foes six times. The Redbirds hold a 231-160 all-time advantage over the Padres.

Oquendo appreciated
Hungo and Dan properly reflected on the fact that Jose Oquendo is the best Cardinals third base coach in many years. Amen to that.

All-Star memories?
Dan and Al were talking about the changes in the All-Star game. Hungo noted that in his day, the players had pride and wanted to win the game without gimmicks like World Series home field advantage at stake. He mentioned the league presidents would come into the locker room and give inspiring speeches to the players before the game. Only one problem. Hungo and I have the same number of All-Star appearances. In all fairness, he does have 97 more career saves than me.

Thanks, Woody
Prior to the game, Woody Williams received his 2004 championship ring accompanied by a standing ovation from the Busch faithful. Well-deserved.

Airing dirty laundry
The best "Email the Booth" question the boys could come up with was "An insightful email from Robbie King of Cooperstown", said Dan. Robbie wanted to know how many uniforms the players have and where they are cleaned. Very insightful, indeed.

Congrats to the Cards Media Relations Team
During the second inning, Dan and Al noted that the three Cardinals media relations team members received their championship rings today while the camera showed director Brian Bartow and his assistants Melody Yount and Jim Anderson live in the press box. Dan mentioned their stirring remarks when accepting. I salute them and appreciate their support and cooperation.

Eldred back in uniform
The FSN Midwest showed Cal Eldred back in uniform and in the bullpen during the game. That was great to see.

Hungo needs a fact checker
Dan was reminiscing about the members of Cincinnati's Big Red Machine from the 1970's. When he mentioned Hal McRae, Hungo said "Only one year". Not hardly. Hal appeared in 247 regular-season games for Cincinnati in parts of four seasons – 1968 and 1970 through 1972. McRae played for the Reds in the 1970 and 1972 NLCS and World Series before joining the Kansas City Royals.

Benes on the Countdown Clock
Andy Benes took down #67 from the right field fence Friday night as the final days of Busch Stadium are numbered.

Sanders rumor mill
The Oakland A's beat writer for MLB.com reported a rumor that the Cardinals and A's have discussed a Reggie Sanders for Eric Byrnes plus a prospect trade. Byrnes has blown hot and cold in the past. I'd like to see the Cards get a player like Byrnes, but not at the price of giving up another starter. Frankly, with Sanders making twice Byrnes' salary, I don't see the A's making the deal, anyway.

Friday's lineup – A new variation
Eckstein, Taguchi, Pujols, Rolen, Sanders, Edmonds, Grudzielanek, Diaz and Suppan. So got the start for Larry, while Edmonds was dropped to the #6 hole for the third time this season. (He hit there ten times in 2004.) Yadier Molina got the night off.

On to the game…

Padres first – Speed kills
Dave Roberts led off with a single and stole second on the very next pitch. He moved to third with one out and scored on a ground out by Ryan Klesko. Padres 1-0.

Cards first – Albert on
Albert drew a two-out walk, but Sean Burroughs made a nice play on a Rolen grounder to get the force out. Pujols extended his regular season on-base streak to 37 games.

Padres second - Another threat
Ramon Hernandez singled with one out and Damian Jackson walked with two down. Neither came home.

Cards second – Sanders goes yard
Leading off, Reggie Sanders went the other way, homering to right. Edmonds drew a walk. Grudz doubled into the right field corner, putting two runners in scoring position. Edmonds tried to come home on a suicide squeeze, but Suppan did not do his part. Two runners in scoring position with no out and neither scored as the team's problems with runners in scoring position continues. Tie 1-1.

Padres third - More runners in scoring position
Phil Nevin led off with a double and moved up to third, but was stranded. Suppan is living dangerously, having allowed five baserunners in three innings.

Cards fourth – Lead taken
Rolen doubled on the first pitch of the inning and took third as May fired a pickoff throw far over the head of the second baseman. Sanders failed, but Edmonds' single scored the run. He easily swiped second on the next pitch and took third on a fly out. Einar Diaz' clutch two-out single scored Edmonds. Suppan kept the inning going with a single between third and short. Eckstein's ground rule double scored Diaz. Exit May. Cards 4-1.

Padres fifth – Mr. Roberts II
Dave Roberts doubled with one out. Rolen made a great play on Loretta's bunt for out #2, as Roberts took third. Suppan fanned Klesko to end it.

Padres sixth – Walks kill
Giles walked with one out and scored on a home run by pinch-hitter and former Cardinal Mark Sweeney that hit off the right field foul pole. Sean Burroughs singled with two out, which ended Suppan's evening. Al Reyes and Roger Cedeno came in. With help from Rolen, Reyes got his man to preserve Suppan's chance for a win. Cards 4-3.

Cards sixth – Lead extended
The Cards managed a lead-off walk, earned by Edmonds. He's been on base all three times. Edmonds took two bases on a ground out by Grudz. JimEd must not like hitting sixth. Diaz' bloop single to right scored Edmonds. Cards 5-3.

Padres seventh – Flores folds
Randy Flores came in with John Mabry as Reyes and Cedeno exited. Loretta singled with one out and he was joined on the bases when pinch-hitter Xavier Nady was hit by a pitch with two outs. Giles tied the game with a double that turned into a triple as he took third when the outfielders had trouble getting the ball in. Sweeney singled him home. Booing was audible. Padres 6-5.

Padres eighth – Another threat
Damian Jackson greeted Julian Tavarez with a single to center. He stole second on the next pitch, but Tavarez did a nice job to keep him there for three outs.

Cards eighth – Running out of time
Mabry drew a lead-off walk but Edmonds, Grudz and Diaz couldn't do anything with it.

Padres ninth – King bends but doesn't break
Ray King and Larry Walker came in. King fanned the lead-off man, Klesko, but gave up a one-out hit to Jesse Garcia. He then walked Brian Giles on four pitches, but fanned Sweeney.

Cards ninth – Hoffman reaches milestone
Padres closer Trevor Hoffman collected his 400th career save to end the game, with Albert in the on-deck circle. As a point of reference, Jason Isringhausen has fewer than half of that – 184 saves, to be exact.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Saturday vs. Padres: Chris Carpenter vs. Adam Eaton 1:15pm FSN Midwest
Sunday vs. Padres: Jason Marquis vs. Tim Redding 1:15pm WB11
Monday vs. Dodgers: Mark Mulder vs. Jeff Weaver 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Tuesday vs. Dodgers: Matt Morris vs. Odalis Perez 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Wednesday vs. Dodgers: Jeff Suppan vs. Brad Penny 7:10pm FSN Midwest/ESPN
Thursday vs. Dodgers: Chris Carpenter vs. Derek Lowe 12:10pm FSN Midwest

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

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