Walton's Game Observations – Wednesday, May 11

In game that was close early, the Cardinals pulled away to a 9-3 victory over the Dodgers Wednesday evening.

The St. Louis Cardinals handled the Los Angeles Dodgers by the score of 9-3 Wednesday night, taking a 2-1 series lead in the process. The Cardinals' record is now 21-12, maintaining their four-game NL Central lead..

Jeff Suppan opposed Brad Penny. Neither pitcher was sharp, but Suppan stuck with it and actually got better in the middle innings. He ended up allowing just three runs and striking out seven in seven innings despite allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base in five consecutive innings. At the plate, Suppan also knocked in the lead run.

In aggregate, the Cardinals offense collected a season-high 19 hits. David Eckstein was 4-for-5 with a walk. Larry Walker had three hits and drove in three. John Mabry and Mark Grudzielanek each had three hits and scored twice.

Rolen update
Tony La Russa said more on Scott Rolen's injured shoulder would be known Thursday, but it may be two weeks or more until he can play again. So, expect Rolen to be put on the disabled list as Izzy comes off.

JoeBo going "well"
News from the looney bin that is called the Cubs bullpen by some. Past and future closer Joe Borowski allowed three runs on two hits in 2/3 of an inning during his rehab outing Tuesday night. According to the Daily Southtown, if all goes well in his appearance Wedensday night, JoeBo could be activated for Friday's game. If three runs in 2/3 of an inning is "going well", I hate to see what "going poorly" is. Or, then again, since he's a Cub, maybe I would like to see that!

LaTroy a big tipper and tripper?
Past Cubs closer La Troy Hawkins was defended by his manager Dusty Baker. Baker took exception to comments made by former Phillies manager Larry Bowa that Hawkins is tipping his pitches. However, Baker also demoted him again, saying that the struggling Hawkins would probably be moved from the setup role into middle relief. He had lost the closer's job for the second time this season last week.

Former Cards injury update
Kiko Calero went on Oakland's disabled list with tendinitis in his right elbow. His ERA is sitting at 8.68. San Diego's Woody Williams is healing slowly and as a result, will be out a lot longer than the two weeks more that was expected.

Pedro and Glavine swap dates
Starter Pedro Martinez has been moved back a day in the Mets' rotation because he felt fatigued after his last start. Martinez will now start on Saturday with Tom Glavine getting the nod on Friday. Full match-ups at the bottom of the page.

Eckstein again and again
On the 12th pitch of his fourth inning at-bat, Eckstein singled. I am really impressed with the man due to his plate discipline, not because someone told me I'd love him. He's earned the praise.

Cedeno living off the past
For two reasons, Roger Cedeno continues to get a number of starts in the field. First, is the weakness of the Cardinals' bench. Second is La Russa's fascination with match-ups. For example, Cedeno came in hitting .385 (5-for-13) versus Penny. The fallacy of this logic is that any good numbers Cedeno put up against anyone were years ago when he was a decent player. Currently, Cedeno is hitting .128, including 2-for-30, .067 from the left side. It's about time for a change.

Clark in the house
Former Cardinal and former Dodger player and hitting coach Jack Clark was shown in the stands enjoying the game.

Help wanted – see third base
Six third basemen have appeared in the last three nights. For the Dodgers, Mike Edwards, Oscar Robles and Olmedo Saenz and for the Cards, Scott Rolen, Abraham Nunez and John Mabry.

Streaks continue
Albert Pujols has now been on base in 42 consecutive regular season games. David Eckstein increased his hit streak to 12 consecutive games.

Lyons laugher
Maybe the Cards broadcasters aren't so bad after all. Said Steve "Psycho" Lyons after the Dodgers scored a single run in the first inning: "The important thing is to put that crooked number on the scoreboard early in the game." "1" is crooked, eh?

Diaz underappreciated
Backup catcher Einar Diaz' defense was complimented at least three times by the Dodgers' broadcasting crew of Charlie Steiner and Lyons. Critical Cards fans, take notice.

Going to the Apple
Look for my reports this coming weekend from Shea Stadium in New York, as the Cards visit the Mets.

Wednesday's lineup – Only five starters
Eckstein, Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Cedeno (lf), Mabry (3b), Grudzielanek, Diaz and Suppan. Yadier Molina missed his third game after his ankle injury, Rolen his first game after his shoulder sprain and Sanders was given the night off.

On to the game…

Dodgers first – Behind already
Pest Cesar Izturis doubled between Edmonds and Cedeno on Suppan's first offering of the night. Hee Seop Choi singled on a 3-1 count to put runners on the corners. Jeff Kent collected the RBI on a one-out sac fly after J.D. Drew popped out. Dodgers 1-0.

Cards first - Tied
Walker singled past Choi with one out. It may have been an error. Walker has reached base eight of his last ten plate appearances. Albert singled through the hole and Edmonds singled on the next pitch to load the bases. Cedeno's ground out to first scored Walker. Mabry's identical ground out on the next pitch ended what looked to be a promising inning. Tie 1-1.

Dodgers second - Nada
Leading off, Olmedo Saenz reached on an infield single that Eckstein had to dive to reach. Saenz moved up to second on a grounder with two out but was stranded.

Cards second – Good guys on top
Grudz singled off Izturis to start it. Eckstein singed off Penny to put runners on the corners with two outs. Walker got the clutch hit, scoring Grudz. Eckstein moved up as Drew bobbled the ball in right. Cards 2-1.

Dodgers third – Lead lost as fast as it was secured
Izturis reached again with an infield hit. Choi hit a one-hop RBI double off the wall in right. Grudz' relay home was awful, enabling Choi to take third. Drew was robbed of a double on a nice play by Albert, as Choi came home to score. The Dodgers are hitting the ball hard off Suppan. Dodgers 3-2.

Cards third – Tied again
Mabry singled with two out on a ball that Choi could have handled. Grudz stroked a stand-up triple into the right field gap, scoring Mabry. Diaz' sharply hit ball was caught by Izturis. Get him out of town. Tie 3-3.

Dodgers fourth – More Dodgers on base
Saenz led off with a single to left. Cedeno made a nice play to keep him from a double. A tailor-made 1-6-3 erased him. Phillips singled for the Dodgers' seventh hit already.

Cards fourth – Two on, none in
Eckstein singled with one out Walker's out moved him up to second. Pujols was hit by a pitch, but had to be told by the umpire to take first. He apparently wanted to hit against Penny with a runner in scoring position. Edmonds fanned on a full-count offering.

Dodgers fifth – Suppan pitches his way out of trouble
That gnat Izturis singled again, the third hit this game leading off an inning. Choi followed with a single. It was Suppan's ninth hit allowed. Drew fanned looking. Dave Duncan came out for a visit. Suppan fanned Kent swinging and induced a grounder to escape the big jam unscathed.

Cards fifth – Suppan helps himself with bat and legs
Grudz' third hit of the game was a single to center with two out. Diaz drew a walk, as Suppan was allowed to hit. The Cards bench is short-handed by two players – Rolen and Molina and the bullpen is short. That has to be a factor in Suppan staying in the game. Suppan rewarded the move with an RBI single to center on an 0-2 pitch. Eckstein singled and took second as Diaz slid home under the tag. Suppan cruised into third. Penny was pulled. Walker's squeeze play failed, as Edmonds was tagged out at third, but not before Suppan touched the plate. Nice that Soup knew to run home this time. The Dodgers protested to no avail. Cards 6-3.

Dodgers sixth – 1-2-3 finally
Mabry made a Rolen-esque stop and threw out the runner at first to end Suppan's very first 1-2-3 inning of the night. Even worse, the Dodgers had put the leadoff man on base every frame until now. In fact, it was the first in-order frame of the night for either team.

Cards sixth – Another threat
Wilson Alvarez continued on the mound for the Dodgers. So pinch-hit for Cedeno since Penny was out. He singled, something the mediocre Cedeno has done only five times all season. Mabry followed with a single, but Grudz fanned to end the uprising.

Dodgers seventh – Suppan groovin'
It is worth noting that Suppan retired the Dodgers in order for the second consecutive inning. Counting the end of the fifth, he's set down nine in a row.

Cards seventh – Pitcher hitting for pitcher
This is how thin the bench is. Jason Marquis pinch-hit for Suppan with one out. Phillips took an error on a popup by Marquis, but it didn't matter as he grounded out. With two outs, Eckstein collected his fourth hit of the night. Walker's ball kicked off the wall down the right field line, eluding Drew. He made another gaffe, making a terrible throw somewhere between home and third, allowing Walker to cruse into third base. Eckstein scored. Cards 7-3.

Dodgers eighth – Pen popping
As it began to sprinkle, Randy Flores got one out and Julian Tavarez two. Eckstein made a nice play defensively on the third out.

Cards eighth
So doubled to lead off the inning. Mabry singled and Grudz was hit on the elbow by a pitch to jam the sacks. It was nice to see Diaz come through with a single to shallow center to score two. Tavarez sacrificed both runners up. Eckstein was knocked down before drawing a walk to load the bases. Walker and Pujols both fanned. That was a surprise. Cards 9-3.

Dodgers ninth – Tavarez ends it
Tavarez mowed them down in the ninth.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Thursday vs. Dodgers: Chris Carpenter vs. Derek Lowe 12:10pm FSN Midwest
Friday @ Mets: Jason Marquis vs. Tom Glavine 6:10pm FSN Midwest
Saturday @ Mets: Mark Mulder vs. Pedro Martinez 12:10pm FSN Midwest
Sunday @ Mets: Matt Morris vs. Aaron Heilman 12:10pm WB11

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

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories