Walton's Game Observations – Sunday

The Cardinals were defeated handily by the Royals 9-2 Sunday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals were taken down by the Kansas City Royals with a resounding thud Sunday afternoon by the score of 9-2. Still, the Cards won the first two of the three-game weekend series. The team's record is now 27-16. Even with the loss, the Cards' road mark is a stellar 15-7. They ended the road trip 5-4, winning two of the three series.

Jeff Suppan faced Ryan Jensen. The former Giants starter was staked to a big league and cruised to a win with the help of reliever Leo Nunez. Suppan was victimized by three costly errors by shortstop David Eckstein. Mark Grudzielanek also committed one. As a result, only three of Suppan's nine runs allowed in five innings were earned. He took his fifth loss of the season against just three wins.

The Redbirds' offense was almost totally MIA on Sunday, as the team had the same number of hits as errors, four, against some very hittable pitchers. Albert Pujols had the lone RBI.

Way ahead of schedule
Even though their seven-game lead in the NL Central was short-lived, it is worth noting that the 2004 team did not have its first seven-game cushion until July 9, just before the All-Star break.

Happy Birthday, Julian
It is reliever Julian Tavarez' 32nd birthday Sunday. However, with the game out of control, he didn't get a chance to appear.

Carpenter cliché of the day
"He's a professional guy, a standup guy," said Carpenter as the broadcasters gushed over Eckstein even on a day he may have cost his team the game.

Jose ok
A recurrence of his high blood pressure problems is what caused third base coach Jose Oquendo's trip to the hospital on Friday. He is back and looks normal.

Sunday's lineup
Eckstein, Walker (dh), Pujols, Edmonds, Mabry (rf), Grudzielanek, Nunez (3b), Taguchi (lf) and Diaz.

On to the game…

Cards first – Trouble brewing?
In a possible continuation of the hit-by-pitch problems of Saturday night, Albert was plunked in the back with an 0-2 pitch. He seemed to laugh it off. Edmonds walked, but Mabry's 11-pitch at-bat ended with a swinging strikeout.

Royals first – Welcome to Eckstein's nightmare
Berroa singled to left. A sure double-play ball was muffed by Eckstein. With two out, Emil Brown flared a double down the right field line for two RBI. Mark Teahen's double to left on a full count occurred on the next pitch after a Suppan-Diaz mound conference. Teahen came in as Eckstein erred again as his throw to first on Matt Diaz' grounder was wide. John Buck slammed a two-run homer to the grass berm in left center. Royals 6-0.

Royals second - Here we go again
Berroa singled to right. With one out, Eckstein made his third error of the day as Sweeney's ball bounced off his chest. It is Eckstein's eighth error of the season. They escaped via a 1-6-3 double play, but it is sad the see the Cards with more errors than hits.

Cards third – Comeback underway
Eckstein singled with one out. Walker drew a free pass. Albert shot the ball past Berroa at short. One scored, then the second came home as Diaz muffed fielding the ball in left. Pujols took second on the error. Royals 6-2.

Cards fourth – RISP with two down
So Taguchi worked a two-out walk and Diaz moved him up with a single to shallow center. But, Eckstein flew out on the first pitch. He may be trying too hard to atone.

Royals fourth – No harm
Ruben Gotay's grounder popped out of Grudz' glove for the fourth team error on the day. He easily swiped second base, but was stranded.

Royals fifth – Royals tack on another
Mike Sweeney reached via a broken-bat infield single leading off. Matt Stairs singled to right. Emil Brown's RBI single scored Sweeney, as So's throw home wasn't close. La Russa called the pen to get Gabe White up. He wasn't needed as Suppan escaped with no more damage. On the other hand, the game feels like it has slipped away. Royals 7-2.

Royals sixth – Drip, drip
Leading off, light-hitting second baseman Ruben Gotay lifted a ball into the jet stream. It just cleared the right field wall. Suppan hit Angel Berroa in the rump with a pitch. La Russa brought White in. Sweeney singled. Matt Stairs' double scored Berroa, but Sweeney was tagged out at the plate on a great block by Diaz. Royals 9-2.

Cards seventh – RISP with no out leads nowhere
So Taguchi doubled leading off. Now, the Cards have the same number of hits, four, as errors. So went nowhere.

Royals eighth – Garbage time hit
Berroa singled with one out. It was harmless as White is cleaning up on the mound in garbage time.

Cards ninth – Down without a whimper
Former closer Mike MacDougal closed out the game.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Monday vs. Pittsburgh: Chris Carpenter vs. Kip Wells 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh: Jason Marquis vs. David Williams 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh: Mark Mulder vs. Mark Redman 7:10pm FSN Midwest

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

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