Walton's Game Observations – Wednesday

The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 11-5 Wednesday night for a series sweep.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-5 Wednesday evening, sweeping the three-game series and winning their 12th in a row against the Bucs. The Redbirds' record is now an NL-best 30-16. Fourteen games over .500 is a new season high-water mark. Their NL Central lead remains seven games over Milwaukee.

Mark Mulder faced Mark Redman. Mulder pitched well, except for a two-run double and a solo home run. He went seven innings, allowing six hits and a walk and earned his seventh win of the season.

The offense came alive, with 14 hits, led by some of the lighter hitters. Yadier Molina was the hitting star for the second night in a row with four hits, including two doubles and two runs scored plus four RBI. David Eckstein drove in three, and hit a home run, his first ever at Busch.

La Russa forgetful
Before the game, Tony La Russa apparently forgot to sign his line-up cards. The oversight was rectified without any ramifications.

Cards offense sets May pace
The Cardinals lead all of baseball with a .276 (223-807) batting average this month. The team has scored 129 runs, tops in the National League this month. The next closest team is Atlanta with 114 runs. The 223 hits are also #1 in the NL, 15 more than the next-closest team, Philadelphia with 208.

Schedule change
ESPN2 has announced it will carry the Wednesday, June 8 game when the Cardinals host the Boston Red Sox. As a result, the first pitch has been moved up one hour to 6:10 pm to accommodate the national television audience. I'll be there!

Homers balancing out
Coming into Wednesday, the Cardinals had gone four consecutive home games without hitting one out of the park. Until David Eckstein's shot Wednesday, it had been 41 innings since the last Cardinals home run at Busch Stadium. That was a three-run shot by Reggie Sanders in the fifth inning way back on May 10 vs. the Dodgers. However, the Cards have the fourth most long balls in the National League this month with 29. (Hungo added the previous 38-1/3 innings to 2-2/3 innings and called it 40-1/3 innings on the air.)

Cox cut
First baseman Steve Cox, who had been playing in the minors, has been released by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He is reportedly considering retirement. In the spring of 2004, Cox seemed to have the inside track to make the Cardinals – until games began, that is. After his March release, Cox played in Japan before returning to the Tampa organization this year.

Wednesday's lineup
Eckstein, Grudzielanek, Pujols, Sanders, Edmonds, Seabol (3b), Taguchi (rf), Molina and Mulder. Mark Grudzielanek returned to the starting lineup after taking Tuesday night off - supposedly. However, Grudz was called on when Pujols was ejected and ended up playing six innings. Sanders moved up in front of slumping Edmonds in the clean-up spot. Larry Walker got a breather.

On to the game…

Pirates first – Double whiff
Mulder looked great right from the start, fanning two of three.

Pirates second – Hard baseball
So quickly cut off Jose Castillo's ball in the right field corner, holding him to a one-out single. Castillo took out Grudz on a hard slide, avoiding a double play.

Pirates third – More defense
David Ross led off the inning with a single, but was erased in a double play.

Cards third – Eckcellent
With one out, Molina hit a ball off the wall in center for a double. Molina has hit in six of his last seven games. The Cards first hit of the game was a nice one and the second was even better. With two out, Eckstein homered to left. It was his second home run of the season and first at home. Cards 2-0.

Cards fourth – Molina muscle
Pujols singled off shortstop Jack Wilson's glove for a single. Sanders' one-hopper to Jason Bay in right was a single, but a good throw would have beaten Pujols to second. Didn't happen. Edmonds' ground rule double scored one. So was given a one-out free pass to load the bases and set up the force. Molina made them pay with a two-run single. Mulder drew a walk to reload the bases. On a 2-0 count, Eckstein tried a squeeze, but failed before fanning. Grudz' bunt scored So. Cards 6-0.

Pirates fifth – Redman out
Ty Wigginton singled with one out. David Ross was hit by a pitch with two out. Redman was pinch-hit for. Freddy Sanchez cleared the bases with a double. Cards 6-2.

Pirates sixth – Nothing doing
Mulder walked Ward with two outs. No damage.

Cards sixth – Another run
Molina doubled with one out for his third hit of the night and second double. Mulder's single put runners at the corners. Eckstein's sac fly scored Molina. Cards 7-2.

Pirates seventh – Run lost
Ty Wigginton homered leading off. Bobby Hill reached via a two out single through the hole. Cards 7-3.

Cards seventh – Molina is the man
Albert doubled to the wall and Sanders followed with a single. Wigginton erred on a swinging bunt by Nunez to load the bases. A wild pitch enabled Albert to easily come home. Molina's fourth hit drove two more in. Cards 10-3.

Cards eighth – Save them for Friday
Mabry broke an 0-for-14 string with an RBI double, scoring Grudz. Cards 11-3.

Pirates ninth – White darkened again
Against Gabe White, Castillo led off with a single. Wigginton homered. Ross singled. Tavarez and Ray King had to get up. Al made that into a positive. I'd rather see the guys get a night of rest, myself. Cards 11-5.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Thursday: Open
Friday vs. Nationals: Matt Morris (4-0, 3.50) vs. Tony Armas, Jr. 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Saturday vs. Nationals: Jeff Suppan (3-5, 4.38) vs. Estaban Loaiza 6:15pm FSN Midwest
Sunday vs. Nationals: Chris Carpenter (6-2, 4.07) vs. Livan Hernandez 1:15pm WB11

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

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories