Walton's Game Observations – Friday

Jim Edmonds powered the Cardinals over the Nationals 6-3 Friday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Washington Nationals 6-3 Friday evening. The Redbirds' record is now an NL-best 31-16. Fifteen games over .500 is a new season high-water mark and represents Tony La Russa's second goal of the season. Their NL Central lead remains seven games over Milwaukee.

Matt Morris took on Tony Armas, Jr. Morris had another fine outing, allowing just five hits and no walks. He struck out eight in seven innings in earning his fifth win in five decisions. Jason Isringhausen earned his 13th save in 13 chances.

Jim Edmonds was the hitting star, with a two-run home run and two doubles, one which was good for two more runs. He also scored twice. Larry Walker doubled, walked and scored both times. Mark Grudzielanek had two hits and an RBI.

Tribute to DK
To remove #57 on the Busch Stadium Countdown clock, the late Darryl Kile's twins did the honor. Eight year olds Kannon and Sierra received thunderous applause.

Pen getting it done
The Cardinals have a 25-0 record when leading after seven innings this season. After eight innings, the record improves to 27-0.

Albert impresses
"He's making a mockery of the game. He's that good," said former pitcher Ron Darling about Albert Pujols.

History in the making?
With their 30-16 record coming in to Friday's game, the 2005 Cardinals are off to the second-best mark in team history, behind only the 1941 team that stood at 32-14 after 46 games. Four other teams started their season with 30 wins in 46 tries, but they were all a long, long time ago (1931, 1936, 1943, 1944).

Players' wives in drive
Cardinals wives are teaming up with the St. Louis Area Foodbank this weekend and will be collecting nonperishable food items and financial donations to be distributed to those in need. A Cardinals wife will be stationed at each gate of Busch Stadium to accept donations prior to both Saturday and Sunday's games.

Suppan giving back
Jeff Suppan announced Friday that he is teaming up with the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and will donate $50 for every strikeout he records this season. Intrepid Fallen Heroes helps children and families of U.S. soldiers who have died in the line of duty. Cardinals Care will match every dollar Suppan donates with an anticipated total goal of at least $10,000.

Second ESPN2 Red Sox tilt
ESPN2 announced it will carry the Cardinals' games on both Monday, June 6 and Wednesday, June 8, when they host the Boston Red Sox. Monday's start will remain at 7:10, but Wednesday's first pitch has been moved up one hour to 6:10 pm to accommodate the national television audience. (Same thing for this coming

Renteria has pulse
Edgar had his first three-hit game of the season Thursday and added a stolen base, his third of the year. He's raised his average 30 points this month to .257 and his on-base percentage is back over .300. For an excellent summation of the stupidity that surrounded La Russa, Curt Schilling and Edgar, check out Bernie Miklasz' column in the Post-Dispatch. Or, perhaps, you'd prefer to forget the guy still exists (Edgar, not Bernie!).

Reames lives up to name
Former Cardinals hurler Britt Reames was called up by the reeling Oakland A's. Unfortunately, he was lit up for five runs in 4-2/3 innings in his first action Wednesday. Reames last appeared in the bigs with Montreal for two games in 2003.

Friday's lineup
Eckstein, Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Mabry (3b), Grudzielanek, Sanders, Molina and Morris. Larry Walker returned to the lineup after a game off. There are only two .300 hitters in the lineup – Albert at .332 and Grudz at .321.

On to the game…

Nats' first - KKK
In a light rain, Morris fanned the first three hitters he faced. It looks like his curve is working.

Cards first – Starting right
Walker doubled with one out as the ball shot past the third base bag and caromed off the wall into left. Albert's swinging bunt moved him up. Right after color commentator Darling mentioned Edmonds was pounding homers while taking early batting practice, Edmonds did it for real. The ball landed on the berm in dead center, over 402 feet away. Cards 2-0.

Nats second – Their first hit
With two out, Vinny Castilla blooped a single to left. He was stranded.

Nats third – Lead coughed up
Leading off, Cristian Guzman singled as it began to rain harder. Armas sacrificed him to second. Brad Wilkerson shot an RBI double past Pujols on a ball that would have been a tough chance, but looked playable. Jamey Carroll received generous credit for a hit on a ball that went through Morris' legs. The cameras showed Duncan's disgust. I wonder if it was aimed at Morris or the official scorer? (Note: Later in the game, the call was rightly changed to an error.) Nick Johnson's double brought both runners home. The Cards seemed to take all day getting the ball into the infield. Nats 3-2.

Cards third – Edmonds again
Eckstein walked with one down. An errant pickoff throw by Armas allowed the hustling Eckstein to take third with two out. Albert walked. Edmonds cleared the bases on a double off the wall in deep center. Wilkerson dropped the ball, enabling Edmonds to take an extra base. Cards 4-3.

Cards fourth – Reggie left behind
Sanders singled with one out, but was stranded.

Cards fifth – One more run
Eckstein was on again, with a four-pitch leadoff walk. But, he was easily erased trying to steal. Walker drew a free pass, which would have moved Eckstein up, anyway. Albert's out moved Walker up, but took the bat out of Edmonds' hands, as he was walked intentionally with the open base. Mabry just missed home runs twice and settled for a full-count RBI single. The inning ended on a muffed double steal, as Edmonds was tagged out at the plate easily. Cards 5-3.

Nats sixth – Morris works out of jam
Nick Johnson was nicked on the foot leading off. Jose Guillen singled to deep short. For some reason, Eckstein tried to throw the ball to second, even though Johnson was already there. The throw sailed away as runners ended up on the corners. A popup between two strikeouts and Morris walked away unscathed.

Cards sixth – Grudz waiting
Grudzielanek singled leading off, but Sanders' double play him in.

Cards seventh – Rain delay
It had begun to pour in the top half of the inning, so the tarp was brought out. Scott Seabol was ready to pinch-hit for Morris, so his night was over, anyway. Morris allowed five hits and no walks. He fanned eight. After a 27 minute delay, play resumed. Seabol singled. Eckstein moved him over on a hit-and-run. Seabol took third as a ball eluded the catcher, Brian Schneider. But, neither Walker nor Albert could get him home.

Nats eighth – 1-2-3
Julian Tavarez pitched. Edmonds made a very nice running catch on a ball hit by Nick Johnson to right center for the second out.

Cards eighth – Edmonds again
Edmonds suffered a minor injury to his hand as he fell trying to avoid a pitch from reliever C.J. Nitkowski. He remained in the game after Trainer Barry Weinberg ran out to check him. Ho hum, another double on a 3-2 count. Edmonds was sacrificed to third. Against Luis Ayala, Grudz' broken bat single over the drawn-in infield scored Edmonds. Cards 6-3.

Nats ninth – Izzy time
Vinny Castilla singled with one down, but Izzy fanned Guzman on a cutter to end the game.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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
Monday vs. Rockies: Jason Marquis (5-3, 3.43) vs. Jamey Wright 7:05pm FSN Midwest and ESPN
Tuesday vs. Rockies: Mark Mulder (6-1, 3.71) vs. Jason Jennings 8:05pm FSN Midwest
Wednesday vs. Rockies: Matt Morris (4-0, 3.50) vs. Joe Kennedy 8:05pm FSN Midwest
Thursday vs. Rockies: Jeff Suppan (3-5, 4.38) vs. Shawn Chacon 2:05pm FSN Midwest

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

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