Walton's Game Observations – Tuesday

The Cardinals fell to the Rockies 2-1 Tuesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals were defeated by the Colorado Rockies 2-1 Tuesday evening in the second of a four-game series at Coors Field. The Redbirds' record is still an NL-best 33-18.

Mark Mulder went for his seventh win in eight decisions against Jason Jennings. Both pitched very well through seven, but Mulder gave up consecutive home runs in the fourth inning for the difference.

Mark Grudzielanek, Abraham O. Nunez and Mulder each had two hits, while David Eckstein had a hit and a walk. The Cards had no extra-base hits and their big gun hitters, #2 through #5, went a collective 0-for-13 with just two walks.

Water level is rising
From Rob Blackstien at CREATiVESPORTS: "Looking for evidence that pitching quality is up this year and hitting is down? The Cardinals finished second in the National League in team ERA last season with a 3.75 mark. This year, they've lowered that number to 3.62 but only rank fourth."

Stubby Clapp sighting
Former Cardinal fan favorite, second baseman Stubby Clapp, is playing with a new team in the independent Northern League, the Edmonton Cracker-Cats. His skipper is former Chicago White Sox manager Terry Bevington.

NL Central foes going in opposite directions
With their win Monday, the Cubs went over .500 (24-23) for the first time in a month and hold second place in the National League Central all to themselves. Houston, on the other hand, was shut out for the ninth time this season on Monday and they are entrenched in last place, 15 games out.

Monthly play consistently solid
The Cardinals have logged eight consecutive winning months, two in 2005 and six straight in 2004. The last time that happened was 1986-87 when they posted nine consecutive winning months from June 1986 through August 1987.

Starters stand behind work
With a combined 29 wins this season coming into Tuesday, the Cardinals starting staff is the National League's leader by a considerable margin. Florida (22), Arizona (22), Atlanta (21) and Philadelphia (21) are the nearest pursuers.

Dan second-guesses Beane
Dan McLaughlin questioned the A's General Manager Billy Beane's wisdom in trading Mark Mulder with two years remaining on his contract. Wonder if he would have felt that way if Mulder had continued to pitch as he did during the second half of 2004. The jury is still out on the trade and will be for some time.

Is Yogi in the house?
Dan made a comment straight from the day's press notes. "I think Izzy is #1 in the Rolaids Relief Man Award competition". "He's the leader", corrected Al.

Tuesday's lineup
Eckstein, Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Sanders, Grudzielanek, Nunez (3b), Molina and Mulder. Walker returned from his ankle sprain, while Grudzielanek came back from a night off.

On to the game…

Cards first – Good chance missed
Leading off, Eckstein singled but took too wide of a turn. Only because the relay got away was Eckstein able to get back safely to first. He took second on a passed ball, but was stranded by Pujols and Edmonds.

Rockies first - RISP stranded
While Matt Holliday singled and moved up via a stolen base. He didn't advance to home plate, which is what really matters.

Cards second - Nunez nowhere
With two outs, Nunez reached via a swinging bunt, but was unable to advance.

Rockies second - Never in order
Garrettt Atkins walked with two down. He stayed there.

Cards third – All at second, none home
Mulder singled leading off. He took second on a throwing error, but that was it, as Albert flied out.

Rockies third – Other pitcher hits, too
The first hitter, Jennings, singled and was sacrificed to second. He went no further.

Cards fourth – Another baserunner
Grudz singled with two out but, yes, he was stranded. I am struggling to find new and interesting ways to say this and it is only the fourth inning.

Rockies fourth – B2B solo shots put Cards behind again
With one out, Dustan Mohr homered to the evergreens in dead center. Todd Greene followed with a shot to right. Garrett Atkins walked. #8 hitter Desi Relaford singled to right, but Mulder got the final two outs. Rockies 2-0.

Cards fifth – Bases loaded, no runs
Mulder singled again with one out. Then, Walker and Pujols each drew a free pass with two down to load the bases for Edmonds. Nope.

Rockies fifth – Finally in order
Edmonds made a nice, diving catch in right-center for the second out off the bat of Holiday, saving sure extra bases. Mulder retired the Rockies in order for the first time.

Cards sixth – Small ball
Reggie Sanders was hit by a pitch leading off. Sanders swiped second and took third as Greene threw wildly into center. Grudz brought the run in on a ground out. Nunez bunted his way onto base again. Molina didn't give Nunez a chance to steal when he ground into a double play on the first pitch. Ugh. Show some patience, Yadi. Rockies 2-1.

Rockies sixth – Mulder strands another
Greene doubled down the line with one out. I sure like stranded runners better than homers. No complaints.

Cards seventh – Inning-ending DP
Eckstein walked with one out, but Walker's 4-6-3 double play ended the rally quickly. Only six outs left.

Rockies seventh – Rookie goes from penthouse to outhouse
Eddy Garabito, pinch-hitting for Jennings, singled for his first-ever major league hit. He got a painful lesson as Mulder picked him off. Flores and Reyes are warming up in the pen. Nunez made a diving stop toward the third base bag and threw Barmes out at first.

Cards eighth – Big guns misfire
Jay Witasick, who was victimized on Monday, retired Pujols, Edmonds and Sanders in order.

Rockies eighth – Three pitchers, three outs
Holliday almost clobbered Mulder with a hard-hit single. That ended his night at eight hits and 113 pitches. Al Reyes faced pinch-hitter Preston Wilson, who singled. A failed sacrifice and a strikeout led to Ray King coming in to face Helton. Grudz made a terrific diving stop and throw on a ball up the middle for the final out.

Cards ninth – A loss
Leading off, Grudz singled off closer Brian Fuentes. Nunez' attempt at a sac bunt failed as his pop-up led to Grudz being forced out at second base. Again, first pitch swinging, Molina ground into another double play. This one was a game-ender.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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
Friday at Astros: Chris Carpenter (7-3, 3.79) vs. Ezequiel Astacio 7:05pm FSN Midwest
Saturday at Astros: Jason Marquis (6-3, 3.39) vs. Andy Pettitte 3:05pm Big FOX
Sunday at Astros: Mark Mulder (7-1, 3.72) vs. Roger Clemens 1:05 pm WB11

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

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