Walton's Game Observations – Wednesday

In a wild game, the Cardinals defeated the Rockies 8-6 Wednesday night.

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In a departure from the last two pitching duels, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Colorado Rockies 8-6 Wednesday evening. Victory in the more traditional high-scoring Coors Field-type of battle enabled the Redbirds to take a 2-1 lead in the four-game series. The Cardinals' record is an NL-best 34-18 and their road mark is a superb 17-8.

Looking for his sixth win without a loss, Matt Morris took on Joe Kennedy. Each allowed six runs, but Morris stayed in line for the win as his offense recaptured the lead for good in the seventh. Julian Tavarez and Jason Isringhausen played their roles perfectly, as Izzy's save was his 16th of the season.

Strangely, none of the 14 runs scored came via the long ball. The offense banged out 17 hits, including four by Mark Grudzielanek, who drive in two. Rookie Scott Seabol was a perfect 3-for-3 with his first two career RBIs. They each had a double. Yadier Molina was on base four times with two hits and two walks. Albert Pujols and So Taguchi each had two hits and a walk.

The defense was both ridiculous and sublime. David Eckstein was part of three double plays and made a highlight reel catch on a foul ball. However, Roger Cedeno made two terrible errors in right field, though he was charged with only one, and was picked off first base once.

Eli's going, hide your stat sheets
The day they named new manager Buddy Bell, the last place Kansas City Royals designated former Cardinal Eli Marrero for assignment. Marrero hit just .159 with four homers in 88 at-bats for the Royals this season after coming over from the Atlanta Braves via trade in the off-season. The Royals have ten days to either trade or release him. Or, Marrero can accept a minor league assignment, but instead, he's bound to draw interest from someone. Marrero hit .320 for the Braves last season but has never been durable enough or consistent enough to be a starter. Anyone need a fourth or fifth outfielder?

More Royals suffering
In spite of their win Tuesday night (against the Yankees), the Royals have the same record after 51 games that the New York Mets had en route to losing a major league-record 120 games in 1962.

Experience (not) wanted in KC
With the hiring of Bell, the Royals have their first manager with big-league managing experience since the year the Cardinals last appeared in the World Series prior to 2004. Seven rookies, including current Cardinals hitting coach Hal McRae, followed former Twins skipper Billy Gardner, who lead the Royals for part of the 1987 season, back when polyester uniforms were still in vogue. Think of all the money the Royals saved on manager's salaries over the years… Of course, they never made the playoffs during that time, either.

Good May
Losing Scott Rolen was not a death knell for the Cardinals. Here are MLB's best records last month.
1. San Diego 22-6 (.786)
2. Texas 18-7 (.720)
3. White Sox 18-10 (.643)
4. Yankees 17-10 (.630)
5. St. Louis 18-11 (.621)
6. Angels 17-11 (.607)

A nice man
When Clint Barmes led off the game with a double off Scott Seabol's glove, Hungo said, "There's only so long you can hold down Barmes. He's a nice young man." In fairness to Al, despite coming into the game hitting .318, Barmes has been in a slump.

Please read our minors reports
Dan mentioned he received a listener email asking if second baseman Aaron Herr was related to former Cards second sacker Tommy Herr. Of course, Aaron is Tommy's son. They should have stopped right there.
Dan: "Aaron was originally signed by the Braves."
Al: "I am not sure where he is now."
Dan: "He's with the Cardinals. In the minors at Double-A, I think."
Al: "That is what I thought. He was with the Cardinals this spring, right?"
Dan: "Yes. We'll have to look that one up."
For the record guys, Herr is playing at Double-A Springfield. But, he did not join the Cardinals organization until signing with them on April 27. He was a Rule 5 pick by the Mariners from the Braves in the off-season, but didn't win a starting job this spring and asked for his release. Herr signed with the independent Lancaster (PA) Barnstormers, managed by his father, but the Cardinals called before he ever played a game there.

Odd La Russa comment recounted
Hungo said he asked Tony if he was doing any book signings in support of "Three Nights in August" while in Denver. While the answer may not have seemed strange to Al, it sure does to me. La Russa allegedly said, "Not in this place. I'll concentrate on baseball." Hmmm...

Dan advocates change for Cedeno
McLaughlin suggests Cedeno stop hitting from the left side. The theory is that because Cedeno was 3-for-8 from the right side this season that he'll do better from there and that he's running out of the box too soon when hitting lefty. I sure wish he was right, but I suspect what ails Cedeno is deeper than that. I am thinking a more dramatic change for Roger is in order.

Wednesday's lineup
Eckstein, Taguchi (cf), Pujols, Sanders, Grudzielanek, Seabol (3b), Cedeno (rf), Molina and Morris. Walker was back out of the lineup, while a banged up Edmonds was given the first part of the night off. Eventually, all the bench was used during the contest.

On to the game…

Cards first – Seabol's first RBI
Eckstein reached on a wide throw by Desi Relaford from third. Albert walked. Eckstein took third on a fly out by Sanders. Grudz' single to left scored the first run of the night. Seabol's single up the middle brought Pujols in as Preston Wilson in center overran the ball. It was Seabol's first major league RBI. Not surprisingly, Cedeno made the third out. Cards 2-0.

Rockies first – Lead halved
Leading off, Barmes shot a ball off Seabol's glove and ended up at second base. Relaford doubled over Pujols' head to score Barmes. So made a nice catch in shallow center off Wilson to save a run. Cards 2-1.

Cards second – Two more left behind
Molina singled to center leading off. La Russa almost cracked a smile. Morris moved him up on a sacrifice. A single by So put runners at the corners, but Albert stranded them.

Rockies second – Roger working for enemy?
Leading off, Matt Holliday walked, but he was eliminated in a 6-3 double play. Eckstein did a nice job holding his ground as Holliday came in hard. J.D. Closser doubled and Morris walked Kennedy. Cedeno dropped a catchable fly ball. Incredibly, it was scored an RBI double for Barmes. Cedeno is terrible. There is no hiding it. Tie 2-2.

Cards third – Lead retaken
Grudz doubled off the wall in right with one out. Seabol doubled off the wall in left center for his second RBI. Cedeno singled up the middle up the middle to score Seabol. Of course, Cedeno followed a good move with another mistake as he was picked off. Cards 4-2.

Rockies third – Eckstein fielding gem
Morris retired the Rockies in order due to a superb play by David Eckstein. He ran full speed after a foul pop off the bat of Brad Hawpe. Eckstein made a sliding catch with his hand turned back to hold the ball off the dirt. "I've never seen one better by a shortstop in foul territory," said Hungo about the play. It was really good, but was it really best? Anyway, Matt Morris was shown grinning widely, slapping his pitching hand on the side of his glove in improvised applause.

Cards fourth – Mini threat
Taguchi singled with two outs, but Albert again made the third out.

Rockies fourth – Four in fourth means lead lost again
Holliday and Garrett Atkins singled to put runners on the corners with no out. Closser's RBI scored Holliday. Kennedy's sacrifice was successful. Barmes' third double tied the game. Relaford's RBI single to right was handled by Cedeno. His throw toward home was low, and eluded the cutoff man, Pujols. Cedeno was charged with what should have been his second error of the night, not counting when he was picked off first base. Duncan came out to try to calm Morris down again. I imagine Matt wants to kill Roger or perhaps Tony for putting him in the lineup. Todd Helton's single scored Relaford. Rockies 6-4.

Cards fifth – Not playing for big inning
Grudz singled up the middle with one out. Seabol also singled. Cedeno fanned looking. Ugh! Molina walked to load the bases, but Morris was allowed to hit despite having given up six runs in four innings. He took a called strike three.

Rockies fifth – More Eckstein glovework
Holliday reached via a one-out infield single. Eckstein made another fine play, starting an inning-ending double play.

Cards sixth – Pulling even again
Eckstein again followed his fielding gem with a lead off at-bat and singled. So walked, which led to Kennedy's impeachment. Blaine Neal allowed a line single over short by Pujols to jam the sacks. Sanders fanned on a contested third strike. Grudz collected his fourth hit, an RBI single. Edmonds pinch-hit for Seabol. Dan preferred Edmonds to pinch-hit for Cedeno, rather than Seabol. I agree. Edmonds' sac fly scored the tying run. Cedeno left the game in favor of Nunez pinch-hitting. Tie 6-6.

Rockies sixth – 1-2-3 for Mo
In his final inning of work, Morris retired in the Rockies in order. That is more like it.

Cards seventh – Scrapping back
Molina walked. Marquis pinch-hit for Morris, as bench hitters are becoming scarce. He singled. Eckstein's little nubber eluded Neal as the bases were loaded for pinch-hitter Larry Walker. Combustible Byung-Hyun Kim was called on to pitch. His first pitch got away, but Molina reinjured his ankle when he turned around and returned to third. La Russa and Trainer Barry Weinberg checked Molina out, but he stayed in the game. Walker hit into a double play as Molina limped home. His ankle got a tape job on the bench. Marquis scored on another wild pitch. Cards 8-6.

Rockies seventh – Flores fine
Randy Flores allowed a single to right by Hawpe, but a double play ended it

Cards eighth – Kim wipes
Edmonds and Nunez fanned, as the Cards were retired in order by Kim.

Rockies eighth – Set up perfect
Julian Tavarez came on to pitch. He also got all three of his men in sequence.

Cards ninth – Two-run cushion is it
Molina shot what should have been a double over the right fielder's head, but because of his sore ankle, he had to stop at first. Diaz pinch-ran and moved up on a passed ball. But, he was stranded there.

Rockies ninth – Izzy time
Sixteen for sixteen in save chances and twenty in a row, counting last season. Jason Isringhausen's record remains perfect. But, he made it interesting as always. Luis Gonzalez reached second on Izzy's throwing error. But, he got the final two outs, with the hitters representing the tying run.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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. Andy Pettitte 7:05pm FSN Midwest
Saturday at Astros: Jason Marquis (6-3, 3.39) vs. Wandy Rodriguez 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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