Walton's Game Observations – Saturday

Reggie Sanders led the Cardinals over the Astros 11-9 Saturday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals shaded the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park by the score of 11-9 Saturday afternoon. The Redbirds' record is an NL-best 36-19 and their road mark improved to 19-9. The Cards assured themselves of another winning road series.

Jason Marquis earned his seventh win in an uneven game. He bested rookie Wandy Rodriguez. In fact, he abused Wandy, with two hits against him, including a two-run home run. He also singled later for his third hit of the game.

However, Marquis pitched poorly with a large lead, as he and Brad Thompson almost blew a 9-1 lead. As a result, Jason Isringhausen ended up in a save situation and he converted it without incident.

Rather than Marquis, Reggie Sanders was the hitting hero, however, with a perfect day. He was 4-for-4 with three doubles, a grand slam and five RBI. Sanders also walked. Albert Pujols added a solo homer that was a factor later in the game as it tightened. Jim Edmonds was 0-for-4 with a walk and Yadier Molina was 0-for-5.

Guest commentary
Friend and colleague Bill Gilbert has penned an interesting look at the collapse of the Houston Astros, comparing it to their similar, but different problems in 2000. CREATiVESPORTS.com

Trade rumors
The Twins are interested in Placido Polanco, but may not be willing to give up the prospects the Phillies are asking for. I had also seen a reference that the LAAoA, otherwise known as the Angels, might be interested in him, too. Roger Clemens might move to the Yankees or Red Sox, but supposedly not the Texas Rangers. Oakland's Barry Zito has been mentioned as possibly being on the way to the San Diego Padres. Don't look now, but the Padres have the third-best record in baseball, after the White Sox and Cardinals.

Shut outs common
The combined no-run game by Chris Carpenter, Ray King and Julian Tavarez Friday night marked the tenth time the Astros' offense was blanked this season in 53 games. Needless to say, that is the worst in MLB.

TLR's lukewarm endorsement of Eli
From the P-D: "I think he would have to prove to us he could still contribute, and I don't know if he'd be open to that," manager Tony La Russa said. If Marrero has to return to the minors, he might prefer to do it with another organization. Kerry Robinson called Marrero TLR's whipping boy prior to him. Sour grapes? Maybe.

Saturday's lineup
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Sanders, Grudzielanek, Walker, Seabol (3b), Molina and Marquis. The lineup is identical to Friday's except that Walker dropped in at #6, sliding Seabol down one spot. However, his hot hitting did get him another start.

On to the game…

Cards first – Out on top
Eckstein extended his hitting streak to seven games as he slapped a single to right. Rodriguez balked him to second. Edmonds fanned looking on a very good pitch and Albert popped out. Sanders doubled, scoring Eckstein, but Grudz couldn't get him home, striking out looking. Cards 1-0.

Cards second - Snuffed
Seabol walked with one down, but Molina ground into a double play.

Astros second - Tied
Morgan Ensberg homered with one out up into the left field seats. It was Marquis' ninth homer allowed this season.Tie 1-1.

Cards third – Wandy, Wandy what went wrong?
Marquis started it off with a single. Eckstein singled and took second as the throw went into third as Marquis took the base. Edmonds lined out to the pitcher. With one out, Albert was intentionally walked to load the bases. Bad idea, as Reggie Sanders clubbed a grand slam into the seats in left. It was the fifth of his career and first since 2003. Grudz started over with a single and came home on a Walker triple that got away from Taveras in center. Seabol's single on a full-count pitch brought Larry home. With two outs, Marquis homered inside the right field foul pole, scoring Seabol ahead of him. It was Marquis' 11th hit of the season and second career homer. Rodriguez left in favor of starter Brandon Backe. 11 men up, eight runs in. Cards 9-1.

Cards fourth – Twin killing
Pujols and Sanders walked with one out, but were stranded.

Astros fourth – Shaky frame for Marquis
Mabry took over for Walker. Burke led off with a double down the left field line and took third on Seabol's fielding error on a ball by Craig Biggio that went through his legs. Lance Berkman's single to second base scored one. If Grudz has fielded it cleanly, he would have gotten Berkman, but the ball hit the lip of the grass. Then, Ensberg singled in front of Edmonds to load the bases. Lane ground into a double play that scored another. Adam Everett's single down the left field line scored Berkman. That's enough. Cards 9-4.

Cards fifth – Albert misses
With two outs, Marquis singled again for his third hit of the day. Eckstein and Edmonds walked to load the bases. Chad Harville came in and retired Albert on a liner to right.

Astros fifth – Hits and misses
Taveras bunted for a single with one out and took second on Marquis' throwing error. He scored on Burke's double. But, Molina caught Burke for the second out trying to steal third. Thank you very much, Burke. Cards 9-5.

Cards sixth – One more
Leading off, Sanders doubled. He tagged up and took third on a fly out. Mabry walked. Sanders scored on a Nunez single, who was pinch-hitting for Seabol. However, Molina ground into a double play to end it. Cards 10-5.

Astros sixth – Marquis done
Ensberg singled with one out and Everett singled with two outs. Runners on the corners. Humberto Quintero stroked an RBI single. Randy Flores came in and retired pinch-hitter Mike Lamb to escape the jam. Cards 10-6.

Astros seventh – Two more
Brad Thompson hit Chris Burke with a pitch. He traded places with Craig Biggio on a fielders' choice. Biggio came home as Berkman hammered a homer to left. This is getting too interesting. Cards 10-8.

Cards eighth – Albert does it
Albert homered off reliever Chad Qualls leading off. Sanders followed with a double, but was stranded there. Cards 11-8.

Astros eighth – Reyes relief
Lane tripled leading off. Thompson was pulled for Al Reyes. Everett's sac fly scored Lane, but Reyes stopped the bleeding there. Cards 11-9.

Astros ninth – Izzy time
In a departure from recent results, Jason Isringhausen retired all three hitters faced, including fanning Biggio swinging to end it – finally.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Sunday at Astros: Mark Mulder (7-1, 3.72) vs. Roger Clemens 1:05 pm WB11
Monday vs. Red Sox: Matt Morris (6-0, 3.81) vs. Tim Wakefield 7:10 pm FSNM & ESPN2
Tuesday vs. Red Sox: Jeff Suppan (4-5, 4.41) vs. Matt Clement 7:10 pm FSN Midwest
Wednesday vs. Red Sox: Chris Carpenter vs. David Wells 7:10 pm FSNM & ESPN2

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

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories