Walton's Game Observations – Monday

Matt Morris led the Cardinals over the Red Sox 7-1 Monday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals handily defeated the World Champion Boston Red Sox at Busch Stadium Monday night by the score of 7-1. The Redbirds' record is an NL-best 37-20. With a Cubs' loss, the Cards' NL Central lead is 6.5 games.

Matt Morris pitched masterfully in collecting his seventh win against no losses. He bested knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, tossing a four-hit complete game. He also drove in a run and scored one. It was easier to cheer for Edgar Renteria as he went 0-for-4, ground into two double plays and made an error that led to the final two runs that put the game out of reach.

The defense had a number of stellar plays behind Morris while the offense played small ball. Their first eight hits were all singles. They also stole three bases, two by Reggie Sanders. Sanders and Yadier Molina each had two hits and Yadi also walked and drove in two. David Eckstein had three hits, including a two-run triple and three RBI.

Roster full
With Roger Cedeno going onto the disabled list, Skip Schumaker was given his first chance to join the big club. Schumaker was assigned #55. His addition put the 40-man roster at its maximum limit.

Home record good, too
With all the talk about the Cardinals' 19-10 MLB-leading road record, their home mark is overlooked. St. Louis is now 18-10 at Busch and they've won eight of their last nine and ten of the last 12 at home including Monday.

The Monday night crowd was announced to be the largest regular season count since 1997. The season per-game average coming in was about 39,700 in 27 home tilts. Total attendance is over one million, and more than three million tickets have been sold already.

Monday's lineup
Eckstein, Grudzielanek, Pujols, Edmonds, Sanders, Walker, Nunez (3b), Molina and Morris. Edmonds moved back into the cleanup spot and Larry Walker came back at #6 for the second time this season. Grudz, hitting .328, is a better choice right now in the #2 hole.

On to the game…

BoSox first – Edgar pleases fans
Mark Bellhorn singled to left leading off. As Edgar Renteria was announced, there were audible boos from the full house crowd. However, after a bit, maybe a quarter of the fans stood and cheered as Edgar looked into the stands, then tipped his batting helmet. Quickly, he made them even happier by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play.

BoSox second – Sanders muff costs run
Sanders got a late break on a ball hit by Manny Ramirez and turned it from an out into a double. Grudz made a nice play on a Trot Nixon grounder to get the first out as Manny took third. Jason Vartiek's single up the middle scored the run. Red Sox 1-0.

Cards second – Small balling for three
Sanders hit a one-out single to left. He slid into second base head-first just ahead of the tag for a stolen base. Walker stroked a two-strike line drive to left that Nixon almost caught. Sanders could only take third as a result. Nunez' first pitch single scored the run and re-installed runners on the corners as Walker did a nice job taking third when it was not a hit-and-run. A wild pitch allowed Nunez to take second. Molina slapped a single the other way to right to score the lead run. Runners on the corners again with still one out. Even with everyone expecting it, La Russa called the suicide squeeze with Morris hitting. It worked perfectly. Good to trade an out for a run. Eckstein beat out an infield chopper up the middle, but Yadi was caught trying to come home. At least that is what the ump called. Replays showed him safe. Cards 3-1.

BoSox third – Nice D
Pujols made a nice defensive play to end the inning, as the ball actually seemed to bounce off a fan before Albert hauled it in.

Cards fourth – Sanders fuels another run
Sanders is making up for his miscue by singling. He took second on another passed ball by Varitek. On ball four to Nunez, Sanders stole third, his second swipe of the night. He scored on a Molina ground out. Nunez moved up on the third passed ball, but was stranded. Cards 4-1.

Cards fifth – Two on
Grudz walked and stole second. Albert also drew a free pass. But, Edmonds and Sanders couldn't deliver.

BoSox sixth - In order again
Bellhorn walked with one out, but he was erased in a double play. Three up and three down four innings in a row for Morris.

Cards sixth – Wake over
Walker took first when he was hit by pitch. He advanced on Ramirez, as Manny was late getting the ball into second on Nunez' fly ball to the track in left. It was the Cards' seventh extra base of the game (three steals, three passed balls and this play). Molina walked. With the runners taking off, Molina hopped over Eckstein's grounder. It was an RBI single that ended Wakefield's night. Cards 5-1.

BoSox seventh – One on
David Ortiz singled down the right field line with one out. Walker got the ball back in quickly to save a base. He never moved from there. Morris got the third out on his first strikeout of the evening.

Cards eighth – Edgar error opens door again
Molina singled. Morris, hitting for himself, was cheered loudly. He'll be given a chance to pitch the complete game. Edgar let Morris' grounder go between his legs. Eckstein scored them both on a triple into the left field corner. Manny looked like a matador out there. Cards 7-1.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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
Thursday: Open Friday vs. Yankees: Jason Marquis vs. Chien-Ming Wang 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Yankees: Mark Mulder vs. Kevin Brown 2:05pm Big FOX
Sunday vs. Yankees: Matt Morris vs. Randy Johnson 1:15pm WB11

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

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