Walton's Game Observations – Wednesday

The Cardinals lost the game 5-2 and the series 2-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals were defeated by the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre by a 5-2 score Wednesday night. The Jays won the three-game interleague series, 2-1. The Cards overall record is now 41-24 and their road record is 20-12.

Jason Marquis went after his ninth win against struggling left hander Ted Lilly. The Cards' troubles against portsiders continued as Lilly breezed and Marquis labored. Marquis left after allowing five runs in five innings and later took the loss. While mathematically pure, the results were not.

With half their starters missing, the Cards' bench players couldn't cut it against veteran lefty Ted Lilly. Only after he left the game did they manage to at least score. Mark Grudzielanek, Reggie Sanders and John Mabry were on base three times. Albert Pujols added two hits, but the Cards couldn't string them together.

Lefty losing log
While the Cardinals have not dominated left-handed pitching this season, with a 10-8 record coming into Wednesday, their results are better than most. In fact, their record is better against lefties than ten other National League teams. Five have done better, led by Florida and the Dodgers at 9-4.

McKay HoFer, eh?
Cardinals First-Base coach Dave McKay, a Vancouver native, played for Toronto for parts of three seasons (1977-79) and was the starting Jays third baseman in their first game. McKay was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. McKay was the career leader in home runs by a Canadian (six) in the Jays' previous park, Exhibition Stadium. We'll ignore the fact that Jim Hayes called McKay "the Cardinals' first baseman" in a pre-game feature.

Interleague consistency on the line
This season, on the way to a 7-4 interleague record, the Cardinals have posted 2-1 marks this season against Kansas City, Boston and the Yankees. A win Wednesday would be required to keep that 2-1 record intact for the Toronto series, too.

Series run at risk
Coming into Wednesday, the Cardinals are undefeated in their past seven series (6-0-1) and have not lost back-to-back games since dropping a season-high three-straight games, May 5-7 against San Diego.

No apologies in recent losses
The Cardinals last four defeats have come against four of baseball's finest pitchers - Roger Clemens, David Wells, Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay. That foursome owns 877 combined wins, 14 Cy Young Awards and 25 All-Star game selections. Ted Lilly, on the other hand…

Hungo defends fans' right to interfere
In the fifth, a Toronto patron reached over a short wall down the right field line to touch a ball in play. Cameras soon showed ushers directing the offender to move from his seat. Hungo took exception, saying he "can't understand it". He went on to defend the fan for doing what "comes naturally". I guess it's ok to ignore the "no smoking" warnings, too.

Walker, Canadian Hero
Larry Walker is baseball's all-time home run (375) and RBI (1,286) leader among players born in Canada and his .312 lifetime batting average is second only to Tip O'Neill (.334 from 1883-1892). Walker is a nine-time winner of the Tip O'Neill Award presented annually by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to the best Canadian-born player.

Wednesday's lineup – Four regulars out
Grudzielanek, Taguchi (cf), Pujols, Walker (dh), Sanders, Seabol (3b), Mabry (rf), Diaz and Nunez (ss). Jim Edmonds remained out with his rib injury. Scott Rolen is still on the disabled list. David Eckstein and Yadier Molina were given the night off.

On to the game…

Cards first – Whoa!
Grudz singled leading off, but the next three all fanned. Ugh!

Jays first – Bullet dodged
Alex Rios started off with a double. With one out, Wells singled, but Rios was held at third. Marquis induced a Hillenbrand-started double play to escape.

Cards second – Good start, no finish
Sanders walked leading off and stole second with one out. However, he was stranded.

Jays second – Two-out damage
Aaron Hill singled with one out. Orlando Hudson's two-out fly ball to left went out. Russ Adams followed with a single and stole without a throw as Diaz dropped the ball. Rios' single scored Adams and brought out Dave Duncan. Jays 3-0.

Jays third – Best inning yet.
Eric Hinske was issued a four-pitch walk with two outs. But, that was it.

Cards fourth – A runner
Sanders walked with two out. Didn't steal this time.

Jays fourth – Another on
Hudson walked leading off and moved up on a ground out. He didn't go further.

Cards fifth – A hit!
Starting the inning, Mabry singled off Lilly's body for just the second hit of the night. Before I could even finish typing the above, Einar Diaz ground into a double play.

Jays fifth – More two-out trouble
Hillenbrand's two out double hit off the top of the left field wall. Sanders just missed catching it. Hilly took third on a wild pitch. Hinske walked. Both scored on a double down the right field line by Hill despite fan interference. Jays 5-0.

Cards sixth – Rally-killing mistake
Grudz drew a lead-off free pass and was promptly picked off and tagged out at second. Albert singled with two out.

Jays sixth – Pitching change
Randy Flores took over on the mound. Marquis allowed eight hits and three walks in five innings.

Cards seventh – Slowly bleeding to death
Mabry singled with two outs. The Cards have yet to have two baserunners on base in the same inning.

Jays seventh – Thompson's turn
Frank Catalanotto singled leading off against Brad Thompson. A double play ended the inning nicely. Where's the offense? I know, on the bench…

Cards eighth – Ice cracked, but not broken
Against reliever Vinny Chulk, Grudz and So singled with one out. Albert's single scored one. That caused Scott Schoeneweis to come in for one batter. He walked Larry Walker to load the bases. Sanders' RBI single kept the bases loaded. Scott Seabol ground into a fatal double play. Where is Jim Edmonds? Where is Scott Rolen? Help! Jays 5-2.

Jays eighth – King cool
Ray King came in to pitch and retired his men 1-2-3.

Cards ninth – Last gasp fails
Mabry singled leading off against closer Miguel Batista. But, a double play ended that final threat.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Thursday: Off day
Friday @ Tampa Bay: Mark Mulder vs. Scott Kazmir 6:15pm FSNM
Saturday @ Tampa Bay: Matt Morris vs. Mark Hendrickson 5:15pm WB11
Sunday @ Tampa Bay: Jeff Suppan vs. Doug Waechter 1:15pm WB11

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

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