Walton's Game Observations – Sunday

The Cardinals defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-5 Sunday afternoon, sweeping the three-game weekend series.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field by a 8-5 score Sunday afternoon. With the sweep, the Cards overall record improved to 44-24 and their road record is a sharp 23-12. It is the first time this season the team is 20 games over .500. With the Cubs' fourth loss in a row, the Cards' NL Central lead is a season-best nine-and-a-half games.

Jeff Suppan evened his record at 6-6, defeating Doug Waechter. Soup went 6-2/3 innings, allowing eleven baserunners, five of whom scored. Jason Isringhausen was the last of five relievers, collecting save #21 of the season and his third of the weekend.

Hitters #1-5 did all the damage. David Eckstein and Abraham Nunez reached four times. The latter had four singles. Albert Pujols had three hits, a walk and a pair of RBI. Larry Walker walked three times and had a hit. John Mabry drove in four runs. The final four hitters in the lineup were 0-for-19 with a walk and a ground into double play.

Carpenter integrates MLB 44 years early
Bob Carpenter was going through the Press Guide looking for a father-son combination who played for the Cards. He asked out loud if "War Sanders", who played for the team in 1903-04, was related to Reggie. Uh, Bob. Ever hear of Jackie Robinson?

Carpenter's fun with numbers
When announcing Rays catcher Toby Hall, Carpenter said this: "He's been around this club for a number of years. He was a ninth round draft choice eight years ago. Five years in the minors and he's been with the Devil Rays the last six seasons."

Infielders in the outfield
Tony La Russa managed 67 games this season before his first "playing an infielder in the outfield" event of the season. On Sunday, Scott Seabol joined the great tradition upheld by Tony Womack, Marlon Anderson and many others. In his career, Seabol has played over 900 games in the minors and 36 games in the majors. I am betting it is his first-ever appearance in the outfield. Why is this happening? Is it TLR catching Bucky Harris for the fourth most wins all-time? Father's Day? A full moon?

Sunday's lineup – Infielders in the outfield
Eckstein, Nunez (3b), Pujols, Walker (dh), Mabry (rf), Grudzielanek, Seabol (lf), Taguchi (cf) and Molina. Scott Rolen took a day off and will also get Wednesday off. Jim Edmonds remained out with his rib injury, but did take batting practice. Scott Seabol got the start in left field.

On to the game…

Cards first – Good start
Eckstein was hit by a pitch to start the game. Nunez' single put runners on the corners. Albert took a free pass to load them up. Walker hit a dribbler to first. Instead of going for a double play, Travis Lee went home. However, his throw pulled the catcher's foot off the plate as Eck scored. The second run scored as Mabry hit the ball to the right side. Grudz was walked to load the bases with one out to reset the force at any base. Seabol and So fanned. Cards 2-0.

Rays first – Lead halved
Seabol got his first chance in the field on the second batter. The ball just about went over his head before he leapt up to make the catch. "He played that ball just like an infielder", quipped Rick Horton. Jorge Cantu walked and Aubrey Huff singled. Jonny Gomes' single up the middle scored the Rays' first run. Cards 2-1.

Cards second – Two more
Eckstein singled with one out. Nunez sliced a single to left. Albert's single up the middle scored Eck and put runners at the corners. Nunez scored on a Walker single to left. Cards 4-1.

Rays second – Second HBP
Suppan hit Nick Green with a pitch with two outs. That was it.

Rays third – Good time for K
Cantu doubled to left with one out. Gomes walked, but Suppan fanned Travis Lee looking.

Cards fourth – Coming in pairs
Albert singled with two outs and stole second uncontested. Walker drew a free pass. Mabry's one-hop double off the right-center field wall scored both runs. Cards 6-1.

Cards sixth – Big inning wasted
In his second inning of work, Tim Corcoran ran into trouble. Eckstein started off with a single past short, reaching base for the third time. Nunez singled past first, putting runners on the corners. Carpenter is really excited, calling the two "those little jackrabbits". Pujols' sharply-hit single to left scored Eck. Walker took another free pass to load the bases with no one out. But, no one scored, as Mabry lined into a double play at first and Grudz flied out to deep right. Cards 7-1.

Rays sixth – Rally snuffed
Aubrey Huff singled leading off, but he was erased in a double play.

Rays seventh – Trouble
Damon Hollins doubled into the left field corner leading off. Randy Flores is warming up. With two outs, Carl Crawford's single scored the run. Lugo dropped a great bunt single to third. A big meeting on the mound with Duncan ensued. After both runners moved up on a wild pitch and a Jorge Cantu walk to load the bases, Randy Flores took over. He served up a bases-clearing double by Aubrey Huff to left-center. Al Reyes got the third out as Gomes fanned swinging. Cards 7-5.

Cards eighth – Big inning missed again
Eckstein walked leading off. Abraham Nunez followed with another single off Franklin Nunez. These guys have each been on four times today. Albert fanned. Walker again walked to load the bases. Mabry forced a run home on the third walk of the inning. But, Grudz' double play snuffed the rally. Cards 8-5.

Rays eighth – Two on, none in
Travis Lee singled leading off. That led to Julian Tavarez coming in. He'd been warming up and was ready. Or so I thought. Damon Hollins singled over third base before Tavarez whiffed both pinch-hitter Reggie Taylor and Nick Green. Ray King got Carl Crawford for the third out.

Rays ninth – Game over
Jason Isringhausen retired all three men in order in nine pitches to collect save #21.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Monday @ Reds: Chris Carpenter vs. Aaron Harang 6:10 pm FSN Midwest/ESPN2
Tuesday @ Reds: Jason Marquis vs. Brandon Claussen 6:10 pm FSNM
Wednesday @ Reds: Mark Mulder vs. Ramon Ortiz 11:35 am WB11

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

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