Walton's Game Observations – Monday

Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals took out the Cincinnati Reds 6-1 Monday night.

As it should be, the first place St. Louis Cardinals defeated the last place Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park by the score of 6-1 Monday night. The Cards' overall record improved to 45-24 and their road record is a sharp 24-12. It is the first time this season the team has been 21 games over .500.

Chris Carpenter earned his tenth win against Aaron Harang. Carpenter pitched eight innings, allowing just four hits and two walks. He struck out eight. Ray King finished up.

The Cardinals' offense collected 12 hits. Albert Pujols had two hits including a home run, walked twice, scored three times and drove in two. Reggie Sanders had a single, double and a home run and collected three RBI. David Eckstein was on base three times, with a single, triple and a walk. John Mabry struck out four times as part of an 0-for-5 night.

Where are we?
On Monday, the Cards begin the final series of their ten-day, nine-game road trip with the first of three games in Cincinnati. The Cards are 4-2 (1-2 at Toronto and 3-0 at Tampa Bay) to begin the trip. A Monday night win would give the Birds their first four-game win streak since May 23-28, when they won five straight.

Interleague play wrapped
The Cardinals finished 10-5 in interleague play this season and won four of their five interleague series. They have gone 21-6 (.778) in interleague games over the past two seasons, including an 11-1 mark last year. St. Louis is 73-57 (.562) all-time in interleague action.

Great place to hit
Entering Monday night's game, all but three of the Cardinals' starting position players have compiled a lifetime batting mark of .300 or better at Great American Ball Park. Albert Pujols leads the way with a .363 career batting average at GABP. Pujols has hit eight homers there, just one shy of the leading total for a visiting player (Lance Berkman and Geoff Jenkins have each hit nine). Jim Edmonds hit his seventh on May 2 in the memorable ninth inning comeback win and Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders each have six homers at Great American.

Want one of those powder blues?
Gameworn jerseys from Throwback night will go on sale starting Wednesday here: Devil Rays auctions

Eck's excellent eye
From The Sporting News' Ken Rosenthal: "At the start of the week, Cardinals SS David Eckstein had swung at 463 pitches and missed only 19 times, according to STATS Inc. If he keeps up that pace, his swing-and-miss rate of 4.1 percent will be the lowest since 1988, when Hall of Fame 3B Wade Boggs had a rate of 3.6 percent with the Red Sox."

PF flyer?
Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right heel, according to the New York Daily News. He's been bothered by it for about a week but has kept on playing. Plantar fasciitis is the same ailment that has plagued Tino's successor in St. Louis, Albert Pujols.

Monday's lineup – Rolen's return again
Eckstein, Nunez (2b), Pujols, Sanders, Mabry, Rolen, Taguchi (cf), Molina and Carpenter. Scott Rolen returned from a day off and will also get Wednesday off. Jim Edmonds remained out with his rib injury. With the end of the DH play, Scott Seabol returned to the bench. Reggie Sanders also returned to the line-up as John Mabry was a late add for Larry Walker. Mark Grudzielanek got a breather.

On to the game…

Cards first – Great chance missed
Eckstein and Nunez singled, continuing the fine stretch from the top of the order. Albert walked to load the bases. Sanders' full-count fly to right was not deep enough to score the runner. Mabry fanned swinging. Rolen hit the ball hard to third for a force out.

Reds second – A baserunner
With one out, Joe Randa singled off the glove of a diving Eckstein for the first Reds hit. Nothing doing.

Cards third – Break on through
Albert singled to left with two out. Sanders shot a line drive just over short that went all the way to the wall. Pujols scored without a throw as Sanders cruised in with a double. Mabry fanned again with a runner in scoring position. Cards 1-0.

Reds third – Another baserunner
Luis Lopez reached via a walk with two outs. He didn't go anywhere.

Cards fourth – Something little
Molina singled with two out. That was it.

Cards fifth – Big fly
Eckstein singled but was caught off first on a liner to short by Nunez. Albert walked and scored on a Sanders home run to right. Cards 3-0.

Reds sixth – Carp cooking
After striking out the side in the fifth, Carpenter ran his streak to four in a row. He has not allowed a run in 22 innings. So Taguchi made a great catch in center, bringing a Rich Aurilia ball back over the wall to maintain Carpenter's one-hitter.

Cards seventh – Game over
With one out, Eckstein hit a ball to right. Wily Mo Pena tried to make the catch, but the ball got under his glove while Eck motored to third. With the infield in, Nunez' nubber scored the run. Harang left the game. Supposed Reds closer of the future Ryan Wagner served up Albert's 18th home run of the year. It was a two-run shot and drove his RBI total to 58 on the season. Sanders' third hit was a single to left. Mabry fanned for a third time. Rolen whiffed, too. Cards 6-0.

Reds seventh – Seven Ks
Joe Randa singled with two out. Adam Dunn fanned to end the inning. That makes seven strikeouts in seven innings for Carp.

Cards eighth – Can't pour it on
Greeting reliever Todd Coffey, So singled and Taguchi doubled. With two runners in scoring position and no out, Carpenter, Eckstein and Nunez couldn't deliver.

Reds eighth – Rally isn't
Pena singled leading off for the Reds third hit of the night. He lasted one pitch until Rolen started a 5-4-3 double play. Carp fanned pinch hitter Jacob Cruz to put an exclamation mark on it.

Cards ninth – Diving and swinging
Sanders just missed his shot at a triple and a cycle as Junior Griffey (remember him?) made a diving catch in left center. Mabry whiffed for a fourth time to end the inning.

Reds ninth – Shutout lost
Felipe Lopez homered to break up the shutout. As Rich Aurilia walked, La Russa pulled Carpenter for Ray King. He ended it, fanning Joe Randa to end the game. Cards 6-1.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Tuesday @ Reds: Jason Marquis vs. Brandon Claussen 6:10 pm FSNM
Wednesday @ Reds: Mark Mulder vs. Ramon Ortiz 11:35 am WB11
Thursday vs. Pirates: Matt Morris vs. David Williams 7:10 pm FSNM
Friday vs. Pirates: Jeff Suppan vs. Kip Wells 7:10 pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Pirates: Chris Carpenter vs. Mark Redman 6:15 pm WB11
Sunday vs. Pirates: Jason Marquis vs. Oliver Perez 1:15 pm WB11

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

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