Walton's Game Observations – Tuesday - Cards 2-1

Reggie Sanders' two-run home run powered the Cardinals' 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a 2-1 score Monday night. After winning only one of their last four series, the Cards got out ahead in the first contest of this two-game midweek series. The Cardinals' overall record is now 48-28 while their National League Central lead over the Cubs stayed at eight-and-one-half games.

In a matchup of lefties, Mark Mulder took on Brandon Claussen. The latter took care of the Cardinals last week, allowing three earned runs in six innings last Tuesday and did better this time. Claussen yielded just four hits and two runs in six innings, continuing the Cards' offensive difficulties against lefties.

Mulder lasted one out into the seventh, as Brad Thompson, Ray King and a Yadier Molina pickoff preserved his lead. Julian Tavarez and Jason Isringhausen completed the three shutout bullpen innings. Mulder received his ninth victory of the season and Izzy collected his 22nd save in 24 chances.

The offense didn't do much, but it was enough to win this time out. Clean-up hitter Reggie Sanders slammed a two-run home run in the first inning for all the Redbird runs. Albert Pujols had two hits and David Eckstein had one. That was it.

Familiar foe
The Cardinals and Reds are clashing this week for their fourth series meeting of the season, and their second two-game series in St. Louis. The Cardinals are 5-3 (1-1 at Busch) to begin the year with the Reds, but have lost two straight. They swept a three-game series May 2-4 that included the largest ninth inning comeback win in Cardinals history. Who can forget that?

Series history
In 2004, the Cardinals were 14-5 against the Reds, their best record vs. an N.L. Central opponent, and had a 7-2 winning mark at Busch Stadium. The Redbirds hold a 1,021-906 advantage all-time vs. the Reds, including a narrow 116-110 edge vs. the Reds at Busch Stadium.

Vote 25 times, says MLB
All-Star Game voting ends Thursday, with Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds still ahead in their starting bids.

Ugly Sunday factoid #1
In a bad 4-3 loss to the Pirates Sunday, the Cardinals were victimized by six double plays. Incredibly, that matches the team record previously set in the first game of a doubleheader on September 6, 1948 at Pittsburgh.

Ugly Sunday factoid #2
One of the Cardinals six double plays Sunday was as the result of a very odd situation. Abraham Nunez thought a Yadier Molina drive to right field had been caught. Nunez headed back to first base, but was passed by Molina, who was legging out an easy double. Molina was immediately out and Nunez was tagged out by the second baseman. The last time a Cardinal batter was out for passing a runner, as reported by retrosheet.org, was on June 9, 1948. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Cardinals were losing to the Braves at Sportsman's Park, 11-4, having scored three runs in the inning. Enos Slaughter was the runner on first when Marty Marion hit a ball down the right field line. Slaughter thought the ball was foul and stopped running while Marion saw it land fair and rounded first. He was called out for passing Slaughter.

Ugly Sunday factoids #3 and #4
Jason Isringhausen and Al Reyes each allowed their first home runs of the season in the late innings of Sunday's loss. They were the tying and losing runs. It was Izzy's first home run allowed since surrendering a pair on August 16, 2004 at Cincinnati, a span of 47 outings (42-2/3 innings pitched). Reyes shot allowed was his first in 40-1/3 innings pitched as a member of the Cardinals and first-ever allowed while pitching at Busch Stadium (24-2/3 innings pitched).

Tuesday's lineup
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Sanders, Rolen, Grudzielanek, Taguchi (rf), Molina and Mulder. Larry Walker remains out due to the herniated disk in his neck. Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen returned from an extra day of rest.

On to the game…

Reds first – Coulda' been much worse
Felipe Lopez singled on a full-count pitch to start the game. Sean Casey singled off Grudz' glove as he went to his left. As Joe Randa singled to center, Edmonds dropped the ball in the transfer, so Lopez scored without a throw. Reds 1-0.

Cards first – What lead?
Albert stroked a two-out single to left. Reggie Sanders slapped his old club around again, putting a ball into the seats in left-center. Cards 2-1.

Cards second – Yadi stealing?
Molina walked with two outs and promptly tried to steal second. Excuse me? Did he just find some speed somewhere or did La Russa want to save Mulder to lead off the third?

Reds third – Trouble averted
Lopez singled again, but was erased in a nice 5-4-3 double play. Casey singled again, too, with two outs. Randa doubled to put two runners in scoring position, but Mulder kept them away from home.

Cards third – Stealing by the right guy
Eckstein singled to center with one out and swiped second on the next pitch. Maybe La Russa thought Molina was still on base. That was it for the inning, unfortunately.

Reds fourth - Walker
Jason LaRue walked with one out. He knew better than try to steal, but was stranded.

Reds sixth – Grounders and defense pick Mulder up
Randa walked and Wily Mo Pena singled leading off. A ball hit by Adam Dunn led to a force-out at second that put runners at the corners. A 6-4-3 ended the jam.

Cards sixth – Albert doing his part
Albert rapped another two-out single for the Cards first baserunner since the third. Wish there were some people on base ahead of him…

Reds seventh – Pickoff saves Mulder
Pinch-hitting for Claussen, Edwin Encarnacion walked with one out. Man, am I glad to see the lefty leave the game. Speaking of lefty leaving the game, Mulder was pulled by Dave Duncan. He can win or get a no-decision, but not lose. Brad Thompson came in and got the lead runner on a Lopez force out. Aurilia reached on a single to short. Exit Thompson, enter Ray King. But, he didn't have to pitch to the batter, as Molina picked off Aurilia. The throw wasn't that good, but Albert sold the first base ump. Replays were inconclusive at best. We'll take the out.

Reds eighth – Pen perfect
Ray King got the first out and Julian Tavarez took the last two. Nunez took over at second via a double-switch.

Cards eighth – Second walk of the night
With two out, Eckstein walked off former Cardinal Kent Mercker, but Adam Dunn hauled in Albert's first-pitch shot to the track in right.

Reds ninth – Izzy time exciting
Jason Isringhausen got his expected call. Dunn hit a ball to the track for the first out. After a strikeout, Izzy walked the tying run. The runner stole second before Jacob Cruz fanned swinging to end it.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Wednesday vs. Reds: Matt Morris vs. Ramon Ortiz 7:10pm FSNM
Thursday vs. Rockies: Jeff Suppan vs. Jeff Francis 7:10pm FSNM
Friday vs. Rockies: Chris Carpenter vs. Joe Kennedy 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Rockies: Jason Marquis vs. Jamey Wright 6:15pm FSNM
Sunday vs. Rockies: Mark Mulder vs. Jason Jennings 1:15pm WB11

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

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