Walton's Game Observations – Friday – Cards 3-1

Mark Mulder led the Cardinals over the San Francisco Giants 3-1 Friday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants 3-1 in the first of the three-game weekend series. The Cardinals' overall record is back to 24 games over .500 at 55-31. The Astros remain 12-1/2 games back in the NL Central with the Cubs 13-1/2 out.

In his return to the Bay Area, the former Oakland A, Mark Mulder, faced Jason Schmidt. Mulder pitched his best game in over two months, allowing just four hits in seven shutout innings and won his tenth game as the result. Jason Isringhausen struggled to his 24th save.

The Cardinals' long balls did Schmidt in, as Larry Walker hit a two-run shot and Reggie Sanders added a solo bomb. Jim Edmonds doubled and walked twice.

Matheny honored
Mike Matheny was honored in a pre-game ceremony when Tony La Russa presented him with his 2004 Gold Glove, earned while he was a Cardinal, of course. By the way, Matheny has a career high in home runs with nine and there is almost half the season to go.

Hungo meant "Not, non"
"You wouldn't want to make that a non-displaced fracture", said Hungo about the risk of Yadier Molina playing this weekend.

Benji's brother's bandage
Television cameras clearly showed the bandaged left hand of Yadier Molina. It would seem to be incredibly foolish for him to play this weekend. A one-week break would be ideal for the player who some felt was overworked in the first half.

Friday's lineup
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Walker, Rolen, Sanders, Grudzielanek, Diaz and Mulder. Albert returned to the starting line-up as Sanders dropped from #3 to #6. Mark Grudzielanek returned. Einar Diaz makes his first start after Yadier Molina's injury.

On to the game…

Cards first - Splashdown
Following an Edmonds walk, Walker slammed a Schmidt offering 455 feet into McCovey Cove. It is so cool to see a home run hit into the bay. It was only the ninth time an opposing player has ever done that. Imagine how Walker must feel. It may be me, but it seemed like Walker might have watched this one a bit more, as there may not be too many more like it left. Cards 2-0.

Giants first – Einar can play
Omar Vizquel singled with one out, but Einar Diaz nailed him trying to steal second base.

Giants second - Three different runners
39-year-old Moises Alou legged out an infield single as Eckstein's throw from deep short bounced once and was late to first. A fielders' choice put Lance Niekro on first instead of Alou. Eckstein made a nice play on a ball up the middle, but it was another fielders' choice, as Grudz' relay to first was way off line.

Cards third – Bases loaded, none home
With two out, Edmonds doubled off the right field wall. The ball caromed away from Alou, so Edmonds cruised into second. Schmidt pitched carefully to Albert, walking him. Walker singled to deep short as a hustling Albert slid into second ahead of the throw. Rolen hit another shot to third, and just like the previous night, the third baseman held on for the third out.

Giants third – Eck's wild night
Jason Ellison reached as Eckstein misfired on a throw to first. It was his 11th error of the season. Schmidt bunted him over. Ellison moved to third with two out. Vizquel walked. But, Edmonds caught Pedro Feliz' shot to center to end it.

Cards fourth – Solo shot
Leading off, Reggie Sanders hit a solo home run. It was his 18th of his career. Cards 3-0.

Cards fifth – Lotsa runners, no runs
Eckstein singled leading off, but was caught stealing as Matheny got him. Albert and Larry walked, but Rolen fanned.

Giants fifth – Walking in pairs
Ellison singled with one out and moved up on a sacrifice. Mulder walked Durham with two down. That was it.

Cards seventh - Ouch
With one out, Eckstein was hit by a pitch. Edmonds and Pujols did nothing this time.

Giants seventh – Good for Mike, better for Cards
Matheny doubled off the top of the left field wall with one out. Mulder kept him there.

Cards eighth – E5 on the bases
Rolen singled with one out. He made a mistake, taking too big of a lead off first. Rolen was doubled up trying to get back after Sanders' fly ball.

Giants eighth – Mulder leaves, so does shutout
Al Reyes took over after Mulder tossed seven shutout innings. He threw only 73 pitches, allowing only four hits and a walk. He fanned just one. With two down, Pedro Feliz homered. Alou walked and Niekro singled. Even though Tavarez was warming, La Russa left Reyes in. Al rewarded the decision by fanning Deivi Cruz. Cards 3-1.

Cards ninth – Albert helps Izzy with save opp
Diaz singled with one out. John Mabry was announced as a pinch-hitter. As a result, the Giants called in a lefty, so La Russa sent So Taguchi in to hit, instead. He was retired, but Eckstein singled and Edmonds walked to load the bases. Albert hit a fly ball to the track on a full count. The only Cardinal backer who was not upset was Jason Isringhausen, who would have lost his chance for a save.

Giants ninth – Izzy time never smooth
Matheny singled over Eckstein leading off. Michael Tucker's double play ended the threat. Speedster Alex Sanchez reopened the threat when he singled in front of Sanders. A Duncan visit ensued before the final Giant was retired.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Saturday @ Giants: Matt Morris vs. TBD 3:05pm Big FOX
Sunday @ Giants: Jeff Suppan vs. Noah Lowry 7:05pm ESPN
Monday: Off day
Tuesday: All-Star Game
Wednesday: Off day
Thursday: Off day

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

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