Walton's Game Observations – Tuesday – Cards 4-2

The Cardinals defeated the San Diego Padres 4-2 Tuesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Diego Padres 4-2 Tuesday night at Petco Park, sending the reeling, but still first-place Pads to their eighth straight loss. The Cardinals' record is now 63-36 and their lead remains 10-1/2 games over the surging Houston Astros.

Mark Mulder opposed former Cardinal Woody Williams. Mulder was again not sharp. He allowed baserunners in every frame and 12 total in less than six innings, but the Cardinal defense helped him keep the Padres at bay until his final frame. Mulder ended up earning his 12th victory with 3-1/3 innings of scoreless relief by five pitchers, including Jason Isringhausen's 28th save of the season.

Albert Pujols, Mark Grudzielanek, John Gall and So Taguchi each had two hits. Gall doubled and scored twice, Albert homered and doubled and So was on base three times, including a walk.

Reader note
Most of the content that I would normally put here is instead in my "Walton's Wanderings" column today at this link: Wanderings

Locked out of Hall?
From Birdhouse friend and Texas Baseball Hall of Fame head Bill McCurdy: "If you haven't seen this projection by Sports Illustrated on 20 "borderline" HOF candidates among current active players, check it out. Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker are both projected as players who will not get there. There are a number of arguable calls on this list. If the HOF uses the SI scale for admitting new members in these kinds of numbers, Cooperstown is going to be in the market for some expansion real estate by 2020. Here's the link: SI.com"

More on bats
Here is a nice story about todays' players and old players' lumber by ESPN's Jim Caple. link

Cards Heckled
Check out this amusing story from The Heckler. link

More expert commentary
Heard and not heard during the second inning:
Dan: "How aggressive will the Cards be on the basepaths tonight with Nevin behind the plate since he hasn't played there in a long time?"
Al: "A good question."
Walton's unsolicited answer: "They should be very aggressive, but considering they attempted only one steal over a whole May weekend against Mike Piazza, arguably the worst defensive starting catcher in MLB, I wouldn't count on it."

It's a nit, but…
Dan noted that this is Woody's second appearance against his former team. Technically, that is not true. His first meeting against them was back in 1999, before he was a Cardinal. So, this game is actually his first against his former team. Anyway, that early game was on August 2, 1999 at Busch Stadium (while Woody was with San Diego the first time). In that game, Woody took the loss after allowing four runs on six hits over six innings as the Cards defeated the Padres 6-5.

Third spinal for Larry; nine lives coming?
Hungo reported that Walker had a third injection to relieve pain in his neck and that was generally accepted as the limit in any six-month period. However, the doctor involved allegedly said that Walker could have nine shots if he wanted. So said Al. Hmmm…

Tuesday's lineup – Gall's MLB debut
Eckstein, Nunez (3b), Pujols, Edmonds, Gall (lf), Grudzielanek, Taguchi (rf), Diaz and Mulder. John Rodriguez was off for a second game after spraining his ankle Saturday.

On to the game…

Cards first – Instant RISP wasted
Abe Nunez doubled with one out. Neither Pujols nor Edmonds was able to get the ball out of the infield.

Pads first – Two on
Eric Young singled leading off and traded places with Mark Loretta via a fielders' choice. After Mulder fanned the dangerous Brian Giles, Phil Nevin walked. Joe Randa flied out to end it.

Cards second – Bases loaded with no out, but only one score
John Gall's blooper to deep short and short center bounced off Khalil Greene's glove, so his initial at-bat in the majors was a double. He moved up to third on a single by Grudz. So walked to load the bases. Diaz ground into a double play as Gall scored. Cards 1-0.

Pads second – Twin killing
Xavier Nady sharply singled past Albert down the line, but So played it very aggressively to keep Nady from taking second base. A nice 5-4-3 ended the inning.

Pads third – Boos
Loretta walked with two out and Giles singled past first. That was it as the hometown crowd expressed their displeasure vocally.

Cards fourth – Two more on
New Padres third baseman Randa threw wildly to new first baseman Nady, allowing Gall to reach with one out. Randa took the error. So singled with two outs. No more.

Pads fourth – Woody had a chance
Nady singled past short with one out. A force play put Khalil Greene on first instead of Nady. Mulder has yet to retire the side in order. Damian Jackson reached on an infield single as Greene took third base. Fortunately, Woody popped out to end it.

Cards fifth – Mulder tries
Mulder looped a single into center leading off, but was doubled up by Eckstein.

Pads fifth – Here we go again
Loretta doubled into the left field corner with one out. Giles followed up with a walk. Mulder is up over 90 pitches and barely half of them have been strikes. A nice 6-4-3 got Mulder out of yet another jam.

Cards sixth – Albert and mates step up
Leading off, Pujols put a ball into the second deck in left center, breaking an 0-for-12 stretch. Gall and Grudz each singled sharply with one out. Woody looks to be tiring. So singled and Gall looked dead, but Nady cut the ball off and they ended up with no outs as Gall scored. Runners at the corners as more boos ensued. This was So's first RBI in three weeks. We need some outfielders here! Diaz expertly squeezed another run home. Cards 4-0.

Pads sixth – Lead quickly halved
Randa singled leading off. Edmonds was unable to get to Nady's double, but third base coach Rob Picciolo surprisingly held Randa at third. Still, two RISP and no out. Greene's RBI single occurred on an 0-2 count. Damian Jackson plated another on a ground out. With two down, Mulder was pulled for Cal Eldred, who induced a Young groundout to end the inning. Cards 4-2.

Cards seventh – Two more runners stranded
Against reliever Paul Quantrill, Pujols slapped a two-out, two-strike opposite-field double into the right field corner. Despite not getting the ball out of the infield all night, Edmonds was walked intentionally. Their gamble to get Gall worked.

Padres seventh - Three pitchers, three outs
After Eldred walked Loretta leading off, Randy Flores got the call to face Giles. J-Rod came in for Gall as part of a double switch. Flores and then Julian Tavarez each collected one out each.

Padres eighth – Lotta; action, but no cleats on the plate
Nady was walked by Tavarez leading off. This is the second inning in a row that the first batter was given a pass. Nunez started a great double play on a backhand stop to again get the Cards out of a jam. This could have been the play of the game. Edmonds just missed a diving catch in right center, and was shaken up, but stayed in. So was right there backing up the play and got the ball in to hold Jackson to a single. As Ryan Klesko was announced as the pinch-hitter, Duncan went to Ray King. He delivered his out.

Pads ninth – Izzy time
Jason Isringhausen was asked to do his job and did, but of course did not retire the opposition in order. He walked Giles with two out, allowing the tying run to come to the plate. But, Nevin flied out on the first pitch to end the game.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Wed. @ Padres: Jason Marquis vs. Jake Peavy 9:05pm FSNM/ESPN2
Thursday @ Padres: Chris Carpenter vs. Tim Stauffer 2:35pm FSNM
Friday @ Dodgers: Matt Morris vs. Brad Penny 9:40pm, FSNM
Saturday @ Dodgers: Jeff Suppan vs. Derek Lowe 3:05pm Big Fox
Sunday @ Dodgers: Mark Mulder vs. Odalis Perez 3:10pm WB11

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

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