Walton's Game Observations – Monday – Marlins 6-5

Returning home, the Cardinals were defeated by the Florida Marlins 6-5 Monday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals were defeated by the Florida Marlins 6-5 in front of 43,403 fans at Busch Stadium Monday night. The Cardinals' record is now 66-39 as they lost the first of the four-game midweek series and seven-game homestand. Their NL Central lead is now nine games.

Jason Marquis took on Ismael Valdez in a game that looked very winnable. But, the Redbird pitching, defense and baserunning were shaky. Despite throwing more than 130 pitches last time out, Marquis was left in long enough to allow four runs in the sixth, turning a potential victory into a loss. He allowed eleven base runners and threw 105 pitches.

Even though they had six extra-base hits, the Cards' offense was plagued by poor clutch hitting. The keystone combo of David Eckstein and Mark Grudzielanek each stranded four runners. John Rodriguez epitomized the night as he had a single, a double, a walk and a run scored along with a strikeout, an error and was picked off when it seemed he forgot how many outs there were. So Taguchi had a pair of singles and a double, but made a crucial mistake on the bases in the eighth. Ho hum. Albert Pujols homered, walked and scored twice.

Monday's lineup
Eckstein, Nunez, Pujols, Edmonds, Rodriguez (lf), Grudzielanek, Taguchi (rf), Mahoney and Marquis.

On to the game…

Marlins first – A hit
Luis Castillo singled with one out. Marquis worked around it without incident.

Cards first – Albert mashes a tater
Albert put home run #29 into the left field seats in an instant. Cards 1-0.

Marlins second – Big fly costs lead
Juan Encarnacion singled to left with one out. Mike Lowell pounded a two-run home run as Marquis's sinker didn't sink until it landed into the Cardinals bullpen. Marlins 2-1.

Cards second – Marquis helps own cause
J-Rod singled leading off. Mahoney dropped a two-out bloop single to deep second/short right to put runners on the corners. Marquis shot a ball over Encarnacion's head in right. The one-bouncer off the wall scored one and put Mahoney on third. Tie 2-2.

Marlins third – Nice recovery
Castillo walked and took second on Jeff Conine's single. He was going to stop there until J-Rod's error on a simple grounder gave him third base on a silver platter. But, Marquis bucked down and got the next three men out.

Cards third – J-Rod good and bad
Albert took a walk leading off. Edmonds' ground rule double caused Albert to have to stop at third. J-Rod's double into the same rightfield corner scored both. J-Rod made a bad play getting too far off second as he was doubled up on a pop foul out. He may have forgotten how many outs there were. Cards 4-2.

Cards fourth – Station to station So
Taguchi led off with a single and moved up to third on some small ball, but ended up there.

Cards fifth – Two-out threat
Edmonds took an outside pitch down into the left field corner with two outs. J-Rod, despite his miscues on the bases and in the field, was shown respect with the bat, as he was intentionally walked. Grudz played into their hands with a first pitch lazy fly to right.

Marlins sixth – Marquis falls apart
Leading off, Cabrera hit a chopper toward short. Nunez cut in front of Eckstein and then backed off. It looked like Eckstein bobbled the ball because he was partially screened out. Cabrera was given an infield single. Paul LoDuca singled to left. Encarnacion singled to center to load the bases as Edmonds made a perfect throw home, even though Cabrera stayed at third. Lowell's fly ball to short center scored the run, as Edmonds' throw was high. Cabrera cleanly took out a leaping Mahoney, who ended up face down in the dirt. Both runners moved up on the throw home. The #8 hitter, Alex Gonzalez, was hit by a pitch to re-load the bases. Pinch-hitter Lenny Harris ripped a double into the right field corner to score two. Make that three as the relay was bobbled behind first base even though Harris was literally trotting into second. Even a weak though might have gotten him. Juan Pierre walked. Why is Marquis is still in there? Marlins 6-4.

Cards sixth – Leadoff double wasted
Leading off, Taguchi doubled. Mahoney couldn't move him over. Marquis sacrificed, despite having ended his night on the mound. That is the difference between the two managers. Jack McKeon let his best pinch-hitter, Harris, hit last half inning, while La Russa apparently had no one better then Marquis that he wanted to use now. Eckstein ground out to end it. In all fairness for La Russa, Mabry is the only known quantity on his bench, a by-product of so many reserves in the starting lineup.

Marlins seventh – Thompson shaky
Cabrera and LoDuca singled off Brad Thompson. Lowell walked to load the bases, but Thompson escaped.

Marlins eighth – Brad better
Thompson is still in there. Castillo singled with one out, but he was stranded.

Cards eighth – More problems on the bases
Against former Cub Antonio Alfonseca, Grudz singled with one out. So did So, as his blooper to short right barely dropped in. Grudz would either have been doubled up or safe at third. Fortunately, the latter occurred. John Mabry hit for Mahoney. His sac fly scored the run, but So was caught in a rundown between first and second for the third out. That also could mean that Pujols will not get to hit in the ninth. Ugh! Marlins 6-5.

Marlins ninth – Holding the fort
After Encarnacion singled off Nunez' glove leading off, Thompson was lifted for Julian Tavarez. A beautiful 5-1-5 double play between Nunez and Albert ended it.

Cards ninth – 1-2-3 and out
Nothing more to say as Albert witnessed the final out from the on-deck circle.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Tuesday vs. Marlins: Chris Carpenter vs. Dontrelle Willis 7:10pm FSNM
Wednesday vs. Marlins: Matt Morris vs. Josh Beckett 7:10pm FSNM
Thursday vs. Marlins: Jeff Suppan vs. A.J. Burnett 7:10pm FSNM
Friday vs. Braves: Mark Mulder vs. John Smoltz 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Braves: Jason Marquis vs. Tim Hudson 12:15pm Big Fox
Sunday vs. Braves: Chris Carpenter vs. Jorge Sosa 1:15pm KPLR

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

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