Walton's Game Observations – Monday – Cards 8-4

The Cardinals opened the Milwaukee series with an 8-4 road win over the Brewers Monday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Brewers by an 8-4 score at Milwaukee's Miller Park Monday night. The Cardinals' record is now 71-41 as they took the first of the three-game midweek series. The Redbirds' lead over idle Houston is 10-1/2 games.

Matt Morris opposed Victor Santos. Morris allowed nine baserunners in six innings but only two of his four runs charged were earned. Though Pujols' defense let him down, over the long haul, Morris has to know that Albert wins exponentially more games than he hurts. But, not on this evening.

Fortunately, the offense came back, behind the 6-7-8 hitters, who had eight of the ten Cards hits. Mark Grudzielanek had a superb night with a single, stolen base, double, home run, five RBI and three runs scored. Abraham Nunez had three hits and So Taguchi drove in two runs and caught two balls that John Mabry simply wouldn't have gotten to. Randy Flores collected the win in relief.

Eckstein's rare feat
David Eckstein's walk-off grand slam Sunday had only been done seven times previously in Cardinals history. Eckstein's blast was the second walk-off slam of his career and was the first by a Cardinal since Tom Herr did it off Mets lefty Jesse Orosco on April 18, 1987. The other Cardinals who hit game-ending slams are Darrell Porter (1984), Roger Freed (1979), Joe Hague (1971), Carl Taylor (1970), Joe Cunningham (1957) and Pepper Martin (1936).

Gene Mauch (1925-2005)
The former MLB manager for four teams passed away Monday. Oddly, his ESPN obituary does not mention his employer of almost five seasons, the Minnesota Twins. That, despite the fact Mauch was there longer than with the Angels, his final managerial stop. Mauch's most famous event was the collapse of his front-running 1964 Philadelphia Phillies. Cardinals fans know which team benefited most from Mauch's agony.

Erin Andrews, on-field reporter
Why does ESPN feel this is necessary? It's not like miked personalities are allowed in the dugout during games or anything. Besides, I find her voice most irritating. But, that is just petty, isn't it? Still, it is difficult to imagine someone who would make me wish they would hurry and cut back to Jeff Brantley, old Mr. Flat Out himself, but now they have found her. Andrews' big scoop was the oft-repeated story about Eckstein's family and kidney disease.

Monday's lineup
Eckstein, Rodriguez (lf), Pujols, Edmonds, Grudzielanek, Nunez (3b), Taguchi (rf), Mahoney and Morris. Same eight position players as Sunday in the exact same places. Odd for La Russa. I hope he is feeling ok. ;-)

On to the game…

Brewers first – Mo not using head
Rickie Weeks and Lyle Overbay drew a pair of one-out walks. Both moved into scoring position on a Carlos Lee ground out. Instead of facing weak-hitting catcher Damian Miller, Morris served up an 0-2 pitch to hot-hitting Geoff Jenkins. Jenkins blooped it into left field for a two-run single. Stupid machismo. Brewers 2-0.

Cards second – Not sitting still
Grudz, who owns Santos over his career, slammed his seventh home run of the season to left with one out. (He came in 11-for-21 with a home run against Santos and is even better now.) Nunez legged out a ball and with help from an error by rookie second baseman Weeks, ended up at second. A wild pitch put him at third. After a walk to So, Mahoney ground into an inning-ending double play. Ugh! Brewers 2-1.

Brewers third – No trouble
Weeks singled and stole second base with one out. He stayed there.

Cards fourth – Grudz makes Santos pay more
After Albert was walked, Edmonds blasted a ball to the wall in center. Jenkins had plenty of time to get ready, but mistimed his leap. For some reason, Albert didn't go half way and as a result, could have been out had the throw come into second base quickly. Fortunately, the Brewers seemed they did not expect that from Pujols. Second day in a row that Pujols made a shaky baserunning play. Grudz lined a double to the wall. Pujols scored easily, but Edmonds cruised in and was almost tagged out. Grudz took second on the throw home and moved up to third on a Nunez ground out. So collected the RBI on a sharp single to right. A hit and run was the only way to keep Mahoney out of another ugly double play. Sad to say a designed play to get one out worked, but it did. Cards 4-2.

Brewers fourth – Big trouble, no damage
Miller reached via a one-out bloop hit to short right. Wes Helms added a single of his own before Morris walked the freaking #8 hitter, J.J. Hardy. Duncan came out to discuss as Santos was pulled for a pinch-hitter. Grudz was in tears at second (just kidding). Chris Magruder's ball went to Albert, who threw home for the force as Mahoney made a first baseman's stretch to pull in the offline throw and hold his toe on the plate. He can't hit worth a lick, but he is a decent defender. Brady Clark lined out to Nunez to leave the bases loaded.

Cards fifth – Wildness not enough
Against pitcher Al Eveland, Pujols walked again, this time with two outs. Edmonds soon joined him. But, without Santos, Grudz was an easy infield out.

Brewers fifth – More mo woes
Morris plunked Weeks with the first pitch of the inning. Albert missed a backhand stop on a Lyle Overbay bouncer that looked to be a sure double play. It was instead his tenth error of the season to put runners on the corners with no out. Carlos Lee's single up the middle on the next pitch scored Weeks. So made a nice catch in right center off Miller for the second out. But, Wes Helms put a single to right on the first pitch for the tying RBI. For what it's worth, the runs were unearned. Tie 4-4.

Cards sixth – Not much good to say
Nunez started it right with a single. However, So doubled him up and of course, Mahoney complied by making the third out.

Cards seventh – Morris' night over
Reliever Julio Santana fanned pinch-hitter Hector Luna and Eckstein and then retired J-Rod to end the inning.

Brewers seventh – Ditto for Flores
Randy Flores retired the side in order, fanning two of three.

Cards eighth – Running into the lead
Against Matt Wise, Edmonds took a one-out walk and was balked to second. On a Grudz ground ball to short, Edmonds made a bad decision to try to take third and was easily thrown out there. Grudz had a nice jump and got back into scoring position by swiping second. Nunez hit a clutch single to short center with two strikes. As Grudz scored, the throw missed the cutoff man, enabling Grudz to take second. That was huge as So shot an RBI ground rule double over the left fielder's head. Yep, automatic Mahoney was the third out, flying out on the first pitch. Cards 6-4.

Brewers eighth – No big hit
Julian Tavarez got into two-out trouble as J.J. Hardy hit a ball to left center that hopped over the wall for a ground rule double. Russell Branyan, representing the tying run, flied out to center.

Cards ninth – It's over
Pinch-hitting, John Gall led off against Jorge de la Rosa with a single. He was erased in an Eck fielders' choice. J-Rod's grounder moved Eck up to third before Albert took a free pass with purpose. Edmonds also walked. Grudz' single to right iced the game and gave him two more RBI. No more save opp for Izzy. Cards 8-4.

Brewers ninth – Old Reyes transition to new
Even though Izzy was ready, Al Reyes came in and retired all three men in order.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Tuesday @ Brewers: Anthony Reyes vs. Doug Davis 7:05pm FSNM
Wednesday @ Brewers: Jeff Suppan vs. Ben Sheets 1:05pm FSNM
Thursday @ Cubs: Mark Mulder vs. Greg Maddux 1:20pm FSNM
Friday @ Cubs: Jason Marquis vs. Carlos Zambrano 1:20pm FSNM/WGN
Saturday @ Cubs: Chris Carpenter vs. Jerome Williams 12:15pm Big Fox
Sunday @ Cubs: Matt Morris vs. Mark Prior 7:05pm ESPN
Monday: Off day

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

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