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

Earning career win #100, Matt Morris led the Cardinals over the San Francisco Giants by a 4-2 score Saturday afternoon.

In a very efficient outing, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants by a 4-2 score Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 78-45 as they took the first two of the three-game weekend series.

Collecting career win #100 and his 13th of 2005, Matt Morris bested Kevin Correia. Morris allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. Al Reyes and Randy Flores did nice work out of the pen. Jason Isringhausen collected his 32nd save, but it was eventful as it often seems with Izzy, getting the final out with the bases loaded.

With the bats, it was a team effort. Abraham Nunez had a single and a double. Jim Edmonds also doubled, walked and scored both times. Albert Pujols, Mark Grudzielanek, John Mabry and Yadier Molina each had an RBI. Even Morris, hitting just .091 on the season, drew an important walk and scored.

Worst infield?
Fox and Giants commentator and former pitcher Mike "The Polish Prince" Krukow noted that Busch Stadium has "one of the poorer infields in the league". He clarified that to say that the dirt is fine, but the grass is beaten up, causing bad hops. I wonder if that is a current view or one from the past.

Saturday's lineup – Larry returns
Eckstein, Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Grudzielanek, Mabry (lf), Nunez, Molina and Morris. Walker returned after missing 26 games with his neck injury.

On to the game…

Cards first – Walker appreciated
Walker received a standing ovation when coming up to the plate. He flied out to deep right center.

Giants second – Mo hook working
It took Morris just nine pitches to cut down the Giants' four through six hitters, striking out two in the process, both on wicked 12-to-6 curveballs.

Cards second – Lead taken, but…
Edmonds led off with a four-pitch walk. He took second on a 3-1 hit-and-run with Grudz that might have been ball four. Edmonds had a great break off first and may have had the base stolen cleanly. John Mabry looped a double into the left field corner on his first pitch seen for an RBI. After Nunez flied out, Molina was given an intentional pass so the Giants could face Morris. Morris worked Correia to a full count, fouling off three pitches before walking to load the bases. David Eckstein was given a shot to break the game open, but grounded out. Cards 1-0.

Giants third – Great defense
Mike Matheny slammed a first-pitch double into the left center gap. Correia tried a sac bunt, but a charging Nunez threw Matheny out trying to take third as Eckstein made the tag. Randy Winn followed with a single as Correia moved into scoring position. Vizquel lined to Morris, who spun and doubled Correia off second to end the inning.

Giants fourth – Mo with mo
Pedro Feliz singled to left on a very good pitch by Morris with one out. That was it, as Morris is working quickly and effectively.

Cards fourth – Small opportunity
Nunez reached on a two-out single that bounced off the pitcher. Molina lined out to third.

Cards fifth – Error means run
Morris led off with a shot that Edgardo Alfonzo muffed for a two-base error. Eckstein bunted him over. With two out, Pujols shot a grounder past short for the RBI. Despite his arguing to the contrary, Pujols was called out trying to steal second to end the inning. It looked as if the tag was late and high. It was Pujols' first caught stealing of the season, at least according to the ump. Cards 2-0.

Giants sixth – Durham bulls Morris
With one out, Vizquel walked. Lance Niekro dropped a flare over first base to put two on. Duncan came out to calm Morris down. Good idea. On a Feliz grounder, Albert made a nice stop and toss running to his right to get Niekro at second. First and third with two out for Ray Durham, who doubled to right on a full-count pitch. Walker dove for the ball, but missed, as it rolled to the wall. Two runs scored, but my biggest fear was that Walker was ok. He seemed to be, but who knows? Tie 2-2.

Cards sixth – Lead immediately retaken
Edmonds shot a full-count pitch into the right field corner for an easy double leading off the inning. Grudz ripped an RBI single up the middle to break the tie. Very impressive. After Mabry looked bad fanning, Nunez stroked a one-hop double over the wall in right center. Grudz stopped at third. Former Cardinal and member of the fateful 2003 bullpen, lefty Jeff Fassero is warming up. Molina dropped a perfect squeeze bunt down as Grudz slid just under a nice toss and tag. Molina took first with no throw. So, runners are on the corners again with still only one out. With a win possible for Morris, La Russa sent up J-Rod to pinch-hit for him. The obviously over-anxious J-Rod fanned on three straight pitches, swinging wildly at a high outside pitch for strike three. Cards 4-2.

Giants seventh – Reyes carves them up
Al Reyes took over on the mound and looked sharp, fanning two of three.

Cards seventh – Not this time
So pinch-hit for Walker, but was retired. Pujols fanned against Fassero for his second whiff of the day. Edmonds ended the inning with a high drive to the warning track.

Giants eighth – Three relievers; three outs
Winn singled leading off as Reyes departed. Randy Flores came in to face the switch-hitting Vizquel. A double play ensued. Jason Isringhausen received the call to get the final out, plus hopefully three more in the ninth. One pitch later, the inning was over.

Giants ninth – Izzy time exciting as always
It was Izzy's only second outing of the season over one inning, though it was just an inning plus one pitch. Feliz and Durham singled leading off. Izzy collected himself, getting a popout, strikeout before Matheny singled to right to load the bases. Moises Alou pinch-hit, but flied out to right to end the game.

Cards ninth – Non-existent
This half-inning never happened, which is a really good thing for Cardinals fans.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Sunday vs. Giants: Jeff Suppan vs. Jason Schmidt 1:15pm WB11
Monday @ Pittsburgh: Mark Mulder vs. Josh Fogg 7:05pm FSNM
Tuesday @ Pittsburgh: Jason Marquis vs. Zach Duke 7:05pm FSNM
Wednesday @ Pittsburgh: Chris Carpenter vs. Kip Wells 7:05pm FSNM
Thursday @ Pittsburgh: Matt Morris vs. David Williams 7:05pm FSNM
Friday @ Washington: Jeff Suppan vs. Estaban Loaiza 7:05pm FSNM
Saturday @ Washington: Mark Mulder vs. Ryan Drese 1:15pm Big Fox
Sunday @ Washington: Jason Marquis vs. Tony Armas, Jr. 1:05pm WB11

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

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