Walton's Game Observations – Monday – Cards 6-1

Chris Carpenter and David Eckstein led the Cardinals over the Florida Marlins by a 6-1 score Monday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Florida Marlins by a 6-1 score at a mostly-empty Dolphins Stadium Monday night. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 84-48 as they took the first of the three-game midweek series and reached a new season high-water mark at 36 games over .500.

Chris Carpenter took on A.J. Burnett. Allowing seven hits in 7-2/3 innings, Carp won his major league-best 19th game of the season and inched closer to the National League Cy Young Award.

On a night when Albert Pujols fanned twice and ground into a double play, stranding five, the men in front of him came through. Larry Walker homered and had two singles, but David Eckstein was the star. He had four hits, including a triple and three RBI.

Monday's lineup
Eckstein, Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Rodriguez (lf), Mabry (3b), Molina, Nunez (2b) and Carpenter.

On to the game…

Cards first – RISP but runless
Eckstein singled up the middle. Walker reached on a swinging bunt that Burnett just dropped trying to field. I would have scored it as an error. Albert took a nasty breaking ball for a called strike three. Nothing he could do but walk away. Edmonds ground into a force out on Walker at second base. Rodriguez drew a full-count walk to load the bases.

Fish first – Cha cha cha
Carpenter retired the top three hitters, including Miguel Cabrera swinging.

Cards second – First blood
Molina drew a walk leading off. Carpenter dropped down a sac bunt for the second out as Molina moved into scoring position. With the infield in, Eckstein shot a ball past third. Molina steamed home, as the throw to the plate was cut off. Eckstein was tagged out between first and second base, but by then, Molina was on his way back to the dugout. Cards 1-0.

Fish second – Defense hot
Carlos Delgado shot a first-pitch double into right. Walker made a nice throw and almost got him at second. Juan Encarnacion bunted right to Carpenter, who threw to third. Delgado was out by a mile. Jeff Conine then ground into an easy 5-4-3. All that took Carp exactly four pitches.

Cards third – Walker pounds one
Walker hammered a ball 421 feet out to dead center. It was the 12th of the season and 380th of his career. Cards 2-0.

Fish third – First RISP
Catcher Matt Treanor singled to right and was sacrificed to second by Burnett. Juan Pierre walked with two outs. Eckstein made a nice stop on a grounder and dove to touch second base before the sliding Pierre reached.

Cards fourth – Working the pitcher and the scoreboard
After a pair of strikeouts, Nunez drew a two-out walk. 2-for-62 on the season Chris Carpenter took six straight pitches, as he walked on Burnett's 70th pitch of the night. Eckstein plated both runs, as he shot a first-pitch triple down into the right field corner. Carpenter really motored around the bases nicely. Eckstein then scored as Cabrera misplayed Walker's swinging bunt. Albert fanned again on another breaking ball, but complained this time. Cards 5-0.

Fish fourth – No shutout trifecta
Delgado singled to left center with one out. Carp threw a breaking pitch that didn't, as Encarnacion slammed a ball off the wall in left. The double put two in scoring position with one down. Conine's sac fly ended the Cards' string of shutout innings at 24. Cards 5-1.

Cards fifth – Getting the run right back
Edmonds walked leading off the inning and took second on a wild pitch. The Marlins' pen is already active as Burnett is approaching 90 pitches. J-Rod walked. Mabry dropped down a perfect bunt to put both runners in scoring position. Molina's RBI single to left put runners on the corners. Nunez ground into a 6-4-3, but Burnett's night was done. Cards 6-1.

Cards sixth – Good and bad
Against pitcher Randy Messenger, Eckstein singled up the middle with one out. That would be four hits in a row and 10-for-17. That would be hot. He took third on a Walker single to center that wasn't deep at all. Good news and bad news for Albert. After taking another curve for strike one, he ground into an inning-ending double play.

Fish sixth – Threat
Castillo legged out an infield single despite a nice pickup but high throw by Nunez. Cabrera singled up the middle for a clean single. Carpenter and mates escaped the jam unscathed.

Cards seventh – Messenger escapes mess
Edmonds walked leading off and J-Rod singled on a full count to put runners on the corners. So Taguchi pinch ran. Grudz walked. Molina's grounder to Castillo ended up in a force play at home. Another force at home ensued; this time the throw came from first. Carp worked a full count before bouncing out to the pitcher.

Fish seventh – No noise
Mike Lowell singled with two out and soon turned into an easy force out at second base.

Fish eighth – Three pitchers
Carp left with two out and 92 pitches. Ray King came in to get the third out but walked the dangerous Delgado. Julian Tavarez came in and allowed a single to Encarnacion before fanning Conine. Izzy did start warming up in the interim.

Cards ninth – The end, almost
With two out Grudz doubled off Chris Resop. Didn't he used to do fairy tales?

Fish ninth – Izzy time
Pinch hitter Chris Aquila walked with two outs, but Izzy fanned Pierre to end it in a non-save situation.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Tuesday @ Marlins: Matt Morris vs. Ismael Valdez 6:05pm FSNM
Wednesday @ Marlins: Jeff Suppan vs. Jason Vargas 6:05pm FSNM
Thursday: Open date
Friday @ Astros: Mark Mulder(?) vs. Roger Clemens 7:05pm FSNM
Saturday @ Astros: Jason Marquis(?) vs. Wandy Rodriguez 6:05pm WB11
Sunday @ Astros: Chris Carpenter vs. Ezequiel Astacio 2:05pm WB11

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

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