Walton's Game Observations – Thursday – Cards 5-0

Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter led the Cardinals over the New York Mets by 5-0 mark Thursday evening.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the New York Mets by a 5-0 score at Busch Stadium Thursday evening. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 89-52 as the Cards won the first of the four-game weekend series.

Chris Carpenter faced Kris Benson. Carp pitched three-hit shutout ball for seven innings, fanning seven on 96 pitches. He walked just one batter, and lowered his season ERA to 2.21 in the process. The win is his 21st of the season. Al Reyes, Julian Tavarez and Ray King finished up the final two innings.

Albert Pujols hit two majestic home runs. John Gall iced the contest with his first major league homer, a two-run, pinch-hit blast in the seventh inning.

Thursday's lineup
Eckstein, Nunez (2b), Pujols, Edmonds, Walker, Mabry (3b), Taguchi (lf), Molina and Carpenter. Mark Grudzielanek missed his second straight game with back pain.

On to the game…

Mets first – Yadi's gun
Speedy Jose Reyes hit a first-pitch single up the middle. Molina gunned him down trying to steal as Eckstein applied the tag. Kaz Matsui followed with a single. Carlos Beltran struck out. Matsui moved up to second on a wild pitch before Cliff Floyd walked. Carpenter buckled down and finished out the inning.

Cards first – First RISP
Eckstein singled and moved up on a Nunez out. Albert just missed a home run to right as Eckstein took third. Edmonds left him there.

Cards second – Tracking outs
Walker shot the first pitch into the deepest part of the park. Mabry followed with the same result. Unfortunately, both were caught.

Cards third – Carp bombs
Leading off, Molina shot a stand-up double to left center that bounced off the wall. Impressive. Carpenter fanned trying to bunt and dropped a screaming F-bomb in frustration. Eckstein took four straight balls. After a Nunez fly, Albert stepped in. He ground into a force play at second.

Cards fourth – Benson escapes jam
Edmonds drew a leadoff walk. Walker was bunting. Hmmm. He was then hit by a pitch. Mabry fanned. Shortstop Jose Reyes made a great diving stop on a Taguchi grounder, but Walker slid into second base as Reyes' flip was slightly off line. The bases were loaded with one out. Molina's double play grounder ended the threat.

Cards sixth – Albert is good
Leading off, Albert slammed a ball onto the grass berm in dead center for his 38th home run of the season. The fans chanted "M-V-P" until Pujols came out to tip his cap. Edmonds followed with a single. Walker grounded to second, but Edmonds evaded the tag. Matsui threw to first instead of second, so the Cards have another runner in scoring position. Edmonds took third on a Mabry dribbler. So singled to center on a 3-1 count for the RBI. Cards 2-0.

Mets seventh – Carp forgets the outs
Luna just came into the game at second base and a Beltran lead off single shot past him. Cliff Floyd's grounder erased the lead runner as he outran the double play. Carpenter fanned David Wright on a great curveball. When that happened, Carp walked off the mound and headed toward the dugout. But, there were only two outs. The third one came soon enough.

Cards seventh – M-V-P and Rook-ie
With two outs, Pujols creamed a Benson offering. The ball landed in the seats over the visitors' bullpen. He didn't want to make another curtain call, but did. Edmonds reached on a Kaz Matsui error. I bet he was glad he didn't have to listen to the Shea boo-birds as a result. That ended Benson's night in favor of Tim Hamulack. John Gall slammed a first-pitch pinch-hit two-run home run, the first of his career. Luna then reached on an infield hit. That was it for Carpenter on the night. Cards 5-0.

Cards eighth – Bases loaded
Against Victor Zambrano, Schumaker walked leading off. Nunez singled with two out. Albert was walked to load the bases, but Edmonds fanned looking.

Mets ninth – Over and out
Julian Tavarez followed Al Reyes. Schumaker hopped the rail in left to make a Bartman catch for the second out. Beltran singled with two out. La Russa pulled Tavarez for King. On one hand, is La Russa obsessing, or trying to get King some work against a tough lefty to help rebuild his confidence? I hope the latter. King fanned Floyd to end it.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Friday vs. Mets: Jason Marquis vs. Jae Seo 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Mets: Jeff Suppan vs. Steve Trachsel 6:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Mets: Matt Morris vs. Pedro Martinez 1:15pm WB11

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

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