Walton's Game Observations – Friday – Cards 3-2

Jason Marquis and Larry Walker led the Cardinals over the New York Mets by a 3-2 mark Friday evening.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the New York Mets by a 3-2 score at Busch Stadium Friday evening. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 90-52 as they won the first two games of the four-game weekend series.

Jason Marquis and Jae Seo hooked up in an unexpectedly-strong pitching duel. Both went eight innings. Marquis was a tad better, allowing eight hits and two runs, only one earned, in eight innings. He earned his third consecutive win and his 12th win of the season overall. Jason Isringhausen closed for his 35th save of the 2005 campaign.

Larry Walker's long home run in the eighth was the difference-maker. David Eckstein and So Taguchi each had a pair of hits.

Quick check of the standings
It is most amusing to see the Cubs battling the Brewers for third place in the NL Central with identical 69-71 records on the season. The Reds and Pirates have been officially eliminated from playoff eligibility.

Former Cardinal birthdays
Todd Zeile (1989-95) turned 40 and outfielder Jerry Mumphrey (1974-79) is 52 Friday.

Magic number
Coming into Friday's action, the Cardinals' magic number for clinching the division is ten games. Their lead over the Braves for the NL's best record and home field advantage is 7.5 games.

Gibson #1
I happened to catch Fox' "The Sports List" hosted by Summer Sanders after the game. Bob Gibson was correctly named as the most intimidating pitcher of all time.

Friday's lineup
Eckstein, Taguchi (lf), Pujols, Edmonds, Walker, Nunez (3b), Molina, Luna (2b) and Marquis. Mark Grudzielanek missed his third straight game due to back injury. He received an injection to relieve disc pain. Don't expect to see Grudz play this weekend. Larry Walker made his second straight appearance.

On to the game…

Mets first – Intimidated?
On an 0-2 count, Marquis laid up a lazy curve that Jose Reyes shot up the middle for a leadoff single. Despite having 50 steals on the season, Reyes didn't attempt to steal against Molina this time.

Cards first – On the board
Eckstein beat out an infield single to deep short. So shot a double past third to put two in scoring position. Albert was a bit overanxious, hitting a grounder to second. Eckstein scored and So moved up on the out. Edmonds fanned and Walker flied out. Cards 1-0.

Mets second – Error leads to RISP
Victor Diaz singled to right. Walker booted the ball and the error allowed Diaz to take second base. Marquis balked him to third. He walked the catcher Ramon Castro to get to Seo, who ground into a force out.

Cards second – Yadi hits
Molina singled with one out. He was stranded.

Cards third – Two on
So reached via an infield single with one out. Albert was given a free pass. Edmonds and Walker failed again.

Mets fourth – Nunez makes a strong play
Mike Jacobs hit Marquis' curve for a single with two outs. Throw that sinker, Jason! Nunez made an outstanding play from foul territory to throw out Diaz to end the inning.

Mets sixth – Shaky D costs the lead
Carlos Beltran singled up the middle with one out. Cliff Floyd beat out a chopper to Eckstein, who seemed to be playing back on the ball. Floyd is too speedy for that. David Wright's bloop single into center scored Beltran. A perfect 5-4-3 double play went bad, as Luna's throw to first was wide of Pujols. In Luna's defense, Albert should have gone off the bag to keep the ball in front of him. The lead run scored on the error. Mets 2-1.

Mets seventh – Jam, but no jelly
Leading off, Castro doubled over Taguchi's head as the ball hit off the wall. I am surprised he didn't get back on the ball. Seo bunted Castro over as Pujols was ready to throw to third, but Eckstein wasn't over to the bag. Fortunately, the Cards escaped.

Cards seventh – Starting over
Nunez hit a ball to third. Wright threw to first, but Jacobs' arm was hit by Nunez passing as the throw came into the runner. Jacobs went down as Nunez took second. Molina bunted Nunez over to third with one out. With the infield pulled in, Luna barely chopped a single up the middle. It was an RBI single, which is all that matters. Marquis had a chance to do himself a big favor, but flied out. Eckstein's bloop single put two on for So, but he popped out. Tie 2-2.

Mets eighth – The Hot Corner extra hot
Cliff Floyd singled with one out. A line drive by Wright to Nunez was smartly turned into an inning-ending 5-4-3.

Cards eighth – Walker wins it
After Pujols looked bad on a swinging strikeout, Walker crushed a ball 457 feet into the seats in right. Izzy jumped up to start throwing quickly. Cards 3-2.

Mets ninth – Izzy time
Marquis took the mound to start the inning, but he was pulled before throwing a pitch as Jason Isringhausen came in. The TV guys lauded La Russa, suggesting he did it so Marquis could be cheered by the fans when leaving. I don't think that was it at all. I think TLR did it to give Izzy more time to warm up. Whatever.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Saturday vs. Mets: Jeff Suppan vs. Steve Trachsel 6:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Mets: Matt Morris vs. Pedro Martinez 1:15pm WB11
Monday vs. Pittsburgh: Mark Mulder vs. Mark Redman 7:10pm FSMW
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh: Chris Carpenter vs. Josh Fogg 7:10pm FSMW
Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh: Jason Marquis vs. Oliver Perez 2:10pm WB11
Thursday @ Cubs: Jeff Suppan vs. Mark Prior 7:05pm FSMW
Friday @ Cubs: Matt Morris vs. Glendon Rusch 2:20pm WB11

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

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