Walton's Game Observations – Wednesday – Cards 5-1

Jason Marquis led the Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds by a 5-1 mark Wednesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a 5-1 score at Great American Ballpark Wednesday night. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 96-57 as they split the first two of the three-game midweek series.

Jason Marquis came in pitching for his playoff starting life opposing former Angel Ramon Ortiz. Marquis again impressed, perhaps pulling ahead of Matt Morris for the #4 playoff starter spot with seven innings of one-run ball, allowing eight hits while walking only one. He fanned three and his only serious mistake was a solo home run by rookie Edwin Encarnacion in his final inning of work. Marquis is now 13-14 on the season.

With the core of starters except Reggie Sanders in place, the offense looked better than it has lately as the Cards banged out 12 hits. David Eckstein had a single, double and two-run home run. So Taguchi had a single and a solo shot and scored twice. Albert Pujols had a pair of doubles and a single, but looked distressed on the base paths due to pain in his right foot. Larry Walker added an RBI double.

Is it me, or does long-time Reds and former ESPN broadcaster both resemble and sound a bit like an older version of actor and Budweiser voice George Clooney?

Wednesday's lineup – Grudz, Edmonds back
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Walker, Nunez, Grudzielanek, Taguchi (lf), Molina and Marquis. With the exception of So Taguchi in place of Reggie Sanders, this looks to be the NLDS opening lineup. Or so we hope. It was good to see Mark Grudzielanek back out there after leaving Tuesday night's game with an ankle injury. Same with Edmonds with his sore knee.

On to the game…

Cards first – Two doubles plus a single equal two runs
Eckstein led off with a single, but Edmonds ground into a rare double play for him. Pujols got it started again with a double to left. Walker doubled to center to easily score Albert. Man, that is good to see. Nunez' clutch single scored Walker. Cards 2-0.

Cards second – Eck doubles lead
Taguchi led off with a hit and was balked to second by Ortiz. Eckstein put a low, inside pitch over the left field wall for his eighth home run of the season. He sprinted around the bases, of course. Cards 4-0.

Reds second – Two on
Eckstein delivered a great fielding play, diving to his right, jumping up and throwing out Javier Valentin. Austin Kearns followed with a single, the Reds first hit of the night. Wily Mo Pena singled, too, before Marquis fanned Edwin Encarnacion.

Cards third – Big guns misfire
Albert helped make Adam Dunn look dumb, as he singled after the first baseman dropped a foul pop-up to give him a second chance. Walker took over on the bases after grounding into a force out. Nothing else good happened.

Reds third – Larry shows D
Lopez shot a two-out hit into the corner. Walker did a nice job, holding him to a single.

Cards fourth – Another little guy goes deep
Leading off, Taguchi homered to left, also for his eighth of the season. Ortiz slapped the ground in frustration. Eckstein blooped a ball into right. As Kearns dove and missed, Eckstein slid into second with a double. He "only" needs a triple for a cycle. Cards 5-0.

Reds fourth – Run saved
With two outs, Kearns walked and took third on Pena's double. He didn't try to score out of apparent respect for the Cards' outfield arms.

Cards fifth – Albert hurting
Leading off, Pujols banged a ball off the centerfield wall, but pulled up limp between first and second. La Russa and Weinberg came out, but went back to the bench alone. Pujols tagged up and took third on a Walker fly ball. Nunez failed to get the run home.

Reds fifth – Hard, clean slide
Freel singled with one out and tried to take Eckstein out on a groundout by Freel. It was a fielders' choice. No more noise.

Cards sixth – Two on
Molina singled with one out. Marquis hit a chopper to third and legged out an infield single.

Reds sixth – Two runners
Aurilia singled, but was eliminated in a Valentin double play grounder. Kearns singled. That was it.

Cards seventh – 1-2-3
For the first time all evening, the Cards were retired in order.

Reds seventh – Crooked counting
Encarnacion homered into the left field corner leading off. The Reds roving version of Rich Goold was so excited, he called the resulting digit on the scoreboard "a crooked number". Hmmm. Cards 5-1.

Reds eighth – Two pitchers; three outs
Randy Flores took over. After fanning Dunn, he yielded to Julian Tavarez, who retired the last two.

Reds ninth – Izzy time
Jason Isringhausen needed some work and got it. Pena singled with one out, but that was it.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Thursday @ Reds: Matt Morris vs. Brandon Claussen 6:10pm FSNM
Friday @ Brewers: Chris Carpenter vs. Chris Capuano 7:05pm FSNM
Saturday @ Brewers: Mark Mulder vs. TBD 6:05pm WB11
Sunday @ Brewers: Jeff Suppan vs. Doug Davis 1:05pm WB11

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

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