Matt Morris took on Brandon Claussen. Morris pitched a fine game, putting himself back into the center of postseason starting consideration. However, Morris' defense and relievers let him down. Morris allowed just one hit and one unearned run. Ray King and Julian Tavarez conspired to let the game get away, with the loss and blown save hung on the struggling King.
Coming off an 0-for-5 night, Jim Edmonds singled, doubled and drove in a run. Mark Grudzielanek had a pair of singles and a gift triple, scoring once. The rest of the offense had just three hits. Albert Pujols and Al Reyes each erred and there were a number of other shaky defensive plays on the evening.
Coleman only 44?
Even if he does work for the Cubs now, Happy 44th Birthday to Vince Coleman today. That is not a typo. Heck, Rickey Henderson is still playing somewhere today and he is even older than Vince, who last appeared in the majors in 1997.
Mike Matheny turns 35 today. Sadly, every time I think of Matheny and birthdays, I think of sharp knives and post-season dreams being cut.
Thursday's lineup – Walker sits
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Sanders, Taguchi (rf), Grudzielanek, Molina, Nunez and Morris.
On to the game…
Cards second – Keystone Cops defense
Grudz singled to the gap. As Wily Mo Pena and Ryan Freel each booted the ball around, Grudz took one more base and then two. Incredibly, the Cincy scorer gave him a triple. Molina hit a clutch RBI single to score the run. Cards 1-0.
Cards third – A hit
Edmonds singled to right with two down.
Reds fourth – Messy defense
Freel ripped a ball to left center. Sanders had to run a long way, and showed his rust as the ball clanged off his glove. On a shot to first by Felipe Lopez, Pujols fired to third to try to catch Freel. The throw was in time, but it was off the mark, eluding Nunez and bounding into the seats for a two-base error. Freel trotted home. Lopez subsequently moved to third with two out. Nunez and Molina let Jason LaRue's pop foul drop between them. LaRue then walked. That was it. Tie 1-1.
Cards fifth – Molina caught cruising
Molina hit a broken bat grounder to short. Lopez muffed it, but still had time to recover and throw Molina out because the Cardinals catcher was not hustling. Morris did a nice job drawing a walk on nine pitches. Eckstein singled. Edmonds slammed an RBI double off the wall. With first base open, Pujols was intentionally walked. Good idea as they escaped the bases loaded jam. Cards 2-1.
Reds fifth – Matty Momentum
Morris completed the fifth, having given up only one hit to that point.
Cards sixth – Lone hit
Grudz singled with one out.
Reds sixth – Two runners on no hits
Freel hustled on a grounder to third as Nunez' high throw made Albert jump off the bag. He moved up on a ground out. Morris walked Dunn to put a runner in scoring position. Freel took third on a fly ball. That was it as Morris finished on a high note.
Reds seventh – Thompson time
Brad Thompson took over on the mound. He hit Encarnacion with a pitch with two outs. But, no other trouble.
Cards eighth – Gambling Grudz
So Taguchi singled with two outs. Grudz grounded to second and beat out the throw, diving head first into first base. Good hustle, but bad risk. Molina flied out to end the frame.
Reds eighth – Lead and game lost
Freel doubled to the left field gap leading off. Exit Thompson. Enter Ray King. Freel stole third on a close play. He scored on Lopez' single. Dunn also singled. Another perfect "imperfect" night for King, with two batters faced and two hits. Julian Tavarez came in. He finally got the first out of the inning, as the runners moved up. LaRue was walked intentionally to load the bases and set up a force. Tavarez got a grounder, but Eckstein's throw just pulled Albert off the bag as the lead run scored. Another walk reloaded the bases and set up the key play of the night. Encarnacion shot a ball to the gap in left center, where defensive replacement Skip Schumaker made a futile diving attempt. The double cleared the bases. Cal Eldred was next to pitch and got the last out. Reds 6-2.
Cards ninth – 1-2-3
Over and out.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.