Walton's Game Observations – Tue. – Cards 8-5

In Game 1 of the NLDS, the Cardinals defeated the San Diego Padres by an 8-5 mark Tuesday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Diego Padres by an 8-5 score at Busch Stadium Tuesday afternoon. In the process, they took a 1-0 lead in the best of five National League Division Series.

In a match-up of aces, Chris Carpenter opposed Jake Peavy. Carp tossed a three-hitter through six innings, allowing three walks, but no runs. He left with cramps in his right hand due to dehydration when trying to warm up for the seventh. The bullpen, especially Jason Isringhausen, had a lot of trouble getting those final nine outs. Izzy, who came in to close the door with one out in the ninth, instead allowed four hits and three runs, two of which were inherited. But, it was worse for Peavy, who gave up all eight runs and suffered a season-ending rib fracture. See ya, Pads!

The offense continued its late season surge. Reggie Sanders collected a NLDS-record six RBI, including a back-breaking grand slam. Jim Edmonds had a single, double, home run and scored three times. The defense also made a nice showing with three double plays and solid defensive plays by recently-injured Sanders and Larry Walker along with Abraham Nunez.

Roster set
No real surprises in the NLDS roster. With Al Reyes out, there was no decision among Cal Eldred, Brad Thompson and Jason Marquis. All made the team. On the offensive side, John Gall passed up Scott Seabol as a bench bat.

Tuesday's lineup – The best
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Walker, Sanders, Grudzielanek, Nunez, Molina, Carpenter.

On to the game…

Padres first – Harmless runner
Ryan Klesko walked with one out, but was stranded there.

Cards first – Out on top
With one out, Jim Edmonds set the stage properly, as he hit an opposite-field home run into the left field bullpen. Cards 1-0.

Padres second – Shaky calls
Mark Sweeney singled. To avoid a collision at first, Pujols slid and replays showed he beat the runner to the bag. La Russa came out to back Albert up in the argument. Eckstein took an error on a ball by Ramon Hernandez, but a double play ended the threat.

Cards second – A hit
Nunez stroked a two-out single past short.

Padres third – Another big twin killing
Dave Roberts collected a one-out single to right. Ryan Klesko singled where Pujols would be standing if he hadn't been holding the speedy Roberts at first. However, Nunez started a great double play as he was guarding the line and grabbed a hot one-hopper, stepped on the bag and fired to Pujols to end the inning.

Cards third – Big Reggie hit
Eckstein singled with one out. Edmonds blooped a double into no-man's land along the left field line. After Pujols was walked intentionally, the Pads cracked. Peavy's offering bounced in front of the plate and got away from Hernandez. Eckstein scored easily. Walker was given the second intentional pass to reload the bases. Sanders shot a two-run single that struck the leg of the diving first baseman for two more runs. Cards 4-0.

Padres fourth – More glovework
Sweeney walked with one out, but a Hernandez 6-3 ended it. Three double plays in four innings.

Padres fifth – Carp rolling
Joe Randa walked with one out, but didn't advance. Sanders made a nice running catch heading in and toward the line for the third out.

Cards fifth – Bigger Reggie hit
Edmonds singled off Peavy with one out. Albert also singled. Walker took his second free pass to jam the sacks. Down 3-0 in the count, Sanders got the green light and put the pitch into the left field seats for a grand slam. Bye, bye, Peavy. Nunez drew a walk off reliever Clay Hensley, but that was it. Cards 8-0.

Padres seventh – Big Flores K
Carpenter was unable to get loose and left the game in favor of Brad Thompson. Sweeney greeted the rookie with a double and Hernandez' single put runners on the corners. Khalil Greene's sac fly scored the Pads' first run. After an out and with lefty Sean Burroughs pinch-hitting, La Russa went to Randy Flores. Bruce Bochy countered with Xavier Nady, who fanned. Cards 8-1.

Cards seventh – Error on error
Pujols was robbed of a single when his shot to short was slightly bobbled by Greene, but Albert was already almost to first. He was quickly erased in a Walker-started double play.

Padres eighth – Lotsa runners, but only one run
Eric Young led off with a pinch-hit home run to left. After two outs, Brian Giles singled. Marquis and Eldred were throwing, and the latter was called on to pitch when Ben Johnson was announced to hit for Sweeney. Bochy countered with Robert Fick, who walked after Giles stole second. But, Eldred got Hernandez to ground out to end the threat. Cards 8-2.

Cards eighth – No more
Reliever Scott Linebrink buzzed Grudz with a pitch, which caused La Russa to react in the dugout. Molina and John Mabry singled with two out, but Eckstein flied out to end it.

Padres ninth – Winning ugly
Some of the good of the day was lost here. Greene led off with a double. After Walker made a nice running catch in left center for the first out, pinch-hitter Damian Jackson singled. Exit Cal for Jason Isringhausen. Jackson immediately stole second, then Greene scored on a ground out. With two down, Izzy labored badly for that final out. Three straight singles by Mark Loretta, Giles and Fick scored two and loaded the bases before the potential lead run, Hernandez, fanned swinging. Never a doubt. Cards 8-5.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Wednesday: Off day
NLDS Game 2, Thursday vs. Padres: Mark Mulder vs. Pedro Astacio 3:05pm ESPN2
Friday: Off day
NLDS Game 3, Saturday vs. Padres: Matt Morris vs. Woody Williams TBD
NLDS Game 4 (if necessary), Sunday vs. Padres: Match-up and time TBD
NLDS Game 5 (if necessary), Monday vs. Padres: Match-up and time TBD

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

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