Game Observations – Thursday – Cards 4-2

The Cardinals swept the Philadelphia Phillies, winning game three by a 4-2 score Thursday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies by a 4-2 score at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday afternoon to take the season-opening series three games to none. One streak continued while another ended as the Cardinals won their third straight to start the season as Philly shortstop Jimmy Rollins' hitting streak ended at 38 games. Aaron Miles was on base three times with a pair of hits, a walk and a stolen base. Scott Rolen also collected two hits and an RBI. Jason Marquis allowed two runs in 5-1/3 innings to get the win and Jason Isringhausen collected an uneventful save.

Tale of the tape
Randy Flores apparently has some Les Nessman in him. For those too young to remember the television show "WKRP in Cincinnati", the neurotic newsman marked off an area on the floor of the radio station to denote the outline of his office – as if he had one. On Thursday, as nearby Hector Luna was using a roll of adhesive tape for a more traditional purpose – for his wrists – Flores had applied two strips of tape on the clubhouse carpet denoting the boundaries of his area.

Who are those guys?
During his morning interview, Tony La Russa had a group of game-used baseballs that he was signing. Tony was also preparing to have the Cards starters that day sign. He apparently decided to do it by writing the players' numbers on their designated spots on the balls. The only problem was that La Russa had to ask the assembled scribes the numbers of Miles, Molina and Schumaker. Not surprisingly, that wasn't a problem for Pujols. I guess if I had managed over 4000 games, I would forget more than numbers.

Walls moved out
MLB's Gameday feature still shows the old dimensions of Citizens Bank Park at 329, 369, 381, 409, 401, 398, 330 feet from left to right. After moving back the wall in left, the new nums are 329, 374, 387, 409, 401, 398, 330.

Ahead of any pace
Last year, Tony La Russa said it was about getting five games over .500, then ten, etc. This time, he says it is winning series – at least for now. For what it's worth, my measurement is winning half of your road games and 2/3 of your home games to reach a 95-win season. No matter how you cut it, the Cards are off to a good start in 2006.

Salute to the contractors
Busch Stadium construction workers and their families are invited to a special appreciation party Thursday evening at the new park. The guests can take a self-guided tour through the Cardinals clubhouse area and see the premiere of "The Building of Busch Stadium," a video that features the demolition of the old Busch Stadium and the story of how the new Busch Stadium was built. Hard hats off to them!

New bleachers in Chi-town, but same result
When the Cubs open their home schedule Friday against the Cardinals, there will be almost 1800 more people in the stands at Wrigley Field than in the past. Over the winter, the bleachers in the major leagues' second oldest ballpark underwent a $13.5 million renovation. No word if they re-used the chunks of concrete that fell from Wrigley's upper deck. And, the team is still bad, fortunately.

The match-up
Jason Marquis faced off against Corey Lidle.

The line-up
Eckstein, Encarnacion, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Schumaker, Molina, Miles and Mulder. The position player starters remained the same on both squads, as Skip Schumaker was rewarded for his fine game Wednesday.

On to the game…

Cards first – A little smoke
Encarnacion singled to right with one out and he was almost doubled off first as Pujols popped out behind second base. A lot of head scratching going on. Jim Edmonds fanned to end the inning.

Phils first – Smooth start
Marquis cut down Aaron Rowand looking and Bobby Abreu swinging in a nifty 1-2-3 beginning.

Cards second – So close
Scott Rolen put a ball to the left center wall, which the Philly press box inhabitants said would clearly have been a home run before the walls were moved back this season.

Phils second – Lack of control hurts
Scott Burrell and Ryan Howard drew a pair of one-out walks. After David Bell lined out to right, Mike Lieberthal shot a ball into the same area, but it got down for an RBI double. With two in scoring position, Marquis fanned Lidle to escape. Phils 1-0.

Cards third – No hits, no runs
With one out, Marquis walked and Eckstein was hit by a pitch. Encarnacion hit a useless fly to left prior to a Pujols walk. With the sacks jammed, Edmonds fanned, looking bad in the process.

Phils third – Two-out trouble
With two out, consecutive doubles by Bobby Abreu and Chase Utley into the left field corner doubled the lead. Rolen saved another run with a diving stop and a throw to beat Burrell at first. I imagine Dan McLaughlin called it a "dandy play". Phils 2-0..

Phils fourth – Two double plays?
After a base hit by Howard, there was a 3-6-1 double play chance, but Miles' throw pulled Marquis off the bag. He unsuccessfully tried to sell the out, which was fine, but was visibly upset that he didn't get the call, which was less so. On the next play, Lieberthal obliged with a standard 6-4-3.

Cards fifth – Bottom guys set table
After Aaron Miles was hit by a pitch, Marquis raked a double to the deepest part of left center to score the run easily. Eckstein bunted for the first out, as he popped it up to the third base side. David Bell erred, putting runners at the corners for Pujols. Albert didn't disappoint, as he shot a 2-1 offering up the middle for an RBI single to tie the game. A mound conference ensued. After badly missing another Lidle offering, Edmonds lined a single into right field to give the Cards the lead. Runners at the corners for Rolen. On the eighth pitch, Rolen singled past first for the fourth RBI of the frame. Schumaker's double play ended it. Cards 4-2.

Phils fifth – Great "D" by Edmonds
Edmonds made a great catch running full speed toward the left center wall on a shot by pinch-hitter and former Cardinal Abraham Nunez. Lidle was done after five.

Cards sixth –Bell cracks again
With one down, against former Cardinal Rheal Cormier, Miles singled sharply off Rollins at short. With two outs, Bell made his second error on a ball to his right off the bat of Eckstein. Encarnacion ended it with a dribbler to Rollins.

Phils sixth – Three pitchers, three outs
Abreu singled up the middle leading off. Marquis then fanned Utley. Burrell drew a walk, which led to a pitching change. Ricardo Rincon made his 2006 debut against Ryan Howard and fanned him swinging. Nice. Josh Hancock was called on to get the third out, which he did as Bell ground out 6-4.

Cards seventh – Skip sliding
Geoff Geary made his third appearance in three games on the mound for the Phils. Rolen singled to right with two outs and easily swiped second, but Schumaker ground out to the pitcher to go 0-for-4 so far today. Fame is fleeting…

Phils seventh – Of course Hancock does well in Philly
Hancock walked the #8 man, Lieberthal, leading off. David Dellucci pinch hit and flied out to center, as did Rollins, his hit streak in serious jeopardy. Rowand fanned to end it. I was hoping the Phils would call on Ryan Franklin to pitch so we could have Hancock vs. Franklin, but it didn't happen, historians.

Cards eighth – That pesky Miles
After a Miles walk by Aaron Fultz, So Taguchi pinch hit and struck out. Miles easily took second base as Lieberthal's throw was late and wide. Eckstein's 1-3 was the third out.

Phils eighth – Flores sweet
Randy Flores was given the ball and knocked off the 3-4-5 hitters without incident, including a whiff of Burrell looking for the third out.

Cards ninth – Two on
Arthur Rhodes pitched and Juan Encarnacion hit a single to right, raising his average 60 points from .154 to .214. Pujols then singled to left. Edmonds fanned as did Rolen on a questionable inside pitch. Schumaker finished his 0-for-5 day with a comebacker to the pitcher and he almost collided with Howard at first base to top it off.

Phils ninth – Izzy time again
Cards closer Jason Isringhausen was asked to do his job. He fanned Ryan Howard. Bell and Lieberthal both ground out to end the 3:09 game.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Friday @ Cubs: Jeff Suppan vs. Greg Maddux 1:20pm FSNM
Saturday @ Cubs: Chris Carpenter vs. Carlos Zambrano 1:20pm FSNM
Sunday @ Cubs: Sidney Ponson vs. Sean Marshall 7:05pm ESPN
Monday vs. Brewers: Mark Mulder vs. Tomo Ohka 3:10pm FSNM
Tuesday: Off day
Wednesday vs. Brewers: Jason Marquis vs. Dave Bush 7:10pm FSNM
Thursday vs. Brewers: Jeff Suppan vs. Doug Davis 12:10pm FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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