The offense was stymied by Aaron Harang, getting just five hits on the night. Yadier Molina doubled while Jim Edmonds struck out three times, stranded four runners and committed another costly fielding error.
Offering in-game strategy advice to La Russa?
Cardinals consultant Mitchel Lichtman granted an interview to Baseball Digest Daily. Here is Lichtman's reply when asked about his influence with the team: "Sure, I consult on everything, although my main focus is on projecting total player performance, including pitching. I have also done work on analyzing and projecting college players for the draft, recommending certain in-game strategies, lineup and bullpen construction, (such as those in our new book), and giving them my opinion (whether they ask for it or not) on player acquisitions, salaries, and even player development in the minor leagues." Already knowing how Tony La Russa would respond to this, I chickened out and instead asked a team insider who has first-hand knowledge, but would be less volatile. In a most politically-correct and understatedly-cautious manner he said, "It does read like he has their ears....but I am not sure if that is really how things are right now." Perhaps Lichtman should do a Google search on the name "Mike Gimbel"…
Mulder to Cooperstown
No, not that. Mark Mulder's cap worn as he earned the first win in the new Busch Stadium on Opening Day is headed for the Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with Carlos Lee's bat used in picking up the first hit. Apparently losing the bat didn't bother Lee, as he hit the game-winner Thursday with a stick of new lumber. The two items from Monday will be displayed as part of the Museum's collection of items from stadium grand openings.
Opportunity for fast start
13 of the next 16 Cardinals games and 22 of their next 32 will be played at Busch Stadium. Of course, that will balance out soon enough, making this a golden chance to get out ahead in the National League Central.
Chris Carpenter versus Aaron Harang.
Eckstein, Encarnacion, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Taguchi, Molina, Miles and Carpenter.
On to the game…
Cards first – Nothing going
An in-order start for Harang, also.
Reds second – Still perfect
Carp continues to mow them down quickly.
Cards second – So bad
So fanned to end the inning with another defensive, swing high-strikeout like was common for him in 2003. His average is down to .150 on the season. Ugh!
Reds third – One time through
The bottom of the line-up was erased with incident.
Cards third – RISP
Miles broke an 0-for-13 drought with a chop shot, one-out single past the shortstop. Carpenter bunted Miles up to second, but Eckstein ground out on the first pitch.
Reds fourth – Trouble averted
Freel singled past Pujols and kept running to second base. Encarnacion's throw was not held at the bag at second as Freel slid in safely. He moved up to third on a fly to deep center for the first out. Carp fanned the dangerous Adam Dunn swinging and retired Edwin Encarnacion on a grounder.
Cards fourth – Edmonds strikeout machine
Juan Encarnacion singled to right leading off. After Pujols moved him up, Edmonds fanned again for his 14th in 36 at-bats over ten games. Not so sharp.
Reds fifth – Dumb moves nail Cards
Austin Kearns hit a liner to Edmonds that got under his glove. He kicked it toward Encarnacion for a single and an error, continuing his confoundingly sloppy play. With the runner at third and two out, Womack was walked intentionally. Why is that? Can't the Cy Young winner retire #8 hitter, Tony blanking Womack? Harang made the Cards pay with a bloop single that dropped in front of Edmonds as Womack took third. Reds 1-0.
Cards fifth – Yadi doubles
Molina doubled down the right field line with one out, but Miles and Carpenter couldn't get him in.
Reds sixth – Whew!
Lopez took four straight balls leading off and swiped second base. Encarnacion took a one-out walk. Pujols made a nice diving play to get the middle runner at second, but the relay was not to first in time. Carp made a great stretch on the bag, even so. There were runners on the corners with two out when Kearns flied out to right.
Cards sixth – Nothing happening at the top
Albert looked overanxious, swinging at a low, full-count pitch and ground out to short to end the inning.
Reds seventh – Edmonds still shaky
Edmonds missed a catch on a drive by Javier Valentin to the track and crashed his right shoulder into the wall in the process. Womack bunted Valentin over to third, but he was stranded there.
Cards seventh – So singles
Taguchi singled between short and third with two down. He promptly stole second on the first pitch. Molina fanned swinging for the third out.
Reds eighth – Two more strikeouts
Carp fanned Dunn for the third time and Encarnacion also whiffed to end it.
Cards eighth – More Edmonds woes
Miles walked leading off. Harang was pulled for Kent Mercker. Skip Schumaker pinch hit and executed a difficult sac bunt to move Miles up. An Eckstein walk brought Todd Coffey in to pitch. Encarnacion fanned weakly on three pitches, eliciting audible boos from the Busch crowd. Pujols singled to Womack behind second base to load the bases. But, Edmonds whiffed again.
Reds ninth – No more
Randy Flores came on to pitch and served up a double to Kearns. On a grounder to Eckstein, he and Rolen teamed up to get the lead runner at third before Encarnacion made a sliding play in right to end the inning and save a run.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
Saturday vs. Reds: Sidney Ponson vs. Dave Williams 1:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Reds: Mark Mulder vs. Bronson Arroyo 1:15pm WB11
Monday at Pirates: Jason Marquis vs. Paul Maholm 6:05pm FSNM
Tuesday at Pirates: Jeff Suppan vs. Oliver Perez 6:05pm FSNM
Wednesday at Pirates: Chris Carpenter vs. Victor Santos 11:35am FSNM
Thursday: Open day
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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