Jason Marquis earned his third win of the season, as he pitched eight innings, allowing just three hits. Jason Isringhausen followed with his fourth save. Albert Pujols provided all the offense, hitting a two-run shot in the first that gave him a tie for the MLB record for consecutive at-bats with a home run at four.
The torch passes?
Am I the only one who felt the torch of the best player in the game officially passed from Barry Bonds to Albert Pujols on Sunday? Granted, the results signified that happened last season, but something about the drama of Pujols' Easter performance, along with the reality that Pujols will start to be walked regularly like Bonds used to be really brought it home for me.
Edmonds back early?
Dan McLaughlin said that injured outfielder Jim Edmonds is expected to start in Wednesday afternoon's game. He is available for pinch-hitting duty Monday night.
Rolen to get Wednesday off
Dan also noted that third baseman Scott Rolen will be getting Wednesday's game off. With no game scheduled Thursday, he will get two full days of rest.
No, I am not talking about hitting the baseball. I have a beef about the undershirts that both the Reds and Pirates are wearing this season. They are just plain ugly. The Reds' liners are red with a bunch of black spots on the sleeves, while the Pirates' have gold spots on black. Someone wants to sell merchandise. It's not as bad as the old striped caps, but it is crass, nonetheless. Thank goodness the Cards' uniform is timeless.
Jason Marquis vs. Paul Maholm. From watching a Bucs broadcast this spring, I learned the proper pronunciation of their pitcher's name is mah-HALL-uhm. Dan and Al must have missed that in the Media Guide, as they said ma-HOLM all evening.
Eckstein, Taguchi, Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Molina, Luna, Schumaker and Marquis. John Rodriguez was a late scratch. The good news is that it wasn't his shoulder. It was an apparent allergic reaction. Skip Schumaker was the addition. Jim Edmonds remained out with shoulder problems. Aaron Miles sat back down in favor of Hector Luna, who held the #7 spot.
On to the game…
Cards first – Pujols ties MLB record
So singled with one out and scored on a Pujols home run to dead center. It was his ninth of the season. His 19 RBIs lead the National League. In the process, Pujols tied the Major League record for consecutive at-bats with a home run with four. Encarnacion stroked a two-out single past second base. Cards 2-0.
Bucs first – Pitching smartly
Jason Bay walked with two out. Considering he came in 10-for-19 against Marquis for his career, it wasn't all bad, especially when Jeromy Burnitz bounced out weakly to Marquis.
Cards second – Bottom feeders
The 7-8-9 hitters went down 1-2-3.
Bucs second – Not so long shot
Jose Castillo flied out to deep center, as the park held it for the third out.
Cards third – Has to share the record
Pujols sliced a 3-1 offering the other way to right center. It hit off the wall on one bounce for a one-out double. It was good to see him go the other way. However, Hungo noticed Pujols was limping rounding first. Pujols' home run streak ended at four at-bats. Rolen then drew a walk before Encarnacion lined out to right.
Bucs third – Harmless hit
Chris Duffy reached on a two-out dribbler that went between Marquis and Pujols but neither could handle. Jack Wilson quickly flied out to left and that was that.
Cards fourth – RISP missed
Luna doubled past third on a one-out shot down the line. Schu lined out to second base on a scorcher and Marquis bounced out 5-3.
Bucs fourth – Fly outs
Marquis retired the 3-4-5 hitters, but two of them were via the fly ball instead of the ground out. Still, three outs are three outs.
Cards fifth – Bases loaded
Taguchi legged out an infield single with one out. Pujols walked as Maholm nibbled on the outside corner. Rolen lined out to left. Encarnacion came up with two on again. This time, he was hit on the left leg with a pitch to load the bases. But, Molina ground into a 5-3.
Bucs fifth – Smooth sailing
Another in-order inning for Marquis and the pitcher's spot has to lead off the sixth.
Cards sixth – Luna presses the issue
Luna stroked a single to left leading off. He looks confident with the bat. Schumaker moved him up to second and Luna swiped third on the first pitch to Marquis, who ended up fanning.
Bucs sixth – Luna shines on "D" too
Luna made a superb play on Jack Wilson, ranging far to the shortstop side and throwing off-balance to Pujols. It was called the third out of the inning, despite the protests of Pirates' manager Jim Tracy. Replays showed the ump missed the play.
Cards seventh – So nailed
Salomon Torres took over on the mound. Wilson erred on a Taguchi grounder leading off. Pujols popped out. So tried to take third on a Rolen single to left, but was cut down by Bay. It was a questionable risk taken by So with the play right in front of the left fielder. The Cards have stranded nine runners so far.
Bucs seventh – Rolling along
Craig Wilson was fanned looking to end another perfect inning. To this point, Marquis has allowed just one hit.
Cards eighth – No room
Bay made a shoe-top catch off Schumaker to end another quick inning. Pujols is not assured of hitting in the ninth.
Bucs eighth – Shutout lost
Castillo slammed a ground-rule double into right-center with one out. Nate McLouth singled up the middle with two outs. Any chance Taguchi had to get the runner was lost when he bobbled the ball. Marquis got Duffy on a fly to end the rally. Cards 2-1.
Cards ninth – Gonzo good
Scott Spiezio pinch hit for Marquis against the Bucs' Mike Gonzalez. The closer made Spiezio look silly, fanning him swinging on three pitches. So Taguchi swung at a high pitch that would have been ball four before flying out to end the inning.
Bucs ninth – Izzy recovers strongly
Jack Wilson greeted Jason Isringhausen with a double into the left field corner. Izzy fanned Bay and Burnitz swinging on identical curveballs down before Craig Wilson ground out 4-3 in just two hours and 19 minutes.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
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
Friday vs. Cubs: Sidney Ponson vs. Glendon Rusch 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Cubs: Mark Mulder vs. Greg Maddux 1:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Cubs: Jason Marquis vs. Carlos Zambrano 1:15pm WB11
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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