Game Observations – Tuesday – Bucs 12-4

The Cardinals were defeated by the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 12-4 score Tuesday night to tie the three-game mid-week series at one game apiece.

The St. Louis Cardinals were dominated by the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park Tuesday evening, losing 12-4.

Jeff Suppan was awful, allowing eight runs on eight hits and three walks in two-plus innings. David Eckstein and Aaron Miles each had a single and a double and Eckstein also walked twice. Albert Pujols homered, but it wasn't nearly enough.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan vs. Oliver Perez. Who can forget that Ollie's 2005 season was wrecked when he broke his toe in frustration over a beating administered by the Cardinals?

The line-up
Eckstein, Taguchi, Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Molina, Luna, Miles and Suppan. The only change from Monday was the re-insertion of Aaron Miles into the line-up and the shift of Hector Luna from second base to left field over Skip Schumaker.

On to the game…

Cards first – So rough
Eckstein singled but was quickly erased in a Taguchi-started 4-6-3. So doesn't look good up there at all. If he had spent his whole career in America, would we be worried that So is getting old instead of just being in a long slump? The .206 hitter turns 37 in July.

Bucs first – Two little hits a one big one
The first four hitters reached. Chris Duffy led off with a single off the diving Eckstein's glove. Jack Wilson bunted to Pujols for a single. Jason Bay then launched a 1-0 Suppan offering into the left field seats. Jeromy Burnitz drew a walk, but was erased in an inning ending double play following a strikeout. Bucs 3-0.

Cards second – Flying low
Three fly balls. Three outs.

Bucs second – Soup scalded
Suppan walked the lead-off man, Jose Hernandez. Catcher Humberto Cota slammed a double to the wall in right center. Perez popped out as the runners held at second and third. Duffy sliced a surgical-precision shot down the left field line for a two-run double. After a walk to Jack Wilson, Burnitz hit a bloop single to short left that Eckstein dived for, but couldn't quite haul in. The run scored before Eckstein threw out Burnitz trying to take second. Bucs 6-0.

Cards third – Ice broken
Suppan drew a two-out walk and scored sliding just ahead of the tag after Eckstein shot a ball to the deepest part of center field. Bucs 6-1.

Bucs third – Time for Plan B (or C)
Craig Wilson stroked a double identical to Duffy's. Duncan came out to stall to give Josh Hancock time to warm up. Joe Randa doubled into the left field corner to score the seventh run. End of game for Suppan with eight hits allowed. Hancock balked Randa to third before even throwing a pitch. Randa scored on a grounder, closing the books on Suppan. Bucs 8-1.

Cards fourth – Albert again
Leading off, Pujols mashed an 0-2 offering high and deep into left. Pujols watched, then flipped the bat away, high into the air ala McGwire before rounding the bases. His ten home runs is tops in the majors. I just wish Pujols would emulate Rolen and be more understated when he launches them, but I guess that is a bit like complaining about your dream mate eating crackers in bed. Bucs 8-2.

Bucs fourth – Run right back
With one out, Jack Wilson put one into the first row of the seats in short left. Bay walked and stole second with two outs. Craig Wilson walked as the Cards complained (appropriately) about the shrunken strike zone. Taguchi caught Joe Randa's fly to end it, but almost collided with Luna in the process as the two sprinted full-speed toward the ball in left-center. Bucs 9-2.

Cards fifth – Ollie inconsistent, so are Cards big guns
After Perez blew away Luna swinging, Miles shot a double down the right field line. Hancock and Eckstein each walked to load the bases. A full-count infield single to short by So scored a run. Albert popped to short right, however, and didn't get the run home. Rolen flied out to deep left-center on the first pitch to end the threat. Bucs 9-3.

Cards sixth – What mo?
A 1-2-3 frame was far from ideal.

Bucs sixth – More (s)lumber
Bay walked with two outs as Hancock was steaming at home plate ump Larry Vanover. Ricardo Rincon was called on after Hancock departed after 2-2/3 solid innings. Gary Bennett came in via the double switch. Burnitz blasted a two-run shot deep into right. Craig Wilson almost homered before settling for a double to deep center. Randa golfed an RBI single to right. Hernandez singled past Rolen. Cota walked to load the bases and Duncan finally came out. No one had been warming up, despite five consecutive hitters reaching base before Rincon finally retired Perez for the third out. Bucs 12-3.

Cards seventh – Perez out, but too late
With two outs, Eckstein walked and Perez was pulled. So lined out to second to end it.

Bucs seventh – Rincon settles down
Bay singled to left with two out, but that was it.

Cards eighth – Clearing the bench
Pinch-hitter John Rodriguez singled leading off and stole second base. Scott Spiezio slammed a ground rule double to the deepest part of center that scored the run. Jim Edmonds also pinch hit but fanned on a high pitch from Matt Capps. Bucs 12-4.

Bucs eighth – Brad buckles down
Brad Thompson took over and Craig Wilson started with a bloop double over third. But, that was it. Luna had moved to first as J-Rod covered for him in left.

Cards ninth – Over long before
Miles singled with one out, but a double play stopped that.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Wednesday at Pirates: Chris Carpenter vs. Victor Santos 11:35am FSNM
Thursday: Open day
Friday vs. Cubs: Sidney Ponson vs. Jerome Williams 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Cubs: Mark Mulder vs. Glendon Rusch 1:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Cubs: Jason Marquis vs. Greg Maddux 1:15pm WB11

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

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