Carpenter held the Pirates to two hits in eight innings, walking just one and fanning six. Edmonds celebrated his return to the line-up by hitting a home run and a double, driving in three. Hitting ahead of and behind Albert Pujols should be a good plave to be. Lead-off man David Eckstein continued his hot spell, as he also doubled and homered and scored twice. Albert Pujols was walked three times and Aaron Miles had a single. That was it from the still-sluggish offense.
Albert not alone
With six home runs in his last four games, Albert Pujols looks to be pretty hot. But, just in the NL Central, there are a couple of guys who are equally streaking. Houston's Morgan Ensberg has five long balls in the last four days including two in Tuesday night's wild 13-12 win over the Brewers. Milwaukee's Carlos Lee has six in seven games after slamming a pair of two-run shots in the same contest. Yes, the game was in the Juice Box. Isn't it great to follow a team that has a real ballpark?
Let's not get too smug
Dan repeated this blurb from the Cards' Media Notes today: "Albert's 10 home runs this season are greater than or equal to the TEAM TOTALS for the San Francisco Giants (8), San Diego Padres (9), Seattle Mariners (10) and Kansas City Royals (10)..." That is all well and good, but without Pujols, the other 24 Cardinals came into the day with just seven (7) homers among them, which would be 30th (or last) in MLB. Other than Scott Rolen at three, no other Cardinal has more than one. That isn't a one-man team, but it sure looks close…
The Bigbie watch
The rehabbing outfielder is struggling in early action. He is 1-for-6 with five strikeouts and a walk. Plenty of time.
The Spivey watch
The banished second baseman is hitting .240 (9-for-50) with three doubles. He has the same number of strikeouts (nine) as hits. But, because he has also walked 11 times, Spivey's on-base-percentage is a very respectable .397. He has three stolen bases and three errors.
Chris Carpenter opposed Victor Santos.
Eckstein, Spiezio, Pujols, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Rodriguez, Molina, Miles and Carpenter. Jim Edmonds returned to the line-up as Scott Rolen took the day off. Scott Spiezio inherited both third base and the hot potato called the #2 spot in the line-up. Juan Encarnacion moved to left as the #5 hitter and John Rodriguez also came back from injury to start again – in right, likely to protect his sore shoulder.
On to the game…
Cards first – Nada
Bucs first – Couple of clips
Before Carpenter pitched, the home plate umpire had an issue with Carpenter's glove and Head Trainer Barry Weinberg came out with scissors to remove the offending material. Was it at the Pirates' behest? Well, Chris Duffy was hit by a pitch leading off. Coincidence? A liner to Eckstein led to an easy double play. Bay fanned swinging for the third out.
Cards second – Jimmy's back
Leading off, Edmonds hammered a home run high and deep to right field. It almost left the park. Cards 1-0.
Bucs second – In a groove
Ho hum, Carp fanned two of three.
Cards third – Eckstein muscles up
Eckstein hit his first home run of the season on a full count pitch with two down. It just cleared the wall inside the left field foul pole. It clearly counts. Cards 2-0.
Bucs third – Cutting through
Nine up, nine down.
Cards fourth – Nice Pirates "D"
Pujols walked, but was erased by a great double play executed off the bat of Edmonds.
Bucs fourth – Three more down
Maybe because it won't be a perfect game, the pressure is off. Whatever reason, the results are great so far.
Cards fifth – Noting doing
On a full-count pitch, J-Rod took a called strike three. Two fly balls quickly ensued.
Bucs sixth – Two firsts
Catcher Ronny Paulino broke up the no-hitter with his first-ever base hit.
Cards seventh – Twin killing
Pujols walked but was erased in an Edmonds-started double play.
Bucs seventh – Jam averted
Freddy Sanchez led off with a single to deep second. Miles reached it, but Pujols had left the bag to try to field it and Carp didn't get there fast enough to receive the throw. Bay walked to create the biggest threat of the day. Two fly balls and a strikeout of Mike Edwards ended the jam. Carp collected his 1000th career strikeout in the process. (So Taguchi had come in for J-Rod, as Encarnacion moved to his regular right field spot.)
Bucs eighth – Boring outs
Three more batters. Three more outs for Carp.
Cards ninth – Edmonds insurance
Against Roberto Hernandez, Eckstein led off with a full-count single and moved up on a Spiezio ground out. Pujols took his third walk of the day, an intentional pass. Edmonds took three balls before hitting a ball the other way to deep left center. It bounced off the wall as both runners scored. After a force out, Juan Encarnacion stole second and he took third as the throw went wide and into center field. Cards 4-0.
Bucs ninth – Big guns
Jason Isringhausen and Scott Rolen entered the game. Duffy fanned leading off. With two out, Bay walked. But, that was it. No save for Izzy, though. Glad he didn't make it that interesting.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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