Game Observations – Saturday – Cards 7-6

The Cardinals took the second of their three-game road weekend series against the Florida Marlins, winning 7-6 on Saturday evening. Mark Mulder won his 100th major league game.

The Cardinals took the second of their three-game road weekend series against the Florida Marlins, winning 7-6 on Saturday evening. The Cards improved their record to 19-12.

Mark Mulder had a seven-run lead in the fifth inning, but he allowed three runs and the supposed stalwarts of the bullpen, Braden Looper and Jason Isringhausen let three more come home before it ended.

Offensively, there were many contributors, as every starter had at least one hit. Juan Encarnacion drove in two with a triple. Scott Rolen had three hits. David Eckstein was on base three times. Jim Edmonds had a perfect night with two walks, a single and a double. Mulder himself doubled home what would become the winning run.

One year ago today
On May 6, 2005, the Cardinals lost 6-5 to the Padres even though they started Darrell May. Jeff Suppan allowed three runs in 5-2/3 innings, but Randy Flores took the loss after giving up three more in the seventh inning. Reggie Sanders hit a solo home run.

The match-up
In his third attempt at career win #100, Mark Mulder faced Marlins ace, energetic and charismatic Dontrelle Willis.

The line-up
Eckstein, Luna, Pujols, Encarnacion, Rolen, Edmonds, Taguchi, Molina and Mulder. Hector Luna and John Rodriguez are back in with Aaron Miles and So Taguchi out. Juan Encarnacion and Jim Edmonds flipped between #4 and #6, while Yadier Molina returned from a day off. However, it is the first time all season that Molina has hit as low as #8. It is deserved.

On to the game…

Cards first – Twin killing kills
Leading off as always, Eckstein singled. He was seated after a 4-6-3 off the bat of Luna. Pujols was out 6-3.

Marlins first – Bullet dodged
So Taguchi committed a fielding error on Hanley Ramirez's single as he unsuccessfully tried to barehand the ball. The leadoff man ended up on second base. Miguel Cabrera walked, which wasn't all that bad with first base open. Josh Willingham hit a chopper to Mulder, who fired to second and the relay was in time to first to end the inning.

Cards second – Sloppy play creates lead
With one down, Rolen singled past shortstop. Edmonds doubled the other way into the left field corner to put two runners in scoring position. So whiffed on a high heater. That hurt. Molina took an intentional walk to load the bases and get to Mulder. The strategy backfired as a wild pitch on an 0-2 count allowed Rolen to score prior to Mulder striking out. Cards 1-0.

Marlins second – Another RISP averted
Joe Borchard walked. C'mon Mulder. Do something with the lead. Miguel Olivo ground into a tailor-made double play, but Pujols dropped the relay throw. It should have been an error, but a double play can never be assumed, no matter how sure it seems. Olivo made matters worse as he stole second base and moved up to third on Mike Jacobs' ground out.

Cards third – A runner unused
Luna singled with one down. Mr. Pujols got to hit with a man on base, but flied out. Encarnacion grounded out.

Marlins third – Mulder gets an easy one
1-2-3 in a hurry – five pitches to be exact. Mulder has thrown just 37 pitches in total.

Cards fourth – More sloppy play = Another run
Rolen singled to right. Edmonds threw his bat and plopped a ball to left center. Runners on the corners. Taguchi hit a grounder to third that Cabrera muffed for his eighth(!) error of the season. That allowed Rolen to score and Taguchi to leg it out. However, with a change to crack the game open, Molina, Mulder and Eckstein didn't do anything. Cards 2-0.

Marlins fourth – No runs in these runners
Williamham took a one-out walk and Borchard singled off Rolen's glove for a single. No one was able to make it home, though.

Cards fifth – Big doins' in the fifth again
Luna is looking like an offensive machine, as he starting the inning with a double. A Pujols single put runners on first and third. Encarnacion stroked a two-run triple into right center that Borchard didn't handle cleanly. Edmonds' sac fly brought Juan home. So singled to left and he scored all the way from first as Molina doubled to the same area where Encarnacion's ball went. Mulder then doubled to center, scoring Molina. That sent Willis to the showers. Eckstein singled off new pitcher Jason Vargas, but Luna was retired to end where the inning started. Cards 7-0.

Marlins fifth – Three-spot
Did the long delay affect Mulder? Abercrombie led off with a double into the left field corner. A wild pitch put the runner on third. With one out, Ramirez then also doubled into the same left field corner to score Abercrombie. Dan Uggla singled to put runners on the corners. That brought Duncan out to visit. Cabrera doubled to the deepest part of the park. Edmonds made a nice leap to bring the ball down to prevent a triple, but two runs scored. Cards 7-3.

Cards sixth – Heart in order
Two strikeouts and a fly ball against the heart of the order made a nice inning for Vargas.

Marlins sixth – Back in the swing
Leading off, Miguel Olivo hit a shot off Mulder, who recovered to throw him out. Mulder also got the next two with a minimum of effort.

Cards seventh – Walking crazy
With Franklyn German on the mound, Edmonds walked. So tried to bunt him over. He popped it up, but it wasn't caught, enabling the desired result to be achieved as he was thrown out. With two down, John Rodriguez pinch hit for Mulder and walked. The television cameras caught Willis in a long give and take discussion with his rookie manager Joe Girardi. Can you ever imagine Tony La Russa talking with a struggling pitcher during a game? Eckstein coaxed a walk, too. That loaded the bases. Maybe Girardi doesn't want to watch! Luna gave the ball a long ride to deep center, but Abercrombie hauled it down.

Marlins seventh – Adam on the eve
Against Adam Wainwright, Wes Helms shot a one-out double past Rolen into the corner. He was stranded as the inning ended with a high and deep shot by Cabrera that Taguchi hauled in at the wall.

Cards eighth – Two more runners
Rolen collected his third hit of the night on a shot that ate up Cabrera at third. Edmonds took a walk as Braden Looper was warming up. Taguchi hung on for nine pitches before flying out.

Marlins eighth – Looper and Izzy shaky
With one down, Josh Willingham slammed, and I mean slammed a ball deep and high into the left field seats off Looper. Olivo singled. Alfredo Amezaga bounced a ball off Looper literally, who recovered in time to get the hitter/runner (or not, according to the replays). Pujols did a nice job of stealing the call. Abercrombie walked, ending the night for Looper. Izzy came in with Aaron Miles on a double switch, to get the final four outs. He walked Wes Helms to load the bases. Ramirez singled past short to score two. Izzy fanned Uggla looking for the third out. Cards 7-6.

Cards ninth – No insurance
Down in order against Matt Herges.

Marlins ninth – Never a doubt
Cabrera singled with one out, but was part of a nifty, game-ending 3-6-3. Izzy earned his save again.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Sunday at Marlins: Sidney Ponson vs. Scott Olsen 12:05 p.m. WB11
Monday vs. Rockies: Jason Marquis vs. Jeff Francis 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Tuesday vs. Rockies: Chris Carpenter vs. Josh Fogg 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wednesday vs. Rockies: Jeff Suppan vs. Byung-Hyun Kim 12:10 p.m. FSNM/ESPN

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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