Game Observations – Sunday – Cards 9-1

The Cardinals swept the three-game road weekend series against the Florida Marlins, winning 9-1 on Sunday afternoon. The Cards improved their record to 20-12 and finished their road trip 3-4.

The Cardinals swept the three-game road weekend series against the Florida Marlins, winning 9-1 on Sunday afternoon. The Cards improved their record to 20-12 and finished their road trip 3-4.

Sidney Ponson allowed just one hit for three innings, but left with an elbow injury. Brian Falkenborg, Josh Hancock (win), Brad Thompson and Randy Flores closed the Marlins out. Scott Spiezio had a walk and two doubles. So Taguchi had a pair of hits drove in two. Albert Pujols also plated two.

One year ago today
On May 7, 2005, the Cardinals lost their third straight to the San Diego Padres by the score of 5-4 at Busch. The Cardinals record dropped to 18-11. Chris Carpenter faced Adam Eaton. The Cards got to Eaton early, but couldn't knock him out. He eventually fanned seven Cardinals hitters in 6-2/3 innings. Carpenter labored all day, allowing Padres baserunners every inning and 12 in total through seven. He coughed up the lead during a four-run fifth inning. Albert Pujols had two hits, including a home run and he scored two. Larry Walker hit a solo shot, as the two went back-to-back in the first inning.

The match-up
Sidney Ponson took on Scott Olsen.

The line-up
Eckstein, Luna, Pujols, Encarnacion, Spiezio, Taguchi, Molina, Miles and Ponson. The first four were the same from Saturday. Scott Rolen took a scheduled day off, but Jim Edmonds also sat against the lefty, Olsen. So Taguchi moved over to center and Hector Luna sprinted from second to left. Aaron Miles returned to the line-up.

On to the game…

Cards first – Pujols fans
Pujols took a called strike three for the third out. Pujols started to walk to first, but it was a very nice pitch on the outside edge. It was only the ninth strikeout of the season for Pujols on his 101st at-bat.

Marlins first – Hammer misses
Dan Uggla singled up the middle with one out. Josh Willingham struck out swinging on a nice breaking ball to end the inning.

Cards second – Out on top
Encarnacion reached on a single to right. Spiezio shot a double into the left field corner, but it was hit so hard that Juan had to stop at third. After a horrible swing and miss on strike one, So Taguchi slapped a ball to deep short. Encarnacion hesitated, but scored on the infield single. Molina's sharp grounder forced Spiezio at third. On a full count, Miles walked to load the bases. Believe it or not, Ponson singled to third, scoring the second run. Cabrera muffed the play. He should have let it go foul or at least fielded it cleanly, but did neither. It was Ponson's first RBI of his career. Still, Eckstein's double play off Olsen's glove stopped the rally cold. Miles contributed by not breaking hard off second base. Guess he forgot it was two outs. Get in the game! Cards 2-0.

Marlins second – Pair of walks
Joe Borchard led off with a walk, which is not good to see after having taken the lead. Molina helped by throwing out the runner trying to steal second base. That was good, since Mike Jacobs walked, too. Pujols and Molina came over to visit with Sir Sid. He ended the frame with another strikeout, this one of Matt Treanor.

Cards third – Good start evaporates
Luna drew a leadoff walk. Pujols forced him out at second. It would have been a double play had Jacobs been able to handle the throw. Juan flied out and Spiezio fanned for the third out.

Marlins third – Sid cruising
Ponson retired the #9, #1 and #2 men without incident.

Cards fourth – Seven in, Ponson out
Molina was hit by a pitch with one out. Aaron Miles walked again. Turns out Ponson's last inning wasn't without incident, after all. Despite not showing any discomfort on the mound, Ponson left the game for a pinch-hitter, John Gall. Brian Falkenborg was warming up. Ponson remained sitting on the bench, and he was pointing to his elbow as he spoke with head trainer Barry Weinberg. Gall singled Molina home. Eckstein walked to load the bases. Luna fanned, but Pujols singled over short to score two more. Olsen was pulled in favor of Ricky Nolasco. Encarnacion greeted him with a run-scoring dump single to center. Pujols aggressively took third on the play. Spiezio's double to right was interfered with by a young boy at the top of the wall. Pujols came in, but Encarnacion was not running hard off first, so he had to return to third. Not good for Juan. So Taguchi finally was retired for the third out. Cards 7-0.

Marlins fourth – Falkenborg fine
Falkenborg cut through the #3, #4 and #5 hitters nicely.

Cards fifth – Double ouch!
Molina was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Miles forced him out at second, and neither Falkenborg nor Eckstein could do anything.

Marlins fifth – Sloppy Luna "D"
Left fielder Luna misplayed a ball off the bat of Abercrombie. The generous home team scorer initially called it a double, though it was later changed to an error. No harm was caused, though.

Cards sixth – Is the offense done now?
The #2, #3 and #4 hitters were retired. Pujols hit a sharp liner to third. The last hitter, Encarnacion, was struck out looking by Nolasco.

Marlins sixth – Ice broken
Falkenborg seemed to lose his effectiveness as he gave up a lead-off double to Hanley Ramirez on a full count ball shot into the left center gap, one pitch after he just missed a line drive home run. Dave Duncan came out as Randy Flores and Josh Hancock warmed up. It didn't work as Dan Uggla singled in front of Luna put runners on the corners. Luna looked to be playing too deep and didn't make a great break. Hancock came in to pitch. Cabrera's double play brought home one run. Miles made a nice stab to start the 4-6-3. Willingham fanned swinging to end it. Could have been a lot worse. Cards 7-1.

Cards seventh – Unable to kill the Messenger
Randy Messenger was the new pitcher. Two pop outs and a ground out later, the inning was done.

Marlins seventh – Brad cleans up
Hancock fanned Borchard leading off. Jacobs then drew another walk. Abercrombie doubled to center to put two in scoring position. Actually, it was another gift hit as So lost the ball in the sun. Brad Thompson came on, but walked pinch hitter Wes Helms. But, he came back to fan pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo and got the final out on a force started by Ramirez.

Cards eighth – Let's get this over
Todd Wellemeyer fanned Miles and Thompson. Eckstein was also retired on a fly ball.

Marlins eighth – One runner
Cabrera singled to left with one down. Thompson fanned Willingham, but Randy Flores was brought in to face the switch-hitting Borchard and got his man on a popup to Miles.

Cards ninth – More pain inflicted
Closer Joe Borowski allowed a lead-off double to Luna as Chris Aguila misplayed it. Pujols and Encarnacion were retired. Spiezio started the two out rally with a walk. So followed with an RBI as his line drive to center scored Luna. It was great to see Yadier Molina single to collect the ninth Cardinals run. Cards 9-1.

Marlins ninth – Flores finishes
Flores stayed in to finish off the Marlins, which he did.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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
Wed. vs. Rockies: Jeff Suppan vs. Byung-Hyun Kim 12:10 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Thursday: Off day
Friday vs. Diamondbacks: Mark Mulder vs. Claudio Vargas 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Sat. vs. D'backs: Sidney Ponson vs. Orlando Hernandez 6:15 p.m. WB11
Sunday vs. D'backs: Jason Marquis vs. Miguel Batista 1:15 p.m. WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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