Game Observations– Fri. 6/23 – Tigers 10-6

The St. Louis Cardinals lost their fourth in a row on the roadtrip, this time to the Detroit Tigers by a 10-6 mark Friday night. The Cardinals' record is now 42-30 as their NL Central lead dropped to three games over Cincinnati. In fairness to the streaking Tigers, they have now won 12 of their last 15 games.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost their fourth in a row on the roadtrip, this time to the Detroit Tigers by a 10-6 mark Friday night. The Cardinals' record is now 42-30 as their NL Central lead dropped to three games over Cincinnati. In fairness to the streaking Tigers, they have now won 13 of their last 15 games.

Chris Carpenter returned the concerns about the rotation with a night of sevens and nines. He allowed nine hits and fanned nine, but in seven innings, allowed seven runs. Six of the Tigers' hits against him were for extra bases – four doubles and two home runs. The pen was no better as Randy Flores and Braden Looper let the game get away in the eighth after the Cards had closed to two.

Yadier Molina had three hits – two doubles and a single – and three RBI. Albert Pujols had two singles, a double and a home run and Scott Rolen singled and doubled. At the top of the order, David Eckstein and Scott Spiezio were a combined 0-for-10. Spiezio and John Rodriguez each whiffed four times.

One year ago today
On June 23, 2005, for the third straight game the Cards fell behind early, and despite a late rally, could not recover in an 11-7 loss to the Pirates. The loss extended their winless streak to three games and ended a 12-game win streak versus the Bucs that dated to 2004. Matt Morris lost for the first time of the season, allowing six runs (three unearned) in three innings. Jim Edmonds and So Taguchi each had two hits and Albert Pujols drove in a pair and collected his 19th home run.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter vs. Justin Verlander.

The line-up
Eckstein, Spiezio (DH), Pujols, Rolen, Rodriguez (LF), Encarnacion, Taguchi (CF), Molina and Miles.
Jim Edmonds was a late scratch, still recovering from his mild concussion. After missing 15 games with his strained oblique muscle, Albert Pujols played in his second game in a row.

On to the game…

Cards first – Two on
Spiezio whiffed on a 98 MPH fastball before Pujols walked. Rolen grounded to the third base side of short and it looked like a force at second, but Carlos Guillen's throw pulled Placido Polanco off the bag. It was generously scored a single. John Rodriguez was called out to end the inning.

Tigers first – In a hole again
Curtis Granderson homered to right leading off. Aaron Miles made a nice spin and throw to almost catch Magglio Ordonez at first for an infield single. On the next pitch, a broken-bat liner by Guillen was snared by Pujols for an inning-ending double play. Tigers 1-0.

Cards second – 1-2-3
Down in order.

Tigers second – Two out torture
Marcus Thames led off with a double into the left field corner. Brandon Inge hit one out to left with two down. Tigers 3-0.

Cards third – Quiet
Two groundouts and a strikeout and the offense looks listless.

Tigers third – Settling down
Carp had his first smooth frame as no one reached base.

Cards fourth – Here they come
Pujols led off with his first hit since returning from the disabled list. It was a single. Rolen singled to left, but his hustle surprised the Tigers as he slid into second just ahead of the throw. Two in scoring position with one out. Rodriguez hit the ball to the right, both scoring Pujols and allowed Rolen to take third. Encarnacion's fly ball to right scored the run. So drew a two-out walk. Yadier Molina hit a ball down the line in left, but the relay man Guillen bobbled the ball. That enabled So to score from first. Molina took second on the ill-advised and late throw home. Miles took a walk before Eckstein was retired 4-3. Tie 3-3.

Tigers fourth – On track
A second consecutive smoothie for Carp.

Cards fifth – Albert not sharp
Pujols shot a ball to the right field wall. Magglio Ordonez dropped it, but Pujols wasn't running hard. He made it into second an instant ahead of the throw, but overslid the bag and was subsequently tagged out.

Tigers fifth – Carp in deep water
Craig Monroe doubled past Rolen leading off. Too many extra-base hits on the evening – four to be exact. Granderson shot another double to left, scoring the run. He came home on the next pitch as Polanco blooped a single into short center. Catcher Vance Wilson put the third double of the inning into - where else? – the left field corner. Two in scoring position with one out. Both came home on an Ordonez single to center. Two strikeouts were too late. Tigers 7-3.

Cards sixth – Creeping back
So singled with two down. Molina doubled home another run into the left field corner. and slid into second just ahead of the throw. Tigers 7-4.

Tigers sixth – Back on track
Taguchi made a nice running catch in left center to rob Shelton of a sure double as part of a 1-2-3 inning for Carpenter.

Cards seventh – No help
Reliever Fernando Rodney came on to pitch. Pujols singled to left with two down. But, Rolen fanned looking.

Tigers seventh – Too late?
Strikeout, ground out and fly out.

Cards eighth – Quietly closer
Encarnacion singled up the middle with one out. He swiped second base with two out. New Mr. Clutch Molina singled to left to score the run. This also ensures that Pujols will hit in the ninth. Tigers 7-5.

Tigers eighth – Leaky pen again
Randy Flores came in and walked his first batter, Ordonez. That is never good. Guillen singled to right. Adios, Randy. Looper time was off as he allowed an RBI single to Thames. A lone drive single to right by Shelton loaded the bases. Monroe's sac fly scored another. Inge's single plated one more to end Looper's bad night. In came Tyler Johnson to fan two and end the ugliness. Tigers 10-5.

Cards ninth – Closer closes
Tigers' closer Todd Jones looks like a beer leaguer, but he retired the top two Cards hitters before Pujols homered to left. Rolen singled to prolong it a bit until Rodriguez fanned again. Tigers 10-6.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Saturday @ Tigers: Jeff Suppan vs. Kenny Rogers 6:05 p.m. WB11
Sunday @ Tigers: Sidney Ponson vs. Jeremy Bonderman 12:05 p.m. WB11
Monday vs. Indians: Jason Marquis vs. Cliff Lee 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Tuesday vs. Indians: Anthony Reyes vs. C.C. Sabathia 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wednesday vs. Indians: Chris Carpenter vs. Jake Westbrook 7:10 p.m. FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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