Game Observations– Fri. 6/30– Royals 7-5 (10)

On Friday evening, the St. Louis Cardinals lost the first game of the three-game weekend series against the Kansas City Royals, 7-5. The Cardinals are 1-4 on their current home stand and their 43-35 record means their NL Central lead is gone. They are now tied with the Cincinnati Reds.

Jeff Suppan started and as seemingly always, was fair but not great. He left the game after 5-2/3 innings with a slim 5-4 lead. Adam Wainwright coughed up the lead on a solo home run in the eighth and Braden Looper took the loss when he gave up two in the tenth.

The offense managed 13 hits, but continuing the recent pattern, ten of them were singles. Suppan was one of four hitters with two safeties, yet he was the only one with two RBI – not a good sign. Scott Spiezio and Aaron Miles both struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

One year ago today
On June 30, 2005, the Cardinals were shut out for only the fourth time all season as four Colorado Rockies pitchers combined on a six-hit shutout in a 7-0 loss. So Taguchi posted the only two-hit game for the Cards, finishing 2-for-4. Jeff Suppan took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned on nine hits to even his record at 7-7. Still, the team held their 8-1/2 game lead in the NL Central.

The match-up – Duck Soup
Jeff Suppan vs. former Phillie, Astro and Pirate Brandon Duckworth.

The line-up
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Taguchi, Molina, Luna and Suppan.
Back in: So Taguchi and Hector Luna.
Out: John Rodriguez and Aaron Miles.

On to the game…

Royals first – Bad beginning
The game started off badly as David DeJesus doubled. He moved up on a ground out and scored on a Doug Mientkiewicz sacrifice fly. A So Taguchi misplay of the fly ball helped (or more appropriately, hurt). Royals 1-0.

Cards first – Down in order
Jim Edmonds fanned in between a pair of fly ball outs.

Royals second – Leadoff single workaround
Mark Teahen singled to left leading off. With two down, the runner at second and the pitcher coming up next, the #8 hitter, catcher John Buck was intentionally walked. Duckworth was retired for the third out as Suppan escaped the jam.

Cards second – Fit to be
Leading off, Rolen doubled to left. Encarnacion did the same thing, a few feet to the right of Rolen's ball. That scored the run, of course. Taguchi moved Juan to third. Luna took a free pass to get to the pitcher with two down. Suppan fanned with runners on the corners. Tie 1-1.

Royals third – What tie?
DeJesus again doubled leading off. Here we go again. Yep, but this time Mientkiewicz homered to right. It was a line drive shot. Teahen walked with two down, drawing a Duncan visit, but that was all. Royals 3-1.

Cards third – Two RISP
Eckstein singled leading off, but he was erased at second on a force out off the bat of Jim Edmonds. Pujols shot a vicious liner that Duckworth caught in self-defense and quickly fell to his knees. His throw was too late to double up Edmonds at first. Rolen walked to put a runner down at second. Both moved up on a wild pitch. But, Encarnacion flied out to end the threat.

Royals fourth – More trouble
Angel Berroa singled to start the inning. The first Royals batter has reached in all four innings. On what looked to be an easy double play, Eckstein made a bad throw to Luna. Despite not getting Berroa at second, Luna had the presence to fire to first in time to get the runner. Berroa took third with two down, but was stranded.

Cards fourth – Two-out help
Taguchi singled up the middle to start the inning. But, he was quickly retired on a very easy double play off Molina's bat. Too bad, as Luna shot a ground rule double into the left field corner. He barely scored on a Suppan single to right. Luna seemed to not be running full out, but made a nice fade slide, touching the right side of the plate with his left hand. Suppan alertly took second on the throw home. Eckstein got an infield single as his opposite number, Berroa, didn't handle his ball cleanly. With runners on the corners and two down, Edmonds weakly grounded out to first base on the first pitch he saw. Man, is he slumping – just one hit since the 21st (four games). Royals 3-2.

Royals fifth – Lead-off man not on base
Sanders doubled into the right center gap with two down. Teahen was retired for the third out.

Cards fifth – Small ball Cards
Pujols was hit on the ribs with a pitch leading off. Encarnacion singled to right. Pujols made very risky attempt to take third, but Teahen missed the tag on Albert's slide. Taguchi shot a single off a diving Teahen's glove to load the bases with one out. Molina hit an RBI single to right and reloaded the bases. Luna just missed a two-run double before taking strike three looking. Suppan came through with a single off the shortstop's glove. Duckworth's night ended right there. Former Red Luke Hudson came in and should have gotten out of the inning, except for a fielding error by Berroa, allowing the Cards' fifth run to come home. Cards 5-3.

Royals sixth – Holding on this early?
Berroa doubled into the left field corner with one down. He scored on a ground rule double into right by pinch-hitter Estaban German with two out. See ya, Soup. Enter Randy Flores, who fanned DeJesus looking to end it. Cards 5-4.

Cards sixth – In order
New pitcher Joel Peralta retired Pujols on a fly to center and got the next two batters out, too.

Royals seventh – Finally
After Flores got the first two, Adam Wainwright came in to retire Reggie Sanders, which he did without incident. It took two pitchers to do it, but this was the first time all night that the Royals didn't have a baserunner.

Cards seventh – Twin killing again
Taguchi walked off Peralta to start the inning. Molina hit into his second double play of the night to take the steam out of the inning.

Royals eighth – Giving it back
Teahen put a ball into the pen in right leading off against Wainwright. Tie 5-5.

Cards eighth – No chance
Timo Perez pinch-hit, which led to a pitching change. After that, three outs were secured, including another strikeout by Edmonds.

Royals ninth – Looper on
DeJesus was on base again with a one-out walk against Tyler Johnson. He moved into scoring position and stayed tight when Mientkiewicz also walked. Braden Looper was summoned to retire Sanders, which he did on a fly to deep right.

Cards ninth – Golden opportunity wasted
Against pitcher Elmer Dessens, Pujols singled, just in front of a diving Joey Gathright in center to start the inning. A hit-and-run got Albert to second before a wild pitch put him on third. Two intentional walks – to Encarnacion and Pujols – were issued to set up a force situation. Scott Spiezio was given a chance to win the game. But, he'll have to do it against a different pitcher – Ambiorix Burgos. Spiezio fanned on a high outside pitch that looked like ball four. Next was Aaron Miles, hitting for Luna. He also whiffed. Ouch.

Royals tenth – Looper loser
Looper stayed on and walked Teahen leading off. Emil Brown's single put runners at the corners. After a force out at second, Matt Stairs pinch hit. He hit a fly to left, but Taguchi's throw home was weak, as the lead run scored easily. So didn't position himself to get any momentum behind the throw, as it bounced half a dozen times before reaching the plate. Gathright sealed the deal with an RBI double into the left field corner. Royals 7-5.

Cards tenth – Last chance lost
Burgos also took a second inning. The last position player on the bench, John Rodriguez was the first out. With two down, Jim Edmonds broke up an 0-for-5 night with a single to right. Pujols' lazy fly to left ended another disappointing Cardinals loss.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Saturday vs. Royals: Sidney Ponson vs. Mark Redman 6:15 p.m. WB11
Sunday vs. Royals: Jason Marquis vs. Mike Wood 1:15 p.m. WB11
Monday @ Braves: Anthony Reyes vs. John Smoltz 6:05 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Tuesday @ Braves: Chris Carpenter vs. Lance Cormier 6:05 p.m. FSNM
Wednesday @ Braves: Jeff Suppan vs. Chuck James 6:35 p.m. FSNM
Thurs. @ Houston: Sidney Ponson vs. Taylor Buchholz 7:05 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Friday @ Houston: Jason Marquis vs. Wandy Rodriguez 7:05 p.m. FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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