Game Observations – Wed. 8/23 – Mets 10-8

The St. Louis Cardinals fell the second straight night in their midweek road series against the NL's best, the New York Mets, losing this time by a 10-8 score on Wednesday at Shea Stadium. Mark Mulder took the loss, pitching ineffectively in his return to the roster. Even with the loss, the Cards held their slim lead in the NL Central Division over the Reds at one game with their 66-59 record.

After missing two months with a shoulder/mechanical problem, Cardinals starter Mark Mulder looked remarkably like the pre-disabled list version as he was pounded by the Mets hitters, allowing nine runs on nine hits in three-plus innings.

The offense worked hard to come back from a 10-2 deficit, but fell short. Albert Pujols (two RBI), Scott Rolen (home run), Preston Wilson (double and home run) and Ron Belliard each had two hits. In his first game as a Cardinal, Jose Vizcaino had a two-run home run.

One year ago today
On August 23, 2005, the Cardinals were shut out for the sixth time that season, losing 10-0 to the Pirates at PNC Park. The Redbirds were held without a hit until the sixth inning and finished with just five in total. Jason Marquis (9-13) suffered his seventh straight loss, allowing seven runs on eight hits in three-plus innings.

The match-up
Mark Mulder (6-5, 6.09) vs. Steve Trachsel (12-5, 4.79).

The line-up
Vizcaino (SS), Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Wilson (RF), Encarnacion (CF), Belliard, Molina and Mulder.
In: Jose Vizcaino was inserted into the line-up upon arrival late in the afternoon.
Out: Aaron Miles was removed from the original starting lineup.
Encarnacion and Wilson exchanged places in the batting order.

On to the game…

Cards first – Nothing early
Duncan lined out to first prior to Pujols popping out foul near third base.

Mets first – Taken to the Wood(ward) Shed
Jose Reyes began the game for the Mets with a sharp single up the middle. Carlos Beltran walked with one out. Carlos Delgado shot a breaking pitch off the right field wall on one hop. The double scored Reyes. David Wright was intentionally walked to the expected loud booing. No room for error with the bases jammed. Mulder went full on .219-hitting Chris Woodward before the weak-hitting second baseman doubled into the left field corner to clear the bases. After a fly moved the runner to third, #8 hitter Endy Chavez walked. Wilson made a great catch leaning into the stands for the third out on the pitcher. Mulder's pitch count is 34. The bullpen had better be ready! Mets 4-0.

Cards second – His glove's not Wood
Woodward made a nice running grab of Encarnacion's liner in short right center for the third out.

Mets second – Shaky, very shaky
Leading off again, Reyes reached on a perfect bunt. He didn't even draw a throw. What a weapon! He stole second and took third on a Paul Lo Duca single to center. Rolen took over, snaring a Beltan liner that about ripped off his glove, catching Delgado's popup, then starting a fielders' choice at second that ended the inning. Pitch count = 54.

Cards third – Albert needs some help
Belliard shot a ball into the left field corner. He hit it so hard, he had to run hard to make it into second base safely. Mulder walked with one out. Duncan did the same with two down, loading the bases for The Man. Following a mound conference, he stroked a two-run single to center. Rolen flied out to left. Mets 4-2.

Mets third – Took them right back
The suddenly-pesky Woodward singled off Rolen's glove. Lastings Milledge fanned. Endy Chavez singled. Trachsel's sac bunt put two in scoring position. Jose Reyes' hit a home run 390 feet high and deep into the bleachers in right on a 3-2 pitch. Mets 7-2.

Cards fourth – Not their night?
Beltran made a nice running catch toward deep center to pull down Encarnacion's liner for the second out.

Mets fourth – Down the drain
Beltran walked leading off. Delgado blasted a one hopper off the wall in left center that eluded Duncan's outreached glove. The double put two in scoring position. La Russa came out to pull Mulder at 78 pitches. Josh Hancock quickly closed the books on Mulder as David Wright shot a two-run double into the left field corner. Milledge singled up the middle. Endy fricking Chavez blasted a ground rule RBI double over Wilson's head in right. Wilson came back to make a sliding catch on Reyes' sinking liner for the third out. Mets 10-2.

Cards fifth – New guy does good
Molina singled to left. Hancock sacrificed him over to second. Vizcaino homered to right on a 3-2 pitch. Mets 10-4.

Mets fifth – In order
Encarnacion hauled down Delgado's shot to deep center for the third out collected in order by Hancock.

Cards sixth – Off Trachsel
Rolen hit his 19th home run of the season just over the leaping Chavez in left. Wilson followed with a shot to right center that also just cleared the wall. Encarnacion walked, which ended Trachsel's night. Roberto Hernandez took over. Belliard smoked the ball, but it was right at Wright at third for a 5-3 double play. Mets 10-6.

Mets sixth – E3
Gary Bennett came in defensively for the Cards. Pujols let a Milledge shot play him for an error with two out. Hancock effectively ate another inning.

Cards seventh – No help
Pinch-hitter Jim Edmonds walked. Vizcaino lined out to the track in dead center about 400 feet from home plate. Pedro Feliciano relieved and Michael Tucker came in to play left via the double switch. Duncan fanned. With Pujols coming up, Chad Bradford was called in to pitch and got his man 4-3.

Mets seventh – Look out!
Between innings, a rolled up t-shirt powered from the Mets' gun almost clobbered my laptop in the first row of the press box. I did catch the shirt cleanly and tossed it to a young boy below. Seemed like the right thing to do. Jorge Sosa pitched. Reyes took a one-out walk. He swiped second base. Sosa fanned Beltran swinging for out #3.

Cards eighth – Creeping back
Rolen doubled into the left field corner. Wilson hit a one-hopper over the wall and into the Cardinals bullpen in left for an RBI ground rule double. Belliard shot an RBI single through the hole. Gary Bennett barely legged out what look to be a double play. When Scott Spiezio was announced to hit, the Mets brought in Aaron Heilman for Bradford. Spiezio went down swinging. Mets 10-8.

Mets eighth – Looper handles himself well
Randy Flores took over on the mound and got his man, Beltran. Looper was booed loudly again as he came in from the pen. He collected the final two outs.

Cards ninth – Closed out
Mets closer Billy Wagner came on. Vizcaino was called out looking. So Taguchi pinch hit and flied out on the first pitch. Pujols singled sharply to left center.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Thu., Aug. 24 at Mets: Jason Marquis (13-11, 5.70) vs. Dave Williams (2-3, 6.90) 6:10 p.m. FSNM
Fri., Aug. 25 vs. Cubs: Jeff Suppan (9-7, 5.03) vs. Juan Mateo (1-1, 3.79) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Sat., Aug. 26 vs. Cubs: Chris Carpenter (12-6, 3.05) vs. Rich Hill (3-6, 6.44) 12:25 p.m. Big FOX
Sun., Aug. 27 vs. Cubs: Jeff Weaver (2-3, 5.74) vs. TBD 7:05pm ESPN

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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