Going to try something tonight, as I can actually sit in front my TV and watch the game rather than watching on the computer via MLB.tv.
I will update this post inning-by-inning with my thoughts. Maybe you’ll care what I have to say, maybe not. Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter, because I’m going to write it either way.
Top of the first
Excellent sequence to Jose Reyes by Cards starter Kyle Lohse. Got ahead in the count and stayed there. Lohse of course follows that up by walking Luis Castillo. As David Wright steps in, it occurs to me that the Mets have one of those lineups like Detroit that basically scares the tar out of me virtually from top to bottom. Lohse is Jekyll-and-Hyde’ing this first inning, as he couldn’t have pitched better to strike out Wright. Another 0-2 count to start off Carlos Beltran, two excellent breaking balls that couldn’t have missed the outside corner by much, and a good contact out to Aaron Miles at second. Great inning to start the game for Lohse.
Bottom of the first
Skip Schumaker works a lead-off walk from Mets starter John Maine in a very patient at-bat after first pitch swinging. Aaron “Grit” Miles is still hitting .321, who would have called that before the season started? Miles continues his hitting streak with a single, extending that streak to now twelve games. Skipper with good, aggressive base-running to reach third ahead of Albert Pujols. The Cardinals need to continue to put El Hombre at the plate in situations like these where the opposing team is almost required to pitch to him, or if they pitch around, it will be just as damaging. Pujols with a great single through the hole on the right side to score Schu. There should be a pool for how many MLB at-bats Rick Ankiel will have to amass before announcers will forego the “this is an amazing story” schtick. Outstanding patience by Ankiel to draw a walk to load the bases for Troy Glaus. Maine has already thrown 17 pitches to the first four batters. Of course, Glaus naturally swings at the first pitch after the pitcher has walked two of four batters. Terrible outcome (despite another run scoring) for a hitter like Glaus, as he puts down a tailor-made double-play grounder to the shortstop. Hit a fly ball into the outfield Troy! And, to no ones surprise, Chris Duncan fails to do anything worthwhile and grounds out to first. So again the Cardinals load the bases with no one out, and only come away with one run.
Top of the second
Lohse starts off Carlos Delgado 0-2 (he’s doing a really good job of that early here) and then hits him trying to bust him inside. The pitches Lohse misses with have been good, trying to get guys to chase on favorable pitcher counts. Again 0-2 this time to Ryan Church and Lohse gets the double-play ball this time. Lohse again with a first-pitch strike to Endy Chavez before Chavez singles into right field to break up the no-hitter. AGAIN Lohse goes 0-2 to Brian Schneider, Chris Duncan almost hurts himself trying to catch a foul ball, and Lohse sets him down with a good breaking ball on a full count. Lohse has now thrown first pitch strikes to every batter he’s faced, and taken six of eight to an 0-2 count. Good stuff from Kyle.
Bottom of second
Yadier Molina leads off with a flare single into right field. The Cardinals sure look comfortable and happy to be back home at Busch. Lohse is unable to get a bunt down on the first two strikes, and his third attempt nails the umpire Brian O’Nora in the stomach knocking the wind out of him. It is clear from replays that Lohse fouled the pitch off and he is down on strikes. Brendan “Boog” Ryan grounds to third and Wright has no play on Molina at second. Two outs with Molina on second for Schumaker. Schu swings at the first pitch for the second time tonight and fouls it off. Skipper grounds a ball pretty weakly to Castillo at second who watches it roll right between his legs, allowing Molina to score. Maine throws a pick-off attempt away up the right field stands, giving Schumaker the chance to take two bases, again aggressively taking the extra base to get to third. The throw to third almost escapes Wright to allow Schumaker to score. Grit skies one to center field to end the inning. This inning underscores a big reason why the Cardinals have been able to win this season and why the Mets are struggling: defense.
Top of the third
Lohse misses with his first pitch for the first time tonight, and naturally it’s to John Maine, the pitcher. Lohse recovers nicely to strike him out, one down. Lohse working really quickly tonight, a signature Dave Duncan trait. EXCELLENT over the head catch by Ankiel in center field, still conjuring images of Jimmy Edmonds out there. WOW! First, another outstanding, head-strong sequence by Lohse to come back from down 3-0 to Castillo, battled full and then Brendan Ryan came across second base to grab a high-hop, slow roller and get Castillo by half a step. Two really solid defensive plays in that inning. If there is any time for Ryan to try staking a claim to the shortstop position for next season, it’s now, with pending free agent Cesar Izturis on the disabled list.
Bottom of the third
Pujols flies out to Beltran in center field to lead off the inning. Ankiel fights off a bunch of pitches with two strikes before singling into right field. Ankiel showing some patience at the plate tonight, I like it. Glaus with a big-time double into the left field corner on a well-timed hit-and-run by Tony LaRussa, Ankiel scores easily. Here’s something you won’t see every day. Duncan is intentionally walked to set up the double play. Molina fights off a bunch of pitches before popping up behind the plate to Schneider. Lohse gives a swing just about all he could muster and flies out meekly to left field.
Top of the fourth
Lohse gets ahead of Wright 0-2 again and chalks up another strikeout. Yet another first pitch strike to Beltran, but he strokes a single to the opposite field between third and short. Delgado flies out to center field. ESPN reviewing/replaying the 2006 NLCS – still love that Molina home run! Ryan Church rifles a line drive through the right side, Beltran takes third base just ahead of a strong throw from Schumaker. First and third with two out for Endy Chavez. Lohse with first pitch balls now to the last three hitters. Might be something to keep an eye on. Chavez chops one to Miles at second for the third out. Lohse doing a great job of getting ground ball outs tonight.
Bottom of the fourth
Ryan fights hard with an 0-2 count, fouling off several pitches before grounding out to second. Love that they are making Maine throw a bunch of pitches tonight. The third first pitch swing of the night for Schumaker, in three at-bats, and he grounds out to Reyes at short. Miles with a roller down the third base line that Wright throws away! Wright tried to do too much with that ball when he should’ve just eaten it, and Miles stands up at second. Pujols with another RBI single, this one straight up the middle. Miles scores easily. El Hombre has to be one of the best at that. Ankiel wastes no time shedding his patience from the first two at-bats and lines out to end the inning. Cards 5, Mets 0.
Top of the fifth
Schneider quickly grounds out to shortstop, another strong throw from Ryan. We’ve seen the last of John Maine for the night. Andy Phillips enters to pinch hit. Carlos Muniz is warming in the Mets bullpen. Another first pitch strike from Lohse, Phillips fouls a few off, then singles to left on a sharp grounder through short and third. First pitch strike to Reyes, who is obviously a bunt threat here – but instead flies out to Duncan in left. First pitch strike to Castillo. Another ground ball through a hole up the middle – and Ankiel air mails one trying to throw Andy Phillips out at third. Has Rick not been watching the Keystone Cops routine the Mets have been putting on? Castillo to second, Phillips scores. Lohse stays mentally tough and gets Wright to pop out down the first base line – makes me nervous to see Albert chugging that hard after that ball – nice grab by Grit.
Bottom of the fifth
Carlos Muniz relieves John Maine. Muniz’ credentials so far on the season are, well, underwhelming. Let’s go Cards! Glaus leads off the inning by taking a fastball in the elbow. Umpire O’Nora half-escorts him to first base, as if there is some sort of reason for Glaus to go after Muniz, not sure what that’s all about? Surely he doesn’t think that’s retaliation for the Delgado plunk earlier? Holy schnikes Chris Duncan hit a home run! I don’t believe what I just saw! (Credit to the late, great Mr. Buck) A two-run towering drive for Duncan just inside the right foul pole. Molina flies out to center field. Duncan looks ecstatic in the dugout, he was obviously stoked going around first base pumping the fist. Gosh, I sure hope this one might finally get this kid going, as Mozeliak has made it pretty clear Duncan isn’t going anywhere. Lohse bloops out to shortstop. Brendan Ryan gives one a charge into left center, and Endy Chavez makes a fantastic running grab. This guy is always robbing the Cardinals of hits…
Top of the sixth
Lohse needs to settle in here and just throw strikes in the Dave Duncan Pitch to Contact System ™ to get a quick win out of this lead. Ugh. I should stop projecting onto these guys, as Lohse proceeds to walk Beltran on four pitches. LaRussa going to the bullpen phone as Lohse goes 3-1 to Delgado. Kyle promptly gets Delgado into a 4-6-3 double play. Nice work Lohse. Quickly 3-0 to Church, and it’s clear Lohse is running out of steam – I suspect we’ll see a reliever next inning. Church flies out to left to end the inning. If Lohse’s spot comes up in the bottom, expect a pinch hitter. Might be a good spot for Mulder to get some action with a lead.
Bottom of the sixth
Schumaker leads off the sixth with a line out off the shoelaces to second baseman Castillo. Miles with a quick flyout to center. Pujols ends the first scoreless inning for the Cardinals by flying out to Beltran in center field.
Top of the seventh
Lohse starts the top of seven with a first-pitch strike to Chavez. Chavez grounds out to second base. Schneider takes a first pitch strike from Kyle. Schneider is out on a shot toward Pujols at first, and Lohse continues to cruise (knock on wood). Scott Schoeneweis is up in the Mets bullpen as former Cardinal Marlon Anderson swings and whiffs on another first pitch strike from Lohse. Bouncing ball to second base and Anderson is out.
Bottom of the seventh
Argh. More FPS (first pitch swinging) from Rick Ankiel. A ground-out to the second baseman Castillo. Oh, ESPN brings up a point that I had forgotten to previously mention – Nick Stavinoha was sent down today to make room for a 13th pitcher, Brad Thompson. Thompson I’m sure will take over the long relief/spot start role. Troy “Santa” Glaus with a double into the right field corner – I love seeing a guy like Glaus going the other way – reminds me of Pujols and how great a hitter he is, just taking what the pitcher gives him. Duncan looks feeble, as always, versus a left handed pitcher throwing breaking balls. Molina takes an intentional walk, with Lohse on deck. Ron Villone is up in the bullpen, color me confused. Why, if they’re going to carry him on the roster, would LaRussa not give Mark Mulder a shot to throw here? Get someone else up as soon as he comes in, hedge yourself, but why not Mulder? Brian Barton pinch hitting for Lohse with two outs here. Barton does a nice job working the count full, and he takes ball four inside. Excellent at-bat for Barton. Ryan with a first pitch swing after a walk. Ryan pops up to center field in an at-bat that is the polar opposite of Barton’s. Ryan was impatient, swung at a couple of bad pitches. I assume Villone to come in for the top of eight.
Top of the eighth
Indeed it is Ron Villone to start the eighth. Color me confused. Well, color me confused again. Great pitch by Villone on the outside corner to ring up Reyes looking (batting right-handed no less). Castillo fires a hot shot ground ball at Brendan Ryan, who can’t come up with it at short. Castillo is on, E6. Two solid pitches from Villone that it looked like Wright wasn’t expecting, to run the count to 2-2. After a breaking ball on 2-2 that looked darn close, Villone issues the walk to Wright, and there are runners on first and second. Well look who is up in the bullpen…Springer the righty, and Mulder the left-hander up in the pen should Villone not find his way out of this. Isringhausen was just shown limping around the ‘pen, not sure if that’s a good sign, we’ll see if his new knee brace will help. Steve Phillips agreeing with me about why not Mulder to start the inning – not sure if I should be happy about that or not. Well look at Ron Villone hitting that low, outside corner pitch again to ring up Beltran. Two strikeouts for Villone in the inning. Villone gets Delgado to ground out to Ryan to end the inning. So it was long and tumultuous, but a relatively decent inning for Villone, comparatively. The curiosity in me still hopes to see Mulder next inning, and I might get my wish with two left handed hitters still coming up.
Bottom of the eighth
Aaron Heilman now pitching for the Mets. Skip Schumaker swings at the first pitch again and grounds out to the first baseman. The only first pitch that Schu hasn’t swung at tonight was a called strike. Miles with a smoker back up the middle for a base hit. Springer has taken a seat, Mulder the only arm left up in the Cardinal bullpen. Looks like I’ll be pacified tonight. Pujols ropes one into left, but right at Endy Chavez. Two outs. 2-2 to Ankiel, Mulder looking like he wishes Ank would just strike out so he can get in there and get “the moment” over with. Ankiel walks by taking inside on a full count. Glaus runs the count full then takes another hit-by-pitch, this one barely grazing his stomach. Santa’s gonna have some stitch marks on him tonight. Bases loaded for Duncan. Duncan strikes out, he did a nice job taking some low pitches out of the zone that I normally would expect him to swing at. But it still seems he’s overmatched in a lot of these plate appearances. Bring on Mulder!
Top of the ninth
Not to put any undue pressure on you Mark, but Milwaukee is already up 2-0 in the top of the first inning. Mulder’s 2008 debut. First ever relief appearance. Here goes! Blast-from-the-past Fernando Tatis pinch hitting. First pitch strike, fouled off a 91-mph fastball. Ground out to shortstop for Tatis, one out for Mulder. 92-mph fastball to Chavez for strike one. Big ole hook breaking ball to Chavez is blooped into left for a hit – supposedly the bad start in Memphis was a lot of those hits, hopefully they don’t string these together again here tonight. Ramon Castro pinch hitting for Schneider – first pitch strike at 90-mph. Second pitch called strike at 91-mph. Big nasty curve ball in on the hands foul-tipped by Castro. Good miss outside, Castro checks his swing. Mulder’s velocity seems good. Another close miss low, 2-2 to Castro. Misses wide. Swing and a miss for the strikeout on 3-2 with a 90-mph fastball! 2 outs, Damion Easley pinch-hitting for the pitcher. Mulder misses low 92-mph. (I should note all these pitch readings are from the ESPN broadcast gun.) Another bloop to right on a good pitch for Easley. Both hits have been pretty weak bloops. Reyes swings at the first pitch and flies out to right. Cards win! Mulder with a scoreless ninth, and boy does he look happy.
WHEW was that intense! I think I covered every at-bat there. I don’t envision this being a regular item here, barring a really overwhelming reaction from you two loyal readers.
So Lohse looks fantastic, throws a lot of strikes, and gets his tenth win. At 10-2, Lohse has to be getting a long look for an All-Star berth. Pujols continues his good hitting since coming off of the disabled list. Duncan homers, but otherwise looks pedestrian again. Bad defense on both sides. And of all things, Mark Mulder finally gets in a game and pitches a scoreless ninth inning. Mulder for LOOGY?
Cheers until tomorrow.