You may have noticed by the lack of my wit and knowledge around here that I have already, by the middle of the week, had one of the longest weeks of the year to date. Work is keeping me hectic and on-the-go. Last night, that was a blessing in disguise.
Having already listened to the first four innings on my XM radio in the car (love that thing, by the way), I proceeded to sit through both rain delays on my MLB.tv subscription once I got home. I saw Adam Kennedy’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. I saw Rick Ankiel get hit with the bases loaded (good thing too, I don’t think he had a chance to hit Joe Beimel in that at-bat). Finally, I saw Albert Pujols redeem himself with a two-run home run, after leaving Skip Schumaker hung out to dry stealing third when he struck out flailing at a couple of bad pitches. I know, I know – it was pretty clear the hit-and-run was on for that last pitch, so he has to swing – so maybe that one is on Tony. Let the guy take a walk, LaRussa.
After the Pujols home run, facing an early morning flight, I decided it was time to hit the sack. After all, the Cardinals appeared to be cruising. Surely they would add another run or two, and make it out of reach even for this bullpen, right?
I awoke to find the Cardinals had won after all, but it took them eleven innings. Thank goodness for your National League Player of the Week, Ryan Ludwick. Luddy has really carried this team lately, and it manifested itself in a truly MVP-worthy way last night.
Unfortunately, again, it shouldn’t have been necessary. Ron Villone gave up a shot to otherwise useless at the plate Andruw Jones. It would be the only batter he faced, to LaRussa’s credit. Jason Isringhausen quickly made the decision a moot point, as he proceeded to continue his dog and pony show this season. It is truly a shame that baseball’s statistical system puts the blown save last night on Ryan Franklin, because while he should shoulder just as much of the blame as anyone in that bullpen, last night’s implosion was the Izzy Show.
Since I can barely stomach to continue on about the bullpen, let’s focus on some good developments in last night’s game:
Ludwick (or Studwick, depending on your preference) has broken out of his mid-season lull in a big way, earning NL Player of the Week honors for last week, and not letting off the gas last night.
Chris Carpenter really deserved better, having pitched an excellent game up to the first rain delay. I think that LaRussa and Duncan made the correct move in pulling him after the delay. There was no need to run him back out there, when he is still working on getting his stamina back, and risk injury. Brad Thompson once again performed quite well taking the ball early in the game, pitching a scoreless sixth. You can be virtually certain that Thompson would have gone another inning or two, had the Cardinals not threatened in the bottom of the inning, forcing TLR to pinch-hit for Thompson.
Kyle McClellan had another good outing – I struggle with KMac on a daily basis. He is seemingly one of the Cards’ best options to get a shot at the closer’s role, but he does the middle relief job so well. Which is more important at this stage?
I really think it’s time for either KMac or Chris Perez to get their shot. Izzy has blown his two chances (just like all the saves), Franklin was no better, and I don’t think Russ Springer has the gun anymore to go even a full inning night after night.
Why not let Perez learn on the job? I know it’s not typical for a rookie to be thrust into that role without easing him into the majors first, but Perez has been a closer all his life. Let him adjust and be ready to be the man next year. It’s not typical for MLB teams to blow thirty saves in a season either, but the Cards seem to have no problem heading in that direction…