This post has taken a complete 180 degree turn from what I was preparing to write.
I said it on Twitter earlier, and I’ll say it again here.
I’m not one typically prone to exaggeration, but that 8th inning may have been a critical turning point not only in the game, but the season
What an effort put forth by the Cardinal hitters today, once they were able to get past Manny Parra.
As has been the case, the Redbird bats struggled with a much-maligned left-handed starter, only to awaken in the eighth against the Brewers’ bullpen.
Parra wound up eventually throwing 110 pitches in seven solid innings of work, but it seemed that it wasn’t until Yadier Molina strung him out for an eleven-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning that he really had to labor. He worked quickly through the Cardinal lineup, and the ‘Birds only touched him for three hits.
Thankfully, Joel Pineiro was just as masterful. No walks, a pleasant sight after last night’s debacle, and only a few scattered hits to the Brewers, only allowing them one run.
Pineiro went nine again, his third complete game of the season, and got the win in a great testament to “keeping it close”.
The lineup finally broke through off of Carlos Villanueva in the top of the eighth. Skip Schumaker led off with a pinch-hit double. Brendan Ryan tripled into the left-center field gap with the hit-and-run on, scoring Schumaker. Jason LaRue walked pinch-hitting for Colby Rasmus after the Brewers brought in their only left-handed reliever Mitch Stetter. Albert Pujols doubled down the third base line (a welcome sight, given his “struggles” in the series) to score Ryan. That left Ryan Ludwick to deliver the big blow, a three-run home run to make it 5-1 Cards. All with no one out. Heck, even Rick Ankiel singled following the Luddy homer.
The Cards only scored runs in the eighth today, but they made that one inning count.
This win marks only the third win for the Cardinals when they’ve started the eighth inning trailing their opponent. Let’s hope it wasn’t the last.
Pineiro hasn’t needed more than 100 pitches in any of his three complete games this season.
He is tied for the National League lead in complete games, and trails only Zack Greinke in MLB.
Brendan Ryan was as good today in the field as he was hitting that triple in the eighth.
Ryan made two outstanding plays deep in the hole to his right, getting runners at first base both times.
Have the Cards found a guy to solidfy the shortstop position for a few seasons?
Ryan has come a long way from his early stints with the Cardinals. He’s almost become the calming influence of that infield, and who would’ve expected that? From him?
The Brewer bullpen surrendered a cycle in the eighth inning to Cardinal hitters.
Single (Ankiel), double (Schumaker, Pujols), triple (Ryan), home run (Ludwick).
Milwaukee manager Ken Macha made some controversial moves in the series, some worked and some didn’t.
Today he got played in the eighth inning. Tony LaRussa had LaRue jog in from the bullpen before Ryan batted, knowing Macha would bring in Stetter to face Rasmus. Macha, perhaps trying to call Tony’s bluff on using his backup catcher as a pinch hitter, brought in Stetter right away. LaRussa proceeded to pinch-hit LaRue, who walked. Stetter, Milwaukee’s only lefty in the ‘pen then had to be removed before Pujols’ at-bat.
Lesson learned? Don’t call Tony’s bluff. Because chances are good he didn’t have a plan until you made your move. Besides, have you seen those sunglasses?
Now EVEN MORE day baseball!
Cards start a four-game set, by way of rain makeup, with the Chicago Cubs.
LaRussa and Lou Pineilla have already started their games of cat and mouse, so I’m not entirely positive who will be starting tomorrow. It seems Chris Carpenter will likely go on regular rest for the ‘Birds and Rich Harden is on the schedule for the Cubs.
Let’s extend that lead boys!