In another game that many would argue the 2008 Cardinals didn’t have a chance in, the 2009 Redbirds emerge victorious to win another series against the Dodgers, their fifth win this season in the seventh and final regular season matchup with the NL West leaders.
Adam Wainwright was brilliant early, then seemed as if a switch was thrown in the bottom of the seventh and surrendered two home runs, to Casey Blake and registered Cardinal Killer ™ Andre Ethier. Waino got raked around pretty good in that inning, seemed like Tony could’ve had someone up and throwing a bit sooner, but what do I know?
Ryan Ludwick’s attempt to start a mohawk fad on the heels of the mustaches seemed a flop tonight. Luddy was one-for-five with a pretty ugly bases loaded strikeout in the top of the third inning.
One item of note from watching these games against the Dodgers – their middle infield, Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson – is really good. Both made some outstanding plays during the series, and while it’s mostly water under the bridge now, both names were being thrown around in the offseason as possible Cardinal targets. Just sayin…
Clayton Kershaw is going to be a good pitcher someday soon, he has solid stuff. Tonight he was clearly overmatched by a Cardinal lineup that went deep into counts and fouled off a lot of his best pitches.
Dan and Al mentioned tonight that part of the Smoltz signing was the lobbying of former Smoltz teammates Wainwright and Mark DeRosa. They added that Waino “vouched” for Smoltz. Really? His Hall of Fame career to date wasn’t enough? The Cards had to get Waino’s word that he was worth the hundred-grand? We like to have fun…
Albert Pujols didn’t see much to hit all night, unless you count the one that actually hit him. AP got doinked in the backside again, and while I don’t think it was intentional, Albert seems to be getting pretty fed up with it.
Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina raised his average to .296 tonight with a two-for-four outing that included a couple of outstanding at-bats. Waiting, fouling off good pitches, seeing the one he wants and driving it, often going with the pitch. Really like what we’re seeing out of Yadi and his bat this season, following up on the outstanding 2008 campaign. He keeps hitting like this, he will win himself another Gold Glove (yeah, you read that right).
Seriously, can we just pencil Brendan Ryan’s name in at shortstop for 2010?
Pujols is still leading the team in stolen bases, adding another tonight in the top of the ninth ahead of Matt Holliday’s go-ahead sacrifice fly. Think these two are enjoying playing with each other? Both are throwbacks – Pujols doesn’t like the nickname ‘El Hombre’ because “Stan is the Man, not me” and the square-jawed Holliday is just a pure ballplayer. Holliday stepped to the plate tonight with Pujols on third and knew his job. Didn’t need the home run (although he had some big hacks). Couldn’t win with a strikeout or a walk. He did what a cleanup man should in that position. Get it in the air and let your man tag up.
Don’t convince yourself that Dennys Reyes beaning Ethier in the ninth was payback for Pujols’ HBP earlier in the game. No way it was intentional in that situation. Reyes has just been that unpredictable lately. No worries, Ryan Franklin cleaned it up. 31 of 33 for Frank now.
Jaime Garcia pitched another solid rehab start tonight in Memphis, settling in after a rough first inning. This note should not in any way be considered linked to the above note (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Don’t bet the farm on it, but don’t be surprised if Garcia makes a cameo in September with the big club.
Gerry Fraley over at FOXSports.com is ready to call the NL Central race. Love the thought, am confident – but want to see the team put another few games between themselves and the Cubs before we start making declarations. Nevertheless, the team is gaining recognition nationally now – this recent pile of wins is putting folks on notice.