The rumors of Albert Pujols‘ demise have been greatly exaggerated (already). He may have another 700 plate appearances to compensate for his lousy opening day performance, and he does have a history of putting up decent numbers by season’s end. Despite the 0-everything from AP, the Cardinals still had the lead in the 9th with their closer on the mound. All that IN SPITE of themselves.
- Matt Holliday looked locked in at the plate, even when he wasn’t swinging the bat.
- David Freese looks healthy, and it is just a relief to look at third base and see him there.
- Chris Carpenter wasn’t incredibly sharp, but he went into “grind” mode a few times and pitched well enough to get the job done. That’s precisely the kind of effort the Cardinals have come to expect out of him. He had some nice help from the guys behind him.
- Colby Rasmus made a nice catch on a 50-50 ball deep into the left-centerfield gap. The catch wasn’t spectacular, but the aggressive approach and path to the ball were both impressive. It was a subtle detail, but Colby’s move to the ball gave Holliday time to make a decision to get out of the way.
- I previously suggested that the Cardinals were holding Berkman back on purpose, and I think I may have been right. The “Big Fat Elvis Puma” showed some foot speed previously unseen in recent years. He also turned quickly on a pitch that he couldn’t keep fair, but it’s a positive to see him show that kind of bat speed.
- The 6th inning was all kinds of “ungood”. Holliday on 2nd, Berkman on 1st, nobody out, Freese at the plate, Yadi on deck, and there were no outs. Then the wheels came off the bus, and soon the players were no longer going round and round. Holliday getting picked off started a remarkable cascade of fail.
- Ryan Franklin‘s blown save was ugly, and the game-tying hr that he gave up was on a fat pitch. His body language reminded me of the way he looked when he blew the save at the end of spring training. For a guy who has only blown something like 7 saves in the past 2 seasons, he’s certainly going to set parts of Cardinal Nation abuzz quickly about the possibility of being replaced. I’m not ready to go there yet, but tossing balloons at hitters just doesn’t usually work out all that well.
- The Ryan Theriot error was beyond ugly, but it wasn’t just ugly on one end. Sure, he looked a bit casual about going for the scoop, but the play began with Jon Jay. The throw needed to be either a bit shorter (easier bounce to handle) or a bit longer (above the ankles).
- At some point, “hit-and-run” was somehow banned from the Cardinals clubhouse or something. When the first 2 runners in an inning reach safely, and the other team pretty much knows that you won’t put the runners in motion, then you’ve just eliminated one thing they have to potentially address.
THE DISQUIETING SENSATION:
- Bryan Augenstein. Rough way to start out, but he didn’t act like he was rattled by it all. However, I kept thinking about how much different the bullpen rotation might look with Kyle McClellan out there. I think we’ve already seen the first example of the “Adam Wainwright Domino Effect”.
- 3rd inning. Theriot on 2nd and Rasmus on 1st with nobody out. Albert is at the plate. Did anybody even consider the possibility of sending Theriot in the direction of 3B? Albert’s a substantial guy for a catcher to throw the ball around, and there was a good chance of several pitches being inside to prevent Albert from hitting the ball to RF. Just a thought.
Pujols isn’t likely to have a lot of 0-5 days in which he grounds in to 3 double plays and strands a football team. Based on the way most of the rest of the team performed, I think rumors of the Cardinals demise may have already been exaggerated. Lots of teams lose 1 in a row.
TIDBIT: Carp threw 57 strikes in 97 pitches. You can parse that any way you like, but he was putting a lot of pitches in the dirt that weren’t “waste” pitches. He just never seemed to quite hit a groove.
MORE BITS OF TID: Really liked the way the fans handled Ludwick this year. Huge applause when his name was announce. Nice, respectable amount of applause for his first at-bat. Very classy without going overboard.
Like it? Have something to add? Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and I’ll tweet when I’ve updated this post with pics from opening day!