A quick blast of conciousness after the Cardinals drop a heartbreaker at Busch. Take your meds, add whiskey to it and follow me here.
Lets cut the bullshit and simply list the reasons why the Cards lost the game in the first place. Playoffs ladies and gents require a blunt expression.
1.)Tony La Russa committed an act of retarded genius in the 7th inning and ruined Jaime Garcia’s game. La Russa called for an intentional walk of 8th place hitting Carlos Ruiz with two outs and a runner on base. Charlie Manuel was going to pinch hit for Cole Hamels in the first place, but La Russa called for the intentional walk and Ben Francisco(career 1-9 against Garcia) came to the plate with no home runs since May 25th. La Russa flirted with danger when he intentionally walked Hunter Pence in the 6th with 2 outs and Garcia got Ryan Howard for a third time to escape. This time, Garcia threw a fastball right over the heart of the plate and Francisco blasted a game winning homer to left. Game, set, match. While the Cards are comeback kids, this deficit seemed like closure. La Russa deserves a decent amount of blame here even though he didn’t throw the pitch. He upstaged the normal game that was going on and stepped in the middle of Jaime’s workplace. I could notice Garcia’s displeasure when Yadi Molina told him about the move. Good history against Francisco, sneaky power of Ruiz and a confident pitcher on mound. I get it, but I didn’t like it at all. Tony La Russa’s overaggressive management hurt his team tonight.
2.)It’s hard to get too mad at Garcia. He pitched very well, dominated for 6 innings, and made one bad pitch the entire night. Garcia matched Hamels inning for inning and looked better doing it, but gets a loss for it. That’s baseball and backs up my theory enforced in covering the Lohse mistake. ONE BAD PITCH CAN MAKE OR BREAK A PITCHING PERFORMANCE. Decision making plays key and after La Russa threw Jaime a wrench, he made a bad pitch. Garcia looked crispy good through 6 innings, throwing 64 pitches to get 18 outs and mowing down the Phillies on 3 hits. Then, he gave up a leadoff single to Victorino, got a couple outs and saw TLR put his stinky boot into the game. Managers don’t play but they can cut into a fine dance being put on by a pitcher. Garcia deserves the loss for making a huge mistake but pitched as well as I wished for before game time. Mistake in hand, Garcia was impressive but chose the wrong bullet.
3.)The Cardinals stranded 14 baserunners. In a one run game, that is killer, akin to sticking a knife in your own heart. The Cards put two runners on base in 4 innings and pushed past 2 runs on 12 hits. That’s more than bad. That’s pathetic. However, considering their opposition on the mound, the result isn’t too surprising. The bad part is, when Hamels left after 6 innings and 117 pitches, the Cards pushed past 2 runs on 5 hits against 4 Phillies relievers in 3 innings. All in all, a bad night for the offense when a comeback seemed only a hit or two away. The biggest fail came in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and one out. What’s been the pest all season for the hard hitting on base percentage monster Cards? Double plays. Allen Craig hit into an inning ending double play with Albert Pujols on deck. Pujols doubled and scored in the 9th to bring the score to 3-2, but the Cards came up short when they wasted a golden opportunity in the 8th inning. In the playoffs, teams can’t waste chances.
4.)All night, I smelt a Cards comeback. Being down 3-0 only enhanced the feeling to come back and bury the iron giants. With the tying run at third base, Yadi Molina grounded out to second base to end the game. The Cards are a truly resilient bunch. They got 3 runs off Halladay, beat Lee and made Hamels work for his dinner. They stand here with only 1 win but this is intense exhausting playoff baseball. One mistake can lose a game, and the Cards have figured that out in Games 1 and 3 this week.
5.)Is it time to call the series? No way. This is something I can’t do with this team on the field. Betting against them is a bad idea and I choose to stay in the middle and expect a good fight each night. The Cards were anything but lifeless tonight and brought a strong effort. They came up short due to lack of a clutch hit, a bad managerial decision and a ill fated pitch by their lefthander. Tomorrow, Edwin Jackson takes the mound in his first postseason start against a fastball hitting Phillies lineup. The Cards face a familiar nemesis in Roy Oswalt, a pitcher who literally turned off the lights in Old Busch in 2005 with a dominant 7 inning performance. After Pujols bombed a game winning comeback capping sonic blast off Brad Lidge, Oswalt and the Astros came back to silence the Cards and close out the series in 6 games. Will Oswalt do it again, six years later? He faces his old friend Lance Berkman on the other side this time. Ask Lance, the most candid and forthcoming baseball player in baseball and he will tell you this Cards team isn’t quitting until the final out drops. I like our chances but win or lose this team will go down throwing every possible punch.
Smaller glimpses from Tuesday’s game-
- Skip Schumacher made a great catch in the 9th inning on a disputed call. Ruled a trap at first, Skip’s sliding grab was clearly a catch on a satellite view from outer space and the home plate umpire overruled Jerry Meals initial call. That was the most animated Skip I have seen in his career here. Look closely and Skip is an intense competitor.
- Jason Motte fired a scoreless ninth and keeping his pitch count low so he is available tomorrow.
- Albert Pujols and Ryan Theriot had big games with 4 hits apiece, with Albert logging 3 doubles. Pujols hits the Phillies well and looks completely locked in right now but got zero help from Lance Berkman behind him. David Freese struck out 3 times but drove in a run. Theriot continues his late season assault on pitching. At the very least, The Riot is a tough at bat, drawing several 3-2 counts and being able to take a hit to any field. Pujols and Theriot’s efforts were wasted by the rest of the lineup.
- Rafael Furcal made a few dazzling plays in the field and provided a key hit in the 8th inning. Furcal’s great defense has seemed to make a reappearance this past week after a malfunction in late September.
- Charlie Manuel matches up well with La Russa in move making. Manuel used 4 pitchers to get 6 outs tonight and that must of caused a premature in Tony’s pants. I’ll fault La Russa until he pulls his hair out, but both these guys are trying so hard to win they make bad calls. Tonight, Manuel’s decisions were held up higher by his relievers. Hamels labored but resisted the urge to give up the big hit. He didn’t make the mistake that Garcia did. Pure and simple.
- That’s all I have to say about the game. What else is there to say? The Cards wasted tons of opportunities, La Russa made a bad call and Garcia followed through with a painful mistake that he would want back with the chance to go back in time. Baseball is a painful sport to watch because it’s a game of anticipation and skill mixed into a chess match between so called masters. Like any sport, baseball takes on a heightened sense of appeal and intrigue in the postseason and the atmosphere feeds off of it.
What else is there to discuss?
*Win Win is a quality DVD rental if you have the time. I watched this indie low key gem a couple weeks ago and have now gotten around to a review. Paul Giamatti is a high school wrestling coach with a law practice, and is struggling to earn enough income to keep his passion going and provide for his family. He takes on the role of the guardian of one of his clients and puts him in a home, without informing the client or the judge why he is doing it. He takes on the job to pocket the guardian salary. This is a man who will do anything for his family and is bending the rules he lives and works by in order to get by. He doesn’t tell his wife or friends. Life is dim until the client’s grandson arrives on Giamatti’s doorstep and the two connect and the kid wrestles for his team. Win Win is a movie about getting a lift from an unlikely source but paying for a bad decision. Giamatti is great and so is Amy Ryan, Bobby Canavale and Burt Young in supporting roles. This is a warmhearted and well meaning movie.
*The Rams must improve their play or else they will win zero games this season. A team that gives up over 150 points, hasn’t carried a lead in 4 games and commits more penalties than first downs converted isn’t going anywhere. Talking about them today with the idea that hope is still in grasp but play must be improved.
*Fatherhood is good. WHY? I came home from work today, picked up my kid after a feeding, and laid him on my chest for an hour before doing anything but sitting and watching playoff baseball. A pitcher’s duel nearly turned into a snooze for Vincent and I. For the first time in my life, there is a central priority that trumps everything else. After the loss tonight, I moved on with the rest of my night. This confession period helps here, but Vincent is the cheapest therapist in South City. A son causes you to change your priorities and make some changes. Call me crazy but I can’t wait for the Cards to finish playing, whether that’s this week or in 3 weeks. Blame that on Vinny.
*Here’s an idea for tomorrow’s game. Bring in Jason Statham and let him sit or stand right next to Tony La Russa in the dugout. His job will be to monitor the cockiness of Tony’s decisions. If Tony steps out of line, this is what Statham does to La Russa. He walks up to Tony, in a t-shirt and jeans, carrying a small amount of stubble on the head and face, and tells Tony in his cockney cueball tone, “You know, Tony, you make that move and there may be a situation.” Statham is one of the most intimidating action stars on the planet. John Mozelaik needs to think this over. The man does his own stunts and putting bats within his reach is dangerous. Desperate times call for desperate measures, blokes.
*What happens if Tony says the wrong thing to Statham? Check out this truly brutal fight scene from the Killer Elite between Jason Statham and Clive Owen. This is easily the fight of the year in film.
Alright, I’m closing out this message. I need a little rest tonight. I have a big run in the morning, a 12 mile jaunt into the Kirkwood wilderness that will leave the knees ailing and me requiring a heavy injection of caffeine in order to get anything done the rest of the day. It’s a challenge. That’s it. There are certain times where you need to challenge yourself and see how much you can take. People who know me well have to understand I am up for anything. Man Code…or something weird.
Thanks for reading and goodnight,