GAME 105: A Split With Sh*t Ray July 28, 2011 Game Recap The Cardinals limped to a series tie with tonight’s awful 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros. Bad pitching from Jaime Garcia, bad defense, clueless hitting. What a wasted opportunity! THE MACHING: Albert Pujols had a big night tonight, with a couple of doubles and a brazen steal of third base (he looked like a steroided Vince Coleman). He drove in Jon Jay (after Jay doubled) with a beautiful opposite-field double to drive in the Cards’ third run of the game. Albert is looking better and better all the time. Barring injury, he will easily reach the 100th RBI plateau for the 10th straight year – remarkable. NO PLACE LIKE JAIME: Jaime Garcia had a rare struggle at home tonight. The tantalizing lefty has a sub-2.00 ERA this year at Busch Stadium, so one would imagine that Garcia would be a favorite going against the Astros at home. Unfortunately, Garcia’s changeups kept floating belt-high, and were so hittable that even the incompetent Astros lineup couldn’t miss them. The real gut punch was a sixth-inning homer by Carlos Lee when Jaime should’ve been taken out already. One has to imagine that Garcia is going to put together a solid and consistent season of brilliance at some point, but he’s not there yet. PAT ON THE BACK: Former Cub Corey Patterson made a nice impression in his Cardinals debut, stroking a single to right to drive in Gerald Laird for the first run. Don’t expect those results very often. ERROR PRONE: Tonight the only thing distinguishing the play of the Cardinals and the last-place Astros were their uniforms. There isn’t this much incompetence in retard porn. The Astros booted the ball around in the second on a hit by Corey Patterson that led to two runs. Meanwhile, Jaime Garcia tossed the ball in the dirt and catcher Tony Cruz couldn’t find it, allowing dishwasher-sized Carlos Lee to chug all the way to third base and score on a fly ball. Later, David Freese and Cruz (again) misplayed balls that gave Houston the lead in the fifth. Which begs this question: Does anyone know how to play defense anymore?? CHRONIC PAIN: What the hell is wrong with the Cardinals? Have they been cursed? Is Voldemort working on their road crew?? Tonight the Cards had two players join the injured reserves – Nick Punto strained an oblique (of course!), and Laird sprained his little finger on his catching hand. In the eighth Tony Cruz went down as well. You can add them to a list that includes Eduardo Sanchez and Adam Wainwright. We’ve had more injuries than the North at the Battle of Antietam. If I was TLR, I would check everybody’s bag for that little Tiki statue from that Hawaiian episode of The Brady Bunch. PUNTO WATCH: I just wanted to highlight Punto for one reason: what is this guy made of?? A tenderly-whipped meringue shows more toughness than Punto, who regularly collapses in agony when gently stroked by a warm summer breeze. A Care Bear’s ballsack could resist injury easier than Nick Punto. I’ve heard rumors that the guy is an incredible glove-man, but given the fact that Punto has only managed to play about three innings this year, I’d say the jury is still out on his contributions. R-ZEP: Marc Rzepczynski made his his Cardinals debut in the seventh inning, and showed off the kind of stuff that make men and boys dream about October miracles. He recorded four strikeouts in two innings. I haven’t seen a left-handed reliever with an arsenal this vicious since Ken Dayley first came trotting in from right field during a double switch in 1985. Note to Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, and Big Papi: we now have a weapon that will take you out of the equation. BEWARE THE ZEP. PLAYER OF THE GAME: R-Zep!! What a debut!! CONCLUSION: This was one of the sloppier games of the year for the Cards. No life, no intensity, no game plan. You’d think they’d be energized to be rid of the “clubhouse cancer” Colby Rasmus, but the opposite has been true. Very disappointing considering this is a pretty bad Astros team and the Cards squandered a golden opportunity to gain some ground.