GAME 145: Takin’ Care Of Business
A clean crisp Cardinals crew had some timely hitting, heads-up defense, and a couple of excellent relief appearances behind Jaime Garcia as the Cards defeated the Braves 4-3 to move 5.5 games behind in the wild card. The 2011 Cardinal Cardiac Comeback continues!! BELIEVE!!!!
SERVICEABLE: Who knows where the early-season Jaime Garcia went, but I wish he’d come back. Even with Garcia at less than his best, he still battled well. It helped that he was very efficient; Garcia threw only four pitches to retire the Braves in the third. I just wish this kid could take his remarkable skills and put together a solid, commanding year with them.
BACK TO 300: With his RBI single in the first, Albert Pujols reached .299 for the season. It’s been a long way back. The great thing is that, as Pujols drives himself to reach his goals, the team can ride his determination to win ballgames. And that, more than any personal stat, should be the real goal.
PUNTO WATCH: TLR decided to give Nick Punto a kibble after his game-winner last night by starting him at second base. While Punto hits like a stubbier Ryan Theriot, his defense is out of this world. Having him paired with Rafael Furcal up the middle will almost always help. They made their presence known in the sixth. David Freese booted a grounder (that’s been happening quite a bit lately) that deflected off of his glove. Furcal nabbed it in mid-air and flipped it to Punto. Punto speared the wide throw by stretching his tiny little frame as far as it would reach to get the out. PUNTO POWER!
THE HOOK: I’m beginning to think that TLR bats the pitcher eighth so that he’ll have an even earlier chance to take the starter out of the game. TLR pulled Garcia in the sixth with the Cards ahead 4-3 and nobody on base. WHY? While I didn’t think that Garcia looked great tonight, he only threw 73 pitches. I just don’t see the sense in burning the bullpen night after night; make these guys earn their millions!!
HIS BIG CHANCE: Apparently John Mozeliak called Tyler Greene up from Memphis so that he could be the designated pinch runner. I guess I was wrong when I thought that they were calling Greene up to see what he could do as a shortstop. NOPE! TLR said he wasn’t playing a Triple A team, and, true to his words, the call-ups haven’t seen much action at all except for pinch action. I guess we can see who really runs this club.
A REAL CLOSER: Isn’t it nice to have a closer who throws 96 miles per hour and a tough-guy attitude?? Jason Motte stomped into the ninth with a tiny one run lead against the heart of the Braves’ lineup. And he threw fastballs in there like he was trying to punch a hole in space and time. Just what I’ve been hoping to see in our ninth inning.
LAST SECOND SCREW UP: It looked like the last at bat was going to ruin this game. After a walk, Jason Heyward was on first with two outs. Heyward took off for second, and for whatever reason Yadier Molina tried to throw him out (you shouldn’t do that in this situation). The ball bounced over the glove of Furcal, allowing Heyward to reach third. Fortunately, the dangerous Michael Bourn flied out to end the game. WHEW!
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Lance Berkman, who had the game-winning hit and was all over this game. Love him!
CONCLUSION: The Cards now find themselves 5.5 games back, and the dream continues. Let’s not wake up just yet.