GAME 31: Sugary Sweep
Two solid teams battled desperately for eight tough innings, but the Cardinals (20-11) reached their twentieth win by ripping into the Diamondbacks’ bullpen with a convincing 7-2 win and a sweep over Arizona.
SHORT AND SWEET: When you look at Sugar Shane Robinson, you don’t think “professional baseball player.” You might think he should be a chimney sweep, a jockey, or stirring the chocolate at Willy Wonka’s place. He’s tiny! There are sea monkeys more intimidating than this guy! But I must admit this – Sugar Shane Robinson can HIT! It might have something to do with having a strike zone the size of a postage stamp, but I’m thinking it probably involves having a short, compact swing. Robinson had two huge hits that ended up being caught, and was ripping the ball all night. He also made a stupendous over-the-shoulder catch in the sixth to save a run. While I doubt he survives the coming return of disabled veterans, Robinson has made an excellent impression!
TOO TRICKY: I thought Rafael Furcal‘s slide into home in the third after a double by Matt Holliday was a thing of beauty. As Furcal slid in feet first, he slid his left hand discreetly between the outstretched legs of Miguel Montero as Montero attempted to tag Furcal on the back. Furcal’s nifty little slide should be displayed in museums and admired by physicists. However, it wasn’t a good slide to display for dopey umpires with eyes drowning in fat man sweat. Furcal was wrongly called out because Furcal tried to be too fancy. What a little fancy boy!
REDEMPTION: With Lyle Overbay sprinting toward the plate after a Wade Miley (who?) single in the second, Robinson unleashed a crappy throw halfway down the first base line. Overbay scored easily. But Robinson didn’t let that mistake disorient him. In the fourth, Overbay tried to score on a single to center by Ryan Roberts. This time, Robinson rifled a perfect strike to Tony Cruz to nail Overbay. Can you tell I’m loving our little sugar cube?
STUMBLE: I thought Kyle Lohse had inadvertently solved our overcrowded starting pitching problem while running the bases in the fifth. He didn’t slide going first to third on a single by Furcal, choosing instead to bumble into the base like a newborn colt. He pulled up (safe) while grabbing his left hamstring; great, now Berkman’s leg condition is spreading. Lohse later scored, jogging gingerly home. He’ll probably miss four to six weeks if the current trend means anything.
CONSTIPATED: Now that Tyler Greene had his annual Big Game a few days ago, he has gone back to his old habit of striking out 43 times per game. I love the Tyler Greene strikeout; Once the umpire calls it a third strike or Tyler misses it, he turns immediately and storms toward the dugout like a child being sent to his room. I really think that Greene might benefit from lithium or some other anxiety medication. Tyler is so clenched that the only way he can shit is through surgical intervention. RELAX!
THE OTHER CARPENTER: Matheny made a peculiar decision to remove Kyle Lohse from a 1-1 game in the sixth. Was Lohse hurt? Did La Russa suddenly use ESP on Matheny? Nobody knew for sure. However, the move turned out brilliantly, as pinch hitter Matt Carpenter slashed a double into left center to score David Freese and Tony Cruz. Maybe Matheny knows this managerial thing well enough.
AT THE END: Two runners on, two outs, and up comes free-swinging Matt Holliday with a tiny one run lead. Holliday nailed a low breaking ball and pounded it into the centerfield wall. That looked like the hardest-hit ball of the night, but Allen Craig instantly changed a few minds with a follow-up two run homer to the opposite field. It barely rose twenty feet off of the ground all the wy out of the ballpark. After those four fast runs, Jason Motte sat down and cooled off.
NIGHT TERRORS: So the Cardinals have a five run lead going into the bottom of the ninth and Mitchell Boggs on the mound – game over, right? Unfortunately, Sugar Cube misplayed a fly ball into center by Overbay, unleashing the kind of chain reaction of bad stuff that seems to follow Boggs around. Quickly the Cardinals found themselves in the ER with Motte racing into a no-out, bases-loaded jam and the game in jeopardy. Thankfully Motte squirmed his way out of it with a strikeout and a double play to save the sweep. YIKES!
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carpenter. Hits don’t come any clutchier.
CONCLUSION: The Cardinals really clubbed the unholy hell out of the Diamondbacks, and they deserved this sweep. They also deserve a day off to heal and regroup after a moderately disappointing road trip. Home cooking and a big celebratory weekend await!