GAME 86: Kick Back Cueto
On a gorgeous Fourth of July evening, the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds renewed their tough and emotional rivalry in downtown St. Louis. Chris Carpenter and Johnny Cueto matched each other pitch for pitch until the eighth, when the Cards scraped out a desperate run to take the opening game 1-0.
TURN BACK THE CLOCK: What year is this? 2005?? Chris Carpenter pitched eight brilliant innings of gutsy baseball to earn his third straight win. This was the fourth consecutive start in which Carp tossed over 120 pitches, which should be some sort of record for someone of his age. What is this guy eating to be able to do this? Regardless, Carpenter has become red hot at just the right time, as the rest of the rotation has struggled all around him.
ROLEN TO RECORDS: Scott Rolen recorded his 2,000th hit in his first at bat today. It’s an amazing accomplishment for a special third baseman, a guy who was instrumental in some of the best years in recent memory. Congrats!
RIGHT FIELD FIREWORKS: How about that wall-crashing catch by Jon Jay to rob Jay Bruce of extra bases in the seventh inning?? The kid plays the game hard, and has really come into his own on this team. I almost hate seeing Pujols come back from the DL, which surely means Jay goes back to the bench.
HAMILTON HUSTLE: With a runner on third and two outs in the eighth, Mark Hamilton hit a little bouncer down the third base line that just sqeaked in fair. Scott Rolen made a spectacular play to nab the grounder (in foul territory, no less) and unleashed a laser to first base to try and end the inning. But Hamilton, in a fit of desperation, sprawled out and touched first ahead of the throw, allowing Colby Rasmus to score from third for the winning run. THIS is the kind of play that separates winning teams from the rest. Keep it up, rookie!!
CURSE OF TWO: Three more double plays grounded into tonight, making it 1.2 million so far this season. It’s hard to understand why this team of good hitters and power bats hits the ball on the ground with runners on so often. This, more than almost anything else, is the reason why we’ve struggled with scoring runs this season. Frustrating.
CONCLUSION: An inspirational win tonight. We now get to look forward seeing Pujols come back tomorrow, miraculously healed from his injury. Hopefully this team can now get things popping offensively instead of physically.