Results tagged ‘ Miles ’
I just can’t let Aaron Miles shed the “birds on the bat” without giving him a proper send off, even if he is moving to enemy territory. He’s been one of my favorite Cardinals. (Hate the past tense in that sentence). I’ve watched him play and listened closely to what he says and what people say about him. This is what I’ve gleaned.
Aaron Miles is the kind of player you’d want for a co-worker. He comes to work every day (on time) and ready to jump in wherever needed. He doesn’t whine because other people have nicer offices, make more money or have a better job. He’s the guy (or gal) in the office that you go to for a wide number of problems. Maybe, your computer is acting funny or somebody made a big blunder that needs fixed or you need someone to cover your shift. He’d be your go-to guy, because he never says, “Sorry, that’s not my job” or “I’m really busy. Can’t you ask someone else?”
That all adds up to being a team-player. Being a “team-player” is something that is often talked about in both sports and corporate circles, but while there is a lot of talk, there are very few true team-players in the world. You might argue that if he’s such a team-player, why is he playing for another team.? I say, he didn’t let his team down. His team (at least the front-office portion) let him down.
When the name Aaron Miles appeared on the list of free agents (which it never should have), I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that he would be playing somewhere else next year. I held out a glimmer of hope, but I knew that if I were a GM somewhere (anywhere), I’d be signing this guy. So, while the Cardinal management was out (unsuccessfully) hunting for big game, they forgot to lock up the aviary, and one of their best birds was gobbled up by a bear cub. Gruesome.
If you aren’t a Cardinals fan, you might ask “Who is this guy? I’ve never heard of him. So, what’s the big deal?” And, I would say, “I’m so glad you asked. Let me tell you about one of the best utility players in the game.”
As I said in my co-worker analogy, Miles is a guy that comes to the park ready to go. He doesn’t take for granted that he’ll be in the lineup or even get in the game. He’s just ready to play. And, he can play anywhere. Mostly he plays second, and sometimes shortstop. But last year he played every position, except 1B and catcher. Yes, he pitched.–one perfect inning to save a bullpen arm in a game where the Cardinals were getting blown out. He never says, “That’s not my job.”
I think it must be hard to show up everyday not knowing what you’ll be doing. Most players are not as successful when they don’t play everyday. Maybe, they can’t keep their focus on the goal. Maybe, they spend too much time stewing over the fact that they are not in the game, rather than focusing all that intensity on what they are going to do once they are called onto the field. Whether Miles was starting or coming of the bench, the level of play was the same. Solid defense. Solid offense.
He can field. He can throw. He has great instincts. He’s not tall, but he’s wickedly strong. He has a career batting average of .289. Last year he batted .317, and I kept asking the question to anyone that would listen, “Why is this guy not an everyday player?”
He’s not a power bat, but he smacks quite a few doubles and the occasional home run.
On 7/13/08, he went 3 for 5 with a homer and 5 RBIs. On 7/20/08, I was driving to a Memphis Redbirds game and listening to the Cardinals game on the radio. It’s the bottom of the 9th, the score is tied, the bases are loaded and Miles is at the plate. They’ve walked people to get to him, and I knew that was a mistake. All we needed was a hit to win, and I was thrilled Miles was at the plate because he’s a clutch player. Always the over-achiever, he smacked a ball that just cleared the dugout fence. A beautiful walk-off grand slam–only the 10th in Cardinals history, a very short list that begins with Pepper Martin in 1936 and currently ends with Aaron Miles in 2008, and does not include names like Musial, McGwire or Pujols.
I will miss seeing this guy play in a Cardinals uniform as much as I will dread seeing him play in a Cubs uniform because I know he’ll do us damage. Although I could never wish the Cubs success, I do wish success to Aaron Miles. Maybe the Cubs will make Miles the everyday player he’s earned the right to be. Godspeed Mr. Miles! And, when your two-year deal runs out, I hope we can lure you back to the birdcage. A girl has to hope!
The holidays are over. January is here, which is always cold, dark and long. The only glimmer of hope is that pitchers and catchers report to spring training in 45 days. On February 14th, we can officially see the light at the end of the winter tunnel and catch glimpses of the shape of things to come.
However, things to come are starting to shape up now. Changes have been made: trades, signings and in some cases no signings. The Cardinals of 2009 will not be the Cardinals of 2008, and I’ll just have to deal with that.
Lots of people will argue with me. They’ll say it was the bullpen, or a lack of offense. But, I think the only thing that kept the 2008 Cardinals out of the playoffs was injuries. I believe we had everything we needed. Unfortunately, everything couldn’t stay healthy.
Right now, there is talk that we have an excess of outfielders, but as I recall we were down to playing infielders in the outfield at the end of September because of injuries. We lost Wainwright for about 2 months, Molina for several weeks, Pujols for a couple weeks and Ankiel was never the same after mid-season due to an injury. Oh yeah, and Izzy was hurt, too. In fact, the only positional players I don’t remember being hurt were Miles, Kennedy, Ludwick, Schumaker and LaRue.
But alas, that was last year. It’s time to talk about this year.
Positional players from the expanded roster who were still under contract are Yadier Molina (C), Albert Pujols (1B), Adam Kennedy (2B), Troy Glaus (3B), Brendan Ryan (IF), Brian Barden (IF), Rick Ankiel (OF), Brian Barton (OF), Chris Duncan (OF), Ryan Ludwick (OF), Joe Mather (OF), Skip Schumaker (OF) and Nick Stavihoha (OF).
Pichers who were still under contract are Adam Wainwright, Todd Wellemeyer, Joel Pineiro, Brad Thompson, Chris Carpenter, Brad Thompson, Mitchell Boggs, Jaime Garcia, Ryan Franklin, Josh Kinney, Kyle McClellan, Jason Motte and Chris Perez.
So far, the Cardinals have only resigned 2 existing Cardinals who are free agents: Kyle Lohse (SP) and Jason LaRue (C). I like both of these signings. Lohse pitched beautifully last year. He was a pitcher looking for a home and found one.
The Cardinals snapped up Jason LaRue one day after he filed for free agency, which was smart. LaRue is solid catcher who could play everyday for a lot of clubs. The Cardinals are fortunate to have such depth and experience behind the plate. Some may argue that they should bring up a young catcher for Molina to mentor, and I believe that day will come. However, as of last year, their catching prospects aren’t ready.
The priorities were more bat in the middle infield, left-handed relief and possibly a closer:
Middle Infield: Acquired at the salary-shedding, San Diego Padres fire sale was shortstop, Khalil Greene. Greene had a great year at the plate in 2007, but slumped in 2008. Hopefully, his bat will respond better as a Cardinal this year, otherwise we would have been better off retaining Gold Glove shortstop, Cesar Izturis. With that said, I am optimistic that Greene will have a good year. If you can’t play your best as a Cardinal, seriously where can you?
Left-handed Relief: The Cardinals signed former Tampa Bay Ray, Trever Miller to a one-year deal. Miller played for a World Series team last year that came up just short. I’m sure he is hungry to go back. Also acquired off waivers from the Nationals was Charles Manning. Manning has only 42 innings of big league experience. He’s had his greatest success as a left-handed specialist rather than pitching an entire inning or two, which is fine since that’s the role St. Louis is looking to fill.
Closer: So far, nothing on this front. They pursued Fuentes, but Fuentes pursued the Angels. The conundrum here may be that we want someone really good, for not a lot of money and only for a year or two since they have prospective closers in Chris Perez and Jason Motte. While Perez and Motte could benefit from the mentoring of an experienced closer as well the having time to grow into the role rather than being thrown in the fire, I believe that if they have to close this year, they’ll be just fine. And, of course, there is the Izzy question.
Cesar Izturis signed a two-year deal with Baltimore. I will miss his amazing glove that’s like a net and his 20 stolen bases. The Oriole fans are going to love watching him.
Felipe Lopez signed a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks. As a late season pickup off waivers from the Nats, Lopez contributed offensively. I was never convinced of his defensive prowess. Of course, he came in late in the year and he moved around a lot, so maybe he never got into the Cardinal rhythm. It will be interesting to see how he does in Arizona.
Aaron Miles is now a Cub. That sentence is so depressing First, after the fabulous season he had with the Cardinals, I can’t believe they non-tendered him again–two years in a row. Did they think he would still be available to sign at the last minute AGAIN this year…again after the great season he had this year? The answer is no.
Second, when I saw his name hit the free agent list, I knew someone was going to pick him up and give him the deal he deserves. So, I was braced for the idea that one the best utility players of the game and one of my personal favorites was most likely not going to be wearing the birds on the bat next year.
Third, I had not given a lot of thought to where he might go, but I never dreamed it would be the only team I hate…the Cubs. Seriously, he could have gone anywhere else (even the Yankees) and I wouldn’t have taken it so hard. It’s just hard for me to accept that one of my favorite players is a Cub.
But, they gave him a good deal–two years and good money. I don’t blame Miles one bit for taking it. Obviously, the Cubs organization wants him more, but I promise there will be Cardinal fans complaining about this for a long time.
Although I still want the Cubs to lose, I hope that Aaron Miles has great success. Maybe, he’ll bat .317 again, or even .325. Maybe, he’ll get the chance to be the everyday player that I believe him to be. And, every time we play the Cubs and he gets another clutch RBI or snags an impossible grounder up the middle, I’ll just say, “Hey, he could have been ours.”
Braden Looper–No contract yet. There were rumors of talks with Baltimore and Milwaukee. He’s an Oklahoma boy, and I’d like to see him back in a Cardinals uniform, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Russ Springer–No contract yet. Springer was the most consistent guy in the bull pen last year. Our bull pen is getting a little crowded, but maybe if we can’t sign that closer, they’ll be a spot for him.
Ron Villone–No contract yet. With the addition of two new lefties, I don’t see Villone coming back. I wish him the best of luck.
Jason Isringhausen–Big questions. Is he healthy? Can we trust him to tell us when he’s not? Does he still have “closer” stuff? If not, would he settle for another role? Is he planning to be back? Is he ready to hang it up? Too many questions for me to make the call. St. Louis resides in the “Show Me” state. I think Izzy is going to have to show them what he can do to get a deal. However, it would be a beautiful thing if he could come back and finish his career strong and as a Cardinal.
I traveled to Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas to watch the Cardinals take on the Astros on August 30 and 31. I had never been to the rather unique Minute Maid Park. Earlier this year, I ran across a forum where Cardinal fans were discussing how much they hated the park, so I was curious to see if my impression would be the same. I should have known better.
When I walk into a beautiful Cathedral, there is a hush and awe that comes over me, like I’m standing on holy ground, perhaps in the company of the saints that have gone before and the saints that will come after. It doesn’t matter that I’m not Catholic. I simply feel connected to all of Christendom.
This may be blasphemy, but when I walk into a major league ballpark, I feel the exact same way. In that first moment when I enter the hallowed halls, I am overwhelmed with awe for the great games and players that have gone before, and the ones that are to come. I feel connected and a part of this grand old game. In that moment, I’m not a Cardinals fan or a Cub-hater. I’m just a humble girl, who loves the game of baseball.
Minute Maid Park was no different for me. Oh sure, I hate the hill in centerfield (sprained ankle waiting to happen or a concussion from a collision with the flag pole). The outfield grass looked like it could stand the roof being open more so it could soak in real sunshine and rain.
But, in this ballpark’s young life, it has hosted an All-Star game and a World Series. The greats of our age have played here. In fact, a few of them were playing there this weekend. So, except for the hill, I appreciate the uniqueness of the park and the history in the making that happens there each day.
Astro fans never forget that Albert Pujols hit a big homer over the top of this sign.
One of the great things about the park is there are a lot of really good seats. I sat in the 2nd tier even with 3rd base the first night. I was looking down right on top of the game. The 2nd game, I sat in the Crawford boxes, which is another great view. The Crawford street entrance is right behind these seats, so getting in and out is no hassle at all. However, if the roof is closed, bring a sweatshirt. The air-conditioning blows straight down on these seats. Very weird to be cold at a baseball game in August.
As for the Astros traditions, I like that they play “Deep in the Heart of Texas” after “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the 7th inning stretch. They must only play “God Bless America” on Sunday, which seems plenty to me. I didn’t test the security to see if I would be arrested for trying to go to the bathroom during the song, but I figure this is Texas, not New York City. If freedom still rings anywhere, it’s here. Don’t get me wrong “God Bless America” is a wonderful, meaningful song, but seriously when did it become the second national anthem? And since when is being apathetic akin to treason. Sorry, that’s another subject entirely. Back to baseball.
The Place to Stay
If you visit Houston for a game, and your budget allows, I highly recommend the Inn at
the Ballpark right across the street from Minute Maid Park. I had originally booked at the Hilton a few blocks away because the Inn was a little out of my budget. But, I checked rates a couple days before my trip and was able to get a room priced about the same as the Hilton room.
This is a view of Minute Maid park from the 10th floor of the hotel.
The hotel is very plush. Everything is baseball themed, yet elegant at the same time. I knew when there was a picture on my wall of a catcher that they had put me in the right room. The Lobby Bar is a great place to meet other Cardinals fans, grab a quick bite, celebrate after the game, or in our case…drown our sorrows. The fare is pricy, but good.
One of the best parts of the trip was meeting the other out-of-town Cardinals fans. Cardinals fans are among the best fans in the world. They know and love their baseball. It was nice to be among others that share my obsession.
The other thing I enjoyed was seeing the fathers and sons taking in the experience together. I had the opportunity to talk to a couple youngsters, one a Cardinals fan and one an Astros fans. These boys knew their baseball. Despite all the other distractions (TV, video games, movies, computers, other sports) there are still boys that still live, eat and breathe baseball, just like their fathers and grandfathers before them. Maybe, I’m just a sap, but there is just something beautiful about the tradition.
I missed getting a picture of it, but there was a birthday party of about a half dozen
little boys (maybe 5 or 6 years old). They were all wearing #12 Aaron Miles T-shirts. There were almost enough of them to cover all the positions that Miles can play! Which brings me to the question I’ve been asking a lot lately, how do you not put a guy batting .320 in your lineup everyday?
Here’s Miles getting ready for batting practice.
Joe Mather was giving the lineup on TV the other day, and he said Skip Schumaker was the most intense guy on the field. In watching him prepare for a game, I believe it.
Here he is before the game, getting in the zone, taking some practice swings.
The only thing that would have made the trip perfect would have been a couple Cardinal wins. However, there were some great performances to be noted:
In Saturday’s game, Albert Pujols went 4 for 4, collecting career hits 1499, 1500, 1501 and 1502. Number 1500 was a double in the third. It’s fun to be able to say, I saw that.
Also, in Saturday’s game, Braden Looper had a dismal first inning…career high dismal…giving up 6 runs. He managed to pull it together and get 3 outs in a row to end the inning. Then, he pitched three solid innings. My hats off is off to him. It’s one thing to start a game pitching well and keep that going. It’s another thing to be on the ropes and battle your way back. He’s a professional.
In Sunday’s game, Todd Wellemeyer turned in as good a game as you could ask of your starting pitcher. In seven innings, he gave up 4 hits and 1 run. He had three innings of 3 up, 3 down. He struck out 4, walked no one and hit no one. He even laid down a nice sac bunt. Yet, he still got the loss.
Todd Wellemeyer is ready to go, as he, Dave Duncan and Yadier Molina make their way from the bullpen to the dugout.
Ya’ll are going to be sick of me talking about Aaron Miles, but that’s too bad. Aaron Miles got one at bat on Saturday and four on Sunday. He was 3 for 5 with a stolen base, and the only Cardinal I saw get a hit off the Astros flame-throwing closer, Valverde. Here it comes again…why is he not in the lineup everyday?
Speaking of guys batting over .300, the Cardinals have more than their fair share: Pujols, Miles, Molina, Schumaker and Ludwick. When you have that many guys getting on base a high percentage of the time, I have to believe the common denominator is hitting coach, Hal McRae. Some of our guys are having the best year they have ever had at the plate. A big nod to Hal McRae.
The 2008 Cardinals are young, hungry, strong, tough and resilient. Their ability to improvise, overcome, adapt and bounce back from adversity has been tested over and over. It was tested again this week.
The little two-game series against the Brewers was probably the BIGGEST series the Cardinals have played this year. The Brewers are the team to beat for a team trying to make a playoff run. We could not afford to lose ground.
The first game was a humiliating 12-0 loss. Just one of those nights where everything the Brewers did worked. Everything the Cardinals did flopped. Wellemeyer kept us in it, but got no run support. Then the Brewers had a run against the Cardinals bullpen, and there was no catching up.
The second game started much the same. Good starting pitching by Wainwright. The Brewers able to eek in three runs. The Cardinals leaving runners in scoring position. In the 6th, Ryan Ludwick finally broke 14 2/3 innings of scorelessness against the Brewers with a solo home run. But, when the Cardinals had the bases loaded in the 7th and couldn’t come up with a run, the game seemed lost. Then the tide turned.
The Brewer reliever, Villanueva, thought he’d really done something we he got out of that bases loaded inning. He made the mistake of gesturing toward the Cardinals dugout. Pujols took exception to the lack of respect. Villanueva then made the mistake of saying something foul in Spanish to Pujols. The umpires put out the flames, but the fire still smoldered.
The fire translated into an amazing 8th:
· Franklin‘s strong pitching allowed no runs.
· Pujols came up to bat and hit a lead-off double.
· Ludwick copied with an RBI double.
· After a three K night, Glaus finally got a piece of one for an RBI single.
· Molina hit behind the runner to sacrifice himself and advance the runner.
· Glaus beat the throw to home on Aaron Miles’ pinch hit grounder. (Why isn’t Miles playing everyday?)
· Looper came in the game to put down a sac bunt.
· Lopez scored Miles on a single.
The Cardinals lead 5-3. Would it be enough?
It might have been an even more amazing 9th:
Rookie, Chris Perez came in to shut the door. The anticipation and expectation hung in the air as heavy as would in any game 7 of the World Series.
Chris Perez slammed the door hard, fanning 3 of the 4 batters he’s faced. The Cardinals fans went home happy.
Tonight the Cardinals played the kind of game that winners play. They kept themselves in the game, took advantage when the chance presented itself, and finally went for and got the kill.
Now, on to Houston! I’m looking forward to this series because will be in the stands watching Saturday and Sunday’s games live! I’m excited to check out Minute Maid Park, and watch the Cardinals take the Astros.
Six innings. 72 pitches. 47 strikes. 25 balls. 1 run. 5 hits. 1 walk. 4 K’s. Batting 3 for 5 with 1 RBI and a run. And, most importantly a win.
Going up against his boyhood home team, the Atlanta Braves, Adam Wainwright gave us far more than we could have asked for or expected from a guy coming back from the DL. Seems like he was trying to make up for lost time. Or, trying to make the Braves question once again, what were we thinking when we traded Adam Wainwright to the Cardinals.
He could have gotten a win with only four Cardinal runs on the board, but the Cardinal bats were hot-hot-hot, putting up 18 runs on 26 hits–most hits for the Cardinals since 1929.
When we faced the Braves in Atlanta, we took three out of four, but they were missing two of their best: Chipper Jones and their fine young catcher, McCann. Although they are a team that has struggled this year, I would never have guessed that a score this lop-sided was possible, especially with those guys back.
It was one of those nights when the stars seem to align and everything the Cardinals touched turned to gold. All they had to do was make contact, and the ball would fall. Nothing fancy: a bunch of singles, few doubles and quite a few walks.
Molina led with 4 RBIs. Pujols and Ankiel had 3 a piece. Schumaker and Ludwick both had three runs. Molina and Izturis both hit 4 singles a piece. The only extra base hits were doubles hit by Pujols, Glaus, Mile, Lopez and Joel Pineiro–who got in on the hitting fun when he came into to finish out the game for Wainwright, pitching 3 innings and getting the save.
By the same token, the Braves couldn’t get a break. The Cardinals defense was a nearly impregnable fortress. The only bright spots in their day were a pinch hit solo home run by Norton, a little 2-run surge in the 9th, and the arm of their catcher, McCann, who caught two Cardinal runners in a row trying to steal 2nd.
There’s been much discussion about what Wainwright’s role will be in relationship to Carpenters availability. Tonight, Adam made a very strong case that he is a starter.
The Cardinals traveled to Miami to take on the hard hitting Florida Marlins team. They took 3 out of 4 in front of a sparse crowd at Dolphins Stadium. It’s rather a shame that the winning Marlins can’t pack in a crowd in a city the size of Miami. However, except for the Marlin fans that stuck out the rain delay in game three, the fans that did show up this series would be disappointed.
8/11/08 Cardinals 4, Marlins 2
Well, ya’ll were going to figure it out sooner or later, so I might as well come clean. If the Cardinals are my favorite team and catching is my favorite part of the great game of baseball, then it’s no surprise that the Cardinal jersey I own has a number 4 on the back.
Yadier Molina. There are so many things I love about this player. From his work ethic to his enthusiasm, he’s the type of player that makes the game great. As a great contact hitter, he doesn’t get very many homers. So, I loved watching him get his 2-run dinger tonight. Not just because it was the difference in the game, but because hardworking, good defensive, catchers batting over 300 just don’t get as many moments in the sun as power-hitters. And, no one deserves the spotlight any more than Molina.
You cannot over-estimate what Molina brings to this team, especially in terms of leadership and game-calling.
I enjoyed the homerun for him and for the team, but the part I loved the most was watching him catch Uggla stealing second…twice. Uggla must be a slow learner. It will be fun to see if he tries it again in the series. Helping Molina gets those plays was Aaron Miles, my favorite utility player, who finally got the start at 2nd tonight.
Great to see Ankiel back in the lineup, and contributing offensively. It looked like he was a little rusty in the outfield scoring to E’s on one play. Brutal. But, it didn’t matter because….
…Kyle McClellan got three outs stranding the runner on third. Great bullpen pitching tonight between McClellan and the closer, Chris Perez. Oops, did I call Perez, “the Closer”. I mean, if you hear the door slam, somebody must have shut the door, right? I don’t know if we’ll ever get LaRussa to call Perez, the Closer, but I guess as long as he’s closing, I don’t care. It was great to see him do well in basically his hometown in front of family and friends.
Wins have not come easy for starting pitcher, Joel Pineiro this year, often being a victim of the no-decision, but tonight Pineiro got it done and got the win to show for it.
Finally, how about that Joe Mather, pinch-hit homer? Pretty sweet.
8/12/08 Cardinals 3, Marlins 4
Field got wet; bats got dry.
8/13/08 Cardinals 6, Marlins 4
I believe I saw somewhere that LaRussa called this one a real “grinder”. I can’t think of a better word.
Nothing came easy. Lots of hits producing a few runs. No homers for either team. Pitchers getting out of tough innings. In the end, we had more runs than them, and that’s all that matters.
Looper pitched an excellent 7 innings only giving up two runs. Hats off to him for keeping all the Marlins in the park. That is huge with this team.
McClellan struggled, but Perez once again closed the door coming in to a mess in the 8th. In the 9th, he had to get four outs to do it with Baker advancing to 1st on a strike out/wild pitch.
Runs did not necessarily come from the usual suspects. Adam Kennedy racked up two RBI’s on two sac flies. Backup catcher, Jason LaRue, got a 2-RBI double. Schumaker scored Kennedy. Glaus scored Lopez that had a big triple in the 9th. Glaus reached base all 5 times with 3 singles, 1 double and an intentional walk
Defensively, Joe Mather saved a big inning by climbing the wall to get an out. Albert Pujols tracked a foul ball that spun fair. The batter didn’t even really run, but Pujols stayed with it and got the out. Glaus had a big double play at 3rd and 1st to end the 8th.
8/13/08 Cardinals 3, Marlins 0
TODD WELLEMEYER. The longer he pitched, the better he got. He gave up a hit a piece in the 1st and 2nd. His pitching seemed to go a little crazy, walking 3 batters in the 3rd, hitting one in the 4th. But, maybe he was crazy like a fox–he walked some serious home run hitters. After that, he settled in for 14 outs in a row.
Welly got in a bit of bind in the 8th, but Russ Springer came in and struck out Cantu for out three. Ron Villone and Ryan Franklin took out 3 batters in the 9th to finish the shut out.
There’s been a lot of talk about Cardinal pitching this year, much of it negative. But, tonight they showed what they were capable of. Wellemeyer went 8 2/3 innings– his longest start of the year. Then the bullpen got the job done. Maybe, the pitching staff is starting to peak…just in time for a playoff run.
Runs were hard to come by. Cesar Izturis’ hot streak continued. He singled twice and Ryan Ludwick knocked him in both times on a double and a homer. LaRussa put up an unusual lineup with a lot of power at the top. There could be arguments about the effectiveness of the lineup, but Ludwick and Izturis were definitely batting in the right places. Ludwick now has 90 RBI’s
I run into a lot of Braves fans down here in Oklahoma. Much of that is owed to fact that the Braves used to be on cable TV all the time. My grandpa watched them every night while listening to whatever other game he could get on the radio. I was looking forward to seeing the great Chipper Jones, although we were probably better off with him on the DL. I hadn’t heard the good ol’ “tomahawk chop” in years. I still think it’s one of the best battle cries ever.
With Chipper on the DL, the All-Star catcher McCann’s head still spinning from a collision on Sunday, big hitter Teixeira traded to the Angels after the first game and the long awaited return of Cardinal ace, Chris Carpenter, this was a series with a lot of potential.
7/28/08 Cardinals 12, Braves 3
There’s nothing like winning the hard fought close game. Unless of course you’re coming off a string of hard fought close games coupled with some disappointing loses. Then, a blow out is a welcome relief for both the players and the fans.
Yadier Molina and Joe Mather teamed up for a single and a homer to get 2 runs in the second. The rookie, Joe Mather, had a big league night where he was one-oh-so-elusive-triple short of the cycle.
In the third, Troy Glaus knocked in Skip Schumaker who had walked (always bad news to walk the lead off guy). Then with Pujols on with a walk and Glaus on with a force out, Molina hit an in-the-park 3-run homer. OK, fine. It was technically a 2 RBI double, with Molina scoring on a throwing error, but the effect was the same and it was just as exciting. All those runs were two out RBIs. Very clutch.
It was great to see Izturis reach on a walk, 1B and 2B, picking up an RBI. Pujols picked up 3 RBIs. Miles got on and scored twice. Ludwick went 3 for 5 with an RBI. Wveryone was having a good night.
Looper put in one of the best starts we’ve seen in a while. Seven innings, 2 runs. With no walks and only 3 strikeouts, he had help from a solid Cardinals defense. Ron Villone got two outs, got in trouble, gave up a run, but was relieved by Russ Springer who with the help of centerfielder Skip Schumaker, pitched a perfect 1/3 of an inning. Flores faced three batters in the ninth giving up a hit, but getting his third batter to ground into a good old 6-4-3.
7/29/08 Cardinals 8, Braves 3
There’s nothing like winning the hard fought close game. Well, it was a hard fought close game until the Cardinals put up 5 runs of insurance in the ninth.
It was a game with a little bit of everything. Good pitching. Good hitting. Good plays. Bad plays (2 errors a piece). For Wellemeyer’s second time out he’s proved that if you just hang with him and have a little faith, he’ll finish stronger than he started and keep his team in the game.
Favorite play of the game: With Brave runners at 1st and 3rd, Wellemeyer throws a K for out number two. Yadier Molina fakes a throw to 2nd and gets the runner at 3rd to bite. Then, he throws to 3rd and the Cardinals get Kotsay in the run down. It was a HUGE play to end the inning in a 2-2 game with two runners on.
Second favorite play of the game: Albert Pujols hits a big lead off double at the top of the 8th. Then he steals third base and scores when the Braves catcher’s throw went to left field. In the 6th, Pujols led off with a solo home run. Pujols is a great player, but geez does he have to do it all himself?
Both of those plays are the epitome of why I think having a great defensive catcher is so important. We are so fortunate to have Yadier Molina, and Jason LaRue for that matter.
7/30/08 Cardinals 8, Braves 2
Just like old times. Carpenter on the mound. A Cardinal win. Life is good.
Since April, 2007, most conversations about the Cardinals that go beyond the depth of “how ’bout them Cards’ have included phrases like, “when Carpenter comes back” or “if we could just get Carpenter back” or “have you heard how Carpenter’s doing?”. To say his return was much anticipated would be an understatement.
Everyone in Cardinal’s country from the front office to the coaches to the players to the fans to Carpenter himself was filled with excitement and anticipation as he took the mound. We all wanted him to succeed so badly because he’s worked so hard to get there, and we need his ace arm and his leadership.
There were no disappointments. Other than maybe Carpenter’s that he wasn’t allowed to pitch longer, but he knows realistically that he shouldn’t push it. It was a fine outing, giving up only 1 run, getting out of tight innings and the most important thing: giving the Cardinals a good chance to win. Is Carpenter the best he can be? No. But, he’s still one of the best out there, and he’ll be even better next time.
Carpenter seemed to be fuel for the fire that has been building in the Cardinals. Everyone seemed to up their game last night. Great hitting, great defensive plays and a bullpen that delivered. And, now we’re looking forward to seeing him again in just a few days against the Dodgers.
Two nights ago, I loved the lineup with Mather behind Molina. I was excited to see it again tonight. Often, Molina often gets on base without a power hitter behind him to knock him in. On Monday, Molina and Mather tag-teamed with a Molina single and a Mather home run. They did it again tonight. If a LaRussa line up basically has two leadoff hitters, it seems like it should have two cleanup hitters, too.
7/31/08 Cardinals 4, Braves 9
Trade deadline day. I wonder if Griffey will get a world series shot with the White Sox. I wonder if California is big enough for Manny’s ego. I wonder how many catchers the Yankees need. But, I know I was happy to see the trade deadline come and go without the Cardinals making a major league move. In my humble opinion, I believe with everyone healthy, we have all we need to make an October run, although it may not have looked like it tonight.
The last three games were those magical nights when everything comes together: hitting, starter pitching and relief pitching. Tonight was one of those nights that it magically comes together for the other team.
Yes, we gave up way too many runs, but with Schumaker, Ankiel, Glaus and Molina not in the starting lineup? Well, that’s a lot of bat left on the bench. Even so, the Cardinals got the four runs that would have won any other game in this series.
Cesar Izturis deserves a big hand. He did a great job of holding down the lead off spot tonight going 3 for 6. It’s so great to see him getting hot.
I admit that I whined more than just a little bit about the proliferation of Cubs on the All-Star team. In particular, I could make cases why Yadier Molina, Rick Ankiel and Kyle Lohse were as deserving if not more deserving of the All-Star nod than some of the Cubs that got to make the trip.
I had almost gotten over it when the American League proceeded to steal 6 out of 7 bases. I just could help but know if there had been a Molina behind the plate (any NL Molina–Yadier or Bengie), that the AL would not be so bold or successful. It was embarrassing.
I consoled myself thinking, “Fine, you bunch of Cubs all go party in NYC and wear yourselves out. We’ll stay home, rest and be ready for the second half. Enjoy your All-Star honors. We’re going to be ready to go all the way.”
So, far…the second half could not have started off any better. The possibly hung-over Cubs got beat up by the Astros, and the fresh Cardinals swept the Padres.
7/17/08 – Cardinals 4, Padres 3
This was the game of the long ball. Four solo home runs and Lohse’s magical pitching got the job done. Glaus got 2 dingers in a row. Ankiel went back-to-back with Glaus. Then rookie, Joe Mather, added the final run, which at the time was gravy, but ended up being the game winner.
7/18/08 – Cardinals 11, Padres 7
Tonight the Cards put together runs the old fashioned way. Sure, Ankiel and Ludwig both homered, but most of the runs were scored by stringing together singles and doubles. The 8th inning was huge with Yadier Molina hitting a 2 RBI single to put them over the top. Molina gets a lot of hits without a lot of glory. I loved seeing him get the big hit that makes you the KTRS Star of the Game
7/19/08 – Cardinals 6, Padres 5
A rough start with a happy ending. After pitching two innings and giving up 5 runs, it looked like Wellemeyer had dug a hole that the Cardinals would have a hard time crawling out of. The bullpen had put in more than their fair share of innings the night before and with the Brewers coming to town, they couldn’t afford to do it again. So, Wellemeyer went back to the mound, found his grove and didn’t give up another run. It was one more example of a Cardinal just gutting it out and finding success.
His effort was rewarded when Pujols bailed him out. It seemed like it had been a while since Albert Pujols had a big day. Today was a very big day for Pujols. On a single and a double, he picked up 4 of the 6 RBI’s of the day. Of course, to do that you got to have the batters ahead of you get on, and they did that. Not to leave them out, (we did need 6 after all) Schumaker and Ankiel picked up the other RBIs.
7/20/08 – Cardinals 9, Padres 5
Another hard fought battle. I was driving to the Memphis Redbirds game, listening to the Cardinals game on the radio. Tied 5-5 in the 9th, 1 out, with Pujols at third on a throwing error. The Padres inentionally walk pinch hitter, Molina and Schumaker to load the bases. When Miles stepped up to the plate, I knew the game was won. He would get something out of the infield to score: a sac fly, a flare, a blooper, just something. However, I was not thinking Grand Slam, but that’s what he got
If there’s anything I love almost as much as good catching (and I love my catching), it’s a utility player, and Aaron Miles is a good one. He impresses me all the time with his glove, his switch-hitting bat, his speed and his versatility. He says he’s never had a walk-off anything. Seeing him get that big walk-off Grand Slam was just icing on a great series against the Padres. Hopefully, the momentum will carry us into the series with the Brewers.