On-deck: The St. Louis Cardinals will attempt to keep the Brewers from continuing their sweeping ways tonight at Busch Stadium, game time, 7:15 p.m., CDT.
With C.C. Sabathia slated as the starting pitcher, St. Louis fans will get a chance to see how trading vs. not trading works out for both teams.
Probables: MIL-C.C. Sabathia LHP (9-8, 3.51) vs. STL-Braden Looper RHP (9-7, 4.60)
Bird’s Perch: The Cards now hold a solid third place, not something they wanted to hear considering team they’ve lost to for the last couple of nights has put them in that position. The Cards are now a full two games behind the first place Cubs and one full game behind the second place Brewers.
Not good when considering two wins versus two losses over the course of the Brewers stay in St. Louis so far would’ve put the Brew-crew down and put the Cards in a tie for first place. Not bad when you consider how two heartbreaking losses can occur and the Cards are still only two out of first.
Barton starts rehab: Brian Barton comes off the DL and starts a 2-day rehab assignment today with the Memphis affiliate.
Whatcha done for me lately? The most productive Cardinal hitters in last night’s loss were:
Yadier Molina — 2-for-4 with a double and 1 RBI
Albert Pujols — 2-for-4 with a double and 1 run scored.
Ryan Ludwick — 1-for-4 with a home run, giving him the obvious 1 run scored and 1 RBI.
Troy Glaus — 0-for-3 with 1 walk and 1 run scored.
Mark Mulder will get a shot at getting back into the St. Louis Cardinals’ starting rotation on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies. The probable Phillies
Mitchell Boggs will head back to Triple-A Memphis to make room for Cesar Izturis, who is coming off the DL list today. La Russa is not in any hurry to rush Izturis back into the lineup, but Izturis says his hamstring feels fine.
Joe Mather has been activated from Memphis, filling a roster spot opened up by Brian Barton, who has gone on the 15-day DL with a right wrist injury. Mather will start today in left field.
With Kenny Rogers on the hill for Detroit and Braden Looper going for St. Louis, there was a high likelihood of one run meaning a lot. A whole lot more then the days of enhanced vitamins and juiced up baseballs, anyway. All semi-kidding aside, it was the nature of these two hurlers that suggested the game might be decided by a close margin.
That being said, Tony La Russa made the most of Brian Barton’s leadoff double (he got help when Detroit center fielder Curtis Granderson lost sight of the fly), deploying Aaron Miles in a small-ball tactic, bunting, almost beating out the attempt, but Barton advancing to third base all the same. Problem was, Tigers’ third baseman, Carlos Guillen, who scooped a ground ball near the line, slapping down a tag on Barton sliding back toward third, putting him out and firing to first baseman, Miguel Cabrera to complete the inning-ending double play.
The Tigers went down one-two-three in the bottom of the first frame.
To set the quicker tone, the Cards put up only three batters in the top of the second, Rick Ankiel walking, but then getting picked by Rogers, who is known for having one of the (if not the) best moves to first base.
Magglio Ordonez singled to start off the Tiger second, but Looper got Cabrera to ground to shortstop Brendan Ryan, who sent the ball to second baseman Miles, then over to first baseman Adam Kennedy (his first start ever at first base) for the double play. Marcus Thames fouled out to Kennedy to end the inning.
The biggest opportunity of the young game came in the Cardinal third, rookie Nick Stavinoha singling to start the inning. After a Kennedy strikeout, Ryan singled to right, Stavinoha hustling to third base. With men on the corners, Barton grounded to shortstop Edgar Renteria, Stavinoha scoring and Ryan safe at second when Renteria erred fielding the ball. Miles then hit a swinging bunt to Rogers on the mound, almost beating this one out like his actual bunt in the first inning. Rogers threw home out on a close play, Ryan advancing to third and Barton moving up to second. They would die on the base paths, however, when Ryan Ludwick flew out to Thames.
The bottom of the third found not Tigers rally, but they did score the tying run when Ivan Rodriguez hit a bomb over the distant Comerica Park center field fence.
After a scoreless Cardinals fourth, Cabrera hit a long fly over the outstretched arm of right fielder Ludwick. The ball hit inches short of the yellow line, but the umpire ruled it a home run. La Russa offered an argument, but there was no change in the call. The solo homer put the Tigers up 2-1.
The fifth would end with Rogers striking out Ankiel with the bases loaded, but before a Redbird reached, Barton jacked one over the left field fence, tying the game at 2-2.
Looper sailed through the fifth, and the Cardinals’ offense followed with a rally that would see Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland pulling Rogers. Molina started the sixth off with a double, advancing to third base by Stavinoha when he grounded to the right side. Kennedy singled past a pulled-in infield, Molina scoring the go-ahead run. Ryan then singled, hustling to second base when he saw teammate Kennedy taking third on a base running challenge to outfielder Granderson. That is when Leyland called for reliever Freddy Dolsi. Pinch-hitting for Barton, Skip Schumaker hit a 2-RBI single, Kennedy and Ryan scoring, putting the Cards up 5-2.
The Tigers put up a fight in the bottom half of the sixth, working a potential rally together that would find Placido Polanco and Ordonez on base with two outs and Cabrera representing the tying run at the plate. Cabrera grounded out to kill the inning for Detroit.
Looking to tack on runs, Troy Glaus lead off the seventh, but flew out to Ordonez in right field. Ankiel then dropped a flare in front of Ordonez for a single. Yadier Molina singled sharply to right, Ordonez busy, and easily holding up Ankiel at second base with a throw in from shallow right. Stavinoha secured his first major league RBI with a basehit to left field, Ankiel speeding home from second base, Molina holding up at second base. Leyland brought in Casey Fossum to relieve Dolsi. Fossum promply struck out Kennedy for the second out. Ryan then tacked on all right, doubling off the left field fence, bringing home Molina and Stavihoha, putting the Cardinals way out in front, 8-2. The inning ended with Miles grouding out, but the Cardinals had successfully bum-rushed the tough Tigers’ bullpen, lighting them up for three more runs in the frame.
Gary Sheffield cranked a two-run homer to bring the Tigers back within four at 8-4, and that was it was Looper. La Russa brought in Russ Springer, the Cardinals’ best-performing middle reliever. Springer slowed the Tigers’ momentum, joining the defense to shut down the rest of the inning.
Fossum shut down the Cardinals in the eighth, and La Russa went to reliever Kyle McClellan, his role obvious: throw strikes, don’t get cute on the corners, make the Tigers hit their way on. Palanco did just that, singling to right field, but no free passes was the correct attitude for rookie pitcher McClellan, especially up four runs late in the game. For the defense, a double play would do nicely, but in this late-inning situation versus a team that can “come and get you” at any time, the sure out would be of paramount importance. Yet a double play fell right in the Redbirds’ lap, Ordonez grounding into a tailor-made 6-4-3 to end their chances in the eighth.
Fernando Rodney would get work out of the Tigers’ pen in the ninth, setting down the Cardinals in order.
The Tigers would take their last chance at-bats against the Cardinals’ closer, Ryan Franklin. After one ground out by a non-hustling Cabrera, Franklin sinned, walking a batter (Thames). Sheffield, who had hit a two-run homer his last at bat, flew out to Schumaker in left field. The signs of troubled came when Renteria hit a squibber up the first base line, about twenty feet, a ball Franklin and Molina couldn’t decide upon which of them would make the play. This put base runners on first and second for Rodriguez, who also had homered earlier. Rodriguez hit a hard ground ball toward the hole on the right side, but Kennedy made an excellent grab, tossing to Franklin covering first to end the game.
Final score: Cardinals 8, Tigers 4.
Looper secured the win, extending his record to 9-5, while Rogers took the loss.