STL-Skip Schumaker (7)
STL-Troy Glaus, 3 homers (21)
STL-Albert Pujols (24)
CHC-Mark DeRosa (13)
CHC-Carlos Zambrano (3)
Waino Whacked: In a rehab appearance Friday night, Adam Wainwright got shelled as he pitched for Triple-A affiliate Memphis. He lasted only 27 pitches, giving up four hits, one of them a home run.
LIVEcast tonight: 4thebirds… will open a LIVEcast for tonight’s Cards/Cubs series finale.
photo by Barbara Moore
Albert Pujols got his 300th home run Friday night the in first game of the Cards-Cubs series over the Independence Day weekend. The milestone round-tripper, however, wasn’t enough, the Cubs nipping the Cards 2-1.
Busch Stadium was packed and rocking for the holiday event, treated to a pitcher’s duel between Cubs’ starter Carlos Zambrano and the Cardinals’ Braden Looper.
The Cubs drew first blood, Kosuke Fukudome taking a Looper mistake pitch into the right field seats. Geovany Soto added a solo homer in the fourth, putting the Cubs up two but not out of reach by any means, except, that Zambrano was hyped up and throwing heat.
Just off the DL, Zambrano was overthrowing for several innings, using up a lot of pitches, but holding the Cardinals scoreless. His aggressiveness was unlike any the Cardinals have seen so far this season.
It wasn’t until the seventh, when Cubs’ manager Lou Piniella brought in Bob Howry, that the Cardinals had any chance. Yet the only Cardinal to pick on the reliever was Albert Pujols, and that wasn’t until the eighth inning, when Pujols hit his 300th. After the solo shot, the Cubs went with Neal Cotts to finish the eighth, then closer Kerry Wood to polish off the Cardinals in the ninth.
The first of the Cardinals hitters to go down was Troy Glaus, who was beside himself on a pitch he thought was ball four, the ball clearly outside. The home plate umpire, Ted Barrett, must’ve thought Glaus was showing him up, because the next pitch was far outside and Barrett called out Glaus on strikes. After Yadier Moline reached on a single, Barrett made a similar strike call on Ryan Ludwick. Without a whole lot of faith that he wouldn’t get called out on strikes outside the zone, Ludwick ended up grounding out to end the game.
Soto swung the hot Cubs’ bat, going 3-for-4 with that solo home run. Derrick Lee doubled in his 2-for-4 effort. Yadier Molina and Pujols both went 2-for-4.
Carlos Zambrano got the win, improving to 9-3 while Looper suffered the loss, his record flattening a little to 9-6. Kerry Wood notched his 22nd save.
photo by Barbara Moore
There aren’t many weekends bigger than this if you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Or a Chicago Cubs fan, for that matter.
Cubs-Cards rivalry. NL Central lead on the line. Independence Day weekend. Jimmy Baseball’s return to Busch. Zambrano v Cards. Pujols v Cubs. Red state-Blue state.
However you look at the upcoming three-game set between these two longtime rivals, the hype of the games promise to make for some bigtime entertainment for fans everywhere.
Regardless of the status of the rivaly, however, there is still baseball to be played somewhere within the mayhem. And when that mayhem starts, the NL Central standings will be affected in some way. Down 2 1/2 games, the Redbirds have a chance to directly influence their position. The Cards are currently in second place, chasing the Cubs, and with the Milwaukee Brewers a couple behind. All three teams lost yesterday.
The Brewers are at MIller Park today hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates, throwing Ben Sheets against the semi-hapless Bucs. If they win, they will gain on somebody.
But the Cards cannot worry about that. They’ll have their hands (and hopefully their mitts) full with Carlos Zambrano (8-3, 3.13) and the rest of Lou Piniella’s Cubs. Chicago’s North-siders boast the best record in the NL at 51-35. The Cardinals are still trying to win #50, but are more than respectable at 49-38.
Today’s series opener will be Zambrano’s first game back off the DL, but he says he feels strong and ready to go. Piniella hopes his ace can go six innings, and has stated Zambrano is going to be watched carefully and limited to a pitch count of around 90 pitches. Reaching both limits would be considered a pretty good first outing coming off his shoulder injury.
Tony La Russa has matched Braden Looper (9-5, 4.26) against Zambrano. Looper has plenty of experience against Chicago. MLB.com reports that Looper has amassed 36 appearances against the Cubs, totally 64 2/3 innings, and maintained a 2.37 ERA.
Both teams are coming off splits of four-game series, Cards-Mets and Cubs-Giants. But it is doubtful either team is dwelling on those series. Not with such a big rivalry staring each squad in their collective faces.
The Cubs have regained hitting star Aramas Ramirez, who had been away due to personal reasons. Alfonso Soriano is returning to the field today, but not activated to play. Soriano will be taking batting practice off a tee only, recovering on the DL from a broken finger.
The Cubs have been reeling from recent injuries to Soriano and Zambrano, almost as if they were about to panic. The Cardinals, on the other hand, started the season with key players on the DL, and have had them coming and going so much that a good portion of the team knows the best places to eat in St. Louis and Memphis. (Memphis is the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate site.) The DL situation is something the Cards are used to dealing with. The Cubs are just now finding out what an impact injuries have to their current roster. The Cards have coped well with injuries; the Cubs have yet to figure that one out.
And then, amidst all the usually rivalry, you have Jimmy Baseball, Mr. Edmonds, who makes no bones about saying how much he liked St. Louis because he had put his heart and soul into the team and the city for years. Edmonds also has no problems playing for another team, even if it is the rival Cubs. Edmonds stated recently that he wasn’t about to sit home and go bankrupt just because the Cardinals no longer desired his services, adding that he still needed to work.
Odds are that the Busch Stadium crowd with greet Jimmy Baseball warmly, at least to start the series.