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Milwaukee played to the series script again tonight, the hero coming on late. Tonight’s hero was an understudy of sorts. Playing the part of Billy Hall, Ryan Braun clobbered a ninth inning mistake pitch by closer Ryan Franklin, with a man on base no less, putting the Brewers up 4-3 and Saloman Torres closing as a closer is supposed to, with plenty of rest and one inning to throw.
Once again the Cards didn’t get much out of a starter, Todd Wellemeyer going only five innings. He gave up only two runs, but got into a little too much trouble with walks, issuing five free passes to only two strikeouts, using 92 pitches just to get through the five innings he threw.
The Cards took an early 1-0 lead when Rick Ankiel singled home Skip Schumaker. They added a run in the third, Kennedy walking, advancing to third on an Aaron Miles double, then scoring on an Albert Pujols sacrifice fly.
The Brewers cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth when Wellemeyer walked Jason Kendall with the bases loaded.
Wellemeyer made up for his free pass in the bottom of the fourth. After a Ryan Ludwick walk, Wellemeyer got a basehit to right field that got past Corey Hart and rolled all the into the right field corner. Ludwick scored from first base on the play, putting the Cards back up by two at 3-1.
Milwaukee put together a couple singles, a walk, and a fielder’s choice to score in the fifth, bringing them back within a run at 3-2.
Russ Springer relieved Wellemeyer, pitching a scoreless sixth, walking one and striking out one.
Kyle McClellan took over from there, giving up a one-out basehit in the seventh, then asking for trouble by walking a batter. A middle infield consisting of Aaron Miles at shortstop and Adam Kennedy at second combined for a double play, however, to get the Cards out of the jam.
McClellan started the eighth, most likely an effort by La Russa to cut down the amount of outs Franklin would have to throw in closing. After one out and a single, Franklin did get the call. The Cards got out of the inning, but weren’t so lucky in the ninth, when Franklin threw two mistake pitches in a row to Ryan Braun, the first one went for a strike, the second went for a ride, into the left-center field bleachers, the Brewers taking the lead late on the Cardinals’ bullpen once more, this time, 4-3.
The Brewers swept in what now seemed so scripted, the last show in St. Louis tonight, and Cardinal Nation glad the show is leaving town. The Brewers played in all the starring roles, but to Cardinal Nation, it was like more like a tragedy.
photo by Barbara Moore
On-deck: The Cardinals will try to avoid a sweep by the Milwaukee Brewers tonight at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Game time is 7:15 CDT.
Probables: MIL-Ben Sheets RHP (10-3, 2.88) vs. STL-Todd Wellemeyer RHP (8-4, 4.22).
Birds’ Perch: The Cards currently hold third place in the NL Central, three games behind the first place Cubs, who won last night. The Brewers are two games ahead of the Cards in second place, having beaten the Cards for the third time in a row last night.
Chris Carpenter rehab: The former Cards’ ace is still slated for a start tomorrow night for the Class AAA Memphis Redbirds. Although the hopes of the Cardinals’ front office is that Carpenter will go to the parent club for a start against Atlanta next week, Carpenter feels it is more likely he will need another minor league start to properly prepare.
Colby Rasmus injury: It is now likely after the results of an MRI that revealed a strain to his left knee that the Cardinals’ number one prospect will be out for about a month. This will cause him to miss the summer olympics and could end his chances for a September call-up to the parent club.
Hot and cold: Since the All-Star break, the Cards have won four in a row, and are now in danger of losing four in a row.
Ballpark VIllage update: Reportedly, the eyesore of a hole in the ground next to Busch Stadium now has its future in order, the Cardinals supposedly having come agreements with the City of St. Louis and contractors as to how to proceed with construction. Completion of the project which is supposed to have a hotel, some residential space, and lots of retail square footage, is not forecast to be done prior to next year’s All-Star game, to be hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals. Two years from finalization of plans and a construction start is the best estimate of completion.
The Cards took the Padres series a game early, starter Todd Wellemeyer getting plenty of help from the offense; including his own contribution, a single and a run scored. Wellemeyer’s record improves to 8-4. Ryan Franklin, one of four relief pitchers, earned his 14th, save. Ron Villone was credited with a hold.
Down 5-0 early in the second inning, Wellemeyer struggled, then settled down, then battled, trying to make certain manager Tony La Russa didn’t have to go to his bullpen early. At the same time, La Russa sent a clear message to Wellemeyer that he was going to have to pitch deeper into the game by leaving him in to bat leadoff in the bottom of the fifth.
Wellemeyer delivered at the plate, too, with a single to right. After a Brendan Ryan strikeout, Skip Schumaker walked, and the Cards had a change to chip off some of the Padres’ five-run lead. Ryan Ludwick singled, third base coach Jose Oquendo holding up Wellemeyer at third, the bases now loaded with Cardinals.
Albert Pujols delivered, scorching a Randy Wolf pitch to the wall in left-center field, clearing the bases and bringing the Cards within two runs at 5-3. With two outs, Rick Ankiel singled home Pujols to make it 5-4.
An inning later, Wellemeyer took part in the next phase of the Cardinals comeback, sacrfice bunting Cesar Izturis into scoring position after he’d reached on an infield single. Padres’ third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff helped out the cause, throwing a Brendan Ryan ground ball over the head of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Izturis advancing to third and Ryan scampering on to second.
Schumaker brought Izturis home with a ground ball to tie up the game at 5-5. After Ryan advanced to third base on a wild pitch, Ludwick walked. Pujols then collected his fourth RBI on the day, singling home Ryan with the go-ahead run.
La Russa called on his bullpen after Wellemeyer had secured one out in the seventh, a strikeout of pinch-hitter Scott Hairston. The move was questionable, with Wellemeyer only in the 80s on pitch count (he’d gone 120 two games earlier) and showing no signs of considerable fatigue. Randy Flores got the call, however, specifically to face lefthanded swinger, Jody Gerut. Flores walked Gerut, though a couple of the ball-strike calls seemed to favor the Padres’ regular leadoff man.
La Russa went to Russ Springer, who gave up back to back singles to Edgar Gonzalez and Brian Giles, respectively. On came reliever number three, Ron Villone, especially to face Adrian Gonzalez. Villone fared better than Flores on his lefty-lefty matchup, striking out A. Gonzalez by spotting a fast ball on the outside corner, getting the Padres’ three-hole hitter looking. Villone then got cleanup hitter Kevin Kouzmanoff to fly out to Ankiel in center.
Ryan Franklin took over to start the eighth, La Russa sticking with him instead of going with Jason Isringhausen in a closer’s role in the ninth. The top of the Padres’ order went down one-two-three, the Cardinals securing a 6-5 win.
Bottom of 1st: Todd Wellemeyer started for the Cards, looking to improve his performance from his recent outings. He didn’t get off to a good start, walking leadoff man Nate McClouth. Ankiel helped by making a nice catch on a Luis Rivas fly ball, going back to the wall from his normal, shallow positioning in center field. Things looked to be back under control for Wellemeyer after a Ryan Doumit fly out to Chris Duncan in right field, but Jason Bay hit a fast ball up and on the outside of the plate, taking the pitch just over the right-center field wall. The Pirates went up 2-0 on the two-run blast. Xaiver Nady flew out to Ankiel in center to end the inning.
Bottom of 2nd: Wellemeyer settled down, cruising through Adam LaRoche, Doug Meintkiwicz, and Herrera.
Top of 3rd: Leadoff man Aaron Miles singled to start the inning, followed by a Ryan Ludwick triple to left-center field, Miles scoring. Albert Pujols then hit a towering fly ball to left, Jason Bay reaching up at the wall to take away a homer. The fly turned into a long sacrifice fly, Ludwick scoring the tying run, 2-2. Rick Ankiel blasted a long ball to center, off the wall. Ankiel stopped at second base. Herrera seemed rattled after throwing another four-pitch walk, this time to Troy Glaus. Herrera pulled out that good change-up on a full-count to Chris Duncan, striking him out swinging. Yadier Molina picked up the club, however, singling through the hole on the left side, Ankiel scoring from second base. With Glaus on second and Molina on first, Wellemeyer got a Herrera curve ball with two strikes, offering a weak swing and striking out. The Cardinals secured the lead, however, at 3-2.
Bottom of 3rd: Jack Wilson popped out to Miles at shortstop to start the inning. Wellemeyer faced All-Star Nate McClouth with one out. McClouth popped out to Glaus in foul territory on the third base side, Glaus making a nice running grab. Everyone had a scare when Luis Rivas got hit by a pitch, possibly misreading a curve that didn’t break. Rivas was okay and stayed in the game, taking first base. Doumit grounded out to Adam Kennedy at second base to end the inning.
Top of 6th: T.J. Beam came on in relief for the Pirates. Pujols jumped on him, hitting a double about 405 feet off the center field wall, then a ricochet to another angle of the wall in an area called the North End Notch. Ankiel then doubled into the left field corner, changing places with Pujols at second base while Pujols scored. Glaus singled home Ankiel. Duncan then hit a shallow fly ball into right-center, McClouth making a spectacular sliding catch, then firing to first baseman LaRoche to double off Glaus. The Cardinals weren’t done hitting off Beam, though, Molina getting the third double of the inning. Wellemeyer flew out to right fielder Xavier Nady, however, to end the rally.
At the end of 10 innings: (Final)
The Cards will not face Pirates’ lefthander Phil Dumatrait tonight. The Pirates were forced to scratch Dumatriat due to pain in his left shoulder and place him on the 15-day DL.
Instead of the lefty starter, the Cards will now face a call-up from the Pirates’ Double-A Altoona affiliate, Yoslan Herrera RHP (0-0, -.–). Herrera amassed a 3-5 record with Altoona out of 10 starts. He carried a 3.43 ERA.
Cards’ manager Tony La Russa may have to do some lineup juggling, now that the opposing starter has changed from left to righty, but considering how many different lineups he has submitted this season, he shouldn’t be at a loss for variations.
The Cards’ starter remains the same at this point, Todd Wellemeyer RHP (7-4, 3.94).
photo by David Watson
Probables: Cardinals’ pitcher Todd Wellemeyer RHP (7-3, 3.86) will match up against the Cubs’ Sean Marshall LHP (0-2, 4.87).
Wellemeyer v Cubs: Todd Wellemeyer faced the Cubs on May 4, earning a win, pitching 5 innings, giving up only three hits while walking four and striking out four.
#50: The Cards have reached the fifty win mark, now 50-39.
How the Redbirds stand: With last night’s victory over the Chicago Cubs, the Redbirds have made up the ground they lost yesterday, now 2.5 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central.
Lohse no decision: Kyle Lohse got a no decision, his record remaining at 10-2.
Izturis set to return: Shortstop Cesar Izturis is due to come off the DL today. Izuris has a hamstring strain. With Aaron Miles swinging a hot bat and holding his own on defense, plus steady contributions from Adam Kennedy, the recently disabled Izturis might not get thrown right back in the lineup. Manager Tony La Russa wants to be careful with Izturis’s return to action as a precaution.
Reyes optioned: Pitcher Anthony Reyes is coming off a stint on the 15-day DL, and will be optioned back to Triple-A Memphis. Reyes had a right elbow strain.
Wallace hits first round-tripper: Recently signed top draft pick, Brett Wallace, hit his first home run for affiliate Quad Cities River Bandits (A) at Modern Woodmen Park. Wallace had tallied only two hits in 12 at-bats to that point. The homer came in a 9-2 victory over the Peoria Chiefs. Two relief pitchers threw a combined five-hitter in the win, Chuckie Fick and Wayne Daman.
Granny beats AAA-Redbirds: Not grandma, but a grand slam by Brian Buchanin of the Omaha Royals, according the the Memphis Commercial Appeal, beat the Triple-A affiliate Memphis Redbirds 8-6. Hitting his 13th home run of the season in the losing cause was David Freese.
Future Futures pitcher Jaime Garcia is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A affiliate Memphis vs. the Omaha Royals today. Garcia has recently been named to the Futures roster.
Yesterday, Mark Mulder got a standing ovation. Today, David Wright would’ve gotten one, if the Mets were in New York. Or maybe the whole Mets’ team, for scrapping inning after inning until they finally busted out to a lead of three or more, then holding on to win 7-4. Tony Armas pitched a rocky handful of innings, but his team kept things in order long enough to get their big inning against Cards’ starter Todd Wellemeyer, lighting him up for three runs in the fifth and adding another later, outlasting the Cardinals through the last half of the game.
Wellemeyer got roughed up in the first couple of innings, the Mets able to tally one run on four hits, adding a walk help prove the obvious, that the Redbirds’ starter was not on in command of his pitches. In the dugout, pitching coach Dave Duncan made open displays that suggested he was coaching the right-hander on his his arm angle.
The Cardinals provided some breathing room for Wellemeyer early, scoring two in the first inning. Aaron Miles doubled, then was driven home as half of a two-RBI home run into the right field seats by Rick Ankiel. Mets’ starter Tony Armas wasn’t in much more command than Wellemeyer, giving up the third Cardinals’ run in the second. Yadier Molina singled, was sacrificed over to second by Wellemeyer, scoring later on a Skip Schumaker double.
The two run lead wouldn’t last, however, Wellemeyer unable to get his off-speed pitches under control. The Mets started sitting on his fast balls, driving even his lower zone stuff for basehits, mounting enough of a rally to tie up the game in the fourth.
By the fifth inning, the Mets showed how they could put together a rally on pitcher that was off his game. Endy Chaves led off with a single. David Wright doubled, sending Chavez to third, and the Mets were in prime postition to rally. Carlos Beltran came up next, a batter that has hit .500 and change when it comes to the Cardinals, penalized the Redbirds again, executing a “move ’em in, move ’em over,” ground ball to the right side of the infield, breaking the tie and putting his team up by one at 4-3. Ryan Church punished the Cards further, doubling to right, Wright scoring. La Russa ordered Carlos Delgado walked, putting the double play in order. But Damion Easley gave up only one on a pop out to Ryan at short. Ramon Castro helped push in another run from his eighth spot in the lineup, singling home Church. The rally ended with an Armas line out, but the damage had been done, the Mets exploiting Wellemeyer’s inability to keep them off his fast ball when he couldn’t deliver on the off-speed stuff.
Brad Thompson took over for Wellemeyer to start the sixth, and did well except for one mistake pitch up to David Wright, who took him deep to left, making up for a weak previous night.
The Cardinals were able to chip one off the Mets 7-3 lead, Troy Glaus scoring on a Molina sacrifice fly into foul territory on the right field side.
Aaron Heilman relieved Armas in the seventh, getting a couple ground outs before Albert Pujols doubled. Mets’ manager Jerry Manuel pulled Heilman on the spot, calling in Pedro Feliciano, who secured the third out to get out of the jam.
Thompson sailed through the eighth, and the Mets countered with another reliever, Duaner Sanchez, who took down Glaus, Duncan, and Molina in order.
Once more Thompson held, and once more Manuel made a pitching change, going with closer Billy Wagner, who also pitched down the Cardinals, one-two-three.
The Mets did tonight exactly what the Cardinals needed to do, and that was exploit the weaknesses of the other team. Wellemeyer happened to be that weakness for the Cardinals, the Mets catching him on a night in which he was well off his game and seemed to have trouble with his mechanics, either an arm angle issue or opening up too soon as analyst and one-time pitching great Ricky Horton pointed out in a post-game TV segment.
The game may have hinged on a fourth inning decision to let a struggling Wellemeyer bat instead of pinch-hitting him with the game tied. La Russa played the odds that Wellemeyer would settle down, and that did not happen. Though it could have, as there appeared to be nothing wrong with Wellemeyer’s stamina.
The Mets tuned in to Wellemeyer’s fast ball so well, it became obvious they were setting up for only that pitch, letting everything else go and coming out okay on count, until they finally would get the fast ball that didn’t have the movement pitching coach Dave Duncan would’ve liked to have seen. That is how the Mets could drive even the hard stuff that was down or on the corners, as they were looking for that speed all the way, and needed only set up their swing, the more difficult part, the timing, no longer an issue.
With the exception of Wright’s homer, Thompson was steady, recording a few one-two-three innings and sailing along, giving the Cardinals bullpen all the rest they should need to be at full capacity starting tomorrow.
The Mets did burn some pen tonight, but victories are well worth that trade-off. They may be in the same boat tomorrow night that the Cardinals were in tonight. But kudos to the Mets pitching staff for grinding one out, hanging tough through mid-game, then working hard to make certain no rally got out of hand.
These two teams should make for good, competitive baseball during the last two games of the four-game series.
(photo by Barbara Moore)