Tagged: Yadier Molina

4thebirds…LIVE! Phillies vs. Cardinals 8/3/08

Hall’s homer ruins Cards comeback

2582602370_5f83632ac6_m-pineiro-photo by Barbara Moore.jpgBill Hall’s extra-inning leadoff solo shot put the Brewers up to stay as the Milwaukee Brewers outlasted and outscored the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 in the first game of a four-game series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Earlier, Rickie Weeks launched a three-run homer into the upper deck in left field to supply the first three runs. Hall added the go-ahead run, and Weeks and J.J. Hardy driving home the insurance runs in the tenth.

Joel Pineiro, who gave up the Weeks’ bomb, ended up with another no decision. Pineiro had given up 10 of the Brewers’ 16 hits on the night in which the Cardinals would have to use a considerable amount of bullpen once more, limiting their options over at least the next couple of games.

Pineiro gave up a double in the first inning, but settled down fast, getting both Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder to ground out.

Milwaukee’s Seth McClung didn’t fare as well, Troy Glaus continuing his hot power swinging with a two-out, two-RBI double, bringing home Albert Pujols and Rick Ankiel to put the Cards up 2-0.

In the second, Pineiro got hit hard by Corey Hart who lined out. Billy Hall then singled, but Glaus snagged a Mike Cameron liner and snapped a throw to first to double off Hall for an inning-ending double play.

Pineiro tried to start up the offense in the Cardinal second with a single. An out later, Schumaker reaching on an infield single, but the Cards could make nothing out of it, leaving two men on base.

Pujols walked and stole second in the third inning, but was stranded there after McClung struck out  Ankiel and Glaus, then got Chris Duncan to pop out.

For the second inning in a row, Pineiro cruised, giving up only a single to Hart in the fourth.

McClung set down Molina, Pineiro, and Izturis, one-two-three in the bottom of the fourth.

With one out in the fifth, Jason Kendall hit a ground rule double down the right field line. McClung then helped his own cause by following up with a single. Rickie Weeks then launched a missle to left field, the ball barely taking a downward arch with it hit three rows up in Big Mac Land, the first main deck in left field. The three-run blast put the Brewers on top 3-2.

McClung then threw another effective inning, the Cardinals wasting a leadoff single by Schumaker.

Pineiro then worked through a rough inning but kept the Brewers within one before Russ Springer relieved him to start the seventh. Before Springer took the hill, the Brewers’ Guillermo held the Cards. Springer then did the same.

Brewers’ manager Ned Yost then countered with reliever Eric Gagne, who struck out Izturis and Schumaker, then got Miles to ground out.

Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa replaced springer with recently called-up Kelvin Jimenez. Hall singled to lead off the inning, then stole second. Jimenez pitched through an error by center fielder Ankiel, getting out of the jam.

David Riske then took a turn in relief for the Brewers. Pujols lined out to right field. Riske struck out Ankiel. Glaus drew a walk, Riske looking like he was pitching around him. With two out, Duncan hit a pop fly to shallow left field, Ryan Braun sprinting in to make the catch and end the Cardinal’s eighth inning chances.

La Russa would leave Jimenez in to work the Brewers ninth, getting a pop out, then striking out Braun. La Russa would not let him face Prince Fielder, however, bringing in Ron Villone to face the ever-dangerous lefty swinger. Villone walked Fielder, and La Russa called in Ryan Franklin to face Hart. After going down 0-2 in the count, Hart popped up to shallow right field, Schumaker dashing in to make the catch, Franklin and the Cardinals holding off the Brewers once more and ready to take their shot at some more last-inning heroics, down only one run.

Saloman Torres would come on in relief for the Brewers to close..

Yadier Molina gave the Cards that shot, leading off with a long fly to right-center field that hopped over the fence for a ground rule double. Brendan Ryan pinch-ran for Molina. Ryan Ludwick pinch hit for Villone, striking out.

Jason LaRue then pinch hit for Izturis, hitting a hard ground ball that Torres deflected, shortstop Weeks unable to pick it up and throw out LaRue at first, Ryan advancing to third. Schumaker lofted a sacrifice fly to left field, Braun camping under it, fielding and firing home, but overthrew, Ryan tagging up and scoring the tying run, making it 3-3.

Miles then reached on a ground ball to second baseman Weeks, who could not do anything with the ball, LaRue safe at second. Pujols had a chance to hit a game winner, but flew out to Cameron in center field.

The game headed into the tenth with Franklin remaining on the mound for the Cards. Hall jumped on a fat, high pitch to lead off the inning, depositing it in the left-center field bleachers, the Brewers retaking the lead at 4-3.  

Kendall drove a ball into the right-center field gap, a stand-up double with one out. After Torres lined out to Ankiel in center, Weeks played spoiler again, this time reaching on an infield single, a play on which Miles made a diving catch, but also on which he leaped up to throw wide to first base, permitting Kendall to score, extending the Brewers lead to 5-3. J.J. Hardy then singled home Weeks to tack on some insurance at 6-3.

In the bottom of the tenth, Glaus hit a one-out double, but the Cardinals could not put anything together against Torres, dropping the first game of the series.

Torres snagged the late-inning victory, now 5-2.

Franklin was charged with the loss, his record now 3-3.

photo by Barbara Moore

Three more homers with a side of Molina-style “RiBIes”

2501334222_d53bc0a8f0_m-maddux-photo by SD Dirk.jpgAfter last night’s game, Cardinal Nation might prefer their next helping of “ribbies” done Molina-style. The Cards’ catcher so well-known throughout the majors for his reluctance to strike out proved the contact hitting produced by the skill can mean more than hitting into inning-ending double plays.

Indeed, Molina’s ability to put bat to ball can also have the effect of making things happen. For instance, a two-RBI single. Molina’s “ribbies” gave the Cardinals the go-ahead runs, breaking a 7-7 tie in the eighth inning.

The recently red hot bats of the St. Louis Cardinals overshadowed a weak outing by starter Braden Looper in a game that saw 18 runs on 29 hits, a slugfest which ended with the Padres outdone for the second night in a row.

Starting Padres’ pitcher Greg Maddux only lasted one inning longer than Looper at four, leaving the game when it was tied at 6-all. With both starters out early, each team used five relievers to get through the balance of the game. Kyle McClellan (2-4) would end up with the win, while the Padres’ Heath Bell was charged with the loss.

The Cardinals drew first blood when Rick Ankiel singled home both Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus in the first inning, the Cards ahead 2-0.

Looper was up on a lot of his pitches, becoming more inefficient with each inning he threw. The Padres did not score in the first, but got on the board in the second on a grapefruit pitch that the season-long struggling Khalil Greene drove to the opposite field, a first row shot in right, luckily, with no one on base.

With a 2-1 score, nothing was out of control, but Looper continued to struggle. To help himself along, he sacrifce bunted Cesar Izturis to second base in the second inning. Izturis took the next base on his own, stealing thrid. Brendan Ryan then got Izturis home on an infield ground out.

The 3-1 lead wouldn’t last long. In the next inning, Looper asked for trouble when he hit Edgar Gonzalez with a pitch. The Padres’ Brian Giles, Adrian Gonzalez, and Kevin Kouzmanoff then punished Looper and the Cards with back to back to back singles, the trio of basehits collectively producing a couple runs and tying the game at 3-each.

The Padres continued the hit parade in the fourth after Maddux held the Cards scoreless. On a play that saw two Cardinals known for their outstanding defensive skills each commit a throwing error, for those moments, the Busch Stadium crowd might’ve thought they were at a youth league game. With Padres’ Nick Hundley on second, Maddux laid down a bunt which Molina pounced upon and fired to Glaus at third. Except that Molina’s throw was nowhere near Glaus, shooting into left field where Skip Schumaker scooped it up and threw home in a belated attempt to get Hundley at the plate. Albert Pujols cut off Schumaker’s throw, however, spinning and firing to Cesar Izturis covering second when Maddux tried to advance on Schumaker’s throw home. Pujols’ throw went wide, the ball shooting into center field where Rick Ankiel scooped it up and fired to third base in an attempt to stop Maddux from advancing once more, another belated throw that Glaus had to block in order to halt the circus production. The Padres took a 4-3 lead on a play that had to have had the TV camera crew in a frenzy.

Looper’s problems didn’t end there, though. With Maddux on third base after laying down a sac-bunt, the Padres’ leadoff man, Jody Gerut, jacked one into the right field seats, stunning the haphazard Cardinals, the Padres taking full advantage of the Cardinals’ defensive miscues as well as Looper’s difficulties on the hill. Now up 6-3, the Padres were praying that Cards’ manager Tony La Russa would leave Looper on the mound.

La Russa had seen enough, however, having stuck with his starter as long as he could have under the circumstances. La Russa brought Brad Thompson from the bullpen, the called up and sent down pitcher that had proven himself on both the major league and Triple-A levels in recent weeks. Willing to take on any role La Russa had for him, Thompson had, out of circumstance, formulated into a middle relief specialist. He would fill that role last night, working two-and-a-third innings, giving up one run while striking out four. The lead may have swung back to the Padres during Thompson’s relief appearance, but only by one run at 7-6, keeping the Cardinals well within striking distance and getting them far enough into the game where La Russa could pick and choose his relievers in a more strategic and efficient manner.

What had also helped keep the Cardinals in the game was a three-run homer in the fourth by Ryan Ludwick. The three-RBI round-tripper was made possible by a couple of two-out singles, one by Brendan Ryan, followed by Schumaker.

In the seventh, Ankiel hit his 22nd homer of the season, a blast that cleared the right field bullpen by six or seven rows. The solo shot tied the game at 7-7.

The go-ahead hit came in the eighth, when Molina punched an outside pitch off the glove of Padres’ second baseman Edgar Gonzalez, the ball rolling on into right field. The bases were loaded at the time, due to a Pujols single, a Glaus walk, and an Ankiel infield single on which Padres’ pitcher Heath Bell failed to cover first base in time.

Ankiel was later thrown out at home on a disputed play in which Padres’ catcher Nick Hundley may missed the tag. Nonetheless, the called out stood. Chris Duncan supplied a pinch hit single, however, bringing home Molina to make it 10-7.

Aaron Miles provided another pitch hit, scoring Izturis and putting up an insurance run, the score 11-7, how the game would finish.

The bullpen held up much better last night, La Russa using, in order after pulling Looper: Thompson, Villone, Springer, McClellan, and Isringhausen. Villone worked from within an inning, two outs worth. The latter relievers each worked one full inning.

Regardless of who was in any particular spot in the lineup, the Cardinals got at least one hit out of every lineup position.

Izturis stole two bases, leading the team with 10.

Pujols went 3-for-4 with a walk, his only out a scortched line drive caught in center field. Pujols’ .354 average is tops on the team.

The defensive play of the game was Ron Villone’s falling, sprawling reception while covering first base to complete a double play.

The Cardinals now lead the four-game home series with the Padres, 2-0.

photo by SD Dirk

Redbird Ramblings — 7-7-08 — Phelps, Pujols, CC, Ludwick, Stavinoha, Pineiro, Molina

a-busch-lights.JPGTomorrow’s probables:
STL-Joel PIneiro RHP (2-4, 4.52) vs. PHL-Cole Hamels LHP (9-5, 3.22). PIneiro is coming off a tough outing versus the Mets. Hamels has never lost to the Cards.

Yadier Molina has extended his hitting streak to 14 games after a single in yesterday’s game with the Chicago Cubs.

Road trip: The Cards will finish up on the road before the All-Star break with three-game sets, one versus the Phillies and one versus the Pirates.

Lefty City: If all the probable match-ups hold for the upcoming road trip, the Cardinals will face nothing but lefthanded starters.

Card-Stars: Ryan Ludwick and Albert Pujols have been named to the 2008 MLB NL All-Star team.

Memphis Redbirds: The Triple-A affiliate nipped the Omaha Royals yesterday, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Josh Phelps hit a two-run homer late in the game to bring the Redbirds within reach. In the ninth, Phelps doubled home Nick Stavinoha with what would prove to be the game-winning run.

Jaime Garcia started and was chased early. Jason Motte notched the victory with one inning of work. Kelven Jimenez earned a save, his eighth this season.

Brewers obtain CC: One of the Cardinals main competitors, the Milwaukee Brewers, completed a trade yesterday, dealing several minor leaguers to the Cleveland Indians, for former AL Cy Young Award winner, C.C. Sabathia.

In return for Sabathia, the Indians will acquire Matt LaPorta, Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, and a player to be named later.

The Milwaukee Brewers will be in St. Louis later this month for a four-game series.

Good batters at risk of Homers

Regardless of whether a home plate umpire has a secret passion to star before the home crowd (known as a Homer) or is simply making bad calls, as a batter, you have no time to whimper over spilled strikeouts.
Of course, the first time a home plate umpire calls you out on strikes on a pitch obviously outside the strike zone, you need to take that as a warning sign. For example, in the June 27 Cardinals/Royals game at Kauffman Stadium, Yadier Molina got called out looking at strike three on a ball low and outside. He cried a river back to the dugout, and rightfully so, but hopefully had shaken it off and went on with his next baseball task.
At that Molina-moment, the rest of the Cardinals’ should’ve taken notice that the home plate umpire was either a) in need of thicker Coke bottle lenses, or b) was a Homer. Yet for the hitters that are good enough to be really tuned into what a ball and and a strike is, it is incredibly difficult to “go fishing” for a ball they’ve self-trained not to go after. In other words, the better batter you are, the more at risk you are to go down looking at a called third strike if … the home plate umpire is inconsistent in his strike zone.
Worse, if the home plate umpire is indeed, a Homer, and you are a visiting batter, you’re at high risk for the punch-out if your at-bat comes at a critical moment of the game, usually in the later innings when a potential rally is underway, or the tying or lead run is in scoring position, perhaps. And if you happen to be one of the visiting team’s hitting stars, well, the Homer has you all lined up for his “inning in the sun” or “inning under the bright lights” if it’s a night game.
One of the two scenarios occurred in the same ball game when Albert Pujols took a called third strike that had every appearance of being outside. Was Pujols a victim of his own refined knowledge of the strike zone, or a victim of the masked man? (And we’re not talking about the catcher.)
Now it’s not the policy of 4thebirds to shed tears all over the bleachers over an umpire’s alleged poor skills or secret passions, but every level of baseball seems to have a few of these All-about-me types lurking in the potential turning points of baseball games. Given either aforementioned disposition, they might be better suited for politics.
A holler to all Homers: Go home!