Friday, July 22, 2011

Game 97 Recap - Cardinals 6, Pirates 4

The Cardinals struck for four runs in the top of the first inning and tacked on some insurance later in the game to give the Pirates their first back-to-back loss in what seems like forever. Paul Maholm didn’t have his best stuff and it hurt in the end as the Cardinals walked away with a 6-4 win.

Like I talked about in the intro the Cardinals scored four runs in the top of the first inning on a pair of home runs. After Maholm got the leadoff out John Jay triple to right field on what looked like a play that Garrett Jones should have made, but alas he didn’t. Next batter was Albert Pujols and he killed a ball to centerfield for a quick two run lead. Lance Berkman then doubled two batters later and David Freese went deep to right. Not a good inning for Paul.

It looked like it could get out of control but the Pirates started to chip away. With two outs Jones doubled to right field and then scored on a Ronny Cedeno single to left field. Mike McKenry then scored an infield single and Maholm singled home Cedeno. The damage might have been worse but on the Maholm single McKenry tried to reach third but was thrown out by like twenty feet. Not good base running. Inning killer.

While scoring a ton of runs of Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter isn’t easy it can be done, but you have to not let him drive in runs. That is exactly what he did in the third as he singled to right field to score Yadier Molina. Belch.

Things were calm on both sides until the Pirates struck in the sixth inning. Andrew McCutchen reached on a one out single and then Lyle Overbay doubled McCutchen to third base to set up the inning. Jones then blooped a single into left field that scored both runs but in another example of bad base running he got thrown out at second by a wide margin. The Bucs picked up two more hits after that and it might not have happened had Jones been on first base but that doesn’t excuse terrible base running.

The Cardinals gave themselves an insurance run when Molina absolutely crushed a ball to centerfield. Whatever.

Thoughts:

-Paul obviously didn’t have his best stuff tonight. He has been pretty good about not giving up the long ball this year but that got the better of him in the first inning. It was just a hole that the Pirates couldn’t come back from. Paul went six innings and gave up ten hits and five runs while striking out two and walking two. He only threw 86 pitches and would have probably gone another inning if he wouldn’t have been lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning with runners in scoring position and two outs.

-The offense actually showed up tonight and tacked 11 hits on the board and hit the ball really well off of Carpenter who is normally untouchable on his typical nights. Even the balls that were outs were hit really hard and although they couldn’t come the whole way back they did a pretty decent job overall. Hopefully this can carry over for the rest of the series.

-Speaking of Carpenter, you can’t spot this guy four runs and expect to win. Even when he is hittable, as he was tonight, that is a very daunting task to try and come back from. The offense got close but just couldn’t overcome the big four run first inning. Carpenter went eight strong inning and although he gave up 10 hits and four runs he earned the win. When he is off you have to take advantage and win the game.

-Neil Walker’s line will read that he was 0-for-4 but he was squaring the ball up better than any hitter in the lineup. Outside of a deep fly ball he hit in his second at bat he was hitting line drives all over the place. The only problem was that they were right at players. Nothing you can do but I look for him to start to pick up the hits.

-The bottom of the lineup got the job done again tonight. Jones, Cedeno and McKenry combined to go 7-for-12 with two runs and three RBI. The top of the order (Alex Presley, Chase d’Arnaud, Walker) combined to go 0-for-12. The top of the order smacks two or three this and this is a totally different game. Stuff happens though.

-The bench management tonight was kind of a head scratcher. Steve Pearce was called up today and you would have thought he would have got a chance to swing seeing that he was killing the ball down at AAA on his rehab assignment. I don’t mind him not starting at first base over Overbay but when you pinch hit Xavier Paul instead of Pearce with the tying run at third base and two outs there is a problem. Paul hasn’t been good all year and is batting under .100 as a pinch hitter. I am not sure why he is your first guy off the bench. Matt Diaz also pinch hit in the ninth inning with one out and a runner on first base down two. Diaz is not going to put the ball over the fence, Pearce has of recent. Listen, Clint Hurdle knows a ton more about baseball than I do so I guess I shouldn’t be questioning him, but this was a head scratcher.

-Albert Pujols is really good at baseball and really really good at PNC Park. A 4-for-5 night with a home run, two doubles and a single. This guy broke his wrist like six days ago and he is still mashing. What a player.

-I don’t have anything against d’Arnaud at all. He seems like a really good kid and you can see he has some talent but the bottom line is that he is not getting the job done. Get Pedro up here, soon. d’Arnaud is not a good enough hitter to stick in the two hole and his defense has been pretty bad since his call up while Pedro isn’t getting much of anything from being down at AAA right now. Something has to give.

Come back and get them tomorrow.

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