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PURE CARDINAL OBSESSION
The #1 authority on St. Louis Cardinals baseball in Kent County, Maryland.
(And a little on the Orioles, Rams, Blues, Purdue Boilermakers, and Mizzou Tigers too, ever so often.)
This site is not affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB, or anything, really. Contact the creator, if you wish.
Pittsburgh series recap, etc.
Despite this week's nearly apocalyptic thunderstorms, the Cards did manage to get two games in against the Pirates. They didn't win the series, as I decreed they must earlier, but I suppose they didn't lose it either. I didn't see any of Wednesday's game, but reading the boxscore allows me to speculate on a few things:
(note: I really do love boxscores. Someday I'll write an ode to boxscores.)
1) I'm not terribly worried about Marquis' bad start. He didn't give up a HR, so it may have just been a case of bad luck to have given up so many hits; however, a walk per inning isn't going to help that either, despite even more K's than that. I chalk it up to just a bad outing and (hopefully) not the start of an ominous trend.
2) Kiko Calero failed miserably in his role. That goes nearly without saying. I'm sure the Cardinals have 20+ guys in the organization who could come into a major league game, trailing 6-2, and promptly give up 4 more runs. Kiko must
perform better than that to stay up. Speaking of Kiko
, he and the Pirates' Thursday starter Ryan Vogelsong
could very well be twins seperated at birth (they sure pitched like it this series...).
3) The 2004 Cardinals seem to have scored more meaningless runs than any team I've ever seen (last year's team being the previous apparent record) -- as evidenced by the late orgy of offense that at least made Wednesday's game look
close. The statistics sort of point to it too: even though we're 8-6 in one-run games, we're still managing to do worse
than our Pythagorean expected record (although only by a half game). I'll still have to do some more research on this topic, since I don't have enough time right now.
I was, however, able to attend Thursday's game. The offense was opportunistic if not good (Rolen's key 3-run HR followed 2 walks -- 3 runs on only 1 hit is nice if you can get it), the pitching was solid (Suppan allowed a lot of baserunners, but did enough to win), and while the defense wasn't spectacular, it draws few complaints. It really is difficult to complain about anything when the team wins. The win was key, as a sweep -- even just 2 games -- at home to the Pirates would have been a deflating experience. However, the Pirates seem to be faring better on the road this year; maybe we should take the split as a minor victory and go get 'em in PNC, where they are playing even worse than the Cards have at Busch -- they currently sport a ghastly 6-13 home record. Can you blame 'em, though? If I had to play 81 games a year in the coolest park in baseball
, I wouldn't be able to concentrate either.
Now it's on to Houston for the Redbirds... I'll be traveling to Milwaukee for the weekend, so I won't be commenting on the big weekend series; however, you can bet I'll be scoreboard-watching from Miller Park Friday and Saturday evenings. Let's hope the Cards can continue their winning ways in the Juice Box!
Rain, rain, go away
St. Louis has been hit hard by storms the past few days, and it seems unlikely that any of the Pittsburgh games will be played here this week -- one has already been cancelled, and tonight's and tomorrow's still remain in doubt. It's times like these when people beg and plead to build $200 million retractable roofs on new ballparks, but it seems to me that they don't realize rainouts are a part of baseball. Yeah, they're tough to reschedule, and the teams probably lose a little money (a driving factor of MLB these days) from having to do so. Maybe the roofs and the reluctance to call games due to rain is just part of the evolution of the game, which nowadays no longer sees games called due to darkness, or even doubleheaders, which are rare -- and never scheduled. Perhaps someday all ballparks will be built under huge, retractable, Climatron-like Plexiglas domes, and we won't have to worry about rain ever again. In the meantime, though, I'll gladly deal with a rainout 3 or 4 times a year if it means I don't have to see a ball game in a box.
Scouring the news
makes me smile. Of course, we all expect this sort of thing to happen. Hopefully, Wood's and Prior's returns won't align themselves with the Cards' June 7-10 date in Wrigley.
Sunday night's "scandal"
involving Albert Pujols' hip flexor soreness scared me a bit, mostly because of La Russa's anointing of Cody McKay as our backup first baseman. Seeing this article
this morning made me feel a little better, since Mabry's been killing the ball down in Memphis. However, this move only increases the left-handedness of the Cards' bench -- though my guess for the player being sent down would be Colin Porter, since Mabry and Porter are rather interchangeable left-handed corner outfielders. The right-handed bats are So Taguchi, Hector Luna, and the waste-of-a-roster-spot Roger Cedeno -- names which don't strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitching staffs like Eduardo Perez has done the past couple seasons. A right-handed power bat coming off the bench is something the Cardinals have needed all season. Supposedly they're one of the many teams in the market for Raul Mondesi, despite his weird situation. But here
is another option, even though he will be 43 in less than a month (think Julio Franco-like agelessness!) -- it'd be nice to see El Gato Grande making a valuable contribution off the Cardinal bench this season, which likely would be his last.
Meet Glendy Johnson
Frank Cusumano and I were both wrong about Glendon Rusch, since he mowed us down on Saturday, and it seems I was unfortunately right about Matt Clement -- he took care of us Sunday night, just as he did here May 1. So, the Cards are back to square one against the Cubs. I'm not sure we can afford to lose many more series against them this season. Fortunately, we travel back there for four more games the second week in June.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are coming home to face the smoking hot Daryle Ward and his Pirates this week. The Giles-less Pirates have hung in there with the best of them to this point, despite being in last place for most of the season, thanks to the killer Wilsons, the suddenly reliable José Mesa (13-for-13 saves, 0.47 ERA) closing, and most recently, Ward's rejuvenated power stroke. They're only 2 games behind the Cardinals/Brewers tie for fourth, and only 4½ out of first place. I would consider this series a must-win, almost a must-sweep, considering that after this week's series, 10 of the next 13 games are against either Houston or the Cubs. We can't afford to dawdle against the lesser opponents, scrappy as they may be, if we're going to do things like lose 2 of 3 at Wrigley.
On the 10:00 news on KSDK-TV Channel 5 in St. Louis, Frank Cusumano predicted that by that time tomorrow, the Cardinals would be ahead of the Cubs in the standings. While I share in his optimism about the pitching matchup (Williams vs. Rusch), I wouldn't go quite that far. Though he's gotten better the past 2 or 3 outings, Woody has obviously struggled this season. Glendon Rusch is making his second start of the season, and seems to have also struggled based on his early numbers (1.75 WHIP, 5.25 ERA). In his only start, he gave up 2 runs in 4 2/3 innings. I'm amazed after reading in the Post-Dispatch today that Scott Rolen is only 3-for-17 against Rusch in his career. Those numbers notwithstanding, I'm sure the Cards can score plenty off Rusch -- because a) we mash lefties and b) I'm guessing the Post did not mention other guys in our lineup who'd had better numbers against him.
I've been all over Rusch since this blog began, so let's hope I'm right in my assessment.
Stepping on wounded Small Bears
Today's win over the Cubs was mighty key. It sets the tone for the remaining two games, and gives us an opportunity to clinch the series tomorrow with the favorable pitching matchup described in the previous post.
Also, this game was a prime example of the type of game that last year's team would lose. For evidence of that, just think back to the five-game series in Wrigley the first week of September when we blew leads in three of the four losses. Today, Carpenter did give up 3 solo HRs, but other than that was solid. The bullpen bent, but didn't break (again, unlike last year). Eldred made only one bad pitch -- which unfortunately hurt Kline's ERA quite a bit -- but other than that looked pretty good. And despite his recent struggles, Jason Isringhausen has now posted the following line in key appearances against the Cubs and Astros this season (which eliminates his appearance April 12th vs. Houston, when he pitched the 9th to get work in, trailing 8-1 and gave up three runs):
4 G, 2-0 record, 2 SV, 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO
In two of those games, he entered in tie games and became the pitcher of record. The other two were save situations: today's game, plus a 5-out save in Houston. That's coming up big against the teams we need to beat. As far as I'm concerned, it's alright if he blows the occasional save against the Mets or Phillies and the like if he keeps this up against the "big two" all season.
On a side note, Al Hrabosky really needs to shut up about how some guy has burned us in the past when he's hitting in a key situation in the game. Today he kept blabbing about how Alou has gone 5-for-5, hit 3 HRs against us before... and then, of course, just then Alou takes Eldred deep. I'm not a terrbily superstitious person, but that's kinda creepy.
...yeah, I'm a sheep, a copycat, whatever you want to call it. I'm probably the 102,381,908,248th person to have created a baseball blog these days, but it's something that interests me. So, without further ado, welcome to Pure Cardinal Obsession. My name is Jeff, and as the original and principal poster on this blog, I am glad to have each and every one of you visiting this site. I hope you find my comments at least semi-stimulating throughout the course of this and future baseball seasons.
First off, in case you can't tell, I'm a huge fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. Lately I've been a frequent visitor to Busch Stadium (22 times in '03 plus 5 road games, 15 so far in '04), and thus I feel I've invested enough in the team, and as a minority shareholder, I expect at least some winning in return. I'm typically an optimist through June, then things get serious and I expect, as has traditionally been the case, Tony's team to turn it up. Primarily during the summer this blog will focus on the Cards, however I do root for other teams in other sports (even baseball!), so I may stray from the Birds on the Bat at times. Among others, these include the NHL's Blues, NFL's Rams, and colleges Purdue and Missouri -- those are the main ones.
So as I've begun this blog very early on a Friday morning, the Redbirds have won 7 of 10 and are heading to Wrigley for a big weekend series. They're in 4th in a bunched NL Central, 2½ games back of 1st place Houston, at 22-19. No complaints here, especially if they can take two of three up in Chicago from a wounded Cubs team. The scheduled Cubs starter on Saturday: Glendon Rusch. The same Glendon Rusch who posted the 1-12/6.42 line in 19 starts, among other apperances, in '03 with the Brewers. Against a Cards lineup that's historically mashed lefties. Amazingly, Rusch has not given up a home run yet this season, in 12 innings; he's due, right? (I must note, though, for his career, he's averaged one per 7.8 IP -- not terrible -- for comparison, Woody Williams has put together a decent major-league career at 1:7.4, and Matt Morris is at only 1:6.9 for '03 and '04 combined -- yet has managed an ERA under 4.) So, I'm licking my chops -- an entree of Rusch after the Mitre appetizer on Friday afternoon certainly can't hurt the Cards' slightly struggling offense -- although they might've gotten a jolt already with the 6-run 9th Thursday in New York. We'll certainly need the momentum with a red-hot Clement going Sunday night. Still, the series sets up well for us, I think, given all the injuries that God has inflicted on the Small Bears (Prior, and now Wood, Sosa, and Gonzalez).
Completely Useless By September, indeed.
St. Louis Cardinals -- The Purpose.
Major League Baseball -- The system behind The Purpose, messed up in some ways as it may be.
StLToday.com -- More polished journalism than can be delivered on this blog.
ESPN.com Cardinals Clubhouse
Redbird Nation -- My inspiration.
The Birdwatch -- A new Cardinals blog. Highly recommended. Oh yeah, I post there.
Get Up, Baby
Random Redbird Reasoning
Royalties & Cardinalate -- Cross-state rivals, sort of.
Cardinals Birdhouse -- My dream job.
The Cardinal Virtue
Cards Fan in Cub Land
Other Baseball Links
Rob Neyer -- One of my favorite baseball pundits, even though he's a Royals fan.
Jayson Stark (on ESPN.com) -- Another guy I like.
Peter Gammons (on ESPN.com) -- Ken Burns would love his East Coast bias, but the guy knows what he's talking about.
Baseball-Reference.com -- An easy-to-navigate and uncluttered site for historical statistics. Yours truly is Ray King's page sponsor.
Al's Ramblings -- An excellent blog focusing mainly on the Brewers, a tribute to the lukewarm Brewer fan I've become.
Honest Wagner -- I don't hate the Pirates, and this is a good one as well.
Aaron's Baseball Blog -- Aaron Gleeman, Twins blogger extraordinare. Al of Ramblings fame calls him "King Gleeman," for good reason.
Transaction Guy -- Very witty. Keeps you up to date, which is handy for fantasy leagues.
Bat-Girl -- Twins commentary, with sass.
Throws Like A Girl -- Astros blog.
The Hardball Times -- General baseball blog/news site.
College Basketball Links
Big Ten Wonk -- Big Ten blog.
Yoco's College Basketball -- General NCAA blog.