May 2011

Thursday lineups

Cardinals
1. Theriot SS
2. Jay RF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Craig LF
5. Rasmus CF
6. Laird C
7. Greene 2B
8. Descalso 3B
9. McClellan P

Astros
1. Bourn CF
2. Barmes SS
3. Pence RF
4. Lee LF
5. Wallace 1B
6. Johnson 3B
7. Hall 2B
8. Quintero C
9. Happ P

Wednesday lineups

Cardinals

1. Theriot SS
2. Jay CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Craig 2B
7. Molina C
8. Descalso 3B
9. Lohse P

Astros

1. Bourn CF
2. Sanchez 2B
3. Pence RF
4. Lee LF
5. Wallace 1B
6. Johnson 3B
7. Barmes SS
8. Quintero C
9. Norris P

-M.

Note of the night/stat of the day, May 17

Note of the night: I wrote some about this in my game story last week, but one of the most noticeable changes in Jaime Garcia this year has been how he has handled tough innings.

Last year, both according to the stats and according to the eye test, Garcia didn’t always react well when an inning started to get dicey. He was somewhat vulnerable to the big inning. He was typically either dominant or he labored.

This year he looks different, and the numbers are different too. For anecdotal evidence, look at the eighth inning on Tuesday. The error by Tyler Greene could have sunk Garcia. Instead, he collected himself and moved on. Michael Martinez swung aggressively on the first pitch and hit a decent pitch, but from there Garcia got the job done. A sacrifice fly tied the game, and he got Ryan Howard. It’s easy to envision that inning going a lot differently one year ago.

The numbers bear it out to some degree, as well. Last year, Garcia had an enormous split between when the bases were empty and when runners were on base. He allowed an opponent OPS of 586 with the bases empty, 711 with runners on and 761 with men in scoring position. He averaged a walk every 15 plate appearances with the bases empty, and one every 7.6 with runners on base.

This year, he’s allowing a 543 OPS with the bases empty, 574 with men on and 498 with RISP (entering Tuesday’s game). He’s actually issuing fewer walks with men on base (one per 20 plate appearances) than with no one on (one per 15.75 plate appearances).

Throughout last year, I remained somewhat skeptical about Garcia because although he could be brilliant, he could also have those agonizing, laborious starts where he allowed four runs and needed 110 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings. It really seems that this year he’s much better equipped to turn those games into better showings. If he can continue doing that, he could have a really outstanding year.

Stat of the day: Ryan Theriot has three straight two-hit games and has reached base by hit or walk nine times in five games. His on-base percentage has climbed from .328 to .358 in that span.

-M.

Tuesday tidbits: The road to return

It’s a little bit quieter around here today that it was yesterday afternoon, but we’ve still got plenty going on. The forecast appears to have been a bit inaccurate, since it’s overcast, but we still should be free of rain.

* Skip Schumaker is set to go out on a rehab assignment tomorrow. He’ll report to extended spring training and take several at-bats a day down there. He hopes to need only a few days in Florida before being added to the roster again. TLR sounded less sure of that, but either way Schumaker’s return is getting closer.

* Colby Rasmus is out again today, but for the most part the news on Rasmus is good. He said he’s dealing with a simple abdominal strain. That’s encouraging, because he underwent tests yesterday to rule out other possibilities. I’d guess that he returns tomorrow, but wouldn’t be shocked if it were another day or two.

* Brian Tallet is set to pitch tonight for Class A Quad Cities as he begins his rehab assignment.

* Allen Craig is at second base again, with the lefty pitching for the Cardinals. That’s because Nick Punto is dealing with some right elbow discomfort and is unavailable to start. TLR said that he won’t flip-flop Craig and Daniel Descalso in double-play situations, as Joe Pettini hinted was a possibility last week in Chicago.

* TLR didn’t have a lot to say about Marty Brennaman’s comments regarding the Cardinals. “I think the safest thing to say is he’s a Hall of Famer, and he should get the respect that inclusion in that place deserves,” he said. “And then he ought to earn it every day from his Hall of Fame induction forward. He ought to earn it and not abuse it.”

* Albert Pujols isn’t going to play 3B much at all, the manager said. It’s an option, but not one that will be very common.

And, finally, the playlist, which is a remnant from Sunday night. I drove back from CIN, of course, and spent the last three hours listening to the great “Darkwave” program on Sirius/XM First Wave. So, five favorites from the show.

New Order, “Sub-Culture”
Sisters of Mercy, “Ribbons”
Front 242, “Headhunter”
Jesus and Mary Chain, “Just Like Honey”
Joy Division, “Atmosphere”

-M.

Tuesday lineups

Cardinals
1. Theriot SS
2. Jay CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Craig 2B
7. Molina C
8. Descalso 3B
9. Garcia P

Phillies
1. Rollins SS
2. Martinez CF
3. Polanco 3B
4. Howard 1B
5. Mayberry LF
6. Francisco RF
7. Valdez 2B
8. Sardinha C
9. Oswalt P

-M.

Pujols moves to 3B

Albert Pujols is moving across the diamond, at least for one day.

About two hours prior to the Cardinals’ game against the Phillies on Monday night, the Cardinals announced that Pujols would start at third base, rather than at first, where he has played almost exclusively for the past seven-plus seasons. Pujols last started at third base on Sept. 23, 2002.

When manager Tony La Russa initially posted his lineup, it had Pujols at first as usual. However, Pujols approached La Russa and offered to play third, and the manager took him up on it. Nick Punto moved from third base to second, Allen Craig from second to right field, and Lance Berkman from right field to first base.

Pujols played 1 1/3 inning of third base on May 1 at Atlanta. Other than that, however, he hasn’t played the position since that last start in 2002.

-M.

Monday lineups – UPDATED

Cardinals
1. Theriot SS
2. Jay CF
3. Pujols 3B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman 1B
6. Craig RF
7. Molina C
8. Punto 2B
9. Westbrook P

Phillies
1. Rollins SS
2. Valdez 3B
3. Ibanez LF
4. Howard 1B
5. Mayberry CF
6. Francisco RF
7. Orr 2B
8. Ruiz C
9. Lee P

-M.

Saturday tidbits: the ever-evolving bullpen

The tarp is out right now at GABP, but from people I’ve talked to, it sounds like we should be OK for the game.

* We had a long chat with Dave Duncan today, about a lot of different aspects of the bullpen. I’ll be writing on it at some length later this afternoon, but a couple of main things came out of it. One, for now, it appears that Eduardo Sanchez’s role is going to change for a while. They feel he’s pitched differently in the ninth than he did when he was pitching in other situations. So although he’s likely unavailable today, he probably wouldn’t be the guy to close a game even if he were fully fresh.

* Two, the two guys they WOULD aim toward, at least for now, are as mentioned a few days ago: Mitchell Boggs and Fernando Salas. Though Boggs’ profile has dropped quite a bit since that one rough game in Houston, Duncan maintains that he likes what he’s seeing from Boggs, and that there’s a good chance he would be the guy to close out today’s game. Duncan is also very pleased with the way Salas is throwing. The complication is that Salas threw two innings yesterday — however, he only threw 17 full-effort pitches (plus four on an intentional walk).

* Matt Holliday still has some soreness from hitting his left foot with a foul ball yesterday, but he’s OK to play and is in the lineup.

* Ryan Theriot, as noted in the lineup post, is back in there after missing some time with a sore right oblique. Nick Punto is out but will likely start at third base tomorrow. Lance Berkman will play tomorrow against lefty Travis Wood.

And, finally, the playlist:

Sleeper Agent, “Get It Daddy”
Tokyo Police Club, “Your English Is Good”
Beck, “Cellphone’s Dead”
Gang Gang Dance, “Mindkilla”
TV On The Radio, “Will Do”
(all stuff I heard on Sirius XMU and Alt Nation on the drive over here yesterday)

-M.

Saturday lineups from GABP

Theriot is back in there. Tarp is currently out, but I don’t see any rain falling.

Cardinals
1. Theriot SS
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Molina C
7. Descalso 3B
8. Greene 2B
9. McClellan P

Reds
1. Stubbs CF
2. Janish SS
3. Votto 1B
4. Phillips 2B
5. Bruce RF
6. Rolen 3B
7. Gomes LF
8. Hernandez C
9. Cueto P

-M.

Friday lineups from GABP

The tarp is out and the clouds are threatening right now at Great American Ball Park. It’s hard to know exactly what the weather is going to do, but at this moment it looks like we might have a pretty good window (there’s that word again) in the 7-10 p.m. ET time frame. We’ll see.

Lance Berkman and Nick Punto are back in the lineup after each got a maintenance day on Thursday. Ryan Theriot is not (which isn’t really all that surprising, given how Pettini talked about him yesterday).

Cardinals
1. Punto 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Molina C
7. Descalso 3B
8. Greene SS
9. Lohse RHP

Reds
1. Stubbs CF
2. Renteria SS
3. Votto 1B
4. Phillips 2B
5. Bruce RF
6. Rolen 3B
7. Lewis LF
8. Hanigan C
9. Arroyo P

-M.

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