May 2011

Thursday lineups from Wrigley

Cardinals
1. Jay RF
2. Craig 2B (yes, 2B)
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Rasmus CF
6. Molina C
7. Descalso 3B
8. Greene SS
9. Garcia P

Cubs
1. Castro SS
2. Barney 2B
3. Byrd CF
4. Ramirez 3B
5. Baker RF
6. Pena 1B
7. Soriano LF
8. Castillo C
9. Coleman P

-M.

La Russa to miss rest of trip

The Cardinals have just announced that manager Tony La Russa will miss the remainder of the team’s current road trip while he recovers from a persistent case of shingles.

La Russa remained in the Phoenix area on Tuesday for a second day of examinations, and earlier in the day the club had announced that he would miss Tuesday’s game. Shortly before the end of the game Tuesday night, it was announced that he will not rejoin the team before Monday’s home game against the Phillies.

More information as it becomes available.

-M.

Tuesday’s lineup from Chicago

1. Theriot SS

2. Rasmus CF

3. Pujols 1B

4. Holliday LF

5. Berkman RF

6. Molina C

7. Punto 2B

8. Descalso 3B

9. Carpenter RHP

-M.

Chess Match: One and done

The situation: Cardinals lead, 3-0, going into the ninth. Kyle McClellan is coming on strong, having retired 13 straight, and is at 102 pitches. Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee and Yuniesky Betancourt are the scheduled hitters. Both Eduardo Sanchez and Ryan Franklin had already warmed, and Sanchez in particular was ready.

The decision: McClellan stays in the game for one batter, allows a single to Fielder and is removed for Sanchez.

The analysis: There are three or four potential courses of action here.

* You can go ahead and get McClellan out before the inning even starts, going to Sanchez.

* He could have warmed Trever Miller instead of Franklin, and gone to Miller to get Prince Fielder before going to Sanchez.

* You can stay with McClellan, but give him a little bit longer rope, say one more baserunner, and just get him out before he has the chance to be the losing pitcher. This has often been the TLR way over the years.

* Or you can do what he did — leave McClellan in until there is a baserunner.

Staying with McClellan with a three-run lead seems to be largely about giving him a chance to finish off his own game. Within the clubhouse, that’s a powerful factor. But I’m not sure it maximizes the chances of winning the game. Meanwhile, it also makes it highly likely that you’re going to bring in Sanchez with at least one runner on base. The Cardinals have shown tremendous confidence in Sanchez, but even so, it seems like the best bet for his development is to minimize those situations when possible.

Going to Miller wasn’t really an option by the time the ninth started, because he hadn’t warmed up. And I understand why Franklin was warming alongside Sanchez in the eighth. If the Cardinals get a couple of runs, then you’ve got a perfect low-leverage situation for him to get some work. So Miller wasn’t entirely viable, though I think there was a decent case for getting him in there.

It seems that if you’re really trying to maximize winning the game, rather than playing for McClellan to get the shutout, then you do give him a little longer leash than he got. If you truly believe he’s your best option against Fielder, then isn’t he also your best option against McGehee? McClellan is the better bet to get the groundball than Sanchez. He’s also much less likely to issue a walk, and walks are really the most likely way for this inning to get dangerous — as we all saw.

Going straight to Sanchez, meanwhile, gives your closer-in-training a potentially clean inning. It allows him a little leeway and hopefully allows him to pitch aggressively.

The comment: “We were going to watch the eighth real closely. As you know, in the middle of the eighth inning, Sanchez got up and started playing catch. It looked to me that he was right at the point where he had done enough, and he gets the out, so we let him go back out there.” — TLR.

My verdict: I would have gone straight to Sanchez. I don’t think there was any need to push McClellan, and I think it’s also what’s best for Sanchez. If it was in fact McClellan’s game, I probably would have given him two baserunners rather than one. But if it’s not his game to stick it out a little while, then I think the best move is to get him out before there’s any trouble at all.

-M.

Sunday tidbits: Quiet morning

The Cardinals didn’t take batting practice on the field today, and TLR took a little down time after his radio show. He’s still dealing with the viral condition that has bothered him for a few weeks now.

* Ryan Theriot is back in the lineup after missing one game due to being hit on the shin by a pitch Friday.

* Allen Craig is feeling better as well, but not back in the lineup yet. Craig hit himself in the calf with a foul ball on Friday.

* Most Cardinals players are using pink bats, wrist bands and/or cleats today in honor of Mother’s Day and breast cancer awareness.

* Skip Schumaker took groundballs on the field today but is still only throwing underhand. He’s hoping to see Dr. Paletta sometime today, and the expectation is that at that time, he’ll be cleared to begin throwing a little bit as well as hitting off a tee.

And, finally, the playlist… Today’s playlist is in honor of my mom. A combination of favorites I remember her playing when I was very young, and favorites I foisted upon her when I was just a little bit older (you can probably guess which ones are which). Much love and many thanks to her. Folks, if you can, call your mom today, or better yet visit her. And then again soon after — not just today.

The Kingston Trio, “M.T.A.”
The Everly Brothers, “Wake Up Little Susie”
Phil Ochs, “Draft Dodger Rag”
Kenny Loggins, “Footloose”
Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all.

-M.

Sunday lineups

Cardinals

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

Brewers

1. Weeks 2B
2. Kotsay RF
3. Braun LF
4. Fielder 1B
5. McGehee 3B
6. Betancourt SS
7. Lucroy C
8. Gomez CF
9. Narveson LHP

-M.

Theriot pulled

Ryan Theriot was removed from tonight’s game in the fourth inning due to what the Cardinals are calling a “left shin contusion.”

Theriot was hit by a pitch on his left leg in the first inning. When he got to second base following a Colby Rasmus single, the Cardinals’ training staff came out to check on the leg, but he remained in the game. Theriot took another at-bat, singling in the third, before being removed.

Daniel Descalso pinch-hit for Theriot with two outs in the fourth, and was also hit by a pitch. Theriot joins a list of ailing Cardinals infielders, as second baseman Skip Schumaker and third baseman David Freese are currently on the disabled list.

-M.

Friday tidbits: Tallet, Berkman, the infield and more

Greetings from what may be the most perfect night for ball that we have this year. The signs in the bullpens read 70 degrees and there’s scarcely a cloud in the sky. I’m back in the saddle after a few days off, and I’ll be on for quite a while now.

* Brian Tallet told us today that he’s still one week away from being permitted to catch a ball. Once that time comes, he’ll still likely have to go on a rehab assignment. So a reasonable guess is that he’s two weeks from returning to active duty.

* Lance Berkman got a night off tonight, with Allen Craig getting the start in right.  Berkman is 3-for-27 against Randy Wolf.

* I asked TLR about his infield alignment, with Tyler Greene at second and Nick Punto at third, and he explained that one of the primary factors that went into that setup is the left-handed groundballer Jaime Garcia on the mound. He wanted to get the best possible defender at third behind Garcia, and that’s Punto.

* Colby Rasmus gets yet another start against a LHP. He’s actually the only lefty in the lineup, with Wolf mowing down left-handed hitters (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT) so far this year.

* In honor of Bellerive Country Club receiving the 2018 PGA Championship and the 2013 Senior PGA, the Cardinals held a brief pregame ceremony. The president of the PGA of America threw out the first pitch, and the Wanamaker Trophy (given to the PGA champion each year) was displayed on the field.

And, finally, the playlist:
Pearl Jam, “Love Boat Captain”
Living Colour, “Behind the Sun”
Cracker, “Get Off This”
Everclear, “I Will Buy You a New Life”
The Cure, “10:15 Saturday Night”

Yeah, I dunno. Works for me.

-M.

Friday lineups

Friday lineups from Busch Stadium:

Cardinals
1. Theriot SS
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Craig RF
6. Molina C
7. Punto 3B
8. Greene 2B
9. Garcia LHP

Brewers
1. Weeks 2B
2. Gomez CF
3. Braun LF
4. Fielder 1B
5. McGehee 3B
6. Betancourt SS
7. Hart RF
8. Lucroy C
9. Wolf LHP

-M.

Freese has broken bone

The Cardinals are going to have to do without David Freese for a while. Freese is all but certain to be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday after suffering a broken bone in his left hand in Sunday’s loss to the Braves.

“It didn’t feel too good and it didn’t sound too good,” Freese said. “So right when it happened, I knew something was up. But I finished it out on the bases and then came out.”

Freese was hit on his hand by a Scott Linebrink fastball in the top of the sixth inning. Assistant athletic trainer Barry Weinberg came out to tend to Freese and wrapped his hand, but allowed him to stay in the game to run the bases.

Freese took his base and remained in the game for the Cardinals’ half of the inning, but that was all for him. When the Cardinals went into the field for the bottom of the sixth, he did not take his position. Daniel Descalso moved from second base to third, while Tyler Greene came in to play second.

Freese said that he may require surgery to correct the break.

-M.

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