First, and most importantly, the Cardinals beat the Reds 7-3 thanks to their most productive inning all season: six straight hits (including an infield single from Yadi!) in the fourth that was capped by the first-ever grand slam from Skip Schumaker to give them six serious runs before there was even an out. During his second at-bat of the inning, Albert singled again to drive in the seventh run. And, with Chris Carpenter pitching, those were more than enough runs.
Ah, yes, Carp. No, there’s not (yet!) a feud here over his displeasure with Brendan Ryan delaying the bottom of the first inning. (Thanks, C70!) But, really, haven’t there been plenty of comments made throughout this season about a lack of fire and spark on the team, how they’re just business-like out there and act like they don’t really care? Then how can you complain when Carp understands the importance of this particular game and series, is all amped and ready to go, gets ticked when he has to wait because the guy who’s always the last one to the field anyway (based on our observations last week) delays his start of the inning and Carp lets him know about it later? Angela made a good point during the game: that it might not have been noticed at all were it not for the ESPN cameras focused on the dugout. But the look of fear on Brendan’s face that the camera did capture … yeah, the Hyperactive Puppy won’t be doing that again!
I could go on and mention the Jim Edmonds trade (who’s next, Walt?) or Brandon Phillips (think he’ll be regretting those comments?) but instead will switch gears a bit to talk about tomorrow afternoon’s starter, Adam Wainwright. After his brilliant two-hit shutout last Friday against the Marlins, he’s continuing to reassert his position as one of the top National League pitchers. So what are his chances for winning a well-deserved Cy Young Award this season? That’s exactly what I explored for Baseball Digest, which you can find here.
With all the drama and entertainment that the first game of this series provided, it’s hard to know what to expect tonight. Here’s to Jaime bouncing back from his outing-we-want-to-forget last Tuesday and providing another dominating performance again tonight. Because a win will bring those magic words “first place” back once again …