Remember that sick feeling you got when you heard the Cards’ top starter Adam Wainwright would be out for the season after injuring himself in Spring Training warm-ups? We all felt that same feeling again yesterday afternoon.
Only moments before, he was taking a long look at his 17th bomb of the season after Louis Coleman threw a pitch way up and in at him. Five minutes later, he was writhing in pain next to Barry Weinberg and Yadier Molina.
It happened in an instant: If you looked away, you missed what was potentially the biggest play all year. Royals third baseman Wilson Betemit split the infield in half with a grounder right past Jaime Garcia. Rookie second baseman Pete Kozma ran for and actually reached a ball hit a fair ways away from where he was standing. It might have been better had he just let it trickle through to the outfield.
Kozma made it to the ball, but had to make a rapid through to get Betemit at first. The ball made it there in time, but it was too far to Albert Pujols’ left. The first baseman stabbed his glove out to reach the ball, but Betemit’s shoulder hit it as he charged down the line. The collision sent the ball down the foul line, Pujols’ glove towards the stands, and Pujols to the ground grasping his left hand.
After minutes of nothing but agonizing anticipation, Lance Berkman passed the injured Pujols (who was limping away while leaning on the trainer Weinberg) as he ran to replace him at first. The game continued as the lead Albert’s homer had given them was blown up with a backdrop made up of silent fans and the sirens of an ambulance headed toward the ballpark.
Personally, I didn’t care about the rest of the game. It just didn’t seem important anymore. Heck, even Skip Schumaker’s walk-off solo shot wasn’t enough to soften the mood up a whole lot knowing the team’s best player was getting x-rayed at the time. Was it even possible that the same team would lose yet another of its All-Stars to the disabled list?
This team has gone through far more than its fair share of injuries. Matt Holliday, David Freese, Skip Schumaker, Kyle McClellan, Allen Craig, Eddie Sanchez, Gerald Laird, Nick Punto, Brian Tallet, Bryan Augenstein (Remember him?), and Wainwright have all spent time or are still spending time rehabbing from injuries. Now the game’s greatest hitter can be added to that All-Star team.
I’m writing this before Pujols’ MRI today, when we will discover the severity of his injury. But whether he’s out for two weeks or two months, it’s obvious that the team he leaves behind needs the 14% of their offense they just lost. After all, they are just coming off of a seven-game losing streak and are tied for first with series against the Phillies, Rays and Reds looming in the near future. In the meantime, Cards fans can only hope that the injury doesn’t have any severe repercussions; be they short- or long-term.
God bless, Albert.
UPDATE: The MRI revealed that Pujols will be gone four to six weeks.