double dare ya

i had a perfect view of the play ----- 15th row in section 142, about 20 feet behind 3d base. albert got a tremendous jump, had the base stolen easily; he was 25 feet past the bag and under a full head of steam by the time the 2bman decided to throw it to first. reminded me vaguely of lawrence taylor on a blitz as he charged around the corner. i didn’t think they’d even have a play on him, but helton got rid of the ball incredibly fast (watch it on the replay; it’s like the ball bounces off him) and made a perfect throw, almost got him . . . . . maybe did get him. but the tie goes to the runner, right? what a thrill; i’m a pretty undemonstrative fan, but this brought me out of my seat hollering (only half-voluntarily) "come on albert!" i don’t think i’ve seen a prettier dash since that time back in 1975 when one of the casten boys (can’t exactly recall which of the brothers it was) bolted out of the shadows at half an hour past midnight to win an epic game of capture-the-flag. . . . . and i had just been thinking how the cards’ failure to get a couple runners home from third with less than two out was probably gonna cost them the game. so they go and get a runner home from second on a groundball.

vince coleman couldn’t have done it better himself.

albert’s run took our attention off another feeble late-inning at-bat from rick ankiel; from the 7th inning on this year he’s hitting .105 / .171 / .184 in 41 trips to the plate. it’s a tiny sample size and surely not predictive, but it’s definitely descriptive --- ankiel looks anxious up there in big situations. easy to say about rick given his history, but am i just imagining it?

ron villone puts on a nice show. he’s got a niche only a left-handed pitcher can have; you’ll never see a grizzled right-handed reliever brought into the game to fearlessly chuck his 87-mph fastball (or so it read on the stadium gun) over the plate. his cadence could only be a left-hander’s, too. he gets a whole lot accomplished between pitches: stalk around grass on 3d-base side of mound, glance at fielders, climb hill, tug at belt, glance at hitter, flick pitching arm, draw limbs into position, read sign, set, kick, throw. bet you didn’t know (i didn’t) that villone was a very high draft pick --- 14th overall in the 1992 draft. bet you also didn’t know that his career k/9 of 7.11 is among the top 100 in the history of baseball (minimum 1000 innings pitched); he ranks 74th. i didn’t know either, until just this very second. his confrontation with hawpe (2 on, 2 out in the 5th) was a triumph of stubbornness; away, away, away on every pitch. hawpe figured it out after the first couple of pitches (by which time he was down 0-2 in the count) and stopped swinging, worked the count to 3-2 and forced villone to come in with one of those crappy fastballs; villone put it on his hands and hawpe fouled it off. and then he went back to the outside corner with a slider, and hawpe couldn’t resist the bait and waved at it, struck out.

i was happy for mike parisi, to whom i’ve paid way too much attention as he has climbed the rungs of the system. he was fired up for that first inning, came right after the hitters and made it look easy; after he struck out matt herges to end the inning (his first big-league K) yadi handed him the ball on the way back to the dugout. in his second inning of work (the 7th) parisi just couldn’t get the fastball over; he was overthrowing it, leaving it up. the long flyout off the bat of the tiny shortstop, quintanilla, seemed to shake him (horrible route to that ball by ankiel, by the way; i think the altitude fooled him); after holliday and helton reached base the kid was looking over his shoulder, out to the bullpen, where (oh shit) nobody was warming up . . . . . the first pitch to atkins passed about a foot over his helmet, and it looked like the rookie was gonna buckle, but he steadied himself and got out of the jam. for some reason parisi completely abandoned his curveball that inning; he did throw one on the first pitch to atkins (the one that went over his head); given how sharp the hook looked in the 6th (he got all three outs on it), i don’t know why he would turn away from it vs the top of the order.

the cards made more than enough mistakes to lose the game, probably should have lost it. the sight of pujols barreling home will stay with me for a long time.

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