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NLCS Game 4 Open Thread: October 16, 2005

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Update [2005-10-16 16:3:37 by lboros]: i'm out of pocket for this game. if/when the comments thread gets over ~200 comments, i'd recommend that somebody open a new thread (post a diary) and continue the comments over there. above 200 things sometimes go batty. will miss chatting w/ you all; here's hoping we wake up smilin monday.

let's begin with news of the halt and lame. per miklasz circa 9:30 cdt last night, nunez will probably play today; sanders will take BP and then decide. as long as we're on the topic, here's a picture of lane's slide into 3d -- hard-nosed play? or dirty? i've watched the replay sev'l times online and keep changing my mind; nunez was moving into the runner, which makes me think lane's innocent -- if he really intended to take out the baseman, he must have formed the idea in a split-second because the opportunity wasn't there until just before lane went down into his slide. the counterargument is that he a) took a strange route to the base and b) threw his top knee up while sliding. my current position is that he probably was trying to interfere with the play but not trying to hurt anyone, which i would characterize as "hard-nosed." having said that, it doesn't matter to me whether lane intended the hurt or not; the cardinals have to spread the pain around, bounce a pitch off somebody. not lane -- too obvious. berkman or ensberg; the 'stros'll get the message.

as for the rest of the game . . . . .

the cardinals lost the Race to 4 Runs again, altho much more narrowly this time. half a dozen little breaks tripped `em up along the way, any one of which might've changed the outcome if it broke in stl's favor. they clearly had a game plan vs rocket, viz take the ball back up the middle or to the opposite field, and it was effective; also had pretty good at-bats against chad qualls, despite going down in order twice. only 7 hits, but they came back on clemens and nearly did so on lidge; also encouraging, walker looked much better at the plate than he has all october. grud'k on the other hand looks clueless at the plate. i want him in the game for his defense, but at the moment he's an automatic out -- bat him 8th. the hits haven't fallen for eckstein the last couple of games; that needs to change, too. one of the cards' big advantages coming into the series was their superior on-base ability at the top of the batting order, but so far stl's 1-2 hitters have gotten on base just 5 times, vs the astros' 10.

morris pitched what has become his usual game, ie just good enough to lose; la russa left him in the game one batter too long. matty weakened visibly in the 5th inning, embarking on his 3d trip through the astros' order. that cycle began with a biggio single through the box that had morris tumbling off the mound, looking vaguely like charlie brown getting his hat, shirt, socks, and shoes blown off by a line drive. two of morris' next three pitches badly missed the target, and his fastball slipped to 89 mph; he got through the inning on two flyball outs but still bore close watching. missed the target again to open the 6th; molina set up inside, but the pitch (which ensberg popped to right) was middle-out. missed again on a couple of pitches to lamb, who finally whacked a double; his first pitch to lane was a hanging curveball that lane fouled off (lucky), and morris missed the target on both of the next two pitches, the 2d of which was pounded to right for the go-ahead single. morris was barely touching 90 mph now and seemed to have lost all command; he was getting ahead of hitters but not locating his pitches. thompson was warm and should have entered the game to face ausmus, but la russa stuck with matty for one more hitter and one more base hit, which moved the critical 4th run -- every game is a Race to 4, people -- to 3d base.

the game was there for the taking, and the cardinals didn't convert. but all the astros really did was hold serve -- won at home, narrowly, behind a pitching matchup that skewed heavily in their favor. the cardinals can even things up by holding serve today. while the astros' superior pitching asserted itself the last couple of games, we also have seen just how narrow their window of victory is; the cardinals need to put 6 runs on the board today and reassert their superiority with the bats. toward that end i think they need an obp bat -- either edmonds or walker -- in the 2 hole today; eckstein is infinitely more dangerous when there's a bopper directly behind him. he sees better pitches. it also makes sense to cluster the four best offensive players -- eckstein-edmonds-pujols-walker -- rather than breaking that nucleus up with a lesser hitter. if reggie's out, i favor going with john rodriguez today; his patient at-bats vs lidge and oswalt the last two games got my attention, and he might be the guy who provides a burke-like spark to our side.

hold steady, cardinals; if this thing goes 2-2 today, it's anybody's series.


suppan backe
16-10, 3.57 10-8, 4.76

Update [2005-10-16 15:59:40 by lboros]:lineups up. edmonds 2d (good), sanders back in (good), nunez out (bad), grud'k 8th (good). hou has burke back in cf, which is also a plus for us -- kid can't throw.

STL HOU
eckstein ss biggio 2b
edmonds cf burke cf
pujols 1b berkman lf
walker rf ensberg 3b
sanders lf lamb 1b
mabry 3b lane rf
molina c ausmus c
grud?k 2b everett ss
suppan p backe p