let's take stock of the last two evenings. for starters, the cards have been outhit 24-13. of the nine runs they have scored, one came home on an error; another, on a wild pitch that barely dribbled past the catcher; and two others on bloop hits to the opposite field. their mvp candidate has gotten only two at-bats; their cy young-type pitcher got rudely reintroduced to the fat portion of hitters' bats, suffering his 2d-worst outing of the season; and their bullpen has done nothing to soothe the jittery nerves hereabouts. even the two luminaries assigned to the countdown detail in the right-field corner -- jackie joyner-kersey on monday, dave ricketts last night -- were both a tad on the wan side.
it goes without saying that the cardinals won both games on walkoff base hits. of course they did; of course. it has been that kind of season. stl now has 93 wins, which is the total that i, back in april, predicted they would have at the end the year . . . . win 94 may be the clincher.
just a couple of quick notes: eckstein up in the bottom of the 9th last night, two outs, rbi situation --- you all know the drill: he was hacking. swung at the first pitch and put a pretty good cut on it too, fouled it off. situational aggressiveness, my fav'ite eckstein trait; he ended the game on the next pitch . . . . eckstein is very quietly having a career year --- personal bests in slugging percentage (.390), isolated power (.102), walks (52), triples (7), and extra-base hits, plus near-bests in batting avg, on-base pct, homers, and ops. he stands 3d on the cardinals in runs batted in. . . . .
eckstein also showed off his arm on what ranks as one of the most gorgeous plays of the season, the 8-6-2 relay to nail ty wigginton at the plate in the 4th inning monday night. those of us sitting in section 248 had a perfect angle on the play, which ended with eckstein's 180-foot peg to molina --- arriving on the fly, ankle high, and right on the baseline. picture perfect. baseball fans stare at stat lines so much in this era, trying to tease out vectors and arcs in the data, that we sometimes underappreciate the pure vectors and arcs that unfold on the field, balls traveling through space and baserunners in orbit. when it all comes together as beautifully as it did on that play . . . . as i said at the time, that alone was worth the price of admission.
both of these games echoed this game from may 24, when the pirates outhit st louis 11-6 but still fell in 12 innings, 2-1. . . . . before last night, this was the last time walker, edmonds, and sanders all started together in the outfield . . . .