i hated the encarnacion signing from the moment the news broke, but even i have to give the guy more than 4 games to prove me wrong. the LOBs i can forgive -- no player can deliver hits on demand. in one of the few at-bats i saw live, in the top of the 6th yesterday, i thought he showed appropriate game sense at the plate. with eckstein on 2d, the cards trailing 5-0, and pujols on deck, encarnacion correctly had a selective at-bat -- he took two strikes, both of them very close pitches. he wound up ending the inning on a popup, but at least he went up there with the proper idea -- ie, work the count and try to get on base ahead of pujols. lest we forget, last season some of us were wondering late in the year why albert kept killing rallies; all players have stretches like this. so i'm not willing to say -- yet -- that j'cion's LOBs bother me.
the baserunning and fielding blunders yesterday did bother me -- particularly the latter, which i think was the result of sheer laziness. he made a slow reaction on the ball, didn't get his body set, and tried to corral the drive with one hand -- a primer on how not to play the outfield. at least one person noted during the game thread how badly this sort of play violates the spirit with which the cardinals have performed the last two years, and i agree with that remark 100 pct.
miklasz's column about j'cion today ends with this quote from la russa: "He's one of our core guys. If he's not good enough, we're not good enough." this is not a comforting thought. encarnacion can and will play better than he has in games 1 thru 4, but the fact remains that he's not very good.
here's an incredible stat from today's post-dispatch: in games where he has gotten five or more runs of support, greg maddux has a career record of 176-6.
the last time carpenter and zambrano faced each other, the cardinals won on a walkoff suicide squeeze -- one of 2005's most memorable games. next day i wrote: "the cardinals now possess something they haven't had since the gibson-brock years: a mystique." especially when carpenter faces the cubs: since joining stl he is 6-1 against them, including 4-0 in wrigley. in 35 innings at wrigley he has walked only 1 cub, against 25 strikeouts. . . . . he has, however, yielded 7 hrs in that span and posted a 4.08 era.