word is that there's some concern in the st louis clubhouse about albert. yes he is hitting -- .360 / .429 / .600 since his return -- but his movements are unsettlingly stiff, partic'ly vis-vis fielding and running the bases. the brass have circled the wagons -- everything's fine, nothing to worry about -- but they're tense. or so i've heard, from multiple sources.
and i hope this is the last any of us hear about it.
in today's post, tony n hal mcrae bemoaned the cardinals' slow-starting bats:
moreover, per espn's splits, the cardinals have the best early-game offense in the national league. in innings 1 thru 6, the cardinals rank 1st in the nl in runs, avg, obp, and ops; they are 4th in slugging. but from the 7th inning on, the cards are dead last in runs scored, 9th in obp, 11th in avg, 13th in slugging, and 12th in ops. the low run total is partly (but not entirely) explained by the fact that the cardinals often don't bat in the 9th inning; they've won 26 home games, most in the league. but that wouldn't explain the drop in their rate stats.
these figures are consistent with salvomania's comment from the other day, viz the cardinals are great front-runners but lousy come-from-behinders. hal mcrae's got it backwards; the cardinals either score early, or they don't score at all.
two quick notes from the minors last night:
- brad thompson pitched two scoreless innings of relief at memphis (chris narveson whacked a home run in that game)
- adam ottavino earned his first professional win with 6 and 1/3 innings of 2-hit baseball. in three starts covering 13.2 innings, ottavino has allowed 4 hits, 5 walks, and no earned runs. he has struck out 12.