in the four at-bats that lost the game --- the sacks-jammed outs by schumaker and eckstein in the 7th, and duncan and pujols in the 9th --- the cardinals saw a total of 9 pitches. they swung at 8 of them. that's the definition of an anxious lineup: the more they struggle, the harder they try to make something happen ---- and the harder they suck. i've long been a proponent of aggressive hitting in rbi situations, but there's a difference between aggressive and undisciplined. the former means you go up there looking for a certain pitch in a certain zone and attack it when you see it, even if it's on the first pitch; the latter means you swing at anything close. let's evaluate the 8 pitches at which the cards took their hacks, beginning with the 7th inning:
- schumaker I: slop (changeup?) inside, borderline strike (swing/miss)
- schumaker II: slider down and in, ball (swing/miss)
- schumaker III: fastball, outer half (popped up)
- eckstein I: slider/sinker inside (pulled foul)
- eckstein II: slider on the hands (groundout)
- duncan I: junk in the dirt, ball (swing/miss)
- duncan II: fastball away (popup)
- pujols I: fastball high, ball (take)
- pujols II: fastball on the hands (popup)
at the moment, it doesn't look like he has much of a clue up there.
anthony reyes doesn't have one, either, at least during the first inning; thereafter he's a decent enough pitcher. insofar as both starts came after long layoffs (8 days, in this instance), maybe he deserve a little slack, too. the pitching coach cuts some in this morning's p-d: "Maybe the layoff had an effect on him. I'm sure it wasn't good for him. Get him out there a couple times with a normal routine and we'll see how it goes."
for the 2d consecutive start, reyes' changeup betrayed him. i looked at the game and counted 26 iterations of the pitch, 14 of which missed the strike zone. the change particularly killed reyes in the at-bat that keyed the long first inning --- la roche, hitting with 2 on and 1 out. la roche could do nothing with reyes' fastball --- fouled one off, swung through another, and barely stayed alive with a foul tip on a 3d heater. but reyes interspersed those pitches with three changeups, all out of the zone --- none of them particularly close. after the foul tip, which came on a 3-2 fastball, reyes came back with a changeup right down the middle, and la roche whacked it to right field for a hit. the guy came to the plate hitting .088 and couldn't catch up with the heat; keep it simple, stupid. . . . . the bases-loaded walk to bay came on another 3-2 changeup; the subsequent 2-run single by nady came on a 3-1 change. iron bill's just got no command of that pitch right now --- and without it, he suffers.
give up on the guy if you must; his labors are frustrating to watch. but to reiterate a thought i articulated in last night's game thread: the days of building the team via free agency are over. homegrown talent will determine whether or not the cardinals remain contenders over the next 5 to 10 years. the cardinals need reyes to succeed; he's not there yet, but neither is he a proven failure. not after 108 big-league innings. somebody mentioned haren in the game thread last night, wondering how reyes compares to danny before the trade. interesting comparison:
reyes still might amount to something.
the cardinals had no business winning the game, but it's aggravating nonetheless that they didn't convert. after the cards' sweep in pittsburgh last week, i said the cards need to take their wins however they can get them; any time they fail to cash one in, however undeserved, it stings.