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Game 15 Open Thread: April 19, 2007

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unless you stayed up until about 1 a.m. or so, you missed pujols doing his glenn brummer impression, ie trying to steal home with 2 outs and 2 strikes on the hitter. that's the play that made brummer famous --- and it too happened, ironically enough, in the 12th inning of a game against the giants. the idea is as stupid today as it was when brummer invented it in 1982, because with 2 outs and 2 strikes the hitter can't take a strike; if he does so in order to let you steal the base, you've stolen it for nothing, because the batter is out and the inning is over. run doesn't count. if the pitch is close, the batter has to swing --- even if you, the runner, are 15 feet away and running toward him at full speed. he's liable to crack your helmet in half with the bat or scorch a line drive out the back of your throat, either of which would be bad for team morale.

these considerations apparently entered pujols' mind about 60 feet down the third-base line, because ---- having already committed himself fully to this foolish errand --- he suddenly stopped and made ready to head back toward 3d. which, at that point, was an even dumber impulse than the one that propelled him plateward in the first place, since it guaranteed the adventure would end in an out. this second stupid idea proved to be the fatal one, because if albert had simply seen the original stupid idea through to its conclusion, it probably would have ended up looking brilliant: the catcher bobbled the ball, and albert very likely would have scored. but he prematurely cut short his homage to glenn brummer, and embarked on a new one to jeff suppan circa october 2004. suppan's gaffe was bad, but pujols' half-dash down the line was immeasurably more retarded. i'd rank it as the most nonsensical baserunning play i've ever seen a cardinal player make.

the official explanation is that the cardinals had a play on:

"It's a trick play. You try it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We tried to win a game and came up short, but it was a heck of an effort."

La Russa said it looked like Spiezo may have taken a late jump off first, and the result was a stranded Pujols five feet from home with no chance of making it back to third. For a split second, it looked like Pujols might make it when Giants catcher Bengie Molina dropped the ball, but Molina recovered to make the final out.

"It almost worked, man," Pujols said. "You might run that play once or twice a year and it might win some games for you if you run it the right way."

balderdash. when you run a double steal in that situation, the runner on third doesn't break for the plate before the pitch; the runner on first breaks and tries to draw a throw, get himself hung up between first and second --- and then the runner on third base breaks. but last night pujols broke while sanchez was in the set position; he was halfway to the plate before the pitcher broke his hands. and he was running hard.

it was a straight steal.

crazy idea --- so crazy that, if he'd just gone through with it, the cardinals might have won the game. his halting, faltering execution sums up the state of this team at the moment: half-baked. the cardinals haven't fused into anything coherent so far; three weeks into the schedule they're still a mushy, lumpy mass. nowhere mushier than when standing at the plate. don't get too excited about the 5-run output last night; most of the tallies were gifts. the first four (all unearned) scored because pedro feliz dropped a throw from morris on a bunt play; the last one scored courtesy of three consecutive two-out walks. the cardinals went 1 for 7 with men in scoring position --- the only hit was pujols' two-run homer in the 3d. that also was the cardinals' only extra-base hit of the night --- and only their third (in 119 plate appearances) since the 10-run pounding of ben sheets on sunday.

they face a left-hander today; the cardinals are .224 / .300 / .309 against left-handers this season.

i still think the offense will eventually come around, because pujols will eventually come around. in the games where El Albert has gotten at least one hit --- all six of them --- the cardinals are averaging 5.4 runs a game. they've gone 2-6 in the games where albert wore the collar, averaging 1.8 runs/game. but albert's not going to hit .200 forever. he hit the ball hard for the 2d game in a row and took two balls back up the middle for hits, an encouraging sign; recall that he also lined one over 2d base in his first at-bat on tuesday but was robbed by jose castillo. when he hits, the cardinals score runs; maybe he's starting to hit.

but if the cardinals are going to win, they're still gonna have to play smarter --- no matter how hot pujols gets. from the opening series vs the mets, their play has been riddled with mistakes --- bad outfield defense, faulty baserunning, anxious at-bats. a team this flimsily constructed can't bear the weight of so many screwups; they're never gonna slug their way through their mistakes, the way they could (as needed) in 2004 and 2005. after an unfocused opening series vs the mets, it looked as if they'd regained their edge; but the last three days have reminded me of the three losses to new york. the scores were closer because the opposition wasn't as good, but the cardinals have been outplayed just as badly. in the opening 3 games, the mets out-OPS'd the cardinals, .740 to .560; over the last three games, pittsburgh and san francisco out-OPS'd them .730 to .500.

by my accounting, st louis hasn't been 3 games under .500 for almost 5 years --- since may 11, 2002. a loss today and that's where they'll be. Update [2007-4-19 10:19:59 by lboros]: oops ---- i kinda forgot that the birds were 3 under after the 3d game this season, and then again after the 5th game. but before that. . . .



1-2, 2.25

0-2, 2.77