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abbreviated post today, from a holiday inn in a cornfield somewhere . . . .

two ways to think about last night's game. the hopeful way goes like this: after a 9-game stretch in which the cards failed to score more than 3 runs in any game, the cards have now scored 4 or more in 4 of the last 6 games; o happy trend. the other way to look at it was voiced by BTown Birds Fan in last night's game thread: "we got all eight runs off a mediocre pitcher who had a terrible night, then were shut down for 7 innings by their bullpen." hate to spoil the buzz, because even tracking the action via gameday it was fun to watch all those runs trot across. but facts are facts; the cardinals went 9 for 14 with 5 extra-base hits against tomko, but only 4 for 23 --- all singles --- against the other guys.

i'll take the former view --- signs of life from this lineup against any pitcher can't be bad. the cardinals got 5 extra-base hits in a game for the first time since april 26, and only the 4th time all season. you gotta start somewhere.

pujols' struggles remain troublesome, particularly in rbi situations. according to Baseball Prospectus' detailed rbi data, albert has had 31 plate appearances with a man on 2d base this year; he's driven in only 4 of those runners. BP tracks a stat called "obi percentage," which measures the rate at which a hitter drives in baserunners. the league leader is usually at about 21 or 22 percent; albert has been between 17 and 20 percent his entire career. he has finished among the nl's top 10 in this category every year except one, 2005, when he ranked 14th. this season he's driving in just 13 percent of the men he finds on base, which puts him in the bottom half of the league.

as recently as may 4 albert was starting to look like himself --- his line stood at .284 / .376 / .510. but he has gone 3 for 33 since then. his batted-ball data at fangraphs are all right around career norms; the only one that doesn't check out is his hr/flyball rate, which is down by about 40 percent. if he were hitting them at the usual rate, he'd have 10 homers right now instead of 6 --- and he'd be slugging .530 instead of .410, and all of us would be a lot less freaked out.

i wrote a little blurb for the hardball times' preseason book this year, and in it i listed pujols as the cardinals' most underrated player: "His year-in, year-out greatness has gotten dull. No peaks, no valleys; nothing bores people like sameness." this is the deepest valley he's ever been down in; we should now see that much more clearly just how high the peaks have been. it's a hard game; even for him.

a few quick hits:

  • ken rosenthal thinks the trade market for sluggers will be thin.
  • bobby abreu is the yankees' answer to jim edmonds.
  • baseball blunders again: the world series won't start until wednesday this year, a minimum of 6 days after the end of the league championship series --- and, if the lcs are short, as many as 11 days after they end. last fall the tigers, you remember, sat for a whole week after sweeping the athletics; the rust showed. both contestants will be sitting around for about that long this year. and if both lcs end in 4 or 5 games, people will have forgotten which teams are in the world series by the time they get around to playing it. if the world series should go to 7 games, the last game will take place on november 1. the sport is run by idiots.