nothing comes easy to this team, does it? a game that should be cause for celebration is instead a potentially bitter blow. whatever you might think of encarnacion, losing him and rolen --- the cards' two primary right-handed rbi bats, after pujols --- at the same time does not help. i've heard nothing so far about the extent of the injury; there could be a chance it's a career-altering one, a slimmer chance it'll be career-ending. but the chance that it's season-ending looms rather large. let's hope it's less serious than that.
Update [2007-9-1 15:2:4 by lboros]: it's more serious than that --- season defnitely over, and career in jeopardy. terrible, terrible news. [end update]
i think anthony reyes might've preferred to suffer encarnacion's fate rather than the one he actually endured. he had no command of his fastball whatsoever last night --- yet it was still his best pitch. even the delivery he struck griffey out on was a bad pitch, sternum high and right down the middle. (hence the visit from duncan immediately after that at-bat.) it was his worst outing of the year by a long shot; until last night, he'd lasted at least 5 full innings in all but two of his starts. even when he gave up 4 or 5 runs, there was always a 3- to 5-inning stretch of solid pitching; you always came away saying: "if he could just eliminate that one bad inning . . . ." last night's game was all bad inning, with no counterweighting display of promise. i thought the scales were beginning to tip his way, and that he might pitch well enough down the stretch to solidify his place in the cardinals' future. but last night things seesawed pretty heavily in the opposite direction. like encarnacion, reyes has his share of detractors, but even if you hate the dude there's no satisfaction to be taken from an outing like last night's. when a top prospect fails, the organization suffers. reyes may be out of chances.
the pitch that ankiel hit out was a not a terrible one, low and on the outside corner. but it didn't have any bite, and it was the 3d pitch in a row in that exact same location --- all roughly the same speed, ~83 mph. he'd swung through the pitch right before it, and i guess guardado figured he'd keep pounding that corner and let rick get himself out --- strike out or bounce it to 2d. he clearly wasn't expecting that outside pitch to get pulled with any authority; there aren't a lot of guys who could've hit it out of the park. of all ankiel's exploits to date, this is the first one that really gets my attention; guardado has been far from an ace in recent years, but he has retained his ability to control left-handed batters.
as for la russa, he's got to be one of the least-beloved franchise-wins-leaders in mlb history. i've been thinking about this a little bit lately, and i've come to the conclusion that the guy doesn't want to be loved anyway --- or, at least, that's not a core motivation for him. i think he wants to be respected, and in my estimation most cardinal fans do respect him, or at least respect his achievements; i mean, how could you not. but i think la russa's real desire is to be provocative. he wants to challenge you, get you outside your comfort zone. he surely does that with his players, in the hope of making them better, tougher performers; and he treats opposing players and managers the same way, which is why many of them hate him. this is also his m.o. with the media and, by extension, the fans. he's never going to give you an easy way out; he's never going to let you off the hook. i'm not judging tony here, ok? i'm not criticizing the guy. on the contrary, i find a lot to admire in his intensity and discipline. i'm merely musing on the way he's regarded by the public, the complicated responses he elicits. i think that's what he wants --- i think he'd rather be an object of uneasy debate, even conflict, than one of unconditional love.
but if ever the guy deserved a little love, it's today. congratulations and thank you, mr tony --- that's a lotta wins, and you got ev'y one of 'em your way.