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cashing in

the cards won last night 11-3 to even their may record at 10-10. their slump with runners in scoring position seems to have run its course:

may 7-16 .299 .163 3.5 2-8
may 17-21 .316 .377 7.0 4-1

they went went 8 for 16 with RISP last night, and 6 of those hits came with 2 outs, including a big go-ahead single by troy glaus. the significance of that hit got overlooked because pujols put a crease in the san diego catcher’s ankle on the back end of the play, but it was a game-changer --- and the type of hit the cardinals haven’t been getting lately. remember, the cards entered that inning trailing 2-0; they loaded the bags with one out (and drove chris young from the game when pujols lined one off the guy’s nose), and ludwick got one man home with a groundout, leaving runners at 2d and 3d for glaus with two outs. a week ago, glaus pops up and strands those runners; instead he singled ‘em both in. the freaky spate of injuries in that inning diverted ev’yone’s attention from the new RISP storyline: the cardinals cashed in an opportunity instead of wasting it.

same thing happened in the 4th inning --- the cards, leading by a run, loaded em up with one out for pujols, who at that point was still probably feeling squeamish about hitting the ball and running the bases; he avoided making contact w/ the ball and retreated to the safety of the bench. that brought up ludwick; again, one week ago he would have stranded the runners and let the padres stay close, and the game thread would have flared with frustration at the blown opportunity. instead he singled two guys in, and glaus followed with another two-out rbi hit; the cards led 6-2, and the game was pretty much over.

unless mozeliak can find a thumper to add to the lineup (and / or troy glaus starts hitting homers), i think we’re going to see this pattern recur throughout the season. since they don’t hit homers, the cardinals are going to have to rely on RISP execution for their runs. when they execute, as they did last night, they’re gonna be fun to watch; when they don’t, they’re gonna be maddening.

ludwick and glaus have been terrific so far in 2-out rbi situations. glaus’s line in 2-out RISP situations is .333 / .512 / .533 (41 plate appearances); ludwick’s is .318 / .394 / .545 (28 plate appearances). when teams pitch around albert, more often than not these two guys have been extending the rally and / or capping it off.

a few items:

  • pujols, quoted in the san diego paper about the line shot off chris young’s face: "He was bleeding all over the place. I would rather have hit into a double play. . . . . After that I couldn't concentrate. I was flashing back. I'm still thinking about that. Then the thing with Josh ... tough night. How many times is that going to happen in one inning? It did bother me."
  • joe mather homered again last night for memphis. since advancing to triple A last june, mather has hit 22 homers in 360 at-bats, or 1 every 16.4 at-bats. for the sake of comparison, rick ankiel homered once every 12.2 at-bats at triple A; chris duncan, once every 21.9 at-bats.
  • a name to file away for future reference: fernando salas. the cards signed him last spring out of mexico; throws a huge curveball. he preserved springfield’s win last night with a perfect ninth --- struck out the side and now has 45 strikeouts in 27 innings. that’s 15 strikeouts per 9 innings, for those of you scoring at home --- at double A, in a hitter’s league. i’ve been marveling at the hit-to-strikeout ratios posted by motte and perez this spring down at memphis; both have racked up roughly twice as many strikeouts as hits allowed. well, this kid has three times as many strikeouts (45) as hits allowed (15). he is not a flame-thrower; the curveball is his out pitch. but it’s left double A hitters defenseless so far. the caveat is that he does not get groundballs; he’s strictly a flyball pitcher, so if he hangs one of those curves the ball can get small in a hurry.
  • Future Redbirds is organizing a mock draft (first round only) and looking for team-specific bloggers from a number of clubs to round out the field.
  • the jig may be up for the 1986 strat-o-sim cardinals; they trail the yankees 3 games to 1 and have lost both mcgee and oquendo for the duration.

enjoy the off day.