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Pujols, Barden, other sluggers

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A nice, taut game—can't ask for more than on the west coast with two of the game's more profligate free passers tabbed to start. But Wellemeyer, with considerably less impressive command than Lohse, made the Diamondbacks earn what they got. That's 19 consecutive innings without a walk for the Cardinals, and with Carpenter going today they're in as good a place as any to stretch it past 20. 

Wellemeyer's stuff seems mostly intact—his changeup still great, his breaking ball still adequate, his fastball a little slower than I remembered, but not much slower than Fangraphs does—but until that string of strikeouts in the fourth and fifth inning he didn't seem to have the first idea of where said fastball was going. Even after that his outing was cut from the playing-with-fire cloth; it might be an awareness of his past as a wild, replacement-level reliever, but at the first hint of trouble I start to think of the Colonel as a pitcher who has to escape things, where I'm likely to give Lohse a little leeway instead. 

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The late game killed my lead time; I'll have some more analysis, such as it is, in time for the game thread. In the meantime, yesterday in links: 

 

  • Yesterday, erstwhile free agent Schumaker competition Orlando Hudson became the first Dodger to hit for the cycle since to hit for the cycle since 1970, which astonishes me. Since then, six Cardinals have done it. I was going to list them, but let's try it another way: how many can you name off the top of your head? 
  • It's been a bad time to be related to baseball, it seems like; I was sad to hear about both Harry Kalas and Mark Fidrych's deaths. Kalas makes me wonder about baseball announcing as an art, like I do every time I realize that the Vin Scullies of the world—even the Mike Shannons—are not getting younger. I make fun of Dan'n'Al—you know, I really do—but I admire their rapport, and the way they've become a part of the Cardinals tradition as much as is possible on TV, even when they say things that are completely asinine. But I worry about the next generation of radio announcers. 
  • As for Fidrych, I wasn't there, but I've always been amazed at the way he captured the imagination of every casual baseball fan of a certain age that I meet. A lot of people in their forties and fifties couldn't tell you five players currently on their de facto favorite team, but whenever I run into somebody like that they seem to have stories about watching The Bird. 
  • Nick Swisher becomes the coveted first position-pitcher of the season (video). Almost 80 mph from the left side—I've got to imagine there are some LOOGYs in the low minors mystifying high school draftees with that exact repertoire. And the less-coveted first position-pitcher strikeout of the season goes to Gabe Kapler, who does not look very happy for someone involved in a 15-5 blowout directly afterward.
  • Finally: I ang not a maching. I'm in an awkward position: I don't like ESPN very much—I'm put off by all their loud-mouthed analysts and their propensity toward 24 hour news cycle hysteria—but their commercials are consistently hilarious. This one is great, but Mark McGwire's brief Y2K reaction shot is one of the great moments in TV history.