Friday, May 22, 2009 - With a nice crowd of 43,429 predominantly Cardinals fans at Busch Stadium III, the Redbirds' cross-state rivals - the Kansas City Royals - dutifully played sacrificial lamb in the first game of a three-game series - The final score: Cards 5 - Royals 0.
Todd Wellemeyer, who spent some time with Kansas City in '07, started the game for St Louis. The Royals' lineup had to be licking their chops at the prospect of facing a former teammate who posted a 10.34 ERA in 15.2 IP as a Royal - featuring four home runs allowed. Was that just a ploy to lull them to sleep two years later? If so, it worked beautifully. Wellemeyer pitched quite well tonight - 6 IP - 4 H - 0 R - 3 BB - 3 SO - but ran into trouble in the seventh - a lead-off walk and a single had runners on first and second, with nobody out. At this point in the game, St Louis only held a slight 2-0 advantage.
Out of the Cardinal bullpen came Trevor Miller to pitch to one batter who intended to bunt the runners up to second and third. He did, ending Miller's work day. The next guy out of the Cardinal bullpen was Jason Motte, with the game on the line. He preserved the lead by striking out Bloomquist and Butler, then pitched a scoreless eighth-inning before turning the ball over to McClellan.
For the Royals, Kyle Davies started this game and took the loss, thanks to a two-run first-inning single by Nick Stavinoha, which scored Braden and Pujols. Those were the only runs Davies allowed in six innings of work. His replacement, Horacio Ramirez, couldn't get anybody named "Greene" out. Unfortunately for Horacio, there were two guys named "Greene" in the St Louis lineup.
The first "Greene" - Tyler - hit a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the seventh-inning to pad the Cardinal lead to 3-0. The second "Greene" - Khalil - entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth-inning with the bases loaded and one out. His single scored the final two runs of the game, making "Greene" a household name in Cardinal Nation for a day or so. Of course, both Tyler and Khalil are long gone; and so is Stavinoha and Wellemeyer, for that matter. Farewell, stars of this game. We hardly knew ye.
Sunday, May 23, 2010 - This was the rubber game of a three-game series between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the St Louis Cardinals of Downtown St Louis. Today's pitching match-up featured a couple of Cy Young Award-caliber hurlers - Jered Weaver for the visiting Halos and Chris Carpenter for the Redbirds. A typical Sunday afternoon Busch Stadium III crowd of 42,417 for the most part, probably expected a low-scoring pitcher's duel. Not quite. What they got instead was a nice, come-from-behind walk-off winner for the Cardinals to send most of the folks home happy.
LA A of A drew first blood off Carpenter in the second-inning when Kendrys Morales led off with an opposite-field home run to right. They drew second blood in the fourth-inning when Mike Napoli also homered, but with two runners on base, extending the Halos lead to 4-0. Seemingly a comfortable lead with Weaver on the mound. Not quite.
The Cardinals came right back in the home-half of the fourth with three runs of their own - Yadier Molina drove in two with a bases loaded single, then shortstop Eric Aybar booted Brendan Ryan's ground ball, allowing an unearned run to score.
The Halos scored an unearned run of their own in the fifth. It all started with one out, when Aybar hit a ground ball in the direction of Albert Pujols, who booted it for an error - his first of the season. With Aybar on first, the next hitter, Howie Kendrick hit another ground ball to Pujols, who fielded it cleanly, but made a bad throw to second trying to get the lead runner - his second error of the season. Both runners were safe; then Aybar came in to score on Bobby Abreu's bloop single to left field. Carpenter was able to pitch out of further trouble, but the Cardinals now trailed, 5-3; and it was getting late. The good news for the Cardinals: Weaver would be finished after six innings of work, and the Angels' bullpen wasn't very reliable in 2010 (it still isn't in 2014). Carpenter would be finished after six innings of work as well, allowing five runs - four earned runs. The Cardinal bullpen - Reyes, Motte, and Franklin - kept the Angels from scoring again in four innings of work.
One guy who was no doubt very happy to see Weaver depart was Cardinals' left fielder, Ryan Ludwick, who struck out all three times against him. In the bottom of the eighth-inning, Ludwick led off against Fernando Rodney, a free-spirited dude notorious for wearing his baseball cap tilted in an absurdly cockeyed manner to irritate baseball purists like me. Ludwick grounded out to third, ecstatic he didn't strike out this time.
With one out, Albert Pujols, trying to atone for committing two errors in the fifth-inning which led to an unearned run, drew a walk. With Holliday now batting, and Rodney concerned about the angle of tilt on his cap, Albert catches everybody by surprise by stealing second. An indignant Rodney then strikes out Holliday, bringing the flaky Colby Rasmus to the plate with two out. Rasmus lays off a couple of nasty sliders out of the strike zone to coax a walk. The next hitter is David Freese, who patiently took the first pitch for a strike as Pujols and Rasmus caught everybody by surprise by executing a perfect double steal.
(Note: It's the first time in his career that Pujols has stolen two bases in one game; which makes up for the first time in his career he's ever committed two errors on back-to-back plays.)
With first base open and two runners now in scoring position, Rodney elects to pitch to Freese, who grounds a single to right field, scoring both runners to tie the game, 5-5. That's where the score remained as the Cardinals came up to bat in the bottom of the tenth.
Scot Shields was now pitching for the Angels, and he had some control problems, first walking Matt Holliday to lead off the inning. After Rasmus struck out, David Freese was hit by a pitch, then Yadier Molina drew another walk to load the bases. Exit Shields; enter Trevor Bell to pitch to Felipe Lopez, who struck out back in the seventh-inning pinch hitting for Brendan Ryan; then took over at shortstop.
With the bases loaded and one out the outfield had to play extremely shallow. Felipe took advantage of that - got a pitch he could handle - and lofted a fly ball over center fielder Torii Hunter's head for a game winning single. Ryan Franklin (2 IP - 0 H - 0 R - 3 SO) got the win (3-0).
At this point in the season, the Cardinals seemed to be in good shape, occupying first place in the NL Central. Inexplicably, they faded in the second half, losing with alarming regularity to teams like the Cubs, Astros, and Brewers. Go figure.