Tonight kicks off the beginning of the 2nd half of the baseball season, with tonights Dodgers-Cards game being one of the few games on the circuit. The Dodgers will send rookie Chad Billingsley on the mound against 11 game winner Jason Marquis. The Cardinals have made the playoffs in 5 of the last 6 seasons, winning 4 division titles and 1 NL pennant during their run. The Cardinals have struggled somewhat this year, but still hold a 4 game lead in the NL Central, thanks in large to the strength of Phat Albert. This series could feature plenty of offense, with both pitching staffs still trying to establish themselves. The series’ marquee matchup is at 1B, featuring all-stars Albert Pujols, the league leader in home runs, and our own Nomar Garciaparra, the league leader in batting average. This is a battle between two of the Senior Circuits more storied franchises and could be a possible playoff preview. The teams last met in the post-season in 2004, with the Red Birds on top in 4, 3 games to one. ( Does ’04 seem like a distant memory to all you Dodgers fans ? Who’s still left from that team ? ).
5:48 OK, we’re in the top of the 3rd. I’m sure you’re all making jokes about us late arriving Dodgers fans. I had some technical difficulty, OK. Billingsley leads off the top frame for the Blue. Chad has looked good so far, now he just needs to keep his command in check, as he strikes out to lead off the inning.
5:51 Rafael Furcal slices a double down left field, now 2 for 2. Furcal is starting to heat up after a slow start.
5:53 Lofton moves Furcal to 3rd, grounding back to the box, now up comes possible MVP candidate, Nomarrrrrr.
5:55 Nomar has done it again !!!! Nomar goes yard to left, again MR. CLUTCH comes through !!!
5:56 Drew grounds to 2nd. Through 2 1/2
Bottom of 3rd
5:59 David Eckstein to lead off for the Cards. 3 former Halos are in the Cards lineup tonight with Eckstein, Edmunds, and Spezio. Also, catcher Yadier Molina is the brother of Angels catcher, Jose Molina. Eckstein draws a base on ball, something young Chad must still work on.
6:02 Well, the first 2 have been walked with the walk to Spezio, now Phat Albert at bat. Albert’s average with RISP, .443
6:04 Pujols moves runners over to scoring position with a nubber to 3rd. Well, at least he kept him in the park.
6:05 Scott Rolen is up with runners in scoring position. Rolen played only 56 games last season after a season ending injury with a collision with then Dodgers 1B Hee-Seop Choi.
6:06 Rolen strikes out swinging, big strike out. Now Edmunds is up. Edmunds struck out swinging in the 1st with the bases loaded.
6:07 With 1st base open, Chad gives one of those " unintentional intentionals " to Jim.
6:08 Chris Duncan at bat, flied deep to left center 1st time up. And on the 1st pitch, Duncan flies to Ethier in left. So, Chad has weathered two storms tonight.
End of 3
TOP OF 4TH
6:13 Kent called out on strikes.
6:14 With 2 outs, Izturis slices a 2 out double to the left field corner. That corner has been a hot spot tonight. Up comes catcher Russel Martin, another one of our rookie phenoms.
6:15 With the pitcher due up next, Martin also gets one of those " unintentional intentionals".
6:17 Chad flies to center.
Middle of 4
BOTTOM OF 4TH
Before we move on, a little about St. Louis. I had a chance to visit St. Louie last year and take in a 4 game series with the Dodgers in town during the previos Busch Stadiums last season. I actually liked the circular Busch. The exterior was nothing to brag about, but the inside certainly had quite a baseball feel. Also, these baseball savvy fans, who cater to visiting fans as well, also made the stay quite hospitable.
6:20 Yadi Molina grounds to short to lead off the inning
6:23 Runners on 1st and 2nd with one out, as pitcher Jason Marquis lines a single up the middle.
6:26 Russell Martin takes a foul ball off his knuckles off the bat of David Eckstein. Boy the life of a catcher can be brutal. Former Cardinal and current Giant Mike Matheny is still experiencing migrane headaches from all those foul balls taken off the mask.
6:28 Just what the doctor ordered. On a 3-2 pitch, Eck grounds into a 6-4-3 DP. Chad, though still trying to find his command, has been able to overcome 3 jams, stranding 9 Red Birds on base to this point.
End of 4
TOP OF 5TH
6:31 Furcal leads off with a single to left. Furcal is currently on an 8 game hitting streak, lifiting his average above .270 .
6:32 Lofton flies to right center to Jim Edmonds on a fine play. Up now is Nomar……………..
6:34 Not this time. Nomar grounds into a 6-4-3 DP.
Middle of 5
BOTTOM OF 5TH
6:37 First pitch Spezio grounds to Nomar
6:40 Runners on 1st and 2nd with Edmunds coming to the plate. Billingsley has walked 4 to this point. Gio Carrara warming up in the Dodgers ‘pen.
6:44 Edmunds strikes out for the 2nd time tonight. Allright Chad, only 1 more out than you can qualify for your 1st MLB win.
6:47 The bases are loaded again, the 3rd time in 5 innings, bringing up Molina. And on the first pitch, Yadi grounds into a fielders choice to 3rd. Congrats Chad, you’ve just put yourself in postion to qualify for your first win in the bigs.
END OF 5
TOP OF 6TH
6:50 JD Drew leads off for the Blue. JD has actually been healthy throughout most of this season. Can he maintain this stretch of good health as he flies to left ?
6:53 Kent goes down swinging for the 2nd time tonight. Kent’s power numbers have gone down this year, as he only has 9 home runs to show.
6:54 Andre Ethier goes down swinging. Well, Marquis’ only mistake has been the 2 out 2 run home run to Nomar. Can the Blue make it hold up ?
Middle of 6
BOTTOM OF 6TH
6:56 It’s now up to the Dodgers bullpen to hold the lead, as Giovanni Carrara is now in to pitch to Aaron Miles.
7:00 Gio set’s them down in order, as Eckstein grounds harmlessly to 1st.
END OF 6
TOP OF 7TH
7:03 Izturis leads off the 7th with a single. Izzy, since coming off the DL, has not shown any signs of transition to 3rd base. And on a busted hit and run play, Izzy is caught stealing.
7:05 Ramon Martinez, in for Jeff Kent, grounds to short to end the inning. Cocern arises again for Jeff Kent’s oblique mussel.
MIDDLE OF 7
STRETCH TIME…..TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME….
The Dodgers and Cardinals have a combined 15 world championships. The Cards have won 9 of the 15, tops in the National League.
7:09 Spezio is called out on strikes . Pujols is up, with the bases empty. So, he cannot tie us.
7:10 Pujols flies out weekly to center. So, Sir Albert has been quited tonight.
7:11 Scott Rolen doubles into the left field corner, Carrara allowing is 1st hit after retiring the first 5 hitters he faced.
7:17 And with one swing of the bat, and after fouling off several pitches out and away, Edmunds finally gets on inside on drills a no-doubter over the right field wall. Well, Chad will have to wait another day for his first win in the bigs. And after retiring his first 5 hitters, Gio gives up the game tying home run
Dodgers 2 Cardinals 2
7:19 Duncan lines to Martinez. So we have a new ballgame.
END OF 7
TOP OF 8TH
7:24 Furcal grounds out on a good play by Aaron Miles, and Lofton flies to center, bringing up Nomar. Well, it’s after the 7th Dodgers fans, and you know what Nomar does after the 7th with a sick .537 mark since May 20th.
7:26 Well, Nomar did his best, but falls about 4 feet from the Cards bullpen in right center.
MIDDLE OF 8TH
JUST FOR FUN
Since the game is in St. Louis, it’s now time to queue the old Budweiser " King of Beers " jingle…Here come’s the king…..
BOTTOM OF 8TH
7:29 With Jonathon Broxton in the game for the Blue, JD Drew makes a fine play on a foul pop to right from Yadi Molina.
7:30 Aaron Miles singles up the middle.
7:36 Pinch hitter John Rodriguez grounds out to 2nd, ending the 8th. Tyler Johson to come in the top of the 9th to pitch for the Cards. Good game by both teams. Let’s see who blinks first.
END OF 8
TOP OF 9TH
7:40 Drew is called out on strikes for the 1st out. La Russa to make a pitching change, bringing in Adam Wainwright. This game could come down to one simple thing, execution.
7:48 After a two-out single by Ethier, Izturis grounds to 3rd. And now up come the big boys in the bottom of the 9th, Spezio, Pujols, and Rolen.
MIDDLE OF 9TH
BOTTOM OF 9TH
7:50 So Taguchi will pinch hit for Spezio, to face Jonathan Broxton, in his 2nd inning of relief. For it’s 1-2-3 strikes you’re out !!! And now, the big test, PHAT ALBERT….
7:55 Whew, PHAT ALBERT almost sent us Walking In LA, hitting one to the track in left center. And Rolen pops to 2nd to end the 9th. Well, 1st game after the break, let’s play extras….
END OF 9
TOP OF 10
8:00 Russell Martin leads offf with a double to right. Ramon Martinez up, trying to move Martin over to 3rd.
8:02 Martinez nubbs an infield single, moving Martin over to 3rd.
8:04 With the infield playing in, Furcal lines one to Aaron Miles. Now, Olmeado Saenz to pinch hit for Broxton. Let’s see if the Tomato can come through for us. The infield will play back for the DP.
8:08 Saenz goes down swinging. OK Nomar. Can you come through again ?
8:11 Nomar down swingin’. I need an antacid. 1st and 3rd with no outs, and we come up empty. OUCH !!!
MIDDLE OF 10
AND NOW TO THE BOTTOM HALF
8:14 Joe Biemel on to pitch for the Blue to face Jim Edmonds.
8:15 Edmonds, who tied the game with his 2 run blast in the 7th, flies to center.
8:19 Yadi bounces back to the box, and now off to the 11th. Baseball the way I like it. Nothing fancy, just classic National League baseball, where it comes down to the simple basics, pitching, defense, and execution. If only we coulda executed in the top half of the 10th , the game would be over now.
END OF 10
8:22 Cards ace Jason Isringhausen is in to face JD Drew to start the 11th.
8:24 JD Drew opens the 11th with a walk. Let’s see if Jose Cruz is asked to bunt Drew over to 2nd.
8:32 With Drew running on 3-2, Ethier nubbs one back to the box. Izturis will be walked intetionally to set up a force. With 2 outs, it’s now up to Russell Martin to come through for us.
8:34 And on the first pitch, Martin bounces back to the box. Did I say in the beginning of this blog that this would be an offensive display tonight with an uproven pitcher in Billingsley and Marquis’ 5 plus ERA ? Oh well, as they say, THAT’S BASEBALL…….
BOTTOM OF 11
8:38 Aaron Miles leads of with a grounder to Furcal. Biemel is on in his 2nd inning of relief .
8:39 Wow. That was quick. And now off to the 12th
What, it’s not like you or I had any other plans for tonight, right? Besides, it’s only 20 to 9 out here in the left coast. and besides, Pinks over on Melrose and La Brea is open ’till 2AM. The night is still young…..
Top of 12th
8:42 Josh Hancock in to pitch for the Cards.
8:44 With one out, Furcal again goes to the left field corner for a 2 bagger. Now, Matt Kemp, another one of our again, rookie phenoms, to hit for Biemel.
8:47 Kemp is called out on strikes, fastball that runs in. OK, Nomar, can you deliver for us. Tonight 1 fo 5, the two run homer to account for the scoring. And on the 1st pitch, Nomar flies to left. OK, time to face the heart of the Cards lineup again.
BOTTOM OF 12TH
8:51 Tak Saito in for perhaps his biggest test in his big league career to face So Taguchi, Phat Albert, and Scott Rolen in a non-save situation. Can Saito hold it for us ?
8:52 My heart stopped for a second. Taguchi pulls one just foul down left field, and now after starting off 0-2, draws a walk, bringing up Phat Albert. And I don’t see Prince Albert sacrificing…..
8:55 Pujols grounds out to Nomar, moving Taguchi over to 2nd. And now the winning run is in scoring position.
8:56 With 1st base open, Rolen will be walked intentionally, to set up the potential double play for Edmunds, who because of his heroics in the 7th, is the reason why we’re still here.
9:00 Edmunds chops one to Izturis, and now runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 out. And they will pitch to Hector Luna with 1st base open.
9:02 Luna flies to Drew in right. Off to the 13th.
9:07 Ethier ends the top of the 13th with a deep fly to Edmonds, in his ususal non-chalont way. Well, here’s who the Dodgers have used ….Billingsley, Carrara, Biemel, Broxton, Biemel, and now Saito in his second inning of relief, leaving Danys Baez and Odalis Perez left should we continue.
9:10 Molina flies to center. OK, since the Red Birds are outta pinch hitters, Jeff Weaver, picked up recently from the Halos, is on to pinch hit. Don’t laugh, he actually was pretty handy with the bat when he wore the Blue.
9:12 Weaver is called out on strikes. And now, another former Dodger, Juan Encarnacion, who walks on 4 pitches.
9:16 A great play by Ramon Martinez at 2nd to take away a hit from David Ecstein to end the 13th. Boy, I sure picked a good game to do my blog for tonight…..
9:19 Braden Looper is now on to pitch for the Cards. This will be the 6th pitcher used by St. Louie, the same number used by the Dodgers.
9:20 Izturis grounds to Eckstein to start off the 14th.
9:23 Martinez reaches on an infield single, thanks to Scott Rolen, who saved a double on a screaming line drive headed for the left field corner. And Furcal ends the threat with a fielders choice to short. Now we head to the bottom of the 14th with Toguchi, Sir Albert, and Rolen due up and Odallis Perez coming in to pitch. I don’t know why, but my stomach is starting to churn.
9:29 With one out, Sir Albert is up against Odallis, who is 6 for 14 lifetime against Odallis.
9:32 OK, about my stomach churning, I think I have an ulcer. I KNEW IT !!!! I KNEW IT !!!! I KNEW IT !!!! I KNEW IT !!! I just had a bad feeling when Odallis came in, and with those gaudy numbers against Sir Albert. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ODALLIS !!!! THROW IT AT HIS RIBS IF YOU HAVE TO !!! PUT HIM ON 1ST !!! I DON’T CARE !!!!! DON’T LET ALBERT BEAT YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
FINAL ( 14 )
Pujols 7th career walk-off home run. THANKS A LOT ODALLIS !!!!!!!!!!