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Monday, May 5, 2008

Cards-Cubs: Notes on Sunday’s Scorecard

By Bernie Miklasz
May 4, 2008 @ 7:12 pm
In Bernie's Extra Points

OK, here’s the final update, completed after the Cardinals’ 5-3 win over the Cubs on Sunday at Busch Stadium….

Todd Wellemeyer went five gritty innings to pick up the win. He didn’t have good stuff, and walked four, but kept fighting the Cubs off when they had a chance to break through in a substantial way. The Cubs went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position against Wellemeyer (with a SAC fly)…

Opinion: During Sunday’s broadcast, ESPN’s Joe Morgan said something to the effect that Wellemeyer wasn’t a strikeout pitcher.

Fact: going into Sunday’s start, Wellemeyer ranked 7th among NL pitchers (and ninth in MLB) in strikeouts per batters faced. That’s a strikeout pitcher…

Stat geek: Cardinals starting pitchers at Busch Stadium this season are 13-4, 2.73 ERA.

Izzy was as sharp Sunday as we’ve seen him all year. He needed 12 pitches to set Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee down in order in the 9th. He hit 92, 93, 94 mph on the gun. Friday, he couldn’t do anything right. Saturday he came to the ballpark and proclaimed that he was going to start his season over. Sunday, on the first day of his “new” season, he was lights out. ”I told myself I was start the season over…. you just pin your ears back and go at them with everything you’ve got… I just tried to go out there and let it all loose.” And he did. Ah, the turbulent life of a closer. Bum to hero to bum to hero…

Stat geek: On April 12, Adam Kennedy’s batting average fell to .214. Since then, he’s 18 for 45 (.400) with a .429 onbase % and a .467 slug. Kennedy is 6 for 12 vs. LHP this season. Last season he was 5 for 41 (.122) vs. LHP.

I thought a huge moment in the game occured in the 7th inning, when rookie Cardinals reliever Kyle McClellan got himself into an all-out jam by loading the bases with no one out. Derrek Lee (23 RBIs) came up. McClellan jammed the big fella and got a short pop out to right field. Randy Flores pitched effectively to Fukudome, who managed a SAC fly that scored a run to make it 5-3. And then Ryan Franklin came in to retire Mark DeRosa on a fly ball to end the inning. McClellan is fearless. Had he capitulated to Lee in that situation, this one probably ends differently. But after digging a big hole, McClellan kept his poise, and got a crucial out.

Pre-game transaction: Pitcher Anthony Reyes was sent to Class AAA Memphis before Sunday’s game, and pitcher Mike Parisi was recalled and issued uniform # 65. Parisi is at Busch Stadium for tonight’s game. But we’d be surprised to see him pitch. Joel Pineiro, who is scheduled to start Monday’s series-opener in Colorado, has been stricken with back spasms. If he can’t start, Parisi will get the assignment. Or if Pineiro has to leave the start early, Parisi is first in line to pitch long relief.

What this means for Reyes: He’ll have a chance to start every five days. And that’s a good thing for Reyes and the Cardinals. He was fine in relief, but if he’s to have any trade value at all, it will be as a starter. And if Reyes can do what he normally does at Triple A Memphis — dominate hitters — the trade market for him will expand. A few teams already are interested, but they view Reyes as a starter, and want to see him do that before assessing his trade value. It’s hard for intrigued parties to scout Reyes when he’s appearing only occasionally in relief.

When I ran this theory by a high-ranking Cardinals official — Reyes has a chance to showcase himself in Memphis – it wasn’t exactly shot down.

Parisi was 2-1 with a 4.41 ERA for Memphis and was bashed by Salt Lake City in his most recent start, surrendering 10 hits, four walks and seven runs on April 29….

This first Cards-Cubs series also pitted two of the finest defensive first baseman in the game in Albert Pujols and Derrek Lee. In the John Dewan plus-minus system, Pujols was by far the best first baseman in the majors last season; his plus 37 easily topped all other 1B. But Lee is awfully good. Superb. He saved at least two runs with a diving catch of a ripped Chris Duncan line drive in the first inning Sunday. Going into Sunday’s game, who was fielding better? Well, Pujols had a .926 revised zone rating (the Dewan system) and Lee’s RZR was .816. Long way to go, and it probably doesn’t matter. Managers and coaches usually screw up in voting for the Gold Glove awards.

Stat geek: Cardinals infielders Troy Glaus, Adam Kennedy, Cesar Izturis, Aaron Miles and Brendan Ryan have combined for 351 at-bats…. and ONE home run this season.

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