By Bernie Miklasz
05/03/2008 12:41 am
Hell of a start to the series, won by the Cardinals 5-3 in 11 innings.
xx The Cubs slapped the Cardinals around last season, going 11-5 overall and 7-2 at Busch. For the Cardinals to contend, that must change. And fitting that Adam Wainwright got the season’s first start vs. the Cubs, because last season the Cubs punished him. In four 2007 starts against Chicago, Wainwright was 0-3 with an 8.72 ERA. If the Cardinals are to turn things around against the Cubs, guys like Wainwright have to establish the attitude, and the standard. And he did his part Friday night, with 6.1 innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball. He deserved the win and a better fate, but Jason Isringhausen was rocked by a 2-run Alfonso Soriano HR in the 9th.
xx Wainwright, by the way, has a 2.88 ERA since last May 16. The only NL starters with a better ERA since then are Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb.
xx Jason Isringhausen says he’s fine, physically, even though he’s been way off form over his last seven appearances, with three blown saves, a 13.50 ERA and a .367 BA against. I respect this man a great deal; he’s a warrior. But he had major hip surgery. The hip is arthritic. I’d like to accept it, no questions asked, when Izzy and manager Tony La Russa say he’s feeling good. And I know that it is against Izzy’s code to make excuses. He’ll take the hit rather than admit to physical discomfort. But I can’t help but be skeptical. Because I heard all of this before in 2006 … and in Sept. of that season, Isringhausen finally had no choice but to acknowledge the extremely bad hip condition, and take himself out of the bullpen, because he felt he was hurting the team.
xx Izzy is struggling against RH batters. Their line against him so far is .313 / .389 / .594. And during this seven-game slide, RH are .333 / .391 / .762 vs. Isringhausen.
Xx When the Cardinals signed veteran LH reliever Ron Villone, I shrugged. He’s pitched for something like 62 teams. He’s old. He’s one of those well-traveled lefties that just keep hanging around. I viewed him as a camp arm. But GM John Mozeliak found some gold in Villone. He’s been brilliant so far, with an 0.73 ERA in 11 games and a .128 BA against. And lefthanded hitters are 0-for-12 against Villone this season. Villone was one of the real stars of Friday’s game; after Izzy’s disaster he came on and got out of a jam (and then some) with 2.1 scoreless IP to get the win.
xx Troy Glaus … his batting line at Busch Stadium so far: .206 / .288 / .333
xx Troy Glaus … his batting line away from Busch Stadium so far: .310 / .442 / .529
xx Two more terrific plays by SS Cesar Izturis…. he does have value defensively, and sharp infield play is one of the reasons why the Cardinals’ pitching is so good this season.
xx Don’t tell La Russa or Lou Piniella that games played in early May are just games of no special importance. They combined to use 11 relievers Friday. How about Lou pulling Rich Hill in the top of the first? This isn’t a normal series.
xx Signing pitcher Jon Lieber was one of the best moves made by Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry before the season.
xx Aflonso Soriano or Chris Duncan in LF … you make the call on the Gold Glove there.
xx In his last 21 games, Cardinals OF Skip Schumaker is batting .376 with a .442 OBP and a .529 SLG. And he’s been wiping up RH pitchers. In those last 21 games, Schu is .406 / .461 / .609 against RHP.
xx Albert Pujols has struck out once against LHP in 35 plate appearances this season, according to Matthew Leach of MLB.com
xx This rookie Cubs catcher, Geovany Soto … he looks like a special talent. The Cubs and their fans should be very excited to have him.
Enjoy Saturday’s game…