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Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Meat-Grinder: Cardinals 9, Dodgers 3

Headline: "Penny struggles against unusually pesky Cardinals"
-- MLB.com
Whoever wrote that hed -- and I assume it wasn't MLB.com's usual Dodger writer, Ken Gurnick -- didn't bother reading the night's box score, which had the Cards' starting 3-4-5 hitters going a collective 2-12. "Unusually"? If anything, the Dodgers got off lightly on the Cardinals attack. It was the bottom and tippy-top of the St. Louis lineup, however, that fussed and nipped at the Dodgers like so many mosquitoes. In the absence of the reprobate elements of the Cards' bullpen, the Dodgers failed to hit (Suppan went 7.0 innings), and went down ignobly. It was a brutal reminder of last year's postseason frustrations, and a recollection that, even mildly hobbled as they are with a less-than-ideal bullpen, the Cardinals can still hit.

Cards blog Cardnilly (at least, I hope that's how it's supposed to go) noticed yesterday's extended excoriation of Stoneman over his exiling Eckstein, in particular noting, "6-4-2 has nice things to say about Eck (and Jocketty, by extension)". Well, not so much. Were I in Jocketty's shoes, there's no way I go in for a multiyear deal with somebody as demonstrably fragile as Eckstein; but at the price, he's relatively expendable. The real sin is Stoneman blocking three top quality prospects at shortstop while overpaying for a mediocre bat who is at this very second performing worse than the replaceable man he replaced.

Penny is arguably the worst pitcher you could have put on the mound against the Redbirds; they love fastballs, and that's his primary pitch. Nobody in the bullpen got off looking competent, with D.J. Houlton especially embarrassing the Dodger execs who look like they wasted a Rule 5 pick and a 25-man roster spot on him. Alvarez, despite preventing any runs in his inning and a third, gave up two hits. This isn't the 2003 pitching squad, that's for certain.

The Dodgers offense? Still spotty, and maybe a bit too dependent on the three-run homer. This team's possibly infected with the Oakland A's disease, one flawed player at a time, and while the sum of the parts may even win the division, the class of the National League remains the Cardinals. That is to say, the Dodgers walked right into the Cards' trap: get groundball outs, pick up the strikeouts you can, and keep the ball in the yard. Barring a late-season collapse or further or more extensive injuries -- the latest to (likely) go down is Scott Rolen, due to a back injury suffered in yesterday's game -- the Cards will walk away with the pennant again.


at this second = small sample size
Yes, yes, all too aware of that, but still.
well, when the heart of the order goes 2-12 and the cards get 19 hits and 9 runs, that's pretty unusually pesky, no? getting slapped around by the likes of eckstein, john mabry and so taguchi? that's the very definition of pesky, i'd say. though you're right to note that we got off rather lightly, considering.


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