05/01/2004: You win some, you lose some, and the rest get rained out
And yesterday we won a squeaker, as I blogged a bit (a very little bit). Brian Gunn over at Redbird Nation has a good post about yesterdays game:
I did not expect to win this game. Woody going up against Wood -- that's like bringing a knife to a gun fight. And to be honest, 9 times out of 10 the Cards don't win this game. I've never seen Wood so sharp. His slider had extra venom, he struck out 10, walked no one, and made only two mistakes -- the 2-2 yard job to Sanders in the 5th, and the wild pickoff throw the next inning. It was the best game pitched by a Cardinals opponent since... well, maybe since we last saw Wood back on September 2nd (the Cards won that game too).As I said yesterday, I'll take a home win any way I can get it. But I hope we don't get too many like that this year--at least not when I'm watching--I don't think my heart can take it.
How did we beat his team? Well, there were, by my count, at least seven moments in this game that could have gone either way, and the Cardinals came out on top of most of them:
1. 4th inning: Barrett hit a long drive to left that curl juuust foul (it was initially called a home run). Had it stayed fair, the Cubs would have been up 4-0. Instead Alex Gonzalez was caught stealing two pitches later, and the Cubs missed a chance to extend their lead.
2. 6th inning: Womack was on first with a leadoff single and Wood's pickoff throw was just wide of Derrek Lee at first. The Cubs had a shot at Womack at third, but the throw was, again, wide. That gave the Cards their first lead of the game.
3. 8th inning: with two outs, Womack hit a shot into left center. Alou dove and just missed the ball -- he really should have had it -- but this one turned out well for the Northsiders, as Ray Lankford grounded out to end the threat.
4. Top of the 9th inning: the Cubs got their leadoff hitter on, and Alex Gonzalez tried to bunt him over. His popped bunt stayed fair; Matheny scooped it up with a bare hand and started a 2-4-3 double play. Back-to-back singles after that weren't enough to put the Cubs on top.
5. Bottom of the 9th inning: with Pujols on first and no one out, Edmonds laid down one of the prettiest bunts you've ever seen -- but it rolled juuuust foul. The Cubs, flush with a second chance, couldn't deliver, though, as Kent Mercker (one of the game's big goats) couldn't find the strike zone, even though the Cardinals were prepared to give him an out. Edmonds walked and pushed the winning run into scoring position.
6. Later in the inning: Rolen sacrificed the runners over to second and third, but he should have been called safe. But first-base ump missed a tough call (Derrek Lee missed the tag on Rolen) and the Cubs at least had a little breathing room. For the record, though, I disagreed with the decision to have Rolen bunt. (a) He's never laid down a successful sac bunt in his career; (b) he's a legit RBI man, and could have scored the runners any number of ways by swinging away; and (c) it was clear that if the runners were batted over, the Cubs would walk Renteria, and Sanders -- who strikes out a lot -- would be the hitter. Then again, the move left the Cubs no wiggle room, which allowed the Cards to win (but I still disagree with the call by TLR).
7. The last batter: Matheny had an unbelievable at bat. He fell behind 2-0, then laid off a series of nasty pitches by LaTroy Hawkins. It was extremely difficult not to go fishing, especially given the circumstances. And the last pitch -- the one for all the marbles, 3-2, bases juiced -- was perhaps the closest call of any of the six above. Was it a strike or was it a ball? I thought it was juuuust high, but I wouldn't have argued if the ump called it a ball. How Matheny laid off I have no idea.
Bottom line, though: we snuck one from the Cubs, and all the bad mojo we've had at Busch this season came back to us as lucky excess. It was especially sweet because of the playoff atmosphere down at the stadium. It seemed like Duke-North Carolina to me, and we haven't seen much of that this year (the only other game quite like it was the 12-inning nail-biter in Houston). Finally something to get excited about.
Len on 05.01.04 @ 09:01 PM CST