Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Reds

Words? Meet Actions

I wish I could say that I didn’t see the start of this week’s ‘feud’ (for lack of a better term) between the Reds and Cardinals coming awhile ago. I didn’t really see this exactly, but I wasn’t surprised either.

Okay, I’ll explain. I’ve been out of the loop here for a couple of weeks, so bear with me as I knock some cobwebs out…

That slide is a long way away from home plate.
Photo by Ang

July 28 – Reds at Brewers. Brandon Phillips hit a long grand slam in a 10-2 drubbing of the brew crew. I caught an interview the next morning on Sportscenter with Phillips, and when asked how far he thought the home run had gone, his response was something along the lines of ‘500 feet! Woo! The guys were teasing me in the dugout, saying I had embarrassed them. But man, I hit that a long way!’ I apologize for not being able to track down said interview, but trust me, you didn’t miss much. It was quite a blast – hitting off of Bernie Brewer’s slide in left field and measured at 450 feet, not quite the 500 that one of our newest ‘friends’ of the CDD had predicted, but still a solid piece of hitting.

I shook my head at the interview, because I knew that there would not be kind words said about Phillips up here in the land of cheese. Needless to say, I was correct. Brewer fans are frustrated with how their season has played out to say the least, but having an opposing player mouth off did not sit well with anyone I know around here. I wasn’t feeling the love for Phillips myself, but at the time, despite my beginning a feeling of dislike of the player, I took solace in the fact that he wasn’t talking about my team.

Oh how things change. I’m not going to say that Phillips started a fire in the Cardinals, because I don’t want to give him that much credit. He absolutely doesn’t deserve it.

I will say I like the response the Cardinals have made over the last two days. I think the team has a fairly good tradition of letting their actions speak louder than words. There haven’t been a lot of ‘big talkers’ for the Cardinals over the years. You could look at players like a Bob Gibson, who made statements, but we never had a Rickey Henderson or Reggie Jackson, stirring up trouble and talking big to the media. Reach back to the Gas House Gang of the 1930’s and you’ll find such crazy personalities as Dizzy Dean, Leo Durocher and  Pepper Martin, who talked loud and played louder, backing up every one of their crazy ideas with results. However, it took me 80 years of baseball history to get to some major Cardinal blabbermouths. I’m okay with that.

Last night’s melee began when Phillips tapped Yadier Molina’s shin guard before the game. I hadn’t really heard of this or noticed it before last night, but apparently it’s a greeting of some sort between hitters and catchers. Yadi rightly took offense and snapped at Phillips, and it escalated from there. BJ Rains had a quote from Yadi here, where we read,

“I was ready to start the game and he touched me,” Molina said. “With the comment that he made yesterday that he’s got no friends over here, why you touch me then? You are not my friend so don’t touch me. That’s exactly what I said. If we are not good for you, then you are not my friend.” 

I couldn’t agree more. Why would you say, ‘I hate the Cardinals’ (among other things), then walk in the box and try to say, ‘Hey man, let’s have a good game.’ Not okay. But you know what? Yadi settled it on the field. Not in the papers, not in the post-game. He walked to the plate in his next at bat after the scuffle and blasted a home run over the wall. The same could be said for Ryan Franklin, who shut Phillips down in the 9th after saying that the comments weren’t worth talking about, as well as Skip Schumaker, who dropped a grand slam over the wall Monday night and said after the game that he wasn’t sure why anyone would say something like that.

When the Cardinal players heard about the comments that were made against them, most of them didn’t have much of a response. They kept their comments to themselves (at least as far as the media is concerned) and just said, ‘We’ll settle it on the field.’ They did, putting up 7 runs Monday night and 8 more last night. I love that, because I’d rather see runs on the scoreboard and wins in the standings than a war of words that are not backed up by solid play.

Game 3 starts early – 11:35 this morning! Let’s finish this shall we? Before I go, I did want to leave our newest friend with a note…

That looks like it hurt! Poor baby!
Jim Prisching – AP Photo

Dear Mr. Phillips,
You said you would play against the Cards on one leg. To us, it’s looking like both your legs are working. Your bat, however, is having some issues. Your mouth might also be in need of a bar of soap, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Diamond Diary ladies. Please wash, rinse, and repeat. Thanks for playing, and feel free to keep that nice 1 for 10 stretch over the past two days going until October. Then you can talk all you want from the comfort of your own home.

October is for people whose actions speak louder than words.

First-Place Showdown

So, here we go – Cardinals vs. Reds for three games and a battle for first place on the line. It’s Aug. 9 now, which means there are less than two months left in the regular season. The Cards are two games back going into tonight, thanks to the stellar (ha!) effort by the Cubs this weekend in allowing the Reds to sweep them.

In other words, these games are pretty big.

The Cardinals have a slight lead over the Reds this season, with a 7-5 record, and this will be the fifth series between the two teams. The Cards won two out of three in Cincinnati to open the season (with the winning pitchers being Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright), took two of three in St. Louis in late April/early May (Ryan Franklin and Carp were the winners), lost two of three on their last trip to Cincinnati in mid May (Jaime Garcia was the lone winner) and finally won two of three in late May/early June (with more victories for Jaime and Carp). The last victory over the Reds, on June 2, put the Cards into a first-place tie with the Reds.

In the time since, the Cards and Reds have battled back and forth for first place. No doubt the Reds have held that spot longer, and once had a three-game lead over the Cards, plus right now they are definitely on a roll – they’ve won four in a row and nine of their last 11 games. The Cardinals are 6-4 over their last 10 games (which includes the two unfortunate Diamond Diaries nights at the ballpark) and are only one game back in the loss column, with 49 total losses to the Reds 48. (Cards have 61 wins to the Reds 64.)

The pitching matchups couldn’t be better: our Big Three against their top three.

Chris Carpenter (12-3, 2.91 ERA) vs. Mike Leake (7-3, 3.86 ERA)

Carp is 3-0 against the Reds this year, with a 1.29 ERA and has held the Reds to a .157 batting average. Leake is 1-0 in one game started against the Cards with a 3.00 ERA and the Cards have a .190 average against him.

Jaime Garcia (9-5, 2.53 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (11-2, 3.24 ERA)

Jaime’s won both of his starts against the Reds this season, with a 2.92 ERA and the Reds hitting .245. Cueto has started three times against the Cards and has a 1-0 record with a 6.75 ERA (he’s allowed 12 earned runs in 16 innings pitched) and the Cards are hitting .308 off him.

Adam Wainwright (16-6, 2.06 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (12-6, 3.83 ERA)

Adam is 1-1 against the Reds, with a 4.15 ERA (allowing six earned runs in 13 innings) but the Reds are only hitting .222 against him and he has 12 strikeouts. Arroyo also is 1-1 in three starts against the Cards this season and has a 4.22 ERA, with the Cards hitting .256 against him.

Slugging-wise, Albert Pujols is hitting .381 against the Reds this season with three homers and 12 RBI and is batting 1.000 against Leake. (It’s only one at-bat, but does that matter?) Matt Holliday is hitting .325 against the Reds with two home runs and 10 RBI, while Jon Jay is hitting .438 with one homer and four RBI. And, with Carp pitching tonight, maybe he’ll hit another grand slam like he did against the Reds last season. (Probably not, but I can always hope to see a repeat of that!)

With 12 hours until game time, I can still say that these games are going to be fun. It’s going to be playoff-type baseball, with possible post-season implications on the line. But, by tonight, I know watching these games will be excruciating – like all Cardinals fans, what I want most is a sweep over the Reds. Let’s see how it goes …

And go Cardinals!

P.S.: This is Diamond Diaries post number 100. Thanks to each of you for reading. We appreciate your support!

First by Force

The Cards are back in first! Just writing that sentence brought a smile to my face. But that fact alone is not the best part.

Happy Cards! Our favorite!
Getty Images

The Cards are back in first… and they deserve it! The team has been on fire the first four games out of the gate after the break, sweeping a Dodgers team that is duking it out in the brutal NL West and kicking them out of town in style with a late inning comeback win that featured tough pitching, smart baserunning, key hits and solid defense. We haven’t seen this much of a cohesive unit since I don’t know when.

What’s brilliant is that on his Sunday morning radio show Tony LaRussa admitted that this lineup has basically been triaged together. Can I just say that I love listening to the Sunday morning chats on KTRS? Tony takes every question, and the people that suck up to him with a ‘Thank you Mr. LaRussa, you’re a great manager and I hope you stay here for a real long time,’ always make me laugh. This week’s best caller tag has to go to the guy that requested that TLR not have any more C-team lineups. Tony was trying not to laugh when he said that although he didn’t think there had been any such lineups this year, the caller might not appreciate the lineup for that game. Oops!

People were ready to fight when they saw a lineup that had no Colby Rasmus, no Albert Pujols, no Yadier Molina and no Tyler Greene, but the truth of the matter is that every one of those guys is dinged up, battered, bruised and all around not feeling great! Matt Holliday almost didn’t make it into the lineup yesterday either after fouling a ball sharply off his ankle on Saturday. It was definitely a patchwork lineup that no one expected to play tough, especially not with Jeff Suppan on the mound. I’ll hand it to Sup though, he pitched a very nice game yesterday. (Someone better write that down, because I don’t say things like that often.)

The fact of the matter is that the team isn’t back on top because the Reds finally started to fizzle. In all honesty the Reds just got better by bringing back Edinson Volquez from the disabled list. They have more starting pitching than they know what to do with, and the Cards are running a M*A*S*H unit in and out of the training room. These Cards have been battling lately, and fought tooth and nail to make it back on top. They weren’t handed first, they took it by force. That’s what we like to see.

I wonder what will happen when we get all our boys back? Last I heard Ryan Ludwick is very close and David Freese is still a week or two away. Maybe when they return some of the unwelcome veterans on the team will be given one way tickets to the retirement home (oh, I was going for no snark today… sorry).

Chris has challenged all of us to be Mo and make some plans for the rest of the year. So check it out and make your voice heard!

Speaking of voices, tonight is the second broadcast for i70baseball.com. It starts at 10PM, and for some unknown reason the team has invited me to be the chat host. Head over to BlogTalkRadio and hang out in the chatroom!

Winner Winner at the All-Star Game

Disclaimer: The current time tells me that the NL just closed out the win about 10 minutes ago. Also, I’ve had caffeine. I’m a little hyper. This could be awesome.

The last time the NL won the All-Star Game, I was 9. Despite my steadfast dedication to watching the All-Star game (which includes the year a storm knocked out the power and I freaked out in the dark for about two innings), I am fairly certain I didn’t really watch the game until around 1998. Therefore, I am really really excited about this win.

I was talking to my grandpa before the game started, and he ended the conversation the same way he always does – by saying, ‘Go Cubs!’ He’s the lost soul in my family. I laughed and said I didn’t think I’d be able to cheer for Marlon Byrd, even if it was the All-Star Game.

Then, the seventh inning rolled around. Even though Cardinal fans had been treated to a Yadier Molina single in the third, which was only the second hit of the night for the National League, there hadn’t been much to cheer for from the NL side of the stands. No NL batter had even made it safely into second base before the seventh began. It was then that the NL ‘Comedy’ Central took matters into their own hands (with a little help from the East).

After a quick groundout by Joey Votto (Reds), Scott Rolen (also Reds) came up and fought Phil Hughes (Yankees) in a 7 pitch at bat for a single. After watching Rolen for the past two days*, I remember all the things I loved about him as a Cardinal. He works his butt off, has a fun personality, and the man can flat out play third like no one I’ve seen. Anyway, after Rolen gets on, Matt Holliday lined a single up the middle and Rolen scampered all the way to third. Chris Young (D’Backs) popped out, and Marlon Byrd walked to load the bases with 3 members of 3 different teams in the Central. Then, NL fans everywhere watched with glee as Brian McCann (Braves) hit a double to the right field corner that cleared the bases. This was the scene at home:


Yeah. You’re looking at a picture of a Cardinal, a Red, and a Cub high fiving and cheering together. I’m confused too. I even received a tweet from a Cub fan that was addressed to a Reds fan, a Cubs fan and myself that said, ‘The one night we can get along. Go NL!’ I couldn’t have said it better myself. I almost called my grandpa to apologize. Almost.

My other highlight of the night was the bottom of that same seventh inning: seeing Adam Wainwright take the mound. It was his first relief appearance since the last game of the 2006 World Series, and we all know how that ended! Adam was definitely pumped, hitting 96 MPH on his first pitch. Despite a botched catch in left field that I won’t go into detail on, Adam pitched a dominant inning, striking out two and making several batters look silly with their swings and misses. Torii Hunter (strikeout victim #2) said after the game that Wainwright’s stuff was flat out nasty, and I agree!

I love some of the fun insights you see at the All-Star game. Interviews (#chickcomment), anecdotes, and it’s never the player you expect to get the job done. After the game, Matthew Leach (mlb.com) and BJ Rains (foxsportsmidwest.com) had interesting tidbits to note afterward:

Food for thought…
I can’t wait to see it!

One last thing – today is literally the most boring day in the sporting world. No baseball games, the World Cup is over, and no other major sports are in season. That’s just sad. You’d think someone would have come up with some gimmicky thing to do every year on this day. Oh wait, the ESPY’s are on tonight. Leave it to ESPN…

*For those of you that missed it, Rolen was on MLBNetwork Monday during the media frenzy, and after basically conducting the interview himself by making fun of Kevin Millar (‘Why are you 40 with highlights? Why do your shoes look like that?!’), he described a priceless moment with AJ Pujols. Yes, 9 year old AJ was tearing up the media yesterday. Sign him up now! Anyway, Rolen walked into the room where the players were being interviewed, and after Albert pointed him out to AJ, the kid looks over at Scotty, opens his arms wide and goes, ‘How did YOU get here?!’ Amazing.

All Star Musings on the Off Day

Most of the free world had yesterday off to continue on with their Fourth of July fun, so what better day for the Cardinals to have an off day, right? No, wrong. What’s worse is that the Mets couldn’t do us a favor and take a game from the Reds. Losing ground when you don’t play is no fun at all!

Speaking of the Reds, Erika spoke yesterday about the Cardinal All-Stars, and I think Joey Votto for the Reds got a raw deal by not being selected to the team. If you’re into that sort of thing, head over and vote for Votto to be the final player on the NL squad. I admit – I watch every second of the All-Star festivities and love it to death. No, the game doesn’t really mean anything, despite what MLB tells you about home field advantage. I don’t usually make comments on who is on or off the rosters, and I won’t even stand up here and argue that Jaime Garcia should be in or anything like that. I will say 3 things: 

  1. Ryan Howard over Joey Votto is a joke. I don’t really care that Howard is a St. Louis product – he’s crazy overrated, and the most annoying three true outcome player ever. You know that the managers don’t actually care about the outcome when Charlie Manuel states that he chose Howard just because it was ‘his guy.’ If he really cared he’d put the best players on. You’re not going to change my mind on this.
  2. I support Stephen Strasburg not being on the team. That probably contradicts what I just said about having the best players on, but they already are not pitching wise when the second best ERA in the league didn’t make the team. Yes, the second best ERA belongs to Garcia (fine… *honk honk*). Also, the NL squad has one lefthanded pitcher. AL squad? Five. Solid roster Manuel.
  3. I definitely support Albert Pujols not being in the Home Run Derby. He is tired of it, LaRussa hates it, and despite their denials of this, I hate what it does to Albert’s swing for the first week or two after the break.
This has probably been the least Cardinal centric post to ever appear on this site. Apologies for that, but I will make it up to you by rolling out a new post over at Baseball Digest. It talks about Cardinal teams in the second half under Tony LaRussa, and what we can hope to see for the second half. It was a labor of love for me, so please head over and check it out.

Blake Hawksworth has been officially announced as tonight’s starter for the Cards in Colorado. You might disagree with me, but I’m happy to see him getting sent out there over Jeff Suppan. Game time is 7:40 PM – Go Blake and go Cards! 🙂

Back in First

Hello, first place in the Central. We’ve missed you. Taking back first is made all the more sweet by the fact that the Cardinals did it by taking Bronson Arroyo and the Reds out to the woodshed yesterday. The boys finally gave Jaime Garcia some support with a 12 run explosion after giving him back to back no decisions in his last two starts. What’s worse? In those last two starts before yesterday, Jaime gave up 0 earned runs combined, and received 2 no decisions for his efforts. Terrible.

Chris took a turn over at Baseball Digest this week, and has a great piece on All-Star Game voting. Head over there and tell her your thoughts!

The Merry Month of May

Chris closed the books on April quite nicely yesterday, and the boys started out May with a solid win against Dusty Baker and the Reds. I know this has been said elsewhere, but if there’s any manager in baseball that uses his pitchers worse than Dusty, I have yet to see him. I feel bad for the guys on that staff – especially the starters. Their starters are averaging 102 pitches per game, a 35% quality start rate, and have 16 games already in this young season of 100+ pitches in a game (the Cardinals, by contrast, are at 97, 87%, and 9). That’s ridiculous.

Anyway, today I thought we’d have a little preview of the month ahead. If you’re interested, @DBear5 has created a nice desktop calendar for the month of May, which can be found here as well as pictured on the right. It’s easier than actually looking up/memorizing the schedule!

After today’s getaway day game against the Reds, the Cardinals are heading on the road for 4 games in Philly and 3 in Pittsburgh (May 3-9). As far as the Phillies series goes, it looks like the only pitcher we’ll miss is good old, old, old Jaime Moyer. Unfortunately, that means we’ll face two lefties in Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ, as well as a little ol’ Cy Young winner by the name of Roy Halladay. The last Philly pitcher we’re likely to see is Kyle Kendrick, who, as far as I can tell, hasn’t faced the Cardinals since June 13, 2008, a game in which the Cardinals lost 20-2, and Aaron Miles pitched a scoreless 9th. Ouch. Needless to say, the Phillies are going to be a tough match-up for the Cards.

I’m glazing over the Pittsburgh series, because I saw them in person last week, and despite the whuppin’ they put on Trevor Hoffman 2 days in a row, they’re still the Pirates, and that really isn’t Trevor Hoffman anymore, just a guy who looks like him. We’ll be okay.

From there, the Cards come home for 3 against Houston (May 11-13), then head to Cincinnati for 3 (May 14-16), before turning around and coming back home again. That’s a head scratcher. I do find it odd that we’ll face Cincy 3 times in the season’s first month and a half, and both the first two Houston series are in St. Louis, which means late in the season we’ll be playing in that bandbox known as Minute Maid a lot. I’ll save my rant on Minute Maid for later in the summer though…

On May 17-23 the Redbirds get to a home series featuring the Nationals, Marlins, and Angels. Wow, the more I look at this schedule the more demented it looks. Okay, so the Nationals actually aren’t horrible this year, and that’s without their savior-in-training, Stephen Strasburg (who might be getting the call to AAA after his next start). They’re being led by Pudge Rodriguez of all people, who’s putting up an insane line of .400/.431/.508, as well as Ryan Zimmerman with his line of .373/.418/.784. Another blast from the past – Jason Marquis – is 0-3 with a 20.52, and has only pitched 8.1 innings. In 3 starts. Tell me – is that bad?

After 2 with the Nats, we’ve got 2 with the Marlins, who are playing .500 ball through the first month. We then face the Angels, our first interleague series on the year, as well as our last until June 14th. One interleague series and then none for 4 weeks? Like I said, very strange schedule. Last year’s Duncan project – Joel Pinero, had a really rough outing on Friday, and is having issues with his sinker, which was his go-to last year. If he loses that, good luck LAA… in other Angels news, the offense is starting to heat up after a slow start, led by (a sentimental favorite, for reasons I’ll never know) Torii Hunter’s .314/.378/.535.

We’ll close out the month with one of the weirdest road trips I’ve seen in recent history, with a 3 game set in San Diego, followed up by a 3 game set in Chicago. Why on earth wouldn’t the powers that be do another West Coast series there? Depending on how the month goes, this will be either a brutal trip or just one of those random things we complain about (get-away day in SD is a 5:35 Central start, followed by the opener in Chicago at 1:20 Central)… but chances are Tony is not pleased with this set-up.

Those of you out-of-towners without mlb.tv will be able to enjoy national broadcasts for the month on the following days:
Wed, May 5 – @PHI on ESPN (the worldwide leader)
Sat, May 29 – @CHI on FOX (the worldwide failure)
Sun, May 30 – @CHI on TBS (very funny)

So here’s to a month of dominant pitching, solid hitting, W’s in the scorebook and leaving scribes scratching their heads as to what could possibly keep the Cardinals from October baseball. Pretty much like April, plus guys like Skip and Brendan breaking out of their beginning of the season slumps and Lohse having more games like the one he started the month with yesterday. It’s good to be a Cardinals fan.

Editor’s Note: We keep finding new toys – off to the left you’ll find a poll question on who April’s MVP was. We picked out Garcia, Penny, and Rasmus (though we could’ve picked others, such as Yadi or Wainwright). Who do you think the MVP should be?

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