Monday, April 5, 2010

Cards' Win Not All That It Appears

Let me first say that doubts about Albert Pujols' full health have clearly been shot down.

He is not a "Machine". He's Albert Pujols, which, some might argue, is miles beyond a Machine.

Also, concerns of Yadier Molina's lingering oblique injury have been put to rest after Yadi went 2 for 4 with a would-be game clinching grand slam in the ninth inning.

With Molina's grand slam, the final score fell in the Cardinals' favor, 11-6, though, it very well could've ended with a loss.

Here are some concerns after today's opener:
  • Cards Continue Struggles at Closer: LaRussa brought "closer" Ryan Franklin in for the ninth only to nearly squander a large lead. Franklin continually missed his spots and gave up two runs in what appears to be an unencouraging opening game for the 37-year old reliever.
  • Defense Shaky at Best: You can't say you didn't expect it...the Cardinals' infield consists of a outfielder-turned-second baseman (Skip Schumaker) and a rookie making the league minimum (David Freese). Both of which made errors today. On the bright side, Colby Rasmus looked more like Jim Edmonds making a leaping catch at the wall to save a home run.
  • Schumaker Struggles at Plate: We saw it in spring training and, unfortunately, it's continued to opening day; Skip Schumaker's hitting woes, that is. Schumaker took an 0 for 5 at the plate today despite two hard hit balls in his last two ABs. Regardless, this is unacceptable for the Cards' leadoff hitter. He is rather important to this lineup - in order for Albert Pujols to drive in runs, runners have to be on base.
  • Jason Motte still "Wild Thang": Jason Motte and his overpowering fastball saw few strike calls today. Motte's poor command put the Cards in sort of a "pickle" (Baseball pun intended).

On the other hand, it wasn't all bad:

  • Albert Pujols was...: Well, Albert Pujols.
  • Colby Rasmus Impresses: Second year center fielder Rasmus did work in the 5-hole, going 2 for 4 with a home run and crucial RBI single. Not to mention the Edmonds-esque catch in the sixth.
  • Brendan Ryan Does His Job: His job being...reach first base. Seems easy right? Maybe in Class AA, but this is the big leagues. Nevertheless, Ryan reached twice with a single and a walk. He then ran the bases beautifully, reaching third on a Pujols hit-and-run single.
  • Kyle McClellan Still a Solid Reliever: There were talks of making McClellan a starter this season, but with a shaky bullpen like that of the Cardinals, the Redbirds couldn't afford his absence as a reliever. McClellan pitched a near-perfect inning had it not been for a David Freese error.

All in all, sure, it was a good first win for the Cardinals, but don't let the score decieve you. They did some good things as a team, but they also did some disappointing things.

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