Steve’s Fun Bits (About the Cardinals)
Why hello there. I didn’t have a chance to write anything last week, as I was helping oversee a group of volunteers LouFest (the ones selling/pouring drinks, so clearly the awesome volunteers…just kidding, everyone who worked it did a tremendous job), which was a rousing success. Unfortunately, that meant I was at Forest Park all weekend and couldn’t even watch or listen to the games. Still, the outcomes were pretty impressive. In taking two out of three games from the Reds (as well as the game tonight from the Bucs), the Cardinals have won nine of their last 12 games and are now 2.5 games ahead of the Dodgers for the final wild card spot, three ahead of Pittsburgh, and just a game and a half behind Atlanta for the top wild card spot. Hopes of claiming the Central remain slim, as they’re still 6 games behind Cincy, but the Reds have lost three of their last five games, and the Birds gained two games on them.
This will be a very quick post; I just wanted to point out a few things.
Who’s Been Hot
After slumping for the majority of August, Holliday’s come on strong. In his last seven games, he’s hit .516 (16 for 31) and slugged a rather solid .806 and driven in nine runs.
Craig’s impressive RBI capabilities have been written about previously, but in general, the guy can flat-out hit. In his last 16 games, Craig’s gone 28 for 66 (.424) and slugged .666. His last four games, he’s driven in nine runs.
Molina, too, has found his stroke in the last few games, having hit .454 (15 for 33) in his last eight games. In that stretch he’s also slugging .666 and he’s driven in eight runs. With his surge, Molina now ranks fourth in the NL batting title race.
I’m sure most of you are aware of the 19-inning marathon game that took place last Sunday against the Pirates. By inning, the game was the second-longest in the nascent history of the new Busch Stadium. The longest game? A 20-inning spring that took place April 17, 2010. I was lucky enough to be at that game.
Interestingly, the same pitcher took the mound for the Cardinals in both games: Jaime Garcia. So if you’re going to a game he’s pitching, there’s a chance you might need to settle in for a while.
Speaking of which, Yadier Molina also caught all 19 innings of the game Sunday, as he did in the 20-inning game. He kinda had to, as backup catcher Tony Cruz was used as a pinch-hitter. Had Molina gotten injured after Cruz was unavailable, could you name the emergency third catcher for the Cardinals? It’s the man I’ve come to call Jugs: Daniel Descalso. Woulda been pretty interesting to see him catch. Current closer Jason Motte actually started out as a minor league catcher, but his weak hitting and cannon arm (he threw out a higher percentage of base-stealers in the minors than Yadier Molina did) convinced the club to turn him into a reliever.
Interestingly enough, there is a third player on the Cardinals’ 25-man roster who has caught more innings at the major league-level than Descalso and Motte combined (which would be zero).
The final game of the 2009 season, the game against the Brewers went into extra innings. Yadier Molina had been unofficially shut down for the remainder of the season due to various injuries. In the sixth inning, starter Jason LaRue was lifted from the lineup, and the only other catcher on the roster, Matt Pagnozzi, was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the ninth. Needing a catcher for the tenth (and ultimately final) inning, Tony La Russa turned to an unproven rookie who at that point had played in all of 17 games at the major league level and had last caught in 2006 while still in college: David Freese.