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Tag:Allen Craig
Posted on: October 28, 2011 2:02 pm
 

Matt Holliday removed from World Series roster

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals All-Star left fielder Matt Holliday will not play in Game 7 of the World Series. He's been replaced on the World Series roster by rookie Adron Chambers. Expect Allen Craig to get the start in left field for St. Louis.

Holliday said Thursday night that he was hoping to play in Game 7, but obviously things looked worse Friday when he woke up. The interesting thing here is that Thursday night Holliday's announced injury was a severely bruised right pinky finger. Friday, the Cardinals announced he's been removed from the official World Series roster due to a sprained right wrist. Still, everything could have easily happened on that one play -- when Holliday was picked off third base by Rangers catcher Mike Napoli. The biggest issue was said to be whether or not he could properly grip a bat, so obviously he can't.

If you're wondering how this move can be made right now, here's why, directly from the press release: "MLB Postseason rules provide that injured players can be replaced during the World Series if the severity of the injury, as determined by Major League Baseball, is such that it would require a disabled list assignment during the regular season."

Holliday is hitting .158 with no RBI this World Series, though he has drawn enough walks to rack up a .385 on-base percentage and five runs scored. Craig is 4-for-15 (.267), but those four hits were all huge. He has two home runs and two go-ahead, RBI singles. Chambers is nothing more than bench depth at this point.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa confirmed that Albert Pujols made the hit-and-run call in Game 5 Tuesday. Remember, this was the one where Mike Napoli threw Craig out by a country mile at second base, clearing the way for another intentional walk to Albert Pujols. At the time, the game was tied, 2-2.

Monday night, La Russa would only say the following about the mishap:

"It was a mix-up, and on our team nobody gets thrown under the bus. So it was a mix-up."

Some players in the locker room had told reporters that Pujols was the one who made the call, but La Russa wouldn't do so.

That fact had obviously been weighing heavily on La Russa, because upon entrance to the interview room in Busch Stadium Tuesday afternoon, he said he wanted to talk first (usually the manager sits down and waits for questions). And he had plenty to say, speaking for several minutes about Albert Pujols and the seventh-inning caught stealing play.

Evidently Pujols has the privilege to call hit-and-run on his own. Obviously La Russa wouldn't reveal the sign Pujols uses, but he used it Monday night in the seventh inning with Craig on first base and Alexi Ogando on the hill.

"I think it's important to be accurate and then everybody has to be fair as they want to be," La Russa said. "If you look at the history of baseball or sports, I don't care what your sport is, when a player shows that they really have a feel for the game, coaches give them a lot of well-earned ability to influence what goes on. So Albert has that ability. (He) picked a 1-0 pitch, Ogando threw it out of the strike zone, and it didn't work. But it has nothing to do with Albert having special privileges or not being as great as all of us have seen him be for years, and a lot of us that know him on a daily basis say he is."

World Series Coverage
As La Russa mentioned, Ogando threw the pitch well out of the strike zone and Pujols neglected to swing. Remember one of the fundamental parts of a hit-and-run is that the batter is required to swing.

"Well, they teach you to swing if you can get -- and he can reach a lot of pitches, but that one (would have) just wasted a strike," La Russa said in defense of his star. "There's no way he could have reached it, although you try to protect the runner the best you can."

Craig was then thrown out and Pujols was then given a free pass for the third time of the game. It's surprising someone with the bat control of Pujols wouldn't just attempt to foul the pitch off -- especially since he was sure to be intentionally walked once first base was open. Basically, it was pretty obvious Pujols just didn't think the entire situation through. If he had, he would have realized it was a bad idea.

As Craig entered the dugout, La Russa could be seen questioning Craig. The manager was simply figuring out who called the hit-and-run.

"I thought, holy smokes, sometimes you have a regular sign, sometimes you have a flash sign, and I thought, crap, did I put it on?" La Russa said. "Is that the normal hit-and-run? What was that? And he told me. So then I said, 'okay.' I was just glad I didn't put it on."

Now, it might appear La Russa contradicted what he said Monday night -- regarding not throwing people under the bus -- in telling the media that Pujols made the ill-advised call. We didn't get an answer on this front, but the best guess is La Russa discussed with Pujols that he was going to come clean while also defending Pujols. It wouldn't make any sense to alienate your star player before Game 6 of the World Series -- especially when said star is about to be a free agent.

La Russa also defended himself for allowing a star player to have the kind of leeway Pujols does during the World Series, specifically pointing to Ian Kinsler having a green light to steal bases -- which directly led to the Rangers winning Game 2.

So there you have it. Pujols made an ill-advised hit-and-run call while the bullpen phone messed up La Russa's plan for how to attack Mike Napoli. If nothing else, the combination of the bullpen phone snafu and this botched hit-and-run attempt have shown the Cardinals certainly haven't lost a step in the drama department.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:47 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 5



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have moved ahead in the World Series, 3-2, and are just one game shy of their first World Series championship. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark. Oh, and the picture of Adrian Beltre's home run from his knee is here just because it was funny. No other reason.

• Of the previous 41 World Series that entered Game 5 tied at two, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 27 times (66 percent). So while it's definitely not over, odds and history are on the Rangers' side.

• "Pujols is going to put it in play, he's a good contact hitter, and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag." - Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said of the huge strike-him-out-throw-him-out play in the ninth, which seemed to ice the game.

• Remember the Cardinals' "happy flight" mantra? How they were on a huge streak of always flying either home or away coming off a victory. Well, both flights in this World Series are following losses. So now they're having sad flights.

World Series Game 5
• "It was just a mix up. It was a mix up and on our team, no one gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Allen Craig's attempted stolen base with Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh. Craig was thrown out by Napoli and then Pujols was intentionally walked. Had Craig made it, Pujols would have been intentionally walked, so it was obviously a mistake. But we know La Russa definitely didn't call for it.

C.J. Wilson walked 19 hitters this postseason, which ties Jaret Wright (1997, Indians) for the most ever. If Wilson comes back in relief in Game 7 -- which he wouldn't rule out when talking to reporters after Game 5 -- he'll have a good shot at dubious history.

• Monday was the birthday for both Arthur Rhodes (42) and Rafeal Furcal (34).

• The Cardinals set a record Monday night. They have made 65 pitching chances in the playoffs this year. The previous high was 62, established by the 2002 Giants. I have to say, I'm shocked Tony La Russa was behind this.

• "Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board," Napoli said of his huge two-RBI double. "I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap."

• "I don't know, I mean, not really," Napoli said when asked if he was surprised to see left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the game to face him in the bottom of the eighth. "I had Mitch hitting behind me who was a lefty and I didn't really see anyone warming up in the bullpen.

• "I wanna be a complete player," Napoli said when asked about his defense. "I'm trying hard on the defensive side."

• Cowboys great Roger Staubach threw out the first pitch. Did he practice? "I did, yeah. I was throwing really good in practice, you know. But it's a little different on that rubber. It's a downhill slant. I played baseball, so I should have -- I threw it really hard. That was my problem. I probably should have just -- it was a little low. I mean, it wasn't a strike."

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan on Ron Washington's dugout antics: "It's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows."

Derek Holland loves Mario -- of the video game series -- so much so that he has a "Super Mario" balloon likeness in his locker. "He's really fragile, so I just leave him here all the time."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:24 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 5



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have moved ahead in the World Series, 3-2, and are just one game shy of their first World Series championship. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark. Oh, and the picture of Adrian Beltre's home run from his knee is here just because it was funny. No other reason.

• Of the previous 41 World Series that entered Game 5 tied at two, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 27 times (66 percent). So while it's definitely not over, odds and history are on the Rangers' side.

• "Pujols is going to put it in play, he's a good contact hitter, and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag." - Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said of the huge strike-him-out-throw-him-out play in the ninth, which seemed to ice the game.

• Remember the Cardinals' "happy flight" mantra? How they were on a huge streak of always flying either home or away coming off a victory. Well, both flights in this World Series are following losses. So now they're having sad flights.

• "It was just a mix up. It was a mix up and on our team, no one gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Allen Craig's attempted stolen base with Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh. Craig was thrown out by Napoli and then Pujols was intentionally walked. Had Craig made it, Pujols would have been intentionally walked, so it was obviously a mistake. But we know La Russa definitely didn't call for it.

C.J. Wilson walked 19 hitters this postseason, which ties Jaret Wright (1997, Indians) for the most ever. If Wilson comes back in relief in Game 7 -- which he wouldn't rule out when talking to reporters after Game 5 -- he'll have a good shot at dubious history.

• Monday was the birthday for both Arthur Rhodes (42) and Rafeal Furcal (34).

• The Cardinals set a record Monday night. They have made 65 pitching chances in the playoffs this year. The previous high was 62, established by the 2002 Giants. I have to say, I'm shocked Tony La Russa was behind this.

• "Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board," Napoli said of his huge two-RBI double. "I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap."

• "I don't know, I mean, not really," Napoli said when asked if he was surprised to see left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the game to face him in the bottom of the eighth. "I had Mitch hitting behind me who was a lefty and I didn't really see anyone warming up in the bullpen.

• "I wanna be a complete player," Napoli said when asked about his defense. "I'm trying hard on the defensive side."

• Cowboys great Roger Staubach threw out the first pitch. Did he practice? "I did, yeah. I was throwing really good in practice, you know. But it's a little different on that rubber. It's a downhill slant. I played baseball, so I should have -- I threw it really hard. That was my problem. I probably should have just -- it was a little low. I mean, it wasn't a strike."

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan on Ron Washington's dugout antics: "It's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows."

Derek Holland loves Mario -- of the video game series -- so much so that he has a "Super Mario" balloon likeness in his locker. "He's really fragile, so I just leave him here all the time."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:50 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:26 am
 

Grading Game 5 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers took a pivotal Game 5 of the series with a 4-2 victory Monday night. Let's hand out some grades yet again.

Mike Napoli was obviously an A, but we're already covered him ... twice. There's no need to go overboard with the love-fest, so I'm going off the board. True baseball fans have been winning all series, because it's been an amazing series; one of the best since the epic 2001 clash between the Yankees and Diamondbacks. So we'll give both teams an A for the entertainment so far. Speaking for myself only -- and I still consider myself a fan -- I'd like to thank both teams and tell them to keep it up. This is outstanding. We've had close games, huge hits, great defensive plays, a historic performance by Albert Pujols and a near-historic performance by Derek Holland. I just can't say enough about how great this series has been. And we may get two more games. We'll see, but it's hard to fathom this thing getting boring.

World Series Game 5
A huge reason the Rangers came into the series so hot was the bridge Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman were providing to the eighth inning. But then both had been bad so far in the World Series -- pretty awful, in fact -- leaving a big question mark on what was supposed to be one of the Rangers' strengths. Maybe the rest provided by Holland in Game 4 helped, because while neither were sparkling Monday night, the decent outings had to be encouraging. Ogando allowed two hits and three walks in his inning, but two of those walks were intentional and his stuff looked more crisp. Feldman gave up a hit upon entering the game, but then got two big outs to end a threat, including a big strikeout.

The Rangers' defense has seemed a bit fickle this entire series, even if you can tell how much ability they have. The bad and good pretty much cancelled each other out Monday. David Murphy couldn't pick up a ball in the second, allowing Lance Berkman to advance to third. Then Berkman scored because Mitch Moreland botched what probably should have been a double-play ball. Of course, Murphy then made a spectacular diving catch to get out of the inning. Next inning, Moreland and C.J. Wilson teamed up to look like the Bad News Bears on a Furcal single, but a beautiful double play ended the inning. Later in the game, Elvis Andrus should have robbed Yadier Molina of a hit with an incredible across-the-body jump and throw, but Moreland couldn't dig the throw at first. But then in the seventh and the ninth, Napoli hosed Allen Craig at second on stolen base attempts.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa claims he called for "Motte" and not "Lynn" in the eighth inning, but, in the noise of the ballpark, the bullpen coach inadvertently heard "Lynn" and got the wrong guy up to throw. So La Russa didn't have the guy he wanted ready to face Napoli in that huge spot in the bottom of the eighth. He wanted Jason Motte, but Lance Lynn was in the bullpen. So La Russa kept left-hander Marc Rzepcyznski out there, who gave up the game-losing double. Considering Washington said "yes, I've had that happen before," about the phone gaffe, we'll grant La Russa a pass and only give him a D for the mishap. Still, isn't there something the Cardinals could have done there instead of letting a left-handed specialist face one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup?

The Cardinals ability to take advantage of baserunners was abysmal. They left 12 men on base, including eight in scoring position. They also had Craig thrown out twice on stolen base attempts. Seven hits, nine walks and a hit-by-pitch ... and two runs is all you come up with? That's awful. Easiest F I've ever given. Matt Holliday, if I can single someone out, needs to bring a lot more to the table, or Pujols isn't going to see a pitch worth swinging at the rest of the series.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: October 24, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:34 am
 

Napoli's double puts Texas one win from title



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers beat the Cardinals, 4-2, to take Game 5 of the World Series and a 3-2 lead overall.

Hero: Mike Napoli gave the Cardinals a huge scare in the bottom of the sixth inning, hitting what had a chance to be a three-run homer, but it nestled into Skip Schumaker's glove on the warning track. Disaster was averted, but only temporarily. In the bottom of the eight, Napoli came to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a two-RBI double, putting the Rangers on top for the first time all game. Let us not forget that Napoli also gunned down Allen Craig on a stolen base attempt in the top of the seventh with Albert Pujols at the plate

World Series Game 5
Goat: Several choices here, but let's go with Tony La Russa. He said it himself earlier in the series when he was getting heaps of credit for his tinkering, that praise and blame is based upon the players. So it's only fair to note that he left in a left-handed pitcher -- Marc Rzepcyznski -- to face Napoli in that pivotal eighth-inning at-bat. La Russa is so in love with matchups he brought in a right-handed Ryan Theriot to bunt against left-handed Darren Oliver the previous inning.

Turning point: Napoli's double in the gap.

It was over when ... The final out was recorded. It was a two-run lead heading into the ninth, sure, but Rangers' closer Neftali Feliz had to deal with the Cardinals' 2-3-4 hitters. So by no means was the ballgame over until it was officially over.

Next: We shift back to St. Louis for Game 6 -- where the weather is supposed to suck (sigh). We'll be treated to a rematch of what was a brilliant pitcher's duel, and defensive display for that matter, between Jaime Garcia of St. Louis and Colby Lewis of Texas. The next Rangers win will be a championship, while the Cardinals need to win both to take the crown.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:02 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 4:01 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 3



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cardinals took Game 3 of the World Series with some pretty huge offense. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark.

• Don't forget about Allen Craig. He had two huge hits in the first two games of the series and then hit a home run in his first at-bat of Game 3. As we noted in the Game 3 preview, the designated hitter actually gives the NL team the advantage in this series, as the Cardinals can get Craig's bat into the lineup, while the Rangers only get to add the likes of either Yorvit Torrealba or Mitch Moreland. The Rangers have a sick lineup, too, but seeing Craig, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and David Freese through the thick of the lineup is pretty imposing.

• Yes, first-base umpire Ron Kulpa is a born-and-raised St. Louis-area resident. I'm sure plenty of fans will latch onto that in the coming days and find it means that he had bias on the play. It's a ridiculous notion because, first of all, Kulpa was accountable for his mistake. "I saw a replay when I walked off the field, and the tag was applied before his foot hit the bag," he said after the game. If there was a hidden bias, he probably wouldn't own his mistake.

Secondly, if you still think he made the errant call on purpose, you're gonna have to explain why he called Ian Kinsler safe on a bang-bang play in Game 2. If Kulpa was in the bag for the Cardinals, he could have easily called Kinsler out and the Cardinals would have likely won that game, too.

World Series, Game 3
• Should Kulpa have asked for help? "No. On that type of play, I'm not going to ask for help. Ron (Washington) didn't ask me to get any help, either."

• Rangers manager Ron Washington on the call: "Well, he missed the play, and I knew he missed the play when I went out there. We still had an opportunity to get off that field with maybe them just pushing one run across the plate. We just didn't make the plays. I mean, I don't think you can just start all of a sudden making excuses about things. We had a chance to get off the field with them scoring one run in that inning right there, and we just threw the ball around in that inning, and it really messed up Harrison's outing because he was throwing the ball well."

• Neither Josh Hamilton nor the Rangers will say much about it, but when he had to throw on the brakes at third base in the bottom of the fifth inning, that had to have hurt his tweaked groin. Nothing brings out pain in leg muscle injuries like having to stop on a dime from full speed.

• "The thing I liked best was that he was working good counts all night," hitting coach Mark McGwire said to a handful of reporters in the hallway after the game of Albert Pujols' performance.

• Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki on throwing out the first pitch: "My last one in July was a little high. This time they told me to throw a four-seam fastball. I still don't understand what that means. But I think that's the grip I had. Or was it a two-seam fastball? No, I forgot. It worked out better the last time. Everybody just told me don't throw it low, so I left it way high, and Michael Young almost pulled a hamstring trying to jump and get it, and this time I think he could stay in the stance and catch it. So it was better."

• Cardinals manager Tony La Russa moved past Bobby Cox and into second place in the all-time record books. La Russa is now 16 wins behind Joe Torre for first.

• Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn on his outing: "You know, that's what this game is all about, who's going to be the guy that comes in and is able to get multiple innings in a game like that because both offenses were on tonight. Somebody had to come in and try to calm the storm, I guess, and I was able to make a couple pitches, and I actually got away with some pitches, too. So to be able to come in and get a couple outs there and not have to go in our bullpen any deeper, I felt like that was good movement on the rest of the series."

• Lots of attention is being paid to Alexi Ogando's issues this series, but Scott Feldman had a terrible outing Saturday night, too. Feldman and Ogando were an incredible bridge to the late-innings guys in the ALDS and ALCS but have faltered this series.

• Lost in the Cardinals' offensive hooplah: Matt Holliday is now just 2-for-11 in the World Series.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:22 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 2:49 am
 

Grading Game 3 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's grading time once again, as the Cardinals won 16-7 in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series. They now hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7. Let's give out some grades.

The Cardinals offense pounded out 15 hits -- including four home runs and three doubles -- while also drawing six walks. That means they hit .357 with a .438 on-base percentage and a .714 slugging percentage in the game. There's going to be a lot of attention on Albert Pujols -- and with damn good reason -- but it wasn't just him. Yadier Molina had two doubles and four RBI while Lance Berkman and David Freese both had multi-hit games. Jon Jay was the only starter who failed to gather a hit. And let us not forget Allen Craig got the scoring started with a home run in the first. By the way, this is an A+. Maybe even an A++ (do they still give those in elementary school?).

You can't give an A to a player from the losing team, so we'll throw Adrian Beltre here. His day was lost in the shuffle because he didn't hit a home run or make an awful defensive play, but Beltre had a great game. He went 4-for-5 with a double, an RBI, two runs and his usual silky-smooth defense.

We can't exactly say Lance Lynn was great, because he wasn't. In just 2 1/3 innings, Lynn gave up three hits, two walks, one run and allowed an inherited runner to score. But following Kyle Lohse and Fernando Salas meltdowns, Lynn needed to get some outs. At least he did the job of holding down the mighty Rangers offense just enough through the middle innings, giving the Cardinals' offense the chance to put this game out of reach. So, hey, we'll throw Lynn a C.

You can't give an F to a player on the winning team, but c'mon Jon Jay. Your teammates pound out 15 hits, 16 runs, three doubles and four home runs and you can't even manage a measly single? Jay went 0-for-5 with a strikeout, and is surely being roundly mocked by his teammates for his lackluster day on such an opportune night to fatten the stat line.

The Rangers take pride in their defense. They like the fact that they make things easier on their pitchers. Several players in the locker room told me as much after the defense probably won Game 2 for them. A great argument could be made that it cost them Game 3, or at least cost them a chance to keep up with Pujols and Co. Whine about the bad call all you want, Rangers fans, but Ian Kinsler's throw made it possible. Kinsler also had an error earlier in the game, just as Elvis Andrus did later in the contest. Mike Napoli's awful throw home, meanwhile, is what broke the game wide open for St. Louis.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com