Tag:Phillies-Cardinals
Posted on: October 5, 2011 9:08 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 11:13 pm
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Underrated play of Game 4: Pujols' throw to third



By Matt Snyder


Albert Pujols is still the best player in baseball and we saw it again on display Wednesday night. He didn't show us with his bat, as he so often does. It's not just the hitting. He's good at everything. Tuesday night, he stole third base in the first inning. Wednesday night, we were treated to his defensive and mental prowess in one fell swoop.

PHI-STL NLDS Game 4
In the top of the sixth, with the Cardinals holding a one-run lead, Chase Utley broke for second with the pitch on an apparent hit-and-run. Hunter Pence hit a grounder to shortstop. As Rafael Furcal went to throw the ball to first base and record the easy out, Utley took a huge gamble and tried to get to third base. Pujols saw Utley take off, and came off the bag to get the ball and throw Utley out at third base. He got him by several feet with a perfect throw -- see the picture above. Had Pujols stayed on the base, Utley would have been on third with just one out and Ryan Howard coming to the plate. A sacrifice fly would then tie the game. But Pujols instinctively came off the bag and nailed the lead runner.

Pujols fills the stat sheet with the best of them. While he wasn't the best hitter in the league in 2011, due to a slow start, he still had a 150 OPS-plus -- meaning his on-base percentage plus slugging percentage was 50 percent better than the average hitter -- with 37 home runs and 99 RBI in 147 games. And that's the worst year he's had in a decade. But he's also a guy who does all the little things. Just like how people like to say lesser talented players (Ryan Theriot?) do the "little things." So does Pujols. That's why he's still the best player in baseball.

David Freese was the hero of Game 4 with the double, home run and four RBI, but don't forget about Pujols' defensive play. If he doesn't make it, it's entirely possible the game heads into the late innings tied at three. From there, anything can happen. Instead, we're going to be treated with Game 5 Friday night. Praise Freese and several other Cardinals, but don't forget about that soon-to-be free agent first baseman.

Video: Manager Tony La Russa discusses his team's Game 4 win.



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Posted on: October 5, 2011 8:42 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 10:35 pm
 

Instant Reaction: Freese carries Cards past Phils



By Matt Snyder


Hero: David Freese. Period. He put the Cardinals ahead for good with a two-RBI double and later tacked on a two-run homer. In a lineup with three of the better power hitters in the baseball, Freese drove in four of the Cardinals' five runs.

Goat: Remember back at the start of the year when people liked to say the Phillies have "four aces." Yeah, they actually don't. Roy Oswalt isn't an ace anymore, and it showed Wednesday evening. Much of the "four aces" talk has morphed into "three aces," but after Wednesday's outing, it's pretty safe to say no one will continue to insist Oswalt is still the same pitcher he was three years ago. He coughed up six hits and five earned runs in five innings, even after being spotted a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound.

PHI-STL NLDS Game 4
Turning point: Freese's two-RBI double in the bottom of the fourth meant the Cardinals now had a one-run lead, instead of a one-run deficit.

It was over when ... Freese sent an Oswalt pitch into the grass that serves as a batter's eye over the center-field wall. There's no way the Cardinals felt confident with that 3-2 lead, but the 5-2 lead had to have felt pretty secure.

Next: They'll meet again in Game 5 Friday night with the season on the line. The loser goes home, the winner heads to the NLCS. We know the Phillies are sending Ace No. 1, Roy Halladay, to the hill. The Cardinals will likely go with Chris Carpenter. Buckle up, it's a pair of aces.



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Posted on: October 5, 2011 6:57 pm
 

Victorino's first 2011 error was quite comical

By Matt Snyder

If you missed the first inning and only have looked at the play-by-play or box score of the Phillies-Cardinals NLDS Game 4, you missed a hilarious defensive play by Gold Glover Shane Victorino. Lance Berkman hit a shot into the gap, and when Victorino went to field the ball, he fell. And he threw the ball ... backwards. There's no need to further elaborate, as you can check out the GIF below.

(Via: SBNation)

Shane Victorino fall

It's OK to laugh. Victorino himself was laughing about it. Plus, it didn't cost the Phillies anything. The runner was going to score anyway and Berkman was stranded on third at the end of the inning. Amazingly, that was the first error Victorino committed all season, regular season and postseason included.

Follow all the action live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 5:02 pm
 

NLDS Game 4: Holliday in lineup

Holliday

By Evan Brunell


Phillies at Cardinals, 6:07 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium

The long national nightmare is over: Matt Holliday is in the lineup for the Cardinals, as CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler writes on site.

Phillies Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Jimmy Rollins SS 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Chase Utley 2B 2 Skip Schumaker 2B
3 Hunter Pence RF 3 Albert Pujols 1B
4 Ryan Howard 1B 4 Lance Berkman RF
5 Shane Victorino CF 5 Matt Holliday LF
6 Raul Ibanez LF 6 Yadier Molina C
7 Placido Polanco 3B 7 David Freese 3B
8 Carlos Ruiz C 8 Jon Jay CF
9 Roy Oswalt RHP 9 Edwin Jackson RHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Oswalt vs. Cardinals: Oswalt has seen the Cardinals plenty, spending 10 years in Houston. He has 197 2/3 innings of history against St. Louis, posting up a 3.19 ERA. He made three starts against the Redbirds in 2011, with a eerie 3.21 ERA, very similar to his career marks. In those three games, Yadier Molina went 4-for 5 and Lance Berkman 3-for-5. Jon Jay is the lone Cardinal to have hit a homer off Oswalt this season, but over his career (and counting the postseason), Albert Pujols has seven homers in 102 plate appearances. Rafael Furcal and Molina also hit Oswalt well historically.

Jackson vs. Phillies: Jackson has bounced from team to team the last few seasons, but has only faced the Phillies once in the regular season, giving up five runs in five innings back on July 28, 2010 while with the Diamondbacks. Over Jackson's career and including the postseason, Raul Ibanez has faced Jackson the most, seeing him nine times and collecting two hits and walks apiece. Only Joe Blanton -- a long reliever for Philadelphia in October -- has gone deep against Jackson. There's no question the Phillies have minimal experience against Jackson, which could work in the right-hander's favor.

NOTES

Full Playoff Coverage
  • Get a load of this statistic, brought to you by the Associated Press: "Placido Polanco singled in the ninth [inning of Game 3], ending a 0-for-29 slump against St. Louis in the postseason. He was 0 for 17 with Detroit in the 2006 World Series."
  • Roy Oswalt is undefeated in the postseason, running up a 5-0 record. Win-loss records mean absolutely nothing when evaluating how good a pitcher is, but it's a nice little narrative. His ERA in the postseason is 3.25.
  • Edwin Jackson has never started in the playoffs but did relieve in the 2008 World Series for Tampa Bay, throwing two innings of one-run ball against Philly.
  • This could be Albert Pujols' final game as a Cardinal and/or at Busch Stadium.
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Posted on: October 4, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 10:50 pm
 

Cardinals need Holliday's bat back in lineup

Allen CraigBy C. Trent Rosecrans

If there was a good sign for the Cardinals in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Phillies in Game 3 of the National League division series, it came in the eighth inning when Matt Holliday sent a Brad Lidge slider into left field for a single.

It was just Holliday's second at-bat of the postseason, striking out as a pinch hitter in Game 1. Holliday has been dealing with a strained tendon in his right hand and unable to play in the field. However, before Tuesday's game, manager Tony La Russa said Holliday had improved and also said his outfielder had gotten a cortisone shot, something he had been avoiding up until this point.

The Cardinals could certainly use Holliday's bat in the lineup, as Lance Berkman is just 2 for 12 so far this postseason batting in Holliday's fourth spot. With Albert Pujols doubling three times ahead of Berkman, he had plenty of opportunities to drive in a run, but failed each time, leaving a total of five men on base. The Cardinals left 14 on base as a team. Not including Pujols, who had four hits, the top third of the Cardinals lineup went 3 for 27 against the Phillies on Tuesday.

Philadelphia-St. Louis NLDS

For the first time in the series, Berkman moved back to right field with Allen Craig starting in left. Craig started the first two games in right with Berkman in left. With Holliday out of the lineup, Craig has hit second and gone just 1 for 10 so far.

The question may be whether Holliday can play the field for an entire game. In the last game he started, on Sept. 27 in Houston, Holliday left the game in the third inning not because of his inability to swing the bat, but his inability to grip the ball on throws.

There's also the question of whether he can handle an inside fastball. In Tuesday's game, he only saw two sliders from Lidge, not anything hard. The Cardinals are a better team with Holliday in the game, but we'll see if Tuesday was the start of a great comeback story or just a cameo.


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Posted on: October 4, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 10:08 pm
 

Early story: Garcia efficient, Hamels not

By Matt Snyder

Phillies starter Cole Hamels and Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia are both putting up zeroes in the inning columns of the scoreboard Tuesday, but one of them is easily having the better outing.

Hamels has been good, having thrown four shutout innings to this point, but the Cardinals are making him work. Through four innings, Hamels has thrown 77 pitches. His season high is 126, but he hasn't thrown more than 100 in a game since September 13, when he threw exactly 100. One would figure he could handle upwards of 115, but after that all bets are off. So the Phillies bullpen will certainly be needed. Maybe even as soon as the seventh inning, which is early for a guy throwing a shutout.

On the other hand, if things continue on this path, the Cardinals relievers could just take a nap in the bullpen. Garcia has only thrown 51 pitches through five innings, putting him on pace to throw a complete game with only 92 pitches. Four of his five innings he's set down the Phillies in order, 1-2-3, so he's in an absolute groove.

But we're only halfway through the game, so things could change in an instant.

Follow along live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Phillies-Cardinals series | 2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 6:41 pm
 

La Russa fined for criticizing strike zone

By Matt Snyder

During the broadcast of Sunday night's NLDS Game 2 between the Phillies and the Cardinals, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa noted that the two teams were working with different strike zones, insinuating that Chris Carpenter was being squeezed while Cliff Lee was given a favorable zone. At the time, the Cardinals trailed 4-0, though they would eventually win the game, 5-4.

Philadelphia-St. Louis NLDS
La Russa also said he would likely get "in trouble" for making the statement. He was correct. He has been fined by an undisclosed amount by the commisssioner's office for the derogatory remarks about home plate umpire Jerry Meals. The amount isn't huge, though, as it's reportedly only "four figures" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

La Russa's no stranger to confronting umpires about strike zones. He's notorious for working on the home-plate ump and standing up for his pitchers. Back in the 2005 playoffs, he even complained about the strike zone Astros starter Roger Clemens was going to get before the game even started.

If the report on the fine is true, it's kind of a head-scratcher. There's no way a small fine like that would deter La Russa from making future comments, so what's the point?

Oh, and Tuesday marks La Russa's 66th birthday. Happy birthday, Tony, from Bud Selig. Now don't you dare complain about bad strike zones Tuesday night, lest you be slapped on the wrist again.

UPDATE: When asked if he needed to "get anything off his chest" during Tuesday evening's broadcast, La Russa said "my jaws are wired shut."

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 2:45 pm
 

NLDS Game 3: Cards, Phils battle for series lead

Hamels, Garcia

By Evan Brunell

Phillies at Cardinals, 5:07 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium, TBS
Series: Tied 1-1
 
Phillies Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Jimmy Rollins SS 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Chase Utley 2B 2 Allen Craig  LF
3 Hunter Pence RF 3 Albert Pujols  1B
4 Ryan Howard 1B 4 Lance Berkman  RF
5 Shane Victorino CF 5 David Freese  3B
6 John Mayberry, Jr. LF 6 Yadier Molina  C
7 Placido Polanco 3B 7 Ryan Theriot  2B
8 Carlos Ruiz C 8 Jon Jay  CF
9 Cole Hamels LHP 9 Jaime Garcia LHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Hamels vs. Cardinals: Hamels has plenty of history against the Cardinals, but the 2011 version isn't what he wants. Greinke gave up four runs to the Cards in seven innings in his lone start against St. Louis this year. The game came on Sept. 18, so Cardinals hitters will be familiar with Hamels when he toes the mound. Craig and Pujols each went deep on Hamels, but of batters with at least 10 plate appearances against Hamels in his career, only Theriot hits Hamels well at .333/.364/.571. No surprise he is in the lineup. Over Hamels' career, he has a 3.27 ERA in nine starts against the Redbirds.

Garcia vs. Phillies: Garcia has handcuffed the Phillies in the early going of his career, tossing up a pristine 1.90 ERA in four starts and two relief appearances. He's punched out 21 and walked 10 in 30 innings, including Ryan Howard six times. John Mayberry, Jr. has only faced Garcia six times but with three hits (one a double), he's the Phillie with the best marks against the lefty. Hunter Pence is the most successful Phillie with a decent amount of at-bats (15), having seen Garcia 15 times thanks to spending his career with Houston prior to being dealt to Philly.

Full Playoff Coverage

NOTES

  • The hottest Cardinals hitter in the last two games has been Ryan Theriot, who played in Game 2 and went 2-for-4 with two doubles. His counterpart in Game 1, Skip Schumaker, went 3-for-5. Great production out of second base.
  • The best Phillie hitter has been either Jimmy Rollins, who is 5 for 8 with two doubles and five runs scored, or Chase Utley. Utley's gone 3 for 6 with four runs scored and two doubles. Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard have also enjoyed a nice series.
  • Including the playoffs, St. Louis has gone 7-4 against Philadelphia.
  • How many relievers will Tony La Russa go through in Game 3? Game 2 saw six -- count 'em, six -- bullpen arms used, leaving just Jake Westbrook in the bullpen by the time Game 2 ended. A day off should ensure the entire bullpen is available.
  • There is zero chance of rain tonight in St. Louis and game-time temperature figures to be in the mid-70s.
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