April 23, 2009

Pineiro provides innings, not K's in Cards win

Pitching to contact may or may not have been Joel Pineiro's plan when he took the hill for the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night, but that's pretty much what happened.

The Cards, behind eight full innings of work by Pineiro, defeated the New York Mets 5-2 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Pineiro gave up six hits, but those were all early, but those were scattered over the first six innings, the Mets scoring one run in the third, then another in the ninth after Pineiro was lifted for Dennys Reyes, but still responsible for in the form of a "leftover" base runner.

Joe Thurston, Skip Schumaker, and Khalil Greene were quite busy backing up all that Mets' contact with a load of defense, fielding 16 ground balls, a liner, and a pop-up, collectively. Only six other fly outs were tallied, the catcher, Yadier Molina, responsible for the grab on one of those. The point at the end of these stats is that Pineiro not only pitched to contact, but did so in grounder-producing fashion.

Albert Pujols and Colby Rasmus each went 2-for-3 in support of Pineiro. Pujols also had a sacrifice fly. Joe Thurston tripled and amongst Rasmus's hits was a double.

The Cards' drew first blood, that Pujols' sac-fly scoring Schumaker in the first inning.

Daniel Murphy helped the Mets tie the game in third with a single that scored Luis Castillo.

Cards' fans would not have to wait long for an answer, the bottom of the third, after the Mets' starting pitcher, John Maine walked Pineiro and a one-out single by Rasmus. Pujols singled home Pineiro and advanced Rasmus to third. The next hitter, Chris Duncan, grounded into a fielder's choice, but that was good enough to score Rasmus and the Cardinals went up two runs at 3-1.

Two innings later, in the fifth, the Cards would score the only other runs they would for the evening, two this time. After Maine issued a one-out walk to Greene, Thurston tripled him home. Schumaker would come along with a two-out single to plate Thurston, the Cards then up 5-1, where they would stay.

Cards' manager Tony La Russa would allow Pineiro a shot at a complete game, the starter obviously gassed but taking the mound for the ninth. When Pineiro immediately fell behind the count to David Wright, however, who then doubled into the left field corner, TLR brought on Dennys Reyes.

Reyes threw a ground out and a fly out, however, sandwiched between those outs was a run-producing double by Carlos Beltran, pulling the Mets within three at 5-2.

Cards' semi-closer, Ryan Franklin, was called upon to secure the final out versus pinch-hitter Gary Sheffield, who popped out to Molina to end the game.

The Pineiro win advanced his perfect record to 3-0 while teammate Franklin earned his fourth save. Maine suffered the loss for the Mets, now 0-2.

The 5-2 victory put the Cards up 2-0 in the three-game set with the Mets. Thursday's afternoon game will provide an opportunity for the Cardinals to sweep.

Regardless of Thursday's outcome, the Chicago Cubs come to St. Louis for a three-game series over the weekend.

Livan Hernandez (1-0, 4.63) is slated to start for the Mets Thursday, matched against Kyle Lohse (2-0, 2.57).
photo by Barbara Moore