April 5, 2012

Cards win season opener in new Florida ballpark

A 4-1 win for the Cards behind the stellar pitching of Kyle Lohse made the season opener lots of fun for Redbirds fans. Of course, the St. Louis victory spoiled the Marlins grand opening in their new park.

Lohse, often maligned by fans and reporters alike, in seasons past, got off to a great start with pinpoint pitching and a strong realization that he will not be overpowering hitters. Lohse seems to have really embraced the pitching to contact formula of his former coaching staff, just in time for the Cards new coaching staff. What's odd is how many have doubted Lohse and downed him during times when he was injured. Carpenter and Wainwright haven't seemed to incur such wrath in the past.

Not in the clique: Didn't Mark McGuire look out of place in the dugout? It'll be interesting to see if Cards upper management will permit Matheny to replace him if that is indeed his druthers. Love to be a hitting coach on the one MLB team that probably doesn't need one.

Chatty helmsman: New manager Mike Matheny was engaged in more dugout chatter--pregame--than TLR would over the course of nine innings.

Berkman had a justifiable beef: One can see how much a missed call by an umpire can affect a game. When Lance Berkman scooped to complete what he thought was the second half of a late inning double play and the ump declared the batter-runner safe, the Marlins went on to score a run and were afforded an "unearned" opportunity to potentially steal the game from the Cards.

Marlin's Ramirez lost puppy: Despite some ESPN announcers smooching some hot corner butt, Ramirez appeared clueless over at third base. The broadcast team seemed (for some reason) to be making a huge deal out of how Ramirez played a sac bunt defense (vs. Lohse) like a "seasoned pro." Really? Lohse's bunt didn't come off very well, dropping dead a foot or two in front of the plate so that the catcher couldn't tripped over the damn thing. Ramirez's defensive duty under the situation would be to charge if he had a play or retreat to cover third if he sensed a teammate would field the sacrifice in order to go for the force-out at third. Well gee whiz, a youth league player wouldn't reacted the same way as the read on Lohse's bunt could have been covered by someone reading it in braille. So after all his pro infield experience, why wouldn't Ramirez know what every infielder does on various bunt defenses? And so what if the third baseman usually gives the bunt defense to the infielders and battery? Those calls come from the bench anyway. And letting a ground  ball scoot through moving to his left wasn't even close to miscommunication with the shortstop. The rule for a third basemen on such grounders is pretty simple, and rightfully so, as the reaction time is short: take any ground ball you can reach, obviously moving toward the foul line but also moving toward your left. Only if you sense you might not make a play moving to your left should you let the ball go through, and then, only if you were on the ball enough to know where your shortstop's positioning for that pitch and know your shortstop's range. If Ramirez had just been thrown over at third that night, then okay, but come on, he's had all spring training to figure it out. Now if Ramirez had blown the chance, that would've been understandable, but he may be a bit tight over at third with someone like Guillen forty feet away and eyeing him for what he undoubtedly believes is infielder sacrilege.

Jay is just alright with me: Cards' outfielder Jon Jay often seems to be on the chopping block with speculators of trades. Seems Jay will make a solid everyday center fielder who has a great feel for the position and a decent bat from the left side. Might be short of star status in a lot of categories but so what? Jay can give the Cards a ton of solid innings in the outer gardens and is less of an injury risk due to his youth. Jay should make Cardinal Nation comfortable in what is considered one of baseball's most important positions, making the Redbirds solid up the middle.

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