It was a game that the Cardinals had every opportunity to win. Chris Carpenter turned in 7 stellar innings for the Cards, but that wasn’t enough for the bullpen to hold on. Or the offense to secure the win.
The same issues that plagued the Cardinals last season reared their ugly heads once again. Base running miscues and defensive mistakes cost the Cards this one. During the first seven innings, Skip Schumaker had a defensive mistake that was not credited as an error. Arguably it could have been, giving Carpenter 7 innings allowing just a single run.
Ryan Theriot miss the ball on a routine throw into the infield. In the ensuing play, his throw home was errant allowing the Padres to ultimately put two runs on the board in the top of the 11th.
But it wasn’t just the middle infield, Albert Pujols became the 100th player in major league baseball history, and the first on opening day, to ground into 3 double plays in one game. There was some thought that this was the major league record, but apparently Joe Torre had 4 in a game during his career. Obviously some fans will wonder if he’s lacking motivation due to the contract situation, but the motivation is exactly the opposite. He’ll want to put up big numbers this year because it will play into more dollars at the end of the season. However, trying too hard is something that he may have to worry about. I can’t have been the only one that sees him swinging at things he didn’t before since Holliday showed up.
While Matt Holliday nearly played hero with his solo shot in the bottom of the eighth to put the Cardinals up 3-2. He was still caught stealing and picked off, making two outs on the basepaths. Then Ryan Franklin could not hold onto the lead as he allowed a game tying home run to Cameron Maybin in the top of the ninth.
In the end, the Padres were just more efficient on offense. They scored 5 runs on 11 baserunners. Meanwhile the Cardinals just managed 3 runs on 15.
Seeing the 2011 Cardinals for the first time in action that counts, they have a long way to go. You might say that it’s only April and there’s 161 more games to play. While that’s true, every win you can get in April is one less you’ll need in September. Lots of work for this team to do. If they plan on playing baseball in October.
Hero of the Game: I’m going to give it to Chris Carpenter (7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K). It was all set to go to Matt Holliday until Franklin blew the save. At that point, Holliday’s HR was just another homer and the fact that it wasn’t the game winning run
Zero of the Game: This one was a tossup because I felt Ryan Franklin was also deserving. However, after much consideration I felt that if Pujols had had a better day, we wouldn’t have needed Franklin. Plus, is it Franklin’s fault the offense failed to put more runs on the board with the number of hits they got? So the Zero of the Game goes to Albert Pujols (0-for-5, 3 GIDP, 5 LOB).