Game 10: St. Louis Cardinals
We stayed in a really nice hotel but in a really bad area of St. Louis. Talk about the best house in the street. It is about two and a half miles to Busch Stadium, but as we were going to a night game we were a bit skittery about walking home. Kitty worked out the bus schedule, and the number 40 took us right to the park, which is in downtown St. Louis. It is located just minutes away from the Gateway Arch and the mighty Mississippi River. The classical red brick exterior of the stadium ties in nicely with the office blocks of the downtown area. The hustle and bustle all adds to the great atmosphere of this park that acts as a shrine to the great Cardinals teams of the past and its 11 World Series victories. The Busch Stadium faithful remind me a lot of the old Lancaster Park crowd, very patriotic and knowledgeable – but I would suggest, do not cross them. In a great piece of forward thinking all the seats are painted red, and with the number of red shirted supporters the stadium always looks full. Having said that, there were just under 40,000 people there and I believe that is about par for the course.
The Cardinals go into this game with a clear lead in their division, so are looking to consolidate on that. The San Diego Padres have not rebounded from that first night lose to the Dodgers and are trailing them by 10 ½ games in the NL West.
San Diego Padres ………….000 000 000 – 0
St. Louis Cardinals …………100 002 10x – 4
Once again the pitcher was the star of the game. The St. Lois hurler, Adam Wainwright threw all nine innings for no runs – a shutout. He tossed 111 pitches of which 75 were strikes. After keeping San Diego scoreless at the top of the first Matt Carpenter doubled in the bottom of the innings. However he grabbed at his right side after hitting the ball into left field and limped into second base and was lifted from the game. Pinch runner Daniel Descalso came in on a single by Carlos Beltran, who is batting a very good five for nine against San Diego starter Edinson Volquez.
Some loose Padres defence and a couple of hits by Matt Holliday played a part in the other three Cardinals runs. Holliday also had a role in the Padres not scoring at all by making a sliding catch in the left field, starting a double play to end the seventh innings. Still, it was only 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth before the Cardinals gave Wainwright a three run cushion, with two runs thanks to lax Padres defence, bad Cardinals base running that turned out good and I believe a dubious umpiring decision at home plate.
Descalso was hit in the foot by a pitch and so gained a walk. Holliday skimmed a single just passed first baseman Yonder Alonso sending Descalso to third. Beltran then grounded to Alonso near the base. Descalso, who should have stayed on third, broke half way down the line, into “no man’s land” caught between third base and home. Alonso could have backtracked to the bag and perhaps kept Descalso at bay, or he could have run right at him, but Alonso instead opted to throw behind Descalso in a bid to get him returning to third. Descalso then hared for home and slid in as catcher John Barker took Andy Parrino’s throw from third. Now it appeared to me that he was out. The umpire however called safe.
Baseball has resisted the temptation to bring in video or television technology to aid the umpires apart from in one instance. Video can only be used to assist in the decision as to whether a long hit ball is in fair play or foul. For every other decision the umpire has to make the call. There is a lot of debate about this practice, but I like it. Although in this instance I reckon that the home plate umpire had made a mistake that cost the Padres an out and in a famous instance where first base umpire Jim Joyce’s bad call clearly cost Detroit’s Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010, it is still what sport is all about.
In some sports the officials are now too afraid to use their own judgement to make an instantaneous decision. Rugby is the perfect example where in about 90% of the try decisions the referee and assistants refuse to make a decision and instead demur to the video technology. Even then the technology cannot always pick out all the action and the referee has to use his own judgement. In my mind that is what sport is all about. Players and officials making decisions. I might delve into the possibility later however about whether or not being the home team helps in such instances.
I believe that one of the reasons that we watch sport is for those imperfections and hoping that one day incredibly (impossibly?) everything will go right. If we want perfection, this can be obtained by going to a movie where the actors get repeated takes, or opportunities to get it right. MLB, like life is not a movie and it is not a dress rehearsal. We have to live with our decisions. Keep the video technology out of the game and keep it human.
So, back to the game in question and with the Cardinals now up 2-0. Tyler Greene hit into what was potentially an inning ending double play to shortstop Everth Cabera, who booted the ball twice and could only get the force out of Greene as Holliday scored. Then in their next at bat St. Louis scored again in the form of Rafael Furcal, who had a stellar game defensively at short stop, when he was walked, moved around by Descalso and scored on a Holliday double. Wainwright felt the pressure a bit in the ninth when he walked two batters with two outs. Then with just under 40,000 including Kitty and I standing and clapping and demanding the final out of the evening he delivered. A satisfying 4-0 victory for the home team.
We left the warm confines of Busch Stadium and easily caught the number 40 back to the well-appointed Days Inn – not dilly-dallying on the way. After enjoying a night cap we reflected on a good night out and ball game number ten ticked off.