I watched the Cardinals-D-Backs game tonight thanks to the wonderful world of digital cable. I get 10 pay-per-view baseball channels and Fox will televise on one nightly for free. It's great because you tap into the local broadcasts with the local announcers pandering to local fans. The St. Louis game had a more Cardinal-centric Joe Buck paired with, I believe, Al Hrabosky for color. The second game featured the great Vin Scully-what a great voice-announcing the Dodgers-Rockies game.
Anyway, here is a running list of game notes that I had while watching the game:
- First, Luis Gonzalez is out for the year with the shoulder separation that he suffeed last night. The D-Backs started David Dellucci who apparently will spell Gonzalez in left throughout the playoffs. Erubiel Durazo had an unexpected start in right. Maybe Brenly is auditioning both of these guys at once. I think he should settle on one and that one should be Durazo, with McCracken in right. The only problem in moving Durazo is that it weakens the D-Backs at first where no one seems to notice that Mark Grace has started to become an albatross. Platooning Grace with righty Greg Colbrunn for the playoffs would help, though it would deplete their bench. Then again there always is that promising rookie first baseman, Jay Bell.
- The best "homer" announcer interchange that I have ever heard:
Joe Buck: mike Matheny has three home runs on the year, the last coming April 26.
Al Hrabosky: Boy, he got off to a hot start, didn't he?
These guys make the YES! crew seem like turncoats. After reliever Rick White surrendered one run to cut the Cardinal lead in half in his one inning of work., they said something to the effect, "Nice job, Rick White!"
- Roster issues: I caught the end of a conversation in which the announcers stated that the playoff roster is the August 31 roster. Therefore, Matt Morris, who was on the DL on Aug. 31, and Jason Simontacchi, who was mysteriously in the minors on August 31, are not eligible. I do not believe, at least in Morris' case that this is true.
- They had a special report between innings about how great the Cardinals infield is (citing the lone statistic errors throughout) and how it's the best infield the team has ever had. For the record, Bill James' Win Shares, the best tool for evaluating talent that I know of, rates Martinez an A+ at first, Vina an A at second, Rolen a B+ at third, and Renteria a C at short. That's not bad, but what about what about the Ozzie Smith (A+) at short, Terry Pendleton (A-) at third, Tommy Herr (C+) at second, and Jack Clark (rated as OF) at first. I would rather hide my weaknesses at second and first than short.
- Bad plays abounded:
o Mark Grace allowed himself to get hit by a David Dellucci grounder that was scored a fielder's choice and a hit.
o Dellucci held on a 3-2 pitch that resulted in a double on which he ended up at third (and didn't score).
o Dellucci broke for home on contact with the pitcher up and was easily tagged out. Why did he go on contact?
o Dellucci did a little excuse-me non-slide at home. Why didn't Delucci slide or at least run back up the line to allow the trailing runner to move up to scoring position?
o Miguel Cairo was doubled off of second base to end the fifth on a line drive caught by Dellucci in left.
o Mantei replaced Patterson and his second pitch was a high not-so-fastball to J.D. Drew. He also lobbed one in right over the plate to Cruz, which he he lined for a single.
o Dellucci had a pathetic throw to the plate when the second Cardinal run scored in the seventh. There was nothing on it. It was way up the line. And the batter moved up to second on the throw (though he did not end up scoring).
o Dellucci did draw a walk with the D-Backs trailing 2-1 in the ninth with two outs. But If I were Brenly that would be the end of his audition.
- Nice plays:
o Vina made a great play on a ball far to his right.
o In the ninth, Colbrunn hit a ball up the middle that Renteria knocked down and attempted to get Mark Little going home. Despite the nice throw Little avoided the tag and scored the tying run.
o So Taguchi stole his first base in the majors in the bottom of the ninth. He overslid the bag but hooked his toes on it so that his momentum would carry his body over it and he would stop. He then scored the winning run on Renteria's two-out single.
By the way, I would now bet on John Patterson replacing Brian Anderson on the playoff roster. Also, if the Cardinals win tomorrow, they would tie the D-Backs for second place in the NL and gain homefield due to the head-to-head record with the D-Backs. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks still have not clinched a darn thing.