By: Big Rygg
Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis Cardinals have made no bones about the fact that they don’t like the Milwaukee Brewers’ brashness nor their postgame celebration. Obviously, Milwaukee doesn’t think that they necessarily do anything disrespectful toward their opponent in their postgame antics.
Let’s sidebar here for a moment when I ask you to think back to your childhood (or if you are still a child while reading this, think back to some time last week). Has anyone ever told you that you were doing something that they didn’t like and you reacted, to intentionally poke the bear so to speak, did the extreme opposite of whatever it was that they said they didn’t like?
The Milwaukee Brewers decided against maturity today when they absolutely hauled their collective rear ends off of the baseball field and out of their dugout once they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals today. They know exactly what the Cardinals think about the untucking of the shirts and everything that goes along with it. When Bill Hall (who hit the game-winning single), Casey McGehee (who scored the game-winning run) and MIke Cameron (who had to touch second base for it all to count) sprinted to the dugout steps and joined the mass of Brewer personnel pouring into the clubhouse, it was a nice little “nah-nee-nah-nee-boo-boo” to LaRussa’s second-place ballclub.
For the record, the team is saying that they just wanted to celebrate a hard-fought victory with themselves as a team in the clubhouse. Also for the record? They couldn’t have pleased me more as a baseball fan. Instead of letting Tony LaRussa lead in this NL Central dance, Ken Macha and the boys have their right hand firmly fastened to the Cardinals’ back.
Milwaukee has now won 11 of the last 12 games against St. Louis, including all four they’ve played so far in 2009. You have to start to wonder at what point the Cardinals begin to feel like they might be the next Pittsburgh Pirates to this ballclub (though, to be fair, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still the currently Pittsburgh Pirates to this ballclub).
Everything else aside, however, there was one heckuva ballgame played on the field today that got us to that point in the 10th inning.
Cardinal starter Chris Carpenter, making his second start since coming off the DL, was outstanding. He pitched 8 scoreless innings and even took a perfect game into the 7th inning before Craig Counsell singled past Skip Schumaker into right field. Carpenter finished with 10 Ks in the game in a masterful, ace-type performance. In fact, Carpenter has not yet allowed a run in 2009 over 23 IP.
Brewer starter Yovani Gallardo was nearly as dominant as his counterpart in a game that Milwaukee simply needed to be just that. Gallardo pitched 8 innings as well (despite starting the 7th inning over 100 pitches) and struck out Albert Pujols with a man on base to end the 8th inning. Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect 9th as he was already warming just in case the Brewers took the lead in the bottom of the 8th (sidenote: The sound guys at the ballpark, per Hoffman’s instructions this year, did NOT play Hell’s Bells as Hoffman trotted in for the 9th inning. It was not a save situation, and therefore Hoffman didn’t want it played.) Carlos Villanueva pitched a very good 10th inning and picked up the victory after Hall’s heroics.
In a game that felt early on like one run would win it, both starting pitchers have a lot to be proud of. Kyle McClellan, on the other hand, couldn’t do for Carpenter what Hoffman and Villanueva did for Gallardo as he suffered the loss for the redbirds.
This victory puts the Brewers back atop the NL Central all by themselves. It’s a lofty perch as with it comes the 2nd best record in all the National League (behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers), but it’s one that I certainly don’t mind resting my wings on.
This series isn’t over by a longshot, though, as these teams play two more games. If we win at least one more, the Cardinals leave town in 2nd place. If we are fortunate enough to sweep them again, we will once again hold a three-game lead in the division just like the last time we faced the Cardinals. We went into that series tied atop the division as well and left with a three-game lead (though we put the Cardinals into third place at that point, but the Chicago Cubs have helped us out by losing 7 in a row entering play tonight including getting swept by the red-hot San Diego Padres at Petco Park).
Tomorrow’s game is a rematch of another 1-0 game against these teams this year as Jeff Suppan squares off against Adam Wainwright. First pitch scheduled for 7:08pm and I will be there watching.
Let’s beat down the birds and regrab the momentum in the NL Central!
(By the way, was anybody else very comfortable when Hall strode to the plate in the 10th? After all, what does Bill Hall do best? Big hits on holidays!)