So Close

Going into the game, you know that the Cubs are getting beat and the Brewers are getting pounded. First place is there for the taking, if you can just win. To not get it done is frustrating, but at least no ground is lost.

And you have to give the Cards credit. A lot of times in that situation, they’ve come out and just laid a total egg, getting routed. Last night, they took a lead on Brandon Webb, which is hard enough to do, before Wainwright just wasn’t able to hold it. If Miles doesn’t stumble trying to get the double play, maybe it’s different, but Chris Young was running and it was a high chopper, so I’m not sure they’d have been able to get it anyway.

The biggest question in the game, in my mind, was LaRussa sending up Branyan in the eighth with runners on the corners and one out. Branyan is a Three True Outcomes type of guy (walk, strikeout, home run–outcomes that have nothing to do with the fielders), which can be good in certain situations. If the Cards had been down by two or more, he’s a good fit there. You need the long ball possibility and one run might not be enough. In this situation, though, his propensity to strike out hurts you much more than his potential power. All you need is a sac fly to the outfield, though a hit would be nice as well.

Seems to me that you send up either Ludwick, if you want to retain the power possibility, or Brendan Ryan in that slot. Ryan would have to come into the game anyway to play third, plus he’s more likely to put the ball in play and should have enough speed to stay out of the double play. I think that’s where I’d have gone, but I’m sure TLR had his reasons. The man has managed a game before, as you know.

More on l’affaire Ankiel and today’s game after the jump.

I got to see a little bit of the Jocketty/Ankiel press conference before the game, and what I saw reassured me quite a bit. I liked that Jocketty emphasized not only that it wasn’t banned by MLB, which really is the minor point, but that “no laws were broken.” I liked that Ankiel was there and not saying, “Hey, they’ve told me not to talk about it.”

A few people are likely a bit suspicious by the following quote:

“I’m not going into the list of what my doctors have prescribed for me. I’ve been through a lot emotionally and physically. There are doctor-patient privileges and I hope you guys respect those privileges.”

I’m personally wondering if that doesn’t mean that Rick was prescribed some stuff like Prozac or some psychological drug in his rehab, a fact which he might want to keep out of the press. You know that the headlines would be big for something. And if he violates the doctor-patient confidentiality on the HGH, then that invites more scrunity and the privilege is not as strong.

Also, I’m also not as surprised that he stopped taking it right before the MLB ban. When I was in the hospital dealing with Guillain-Barre, I was on a pain pill called Neurotin, which was doctor prescribed. If, for some reason, the doctor came to me and said, “Look, the AICPA is going to ban Neurotin in the next couple of weeks,” I’d say, “Let’s get off of it, then.” It’d have the same type of look and timing as the Ankiel situation.

In other news, Brad Thompson was given the start for Sunday. Hopefully he’ll do better with it than Maroth and Wells did in their last outings, or we may see them again.

Today’s game: Braden Looper, our amazing #2 guy, against Micah Owings, otherwise known as Babe Ruth. None of the Cardinas have ever faced Owings, but the Cardinals pounded the last righty they’d never seen before (Bullington, 16-4), kinda messing with my TLR/Duncan preparedness theory. None of the D-Backs have seen Looper more than 6 times, so there’s not a whole lot of reliable stats there either. Should be an interesting one to watch.

Scoreboarding: Cubs at Pittsburgh. Zambrano at Snell. Normally, you’d say the Cubs are overwhelming favorites, but Zambrano’s been in a funk and we saw in St. Louis that Snell can step up. It’s still in the Cubs’ favor, but it won’t be terribly easy.

Milwaukee at Cincinnati. Suppan at Harang. The Reds throw their ace, which gives them the edge. And if they hit like they did last night…………..

Good thing with the late Mountain Time starts is that you’ll have a pretty good idea how the Cubs and Brewers are doing before the game gets underway. Hopefully it’ s like last night, where they are two blowouts in the Cards’ favor and this time maybe the Cardinals can take that next step.

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