It was the quintessential Cardinals-Cubs game: hotly contested until the end. Although the final outs weren’t recorded without a bit of anger from Cardinals hitters, Cubs closer Kerry Wood preserved the 2-1 win.
I don’t mind the Cardinals losing a game. Hell, we’ve now lost 39 of them. But it does irk me when the Cardinals have a chance to win and the home plate umpire spoils any hopes of a comeback.
It all started when third baseman Troy Glaus was at the dish to lead off the inning. Wood ran the count to 3-1, and a pitch that was several inches outside was called a strike.
Glaus, pretty heated with the ump's call, clearly showed his displeasure. On the following pitch, however, with the count full, Glaus was called out on a pitch that was almost a foot outside, with no exaggeration.
Although it is obviously the Cardinals fault for not being able to capitalize on other opportunities, it’s very painful to see them lose on an umpire’s wrongdoing. Not only was the first call horrible, but the umpire figured he didn’t want Glaus to “show him up,” so he let his ego make the strike three call.
Aside from the ninth inning issues, the rest of the game was very well-played. Both sides fought hard, and fought even harder to get hits. Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano was sensational in his comeback from the DL, and Braden Looper shrugged off two early inning solo shots to throw a productive seven innings.
The only problem with those two blasts was that they proved to be the games winning runs.
Another piece of history was written tonight, but may have flown slightly under the radar. Cardinals’ slugger Albert Pujols became the 18th active player to reach the 300 home run plateau, which closed the gap in half to 2-1. Pujols was also the fifth fastest of all time to hit the 300 mark.
Even though the Cardinals lost tonight’s game, there have been numerous occasions this season when the Cardinals win the subsequent two games of the series to capture the series title. Furthermore, pitching turnarounds Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer will take the mound for the Cardinals on the weekend, and have a combined 17-5 record this season.
After several games of the hitting carrying the Cards, it was finally the pitching that kept them in it for tonight. That said, both offense and defense will need to be in-sync for the Cardinals this weekend if they plan on taking two of three from the Cubbies.
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