Cardinals-Padres: Albert Pujols Clears The Way for Victory for St. Louis

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IJuly 19, 2008

Many people (including myself and a number of Cardinals faithful here on Bleacher Report) have questioned many of the decisions by manager Tony La Russa during this season.

His instincts to leave in Todd Wellemeyer would prove to show his cunning as the Cardinals defeated the Padres 6-5 on Saturday.

The newly converted starter left fastballs up, fell behind in counts, and could not obtain strikeouts with the slider. In short, his location was all over the place in the first two innings.

Despite Wellemeyer struggling in his first two innings by giving up five runs, the statuesque flamethrower would not be denied. After the early debacle, he headed for calmer waters and settled down to help lead the Redbirds towards the win.

Even the team's leader, Albert Pujols, had faith in his teammate.

"Down five runs in the first two innings is tough, but we've got a lot of outs left," Pujols said. "I think in the third inning, Todd really found himself out there and felt comfortable and started making some pitches, and gave us an opportunity to come back in the game and win."

It was Wellemeyer's first win since his elbow injury on June 5. A very encouraging sign after the horrid start Braden Looper provided yesterday.

Looper lasted only three innings in last night's game and even though Wellemeyer struggled, he knew he had to pitch deep in the ball game. He knew that it was up to him to patch together what was left of the Cardinals rotation.

Today, with the game once again slipping away from Wellemeyer, he knew exactly what he needed to do.

"I made a huge adjustment," he said. "Last game, I was going too hard and then I had to back it down a little bit in Pittsburgh. This time, I went out there thinking, 'Nice and easy, hit my spots.' And it didn't really go that way the first two innings, so then I said, 'You know what? Here we go. Here it is, right here.' And that helped me. That got me right on track."

As anyone with a basic baseball background knows: adjustments are the key to success. If one thing isn't working, try another. Constantly adjusting to the conditions and adapting are what successful players do.

However, even Looper was saved by the sleeping giant that is the St. Louis offense.

Albert Pujols once again was the man as he had two huge hits that contributed signifcantly towards the victory. A three-run bases-clearing double in the fifth and a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth was proof once again that he is considered one of the most feared hitters in the game.

Pujols' RBI were his first since July 12 and he hadn't obtained more than one RBI in a game since June 30. Also, he hadn't had more than two RBI since April 14.

Maybe the power hitters of Troy Glaus, Ryan Ludwick, and Rick Ankiel have snatched up most of the RBI opportunities. It doesn't matter how the Redbirds score the runs, just as long as they continue to score them.