That was the question, at least for a while Tuesday night.
Albert Pujols, with Jon Jay at first, hammered a line drive towards center field. Of course, when El Hombre smashes one like that, it’s only natural to assume it’s a goner. This one, however, nicked the very top of the wall and bounced back into play.
Albert assumed it was a home run.
So did the umpires.
The Astros? Not so much.
The play was reviewed briefly, and the call was made: home run, indeed. Albert’s 23rd on the year and 431st overall, tying him with Cal Ripken Jr. for 40th on the all-time list. As for the call, watch for yourself. What do you think? If nothing else, it at least reminds us that there is, in fact, still a human element to calls reviewed by instant replay. They looked, they saw the angles, and they still seemingly called it wrong.
Fortunately, the Pujols homer was met with David Freese bomb to right field, giving the Redbirds the 3-1 lead in the sixth inning. That insurance run that would likely have been enough for the win anyway.
Of course, like Monday night, the critics have their uncontrollable circumstance to blame. First the new turf thanks to U2, and now the upheld home-run-that-maybe-wasn’t call.
Regardless, with Westbrook dealing (love saying that!) in the follow up to Kyle McClellan’s gem on Monday, the Astros couldn’t muster enough to come from behind. Even after removing Westbrook from the game, the bullpen held on.
Yes, Trever Miller came in to face one batter and gave up a first-pitch hit. But Jason Motte came right in to finish the job. Lance Lynn followed suit, pitching a clean eighth. Then it was time to bring on the rookie closer.
Fernando Salas tried to make it interesting, once again, by walking what should have been the final batter. Instead, he had one more go of it, getting Matt Downs to strike out swinging. Thank goodness! However, as nervous as I get with him in the ninth, I wouldn’t be looking to move him. This was his 19th save of the season in 22 opportunities. Considering where we were headed pre-Salas, I’m perfectly happy with that!
Speaking of happy, Colby’s happy little self made a nice running catch at the wall in the fourth. And what do you know, this Rasmus kid is starting to be fun to watch! Don’t tell Tony La Russa that, though. He’s still not buying in. Or maybe Colby isn’t. It’s hard to tell anymore. But if these end up being the final days of Colby as a Cardinal (say it ain’t so!), I’m glad we’re getting a good look at the player he will be later in his career.
For someone else.
But I digress!
For a team that, just a few weeks back, seemed caught in the dreaded downward spiral, the last few nights have been slightly reassuring. The starting pitching is coming back around. The offense has had 10+ hits in five straight games (for the second time this year; the first, they scored 66 runs). And even the bullpen, minus a few little moments, has looked good.
Let’s not forget, though, we’re playing the Astros. We should look good!
Regardless, a win’s a win (especially for Westbrook!) and the Cardinals remain atop the NL Central standings. In fact, thanks to a bizarre end to the Pirates/Braves game, the Cardinals are officially alone at the top of the leaderboard! Thanks, Atlanta! (Or should I say, Jerry Meals. The call was just terrible …)
The Redbirds aim for another series win when Chris Carpenter takes the mound for game three of this four-game set on Wednesday.