Five Years Ago Today: Albert’s Fractured Forearm

NOTE: While the Cardinals beat the Kansas City Royals five years ago yesterday, it’s doubtful most of us remember that outcome. Instead, what we remember is this collision between Albert Pujols and Wilson Betemit that forced Albert from the game and onto the disabled list. Five years ago today, we learned the injury was a non-displaced fracture of the left radius and he was supposed to miss four to six weeks — and we soon learned timelines like that meant nothing to Albert, since he was back when his initial 15 days on the DL were up. Still, it was kind of a big deal at the time — as the post below will indicate. You also can read about some names you probably wanted to forget, like Brian Tallett and Miguel Batista. And, as a result of Batista being in the game, there also was a poem. Ah, Poems For The Poet — those were the days … 

Painful Win For Cardinals

Skip Schumaker delivered an improbable walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, leading the Cardinals to their second consecutive 5-4 win over the Royals. The victory moved the Cards back into a tie for first place in the NL Central.

Albert Pujols reacts after injuring his wrist in Sunday's finale against the Royals.

Albert Pujols reacts after injuring his wrist in Sunday’s finale against the Royals.

The bigger story, however, is Albert Pujols and what happened in the top of the sixth. The details, from Austin Laymance of Cardinals.com:

The inning after his homer gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead, Pujols collided with Wilson Betemit on a play at first base after Betemit hit a slow roller up the middle. Pete Kozma fielded the ball and made a hurried throw that tailed away from first base towards the infield grass. When Pujols lurched for the ball, he made contact with a charging Betemit.

“He hit me in the wrist and shoulder and kind of jammed it back,” Pujols said. “As a first baseman it’s one of the toughest plays to make, it’s almost a bang-bang play and you can’t let the ball go. You risk it and, hopefully, don’t get hurt.”

But Pujols got hurt, and as the slugger went to the ground in obvious pain, an eerie hush fell over the crowd.

The initial report is that Albert has a sprained wrist, and he will be having further tests today. Given the Cardinals history with injury diagnosis — Allen Craig’s broken kneecap not being revealed via x-ray until a week after it happened being just the latest example — perhaps we have reason to worry. Or perhaps not, according to Bernie Miklasz in the Post-Dispatch: Continue reading

Three Weeks Until Opening Night

Just three weeks — yes, 21 short days now — until the 2015 Major League Baseball season begins with the Cardinals taking on the Cubs at Wrigley Field for Opening Night on ESPN. Considering what the bleachers at Wrigley look like right now and the delays the renovations have encountered due to Chicago’s winter, Wrigley will look a little different than we’re all used to seeing that night.

And looking different than we were all used to seeing is a good way to describe today’s featured Cardinal. (How’s that for a transition?) Yes, let’s all remember — if just for a brief moment — the Cardinals career of No. 21, Tino Martinez.

Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals

Tino, of course, is best known as a  Yankee (he even received a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park last year) and was a member of the four World Series champion teams in 1996 and 1998-2000. Yet the Yankees did not re-sign him after the 2001 World Series, and he signed with the Cardinals to play first following Mark McGwire’s retirement.

At the Cards Conclave today, Daniel has a great description of Tino’s joining the team

Never be the guy that replaces The Guy. Tino Martinez found that out first hand in 2002.  It’s tough to replace anyone that has captured the hearts and minds of a city, but to replace a true legend (at least, at the time) of the game?  That’s almost impossible.

The rest of it is definitely worth a read too. In summary: Tino’s time with the Cards was never really that good for him or the fans.

In fact, this photo might be one of the highlights of Tino’s Cardinals career.

21

Yes, that’s one-time AMF favorite Miguel Batista (ah, Poet, dear Poet …) who Tino is punching, as the two got into a brawl on Easter Sunday in 2003 — read all about it from Mark Tomasik at RetroSimba.

The players who have worn No. 21 since Tino are certainly an interesting mix: Jason Marquis (2004-2006), Kip Wells (2007), Jason LaRue (2008-2010 — Johnny Cueto, we still hate you) and Allen Craig (2011-2014).

Ah, well, not every number can be retired for a Cardinals Hall of Famer (which is a tease for tomorrow) …

Just 21 days until Opening Night!

 

Bullpen Woes, Dugout Decisions Cost Cards in Washington

Well then. (Where do you even begin with a game like this?)

On a day when the Cards had a great chance to get back on track after the terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad series against the Brewers over the weekend, it went from bad to worse and then some, come the sixth inning.

That newly dreaded sixth inning.

Jaime Garcia had done his job, allowing two runs on eight hits through six. Not mind boggling, but solid. Certainly good enough for his 7th win on the year. Plus, he left with a 4-run lead. With only three innings to play, that should be enough. Right?

Games like this are just plain hard to watch, as the Cards lose to the Nationals 8-6.

Or not.

Now, in all honesty, the drama started in the fifth inning on back-to-back errors by everyone’s favorite short stop, Ryan Theriot. Up until that point, he was doing his fan club proud, with two hits and a run scored. But it was all for naught, once the error machine took over.

To his credit, he did start the inning-ending double play, and no runs were scored, but the fifth-inning struggles were only a sign of what was yet to come.

Garcia would likely have made it out of the sixth unscathed  if Theriot would have fielded not one, but two ground balls that went down as infield singles. I’m really not sure what happened with Theriot, but neither play was made, and Garcia ended up charged with a run.

And instead of rallying to score some insurance runs, the bats went silent … as did Cardinal Nation when the bullpen call was made for the seventh.

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Hats Off, TLR. Brilliant Strategery.

Score one for Tony La Russa.

As so aptly put by 2xAught7 in his tweet, it was brilliant strategery by TLR to have Miguel Batista start the game last night, with bad weather imminent in downtown St. Louis. And reading this quote from Dusty Baker backs that up all the more: “The information we received was probably not the same information they received.”

Well, Dusty, there’s this thing called the Internet, and you can look up this thing called the radar, and it shows you what weather is approaching …

In contrast, look at this — praise for TLR’s move from Brandon Phillips?

“I’m going to give the Cardinals two thumbs up for what they did,” the Reds’ Brandon Phillips said. “They changed their pitcher on us at the last minute, that was a very smart thing to do.

“The next thing you know they brought in their starter who was going to start the game, and he was fresh.”

The Reds didn’t do that, of course. Edinson Volquez warmed up before the game began at 7:15 p.m. and was thus unavailable after the two-plus hour rain/storm delay. Even though he never set foot on the field, he’s listed in the box score as the Reds starter. Just like The Poet is listed as the Cardinals starter.

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And Now We Know What TOOTBLAN Means

Why didn’t you leave this habit in Chicago?

With all the good that happened in last night’s game — and there was so much, yet again — it’s foolish to focus on the one and only bad part of the game.

Yet I am.

Yes, Ryan Theriot was 3 for 5 last night, raised his average to .323 and had an RBI. But, along with that RBI, we saw for ourselves what TOOTBLAN means.

It was the fourth inning, Kyle McClellan (who had a couple of tremendous at-bats facing Clayton Kershaw) was on first after being walked and Theriot was up. He hit a long fly deep to left-center that bounced off the wall. McClellan to race around the bases to score. Yay! And, though Tony Gwynn Jr. fielded the ball right away since it bounced off the wall, Theriot kept zooming along right past second base. Perhaps he thought he could make it to third since Juan Uribe threw the relay from Gwynn to home? Or perhaps he just didn’t think. Regardless, Rod Barajas alertly threw to third, which Theriot was not even close to yet. So he stopped, caught in a rundown. Casey Blake threw to Aaron Miles and, in a moment of hilarity and some weird former Cub cosmic convergence, Our Little Namesake chugged along and caught up with Theriot to tag him out. (See the play here, positively labeled “Theriot’s RBI double.”) And there you have it, TOOTBLAN.

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