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25 April 2011

Yadi Gives Cards Last Laugh

It was a dark and stormy night again in the midwest.  But this time mother nature spared the St. Louis area long enough for the Cardinals and Reds to finish their early season three game set.

Oh, there was rain.  But the thunder came off the bat of Yadier Molina with a huge two-out three-run home run (you can access the video via this link) off Cincinnati starter Edinson Volquez to provide all the scoring in the game, and give a little shot to Brandon Phillips and the contentious Reds.  Yadi sprinted around the bases reminiscent of Phillips HR trot on Friday. 

For his heroics, Molina got a taste of lightening in the form of an Aroldis Chapman purpose pitch during his next at bat in the eighth.  Many observers saw that coming, given that the Reds and their fans blame Molina for the brawl last summer as much as Cardinal fans blame Phillips.  And while Yadi did sprint around the basepaths, he did it with his right arm raised in the air.  

This was a real pitchers dual, not a poor hitting display as is usually the mislabeling of a game with few hits and fewer runs. St. Louis sent out Jake Westbrook on short rest to face Volquez. Westbrook clearly has been the Cardinals worst starting pitcher this season, coming in with a record of 1-2 and had given up 23 runs in only 18 1/3 innings.  He also was the only starter in the National League who had not yet reached the sixth inning.

Volquez entered haunted by demons of his own.  His first inning ERA was 29.25 when he started the game.   But he was much better tonight, and escaped the first with only a zero on the scoreboard.  And he was sharp, allowing baserunners but always managing to get a key strikeout to avoid runs.

Westbrook was even better.  Through six innings of work, he allowed just 3 hits and worked around three walks while recording four strikeouts.  One of his walks was to intentionally pass Joey Votto after Brandon Phillips stroked a two-out double.  Westbrook did what he does best when he's on, getting Jonny Gomes to meekly ground out to short.

After Molina's thriller, the bullpen can in and shut down the Reds.  Shut them down hard.  Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez each got two strikeouts in their respective inning of work.  Then Mitchell Boggs again came into the ninth to seal the victory.  Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto touched him for a double with one out, but Boggs wasn't fazed and struck out Gomes and Jay Bruce to notch his third save in three chances.  Just don't call him the closer yet, he just happens to be the guy called on in the ninth so far - according to manger Tony La Russa.

After the game, Molina was undaunted. "Every time you hit a home run, what do you want?" Molina asked rhetorically. "You want to be mad? Or sad? No. You've got to enjoy it, man. Especially me. I don't hit a bunch of home runs. Every time I get an opportunity to enjoy it, that's the way you have to play this game. Fun." 

Well Yadi, Cardinal Nation enjoyed it.  And apparently Brandon Phillips enjoyed the weekend's entertainment too, despite the Reds losing two of three in the series.  He blew a kiss to the fans after making the first out in the ninth. 

Man, there's going to be some fun to be had between these teams all season long.

1 comment:

azraider37 said...

Got my first extended look at Salas and Sanchez last night. I think we have a potential lights out closer already on our team. Wouldn't have to go out and spend the money, wich we are obviously gonna be in short supply of. Sanchez was hittin 97 on the gun? Time to start grooming! Although Boggs looks pretty good too. I think it is just Franklin's time to walk away. It was a good run. Props to Ma nature for letting us get it in last night. Always nice to take a series from your biggest competition.

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