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Who would have guessed that the Jays would begin interleague play with a better record than the St. Louis Cardinals?

Make no mistake -- the Cardinals remain an extraordinarily gifted and dangerous team. But they haven't yet amounted to the sum of their parts, even factoring for their various injuries. Although several of their hitters are having outstanding seasons, the Cards have been prone to collective off-days at the plate. Similarly, although the Cards are loaded with talented gloves, their play in the field has been spotty at inopportune times. And although they've had simply outstanding seasons from Matt Morris and Woody Williams, the back ends of their rotation and bullpen have been tragically Bostonesque. If the Jays can get to the St. Louis bullpen early, they will win games this series, period.

This will be a good challenge for the Jays' dominant hitting attack, who unfortunately draw both of the Redbirds' star pitchers in the series after a month of toying with AL starters not named Garland, Loaiza or (grr) Kennedy. The Jays may be forced to execute in more small-ball situations than to which they're accustomed, but given the roster-wide offensive production of late, just think of the bench they'll have most nights for pinch-hitting!

The Jays and Cardinals have obviously never met in meaningful games, but they do certainly have a bit of a spring training local rivalry. And there's always a great baseball atmosphere at Busch, so the Jays should be up for the series...

On to the Advance Scout!

* Despite all their hitting, the Cardinals haven't been winning ... They're 11-15 in their last 26 ... Tino Martinez insists the Cardinals "haven't played flat...The effort is there, we're just not coming through at the end" ... Tony La Russa: "If we're at .500, that's not good enough...I think we'll finish well over .500 and in contention" ... The Cards have been a good second-half club ...
* But the Cards have been unlucky: Sunday's 5-4 win over Pittsburgh made them just 3-14 in one-run games ...
* Tonight's opponent, Matt Morris, was enjoying a scoreless streak that reached 18 1/3 until a Geoff Blum home run on Thursday ... He's been consistently superb, as reflected by his 2.37 ERA ... He's holding hitters to a .203 opposing average ...
* Tomorrow's opponent, Jason Simontacchi, has generally been on the awful side of "uneven" this season ... But improbably, he came through with a gem on Wednesday against Houston: CG, one run, six hits, no walks, 5 K's ... He needed just 106 pitches ... He had been engaged in a season-long struggle for control until Wednesday ... La Russa denied that Simontacchi's role as a starter hinged on Wednesday's performance ...
* Making another sensational catch -- this one on a Brad Ausmus sinking liner -- Jim Edmonds suffered bruised ribs on Wednesday ... Edmonds blamed the injury on a surprising drag factor: "Usually when you dive in the outfield you slide a little bit in the grass, and it just stuck" ... If anyone knows from experience what "usually" happens when one dives in the outfield, it's Jim ... He sat out two games and returned to the lineup on Saturday ... He's just 2 for his last 15 (.133), but he's still at a solid 292/393/589 ...
* The Cardinals committed three errors and made several mental mistakes in an ugly 7-4 loss to the Astros on Thursday ... Jeff Fassero: "We played ugly tonight as a team" ...
* J.D. Drew is 15-for-his-last-35 (.429), and improbably hit a 500-foot-plus home run at Busch in that span, which he followed with a 457-footer on Saturday ... But as Drew noted, "[i]t doesn't count but for one...It would be nice if you hit it off the scoreboard and you get two runs, but it doesn't work that way" ... He's bigger than he appears: 6'1", 200 ... He homered on both Saturday and Sunday and is slugging .620 after missing the first three weeks of the season after a patella tendinitis operation on his right knee ... He still can't go every day, and likely won't be able to until next season, with the benefit of an offseason of rest ... Although the 2004 schedule has not yet been released, Drew remains the odds-on favourite to be the first recipient of a thrown battery in the brand-new Philadelphia ballpark ...
* Scott Rolen had a 1-for-10 weekend, but is having an excellent season at 294/414/572 ... Despite developing a couple of yips on defence lately, he made a great diving catch to end Sunday's matinee ... On the Scott Rolen Bobblehead that drew over 46 000 fans, many of whom arrived three hours early: "That was a great honour...It's a pretty cool little thing" ...
* So is Edgar Renteria, he of the game-winning single in '97 ... The pride of Colombia is at 335/388/502, and is 8-for-9 on steals ... He drove in the winning run on Sunday after Pujols, Edmonds and Rolen each drew two-out walks ... But Renteria has played sloppy defence over the last five games ... Rolen and Renteria have recently received their Silver Slugger awards and their Gold Gloves for 2002 ...
* Then there's Albert Pujols, your National League Player of the Month ... He's batting .364 and slugging .701 on the season, leading the majors in both categories ... When play started on May 17, it's not like he was having a flop of a season; he was hitting .320. But since then, he's been a blazing .452 ... Kids enjoyed "Pujols Bat Day" on Thursday, which the Cardinals moved to a night game to accommodate the school set ...
* But Martinez has been incurring boos from some of the most otherwise supportive fans in baseball, "Cardinals Nation," on account of his frosty May (.157) ...
* Old friend Miguel Cairo is 0 for his last 13, and has less-than-ideal numbers for a leadoff man at 250/296/390, with nary a stolen base ... He's filling in full-time for Fernando Vina, who had surgery on Friday to repair a torn tendon in his right hamstring ... That painful injury will keep him out of the lineup for the next 2-3 months ...
* But old friend Woody Williams is a different story ... He gave up two earned and two unearned on Saturday, snapping a 10-game personal winning streak dating back to August 29, 2002 ... He's been remarkably consistent, with a more resilient arm than he ever featured as a Blue Jay ... This year, he's never lasted fewer than 6 innings pitched; never allowed more than 4 runs; and other than one three-walk outing, never allowed more than 2 walks ... He's at 2.19 and is holding opposing hitters to a .216 average ...
* The Cardinals' bullpen, bluntly, has been their downfall, blowing 14 of 26 save opportunities this year without Jason Isringhausen, recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum ... Izzy is expected to start a rehab stint this Thursday ... Two attempted rehab stints have already been aborted due to excessive shoulder stiffness ... GM Walt Jocketty couldn't predict an exact return date ... Steve Kline, Jeff Fassero and Cal Eldred have all been inconsistent ... The Cards are grooming Jimmy Journell (AAA) to be their closer of the future ... Eldred has been unavailable lately due to illness ... Good ol' Lance Painter is getting close to returning as well ...
* Garrett Stephenson and Brett Tomko have also disappointed this season ...
* Remember classic bust Nerio Rodriguez? ... After tearing up AAA (5-1, 1.89) for Memphis, Rodriguez was nevertheless passed over by the Cardinals -- so he bolted to Japan, signing with the Kintetsu Buffaloes ...
* Whither Rick Ankiel? ... He was both wild and rocked in his last AA start ...
* And whither Chris Carpenter? ... Maybe August, possibly sooner ...
* St. Louis Cardinals: Best uniforms in baseball ... Discuss ...

Probable Batting Orders

vs. LH

4 Cairo
8 Edmonds
3/7 Pujols
5 Rolen
9/3 Perez
6 Renteria
2 Widger/Matheny
7 Taguchi/9 Palmeiro
1 Pitcher

vs. RH

4 Cairo
9 Drew
7 Pujols
8 Edmonds
5 Rolen
6 Renteria
3 Martinez
2 Matheny/Widger
1 Pitcher

Pitching Probables

Tuesday: RH Morris vs. Escobar
Wednesday: RH Simontacchi vs. Lidle
Thursday: RH Williams vs. Hendrickson

Bullpen Usage

Long: Hermanson R, Calero R
Short: Crudale R, Yan R
Setup: Kline L
Closer: Eldred R, Fassero L
Advance Scout: Cardinals, June 3-5 | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_jason - Tuesday, June 03 2003 @ 03:29 PM EDT (#100854) #
It'll be intresting to see if the Jay's offense surprises the Cards. I guess offensively, the closest NL comparison with the Jays, would be the Braves. (Thats off the top of my head, please don't go routing through stats to show me why the Jays are actually more similar to the Pirates offensively.)

But I don't see the Cards as thinking, "Watch out, its the Blue Jays!", more like "Oh, here's three easy ones.". At least I hope that's what they think.
Mike D - Tuesday, June 03 2003 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#100855) #
Interesting point, Jason. I'm sure the Cards read their scouting reports, but the St. Louis media is definitely not in "Look out, it's the mighty Jays!" mode.

Let's see if tonight's game changes their tune.
_jason - Tuesday, June 03 2003 @ 03:47 PM EDT (#100856) #
Just a little aside to that; While I realize a championship calibre will feature more of a balance between pitching and offense, it sure is fun to watch the Jays win by blasting the crap out of the ball.
Coach - Tuesday, June 03 2003 @ 03:56 PM EDT (#100857) #
St. Louis Cardinals: Best uniforms in baseball

That was just one reason they became "my" team when I was eight. The others were Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Ken Boyer, Bill White, Curt Flood...

By '64, The Man was gone, but Lou Brock had arrived and Bob Gibson was entering his prime. I rooted for the Red Sox in the AL, because my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs were their AAA farm club, but my heart was in St. Louis, and I skipped school to watch that wonderful World Series when they beat the hated Yankees. I'm not saying the Cards are the best team in the NL, but I'm still a fan. They have a tradition of excellence on and off the field, and they don't reinvent the bird logo every year to sell memorabilia.

Do I have mixed emotions tonight? No way, even though I own Morris in the BBFL, and Escobar is one of my least-favourite players ever. I hope the Jays sweep again. Realistically, the pitching matchups mean the Jays are decided underdogs tonight, heavy favourites tomorrow, and the series should be decided Thursday, with an edge to Woody over Lurch. Though I hate interleague play, this is an interesting way to begin this year's interruption of the AL schedule.

Great work as always, Mike.
Advance Scout: Cardinals, June 3-5 | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.