Game 157 – Soriano's Blast Eliminates Cards From Central Race
Cubs 5, Cardinals 1
What Went Right
Starlin Castro – he removed the suspense in the first at-bat of the game, singling solidly to left field for his 200th hit of the year. He collected his 201st in the 9th inning on an RBI single to center. Since 1959, only one player has had more hits than Castro in a single season at age 21 or younger. Alex Rodriguez. It might be a mere numerological milestone, but seeing as how only one other person has done it at Castro’s age or younger in 50+ years it’s fairly significant – congrats Starlin!
Pena – this is the Pena we’d been told we were getting. A game tying RBI double into and over the shift, 3 walks (one intentional). Carpenter didn’t have any clue how to get him out.
Barney – scored the tying and go-ahead runs in large part due to his aggressiveness on the bases. He scored from first on Pena’s rocket to RF; a play on which lot of our guys wouldn’t have attempted to score. Then he led off the 8th with a standing triple in part because he busted it right out of the box. The fact that he was on third instead of second to start the inning put the Cards immediately on edge – yeah, Soriano hit the bomb so Barney would’ve scored from second as well, but Barney’s occupation of third seemed to make McClellan uneasy on the mound.
Soriano – a timely three-run bomb to untie a 1-1 game in the 8th. There was little doubt when he hit it.
What Went OK
Ryan Dempster – a glance at his box score and you might imagine he had a really good game. His result was really good; the course he charted was a bit treacherous at times. He walked six batters, but also stranded 10 and held the Cards to 0-for-8 with RISP.
For once he didn’t look overmatched against Albert Pujols either. His slider was effectively wild; it wasn’t particularly sharp, but when he was missing it was way outside – not on a platter over the heart of the plate.
It wasn’t ever comfortable, but the fact is he surrendered a single run on a squeeze by the pitcher. He also ended a bases loaded threat in the bottom of the sixth with a double play (5-2-3) from Ryan Theriot. The result was fantastic – the performance was ok.
What Went Wrong
Nothing – not anything worth discussing.
Don’t…Get…Eliminated! I believe I mentioned this a few weeks ago when the Cubs were in San Francisco pushing the Giants further out of the NL West race. Last year the Cubs managed to march into San Diego on the second to last series of the season, and steal three of four from a Padre team that was fighting for the playoffs. Once the Cubs left, the Padres needed to go to SF and sweep the Giants for their ticket to the playoffs – they couldn’t and the Giants went on to win the World Series.
Last night the Cubs & Cards were roughly an inning behind the Brewers & Marlins (playing in Milwaukee). With the game tied 1-1 in the 8th, Ryan Braun launched a 3-run homer that catapulted the Brewers to a 4-1 victory. As John Axford was pitching to the eventual final batter of the game, Miller Park erupted in excitement as they saw the Cubs take a 4-1 lead over the Cards in the top of their 8th inning. Soriano’s bomb in the 8th did for the Cubs what Braun’s had done just minutes before for the Brewers.
Why does it matter? When Marmol slammed the door on the Cards, the Brewers clinched the NL Central crown (their first division title since Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982). And with the Braves beating Stephen Strasburg and the Nats, the Cards now sit 3 games in arrears for the Wild Card. With a bit of luck, the Cubs will head for San Diego on Sunday as St. Louis prepares their Thursday morning tee times.
Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)
1st Star – Chris Carpenter (.263 WPA)
2nd Star – Carlos Pena (.260 WPA)
3rd Star – Darwin Barney (.251 WPA)