Spotting an opposing team a 6-0 lead in the sport of baseball is never a positive thing. Spotting the National League’s best team in the form of the St. Louis Cardinals a 6-0 lead is a one-way ticket to a tally in the loss column. Unfortunately for the Friars, St. Louis amassed a 6-0 lead by the end of the sixth inning on their way to a 9-3 victory over San Diego.
Facing his former team on the road was bad enough for Jason Marquis. It certainly did not help the veteran right-hander that the Cardinals have arguably the deepest lineup in the National League.
Marquis appeared to be in control early on as he only allowed one run through the game’s first four innings on a Carlos Beltran sacrifice fly. At that point, Marquis had only surrendered three hits to St. Louis’ potent lineup. The fifth and sixth inning however marked the point during the game in which the “wheels fell off” for the former Cardinal.
Two doubles and another sacrifice fly by Beltran netted St. Louis two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Marquis then exited in the following frame after he gave up one run on a walk and three singles. Although he was replaced by Colt Hynes, Marquis was charged with those extra two runs after Matt Carpenter doubled off of the rookie to give the Cardinals a commanding 6-0 lead.
While San Diego’s starter struggled, St. Louis’ starter turned in a terrific all-around performance for his team.
I will say that the Padres’ hitters had their chances to make things difficult for Jake Westbrook before St. Louis went up 6-0. In fact, Westbrook pitched himself out of a couple of jams early in the game.
In the top of the first, Westbrook put two guys on base before he forced Jedd Gyroko to fly out. Then in the top of the fourth, the right-hander forced Nick Hundley to ground into a double play with the bases full and only one out. Finally in the top of the fifth, Westbrook recorded an inning-ending pick off of Chase Headley at first base.
Although the Friars finally got to Westbrook in the top of the seventh when they plated their first two runs of the game, St. Louis’ 6-2 cushion at that point was more than enough as the right-hander finished the game after 6.1 innings of work.
While he struggled at times on the mound, the reason why Westbrook was this game’s M.V.P. was because of how much he helped his own cause at the plate. St. Louis’ starter went 3-3, scored two runs, and even drove in one himself. Although Westbrook was the game’s biggest star, kudos must go to the Cardinals entire lineup.
Despite San Diego’s best efforts to make the game closer, St. Louis’ hitters refused to relent. After the Friars closed the gap to 6-2 in the top of the seventh, the Cardinals’ hitters shelled Sean O’Sullivan for three more runs as they extended their lead to 9-2 on the strength of a Yadier Molina double and a single by Peter Kozma.
Those extra three runs proved to be important, especially since the Padres plated four runs during the game’s final two innings. A single by Alexi Amarista in the top of the eighth cut the lead to 9-3. Then in the top of the ninth, the middle of San Diego’s batting order (Headley, Carlos Quentin, and Yonder Alonso) helped to put three more runs on the scoreboard for the Friars.
Sadly, the damage was already done, and St. Louis came out on top by a 9-6 score.
I for one am not surprised that the Padres were thoroughly trounced by the Cardinals. One team is ascending as they have their sights firmly set on postseason play, and the other is treading water and waiting for this year to end.
I just hope that Edinson Volquez can rebound off of his terrible performance against the Giants last week when he takes the mound tomorrow. Otherwise, St. Louis’ hitters will make him pay dearly if he cannot command the strike zone.
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