Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/29/10

Matt Pagnozzi hit his first career home run

The Cardinals were officially eliminated Tuesday and lost again at home to the Pirates.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals' goal for the rest of the season changed Tuesday. They have a magic number of one to have their 10th winning season in the last 11 years.

But their fast-dwindling hopes of winning the National League Central title have evaporated, much the way the last six weeks of the season did.

They lost another game to another losing team, the Pirates. From Aug. 24 on, the Cardinals have gone 16-27. In that span, they are 2-5 against Pittsburgh, 1-3 against Washington, 2-4 against Chicago, 0-3 against Houston and 1-4 against Milwaukee. Add that up and you get 6-19.

The Cardinals were 12-6 against Cincinnati, but, as manager Tony La Russa said, "We did not have an exemplary record against a lot of other teams."

Asked how he felt, La Russa said, "Our greatest fans ... how do they feel right now? That's how we feel.

"I'm sure they're disappointed. 'What if, what if,' and all that stuff ... I'm sure that's how we feel."

The aspect of having a winning season seemed not as important to La Russa as not having a losing one, which the Cardinals can't at 81-76.

"I think a losing season would have been very tough to take," said La Russa. "I know we wanted to avoid being a losing club."

Second baseman Skip Schumaker expressed the mood as well as anyone.

"It's disappointing," Schumaker said. "You play to get to the playoffs. Whenever you don't get there, it's a bad feeling, especially when you feel like you should be there."

PIRATES 7, CARDINALS 2: Jeff Suppan had been 16-3 in his career against Pittsburgh, and he had scored his only two victories of the season against them. On Tuesday, however, he fell behind by giving up three first-inning runs, and the Cardinals never caught up. The two highlights were rookie Matt Pagnozzi's first big-league homer and infielder Aaron Miles' second scoreless pitching performance of the season and fourth in five pitching appearances for the Cardinals in his career.

NOTES AND QUOTES

RHP Adam Wainwright, a 20-game winner, will skip his last scheduled start Thursday because of a forearm strain. "It's really a non-issue, to be honest," Wainwright said. "If we're going to the playoffs, I'm pitching."

After some confusion over the club's explanation of Wainwright's status the day before, Wainwright said he had an MRI on Monday, which had showed some inflammation. Wainwright said he suffered the injury while sleeping with his arm under his head some two weeks ago. Wainwright said he had wrenched his elbow trying to get the numbness in his arm to subside.

RHP Adam Ottavino, who has been out nearly three months with a shoulder strain, threw Tuesday and is hopeful of pitching before the season ends.

"We're short (of pitching)," said manager Tony La Russa, who doesn't have RHP Adam Wainwright, LHP Jaime Garcia or RHP Blake Hawksworth available anymore and might be tempted to take Ottavino up on his offer if the right occasion arose.

"If he's healthy, we'll definitely talk about it," La Russa said.

RHP Jake Westbrook probably would move up to take RHP Adam Wainwright's turn Thursday against Colorado following Wednesday's start by rookie RHP P.J. Walters against Pittsburgh. Manager Tony La Russa said that RHPs Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse and Jeff Suppan would be in line to pitch the rest of the games this weekend, although one of the remaining starts might be a "bullpen game."

1B Albert Pujols' walk in the third inning gave him 100 for the season, making him the first Cardinals player to have three straight 100-walk seasons.

C Matt Pagnozzi, a .242 hitter in Class AAA this year, has hit safely in his last four games at 7-for-15. He hit his first big-league home run Tuesday.

By the Numbers:

2 - Saves blown by RH reliever Ryan Franklin, the Cardinals' closer, through the first 25 weeks of the season. The problem was that he had only 28 save chances in that time.

 

Quote to Note:

 

"Mind-boggling."

 

- Manager Tony La Russa, about his team dropping eight straight games to teams with losing records before finally winning at Pittsburgh.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

Medical Watch:

RHP Adam Wainwright (right forearm strain) was shut down for the season Sept. 28.

RHP Blake Hawksworth (mouth, lip lacerations) was struck in the face by a line drive Sept. 25 and was hospitalized for observation. He was discharged from the hospital Sept. 26 after requiring almost 30 stitches to close wounds in his mouth and upper lip. He won't pitch again this season.

C Yadier Molina (sore right knee) hasn't played since Sept. 21. An MRI on Sept. 22 found inflammation in the knee, and he was shut down for the season.

LHP Jaime Garcia (arm fatigue) missed starts Sept. 18 and Sept. 23, and the Cardinals announced Sept. 24 that he had been shut down for the season.

C Jason LaRue (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 13. He was moved to the 60-day DL on Aug. 19, ending his season. He has announced that he will retire.

RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 17. He was throwing Sept. 28, hoping to get in a game or two before season's end.

3B David Freese (right ankle surgery in August 2010, left ankle surgery in September 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 15. He was originally out due to a bone bruise on his right ankle, and then he broke his left big toe in mid-July. He tore a right ankle tendon Aug. 2 in his first rehab game with Class AA Springfield, and he had season-ending surgery Aug. 6. He underwent surgery on the left ankle a month later, but he expects to be ready for spring training.

RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 because of tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7 that found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. As of Aug. 5, he was playing catch but not throwing off a mound. Penny is out indefinitely.

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