Shortstop Brendan Ryan continues
to be impressive.
The Cardinals only need Ryan, in
his first year as a regular, to make the routine plays at his position. The
bonus comes in the spectacular ones he often turns in, such as throwing out
Adrian Gonzalez from short center field Thursday night.
Ryan also has contributed with the
bat, no more so than he did in the second inning Thursday when he cracked his
second homer of the season and the first grand slam of his
Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer had
hit two batters and walked one to load the bases with one out, and Ryan got
ahead in the count 3-0. He had the hit sign at 3-0 but didn’t like the next
pitch. On the 3-1 pitch, he reached the left-center-field seats. “I was just
trying not to hit a groundball,” said Ryan.
Ryan was an erratic extra man in
his first two seasons in the big leagues and occasionally found his way into
manager Tony La Russa’s doghouse.
“I guess before he was kind of
goofy and not taking it as seriously as he is now,” said pitcher Joel Pineiro.
La Russa said Ryan is a more
complete player now. “His concentration is better, his reliability is better and
he’s stayed healthy,” said La Russa. “He definitely has established respect and
trust here. You have to keep doing it, but he shows no signs of letting
Thursday, Pineiro gained his sixth
straight win. The Cardinals are 9-0 in his last nine starts. Pineiro struggled a
bit early, walking two in the first three innings, but catcher Yadier Molina
helped him by throwing out both runners trying to steal
Only four runners have tried to
steal on Pineiro this year. Molina has thrown out all four. “He’s the best,”
La Russa said, “You can’t
overestimate those two throws by Yadi. Joel wasn’t sharp
“And the way (Molina) handles the
pitching staff is a separate show.”
Cardinals 5, Padres
1: RHP Joel Pineiro gained his 12th
win by going 7 2/3 innings before three Cardinals relievers finished up. The
Cardinals have beaten the Padres in all four meetings this season, with three
more games remaining in San
Diego this weekend.
• RHP John Smoltz threw his first
bullpen session for the Cardinals. He will start Sunday in San Diego and again next week against Washington at home.
Smoltz said the fact the Cardinals had built such a big lead afforded them the
opportunity for him to make a couple of starts. He added, “I know I can compete
and get the job done. I’ve got all the pitches. I just need to repeat them a
little bit better than I did in Boston.”
• The Cardinals’ victory Thursday
was No. 9,999 in their history. They will become the fourth major league club to
reach the 10,000 plateau. This year, they have won 11 of their last 13 and 17 of
their last 22.
• At 17 over .500 for the first
time since 2005, the Cardinals reached the 70-win mark. To reach manager Tony La
Russa’s goals of getting 20 over, the Cardinals would have to go 21-18 the rest
of the way.
• RHP Kyle McClellan faced only
one hitter, but it came with the bases loaded in the eighth. McClellan induced
SS David Eckstein to ground out.
• RHP Jason Motte, who has been
struggling for several weeks, was allowed to finish the game, and it took him
just three pitches to strike out RF Kyle Blanks to end it. The third strike was
a slider by Motte, who has had trouble harnessing that
• SS Brendan Ryan continues to be
impressive. The Cardinals only need Ryan, in his first year as a regular, to
make the routine plays at his position. The bonus comes in the spectacular ones
he often turns in, such as throwing out San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez from short center
field Thursday night. Ryan also has contributed with the bat, no more so than he
did in the second inning Thursday when he cracked his second homer of the season
and the first grand slam of his career.