Morning Juice: Pitching around Pujols ain't no Holliday, either

David Brown
September 2, 2009
View photos

This and every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts in St. Louis, which is known for being a one-beer town. The Cardinals, known as one-man offense, can empathize. But opposing managers should use caution: The balls Matt Holliday(notes) hits can fly over the fence just like the ones Albert Pujols(notes) hits.

Game of the Day: Cardinals 7, Brewers 6

Picky poison: Here's the thinking: There's no way Albert can burn you with a home run if you walk him intentionally to face Holliday. Of course, there's still a chance of Holliday burning you. A pretty good chance, actually. So why not just try to get AhPu out and save yourself a run if something goes wrong?

"I'm going to anticipate Albert being walked if Babe Ruth is hitting behind him," Holliday said. "I mean, 42 home runs on Sept. 1. I think he's the best player of all time. Look at his first nine seasons and it would be hard to argue."

Brewers manager Ken Macha won't argue. In the seventh inning of a tie game he walked Pujols intentionally and brought in Todd Coffey(notes) pitch to Holliday, who's batting .371 with an OPS north of .1100 for the Cards. He's also a .406 career hitter at Busch Stadium.

With these stats in mind, Holliday hit a three-run homer that proved the difference in the Cards' victory. He's not the luckiest man on the face of the Earth, but he's pretty darn good. Too good to be adding runners for him to knock in.

Babe Ruth had his Lou Gehrig. Pujols has his Holliday.

The tactics failed for the Brewers and provided a lesson for playoff opponents: Pitch around Pujols at your own peril.

"Obviously, having Matt and Mark DeRosa(notes) in our lineup, it's not easy now," said Pujols, whose team is 26-9 since adding Holliday on July 24. "You have to make a pitch and not make a mistake because they're going to make you pay."

Hear that, league?

* * *

Feelin' Rundown (these games were bypassed intentionally, but now you can read them at your own risk):

View photos

Phillies 1, Giants 0: Time for another Cole Hamels(notes) checklist. Two-hit shutout? Check. Nine strikeouts? Check. Picks off Andres Torres(notes) in the ninth inning? Check. First career stolen base? Check please!

Considering that neither Pablo Sandoval(notes) or Bengie Molina(notes) were in the starting lineup, the steal might have been the most impressive moment. Hamels credited first-base coach Davey Lopes.

"He said, 'Have you ever slid?' " Hamels said. "I said, 'Yeah,' so he said, 'Go.' I was going to blame it on him if I was out."

"Has he ever slid?" Puh-leez. Even pitchers do the sliding with the sweatpants on in spring training so they don't wreck their baseball pants.

Don't tangle with Hamels. But you can tango with the Phanatic.

Rangers 5, Blue Jays 2 (Game 1)

Rangers 5, Blue Jays 2 (Game 2): They're cousins, identical cousins. ... It looks like a sweep, but it's also good news/bad news. Good: Josh Hamilton(notes) remembered how to home-run trot after going deep for the first time in 24 games and 100 at-bats. The bad: Michael Young(notes) is getting an MRI to check his strained left hamstring.

View photos

Dodgers 4, D-backs 3: Not only did Andre Ethier(notes) work a go-ahead bases-loaded walk in the seventh, he made this catch to retire the side in the eighth. Nice work, if you can get it.

Red Sox 8, Rays 4: Impressive managing, Terry Francona, bringing in Jonathan Papelbon(notes) to wriggle out of trouble in the eighth with the game on the line. ... Well, we have our answer from the Rays. It's not gonna be this year. Although, they did make a nice pickup in the Scott Kazmir(notes) trade with Sean Rodriguez(notes). It's all about 2010 from now on.

Braves 4, Marlins 3: It was a long 13 months — plus a three-hour rain delay — for Tim Hudson(notes), who is back from Tommy John elbow replacement surgery. He threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits in picking up the victory. Good stuff.

"I wasn't sure we were going to get it in," Hudson said. "It took a while to get it going. But it was better late than never."

Tigers 8, Indians 5: The debut of New Cliff Lee(notes), Carlos Carrasco(notes), didn't go so well for the Tribe. Six runs and nine hits, including three homers, over three innings. So, no Zooperstars character for Carlos just yet. Someday, maybe he'll morph into Carlos Carr-achnid.

Rockies 8, Mets 3: The Mets are a good reset button for a team on a five-game losing streak. ... The air in Denver was smoky from wildfires burning in California some 800 miles away. I also blame the El Nino.

Twins 4, White Sox 3: The Jeff Manship(notes) Lollipop. That's what I'm calling my fantasy football team if I'm Joe Mauer(notes).

Reds 11, Pirates 5: Is that Channing Tatum (right) driving in four runs for the Reds? It's not lower G.I. Joe himself, but instead Craig Tatum(notes), the star of nothing except this game.

Yankees 9, Orioles 6: The five home runs were nice but someone needs to check the oil on A.J. Burnett(notes). He had a 6.03 ERA in August and allowed all of the Orioles runs over 5 1/3 innings.

"I didn't have anything," Burnett said.

Thanks, Commander Obvious. What will we hear in the playoffs?

Padres 3, Nationals 1: I like this Will Venable guy.

Royals 4, Athletics 3: Did you know that KC leads the majors with 43 triples?

Cubs 4, Astros 1: If the rest of the Cubs got as much out of their seasons as Randy Wells(notes), the Cardinals would be chasing them.

View photos

Mariners 2, Angels 1: It was like Christmas in July August September for the M's, who beat the AL West leaders, got another good performance out of right-hander Doug Fister(notes) and enjoyed the returns of Ichiro(notes) and Adrian Beltre(notes) from respective injuries.

Beltre had an especially humorous return from a — gird your loins, guys — bruised testicle he suffered on a hard ground ball. Hang on a second.

(Ow, ow, ow.)

OK. In honor of Beltre, the ad wizards running the public address system at Safeco played part of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." Get it? Because his testicle was bruised. Balls! This from the stadium that bans peanuts and girl-on-girl kissing in some sections. Mixed messages with your mixed nuts in Seattle!

By the way, the ol' Sugar Plum Fairy (Beltre) went 0-for-4 in his return from groin purgatory. Cup check!