Cards Win Series, Yet Pujols Injury Looms
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Father’s Day at Busch Stadium was a roller coaster of momentum and emotion that ended with a Skip Schumaker walk-off home run to give the Cardinals (40-33) a 5-4 win and series victory over the Kansas City Royals (31-41). However, the headline from Sunday’s game is the possibly serious injuries to Albert Pujols’ left wrist and shoulder.
The power of the stirrup socks maybe took effect once again as the same players had them pulled up, but the luck was good and bad on Sunday. Even with Pujols’ injury, three blown leads including Fernando Salas’ second blown save this season, the Cardinals were able to rally.
Skip Schumaker’s home run occurred just after Royals’ right fielder Jeff Francouer gunned-down Daniel Descalso who was going for a double after he laced a base hit down the right field line to lead-off the bottom of the ninth. Following the game, manager Tony LaRussa admitted that if Descalso was safe, he more than likely would have had Schumaker bunt.
Schumaker entered the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and delivered then by driving in Andy Brown to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead at the time. Schumaker finished the day 2-2 with the home run and 2 RBI’s. For Schumaker, it was his second home run this season, second career walk-off home run, and first career homer against a left-hander.
Expecting to be bunting while in the on-deck circle in the ninth, Schumaker talked about the big hit:
Before Schumaker’s shot, Royals’ red hot shortstop, Alcides Escobar, led off the top of the ninth by sending a Salas fastball into the left field stands to tie the game 4-4. Escobar had raised his batting average thirty points in two weeks time before the series with the Cardinals. After Sunday’s 2-3 performance at the plate, Escobar finished the series by going 6-11 with the home run, a triple, and 4 RBI’s.
For Salas, the home run to Escobar is only the second home run he has allowed this season. However, that is the second one against him in his previous three appearances.
Before the late-inning heroics, the real drama took place in the top of the sixth inning. Lead-off hitter Wilson Betemit hit a chopper to second baseman Pete Kozma who made an off-balance throw that sailed towards the home plate side of first base. As Albert Pujols went to scoop the bouncing throw, Betemit clipped his arm twisting the first baseman’s wrist and shoulder as he was running down the base line.
Pujols did not even go after the ball as he expressed pain immediately. He began jumping up and down, then started rolling around on the field in front of the Cardinals’ dugout. He was removed from the game moments later, and Lance Berkman took his place at first base.
A half inning before sustaining the injury, Pujols lasered his seventeenth home run this season after getting some chin music from Royals’ reliever Louis Coleman. The home run was Pujols’ eighth in the month of June. St. Louis was ahead 3-2 and starter Jaime Garcia was in line to get the win.
Statistically the best starting pitcher at home in all of baseball, Garcia (6-2, 3.19) had his toughest outing at Busch Stadium on Sunday. In 5.1 innings, Garcia allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits and a walk.
In that dreadful top of the sixth, Wilson Betemit help cause more problems as he would eventually come around to score when Alcides Escobar executed a safety squeeze down the first base line making the score 3-3.
For the Royals, their starter Danny Duffy (1-2, 5.03) faced just 18 Cardinals’ batters on Sunday, yet struck out 9 before being removed in the top of the fourth due to a cramp in his left calf. Duffy went 3.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk.
The Cardinals put two runs on Duffy in the first when Andrew Brown got his first hit and RBI’s at Busch Stadium. Brown accomplished his first career hit and RBI earlier in the week.
Miguel Batista and Jason Motte each earned holds in the seventh and eighth innings. Batista pitched out of a jam in the seventh with two on and no outs. After getting a fly out, Batista got Jeff Francoeur to sharply line out to Schumaker at second and Melky Cabrera was doubled off first.
Salas picked up his fourth win of the season. Kansas City’s Tim Collins got the loss.
NOTES…The Cardinals win their first series since June 7-9 at Houston…St. Louis finishes 4-2 against Kansas City in the 2011 regular season…Opposing baserunners are a perfect 8-8 when stealing bases against Jaime Garcia this season (his only caught stealing occurred on a pick-off)…The broadcast for the Charter Communications Pregame Show on KMOX 1120 AM for Tuesday evening will start at 6:20pm.
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