No, this wasn’t the scene at Great American Ballpark today where the Cincinnati Reds completed a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals to send the visitors out of town trailing by a game and a half. Tensions were high, however, as Francisco Cordero exchanged heated words and gestures with several Cardinals safely behind their dugout rail. Cordero had earlier hit Albert Pujols on the wrist with a pitch that clearly got away from him. Given the Cardinals were mounting a comeback at the time and Pujols represented the tying run, it’s doubtful Cordero was throwing at him intentionally. The commotion was representative of the weekend, however, where the Reds dominated play against their Central division nemesis.
It looked like business as usual on Friday night for the Cardinals who have grown accustomed of bettering the Reds. They held a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning before the Reds mounted a comeback, winning on Joey Votto’s RBI single in the 10th. The fact is, however, the Reds had blown numerous chances with runners in scoring position earlier in the game. It was only the Reds’ inability to get runners home with two outs that made the game that tight.
Saturday’s contest was all Reds. Johnny Cueto dominated once again in his second start since coming off the DL, getting into the 8th inning before two Reds errors and a home run ball tightened up what had been a one-sided contest. The Cards employed their strategy of not allowing Joey Votto to beat them again, intentionally walking him twice. That left Brandon Phillips, public enemy number one in St. Louis to drive in three runs and deliver the game for the home team.
Sunday saw a constant drizzle and the Reds fall behind 2-0 on back-to-back shots by the Cardinals in the second inning. Ramon Hernandez’s home run was the first of 9 unanswered runs by the Reds, who finally beat Chris Carpenter, who somehow will have to explain this series sweep to his son when he returns to St. Louis. The Cardinals mounted a fierce comeback in the 9th, fueled by Aroldis Chapman’s impression of my son’s 4th grade league pitching staff, walking 4 of the 5 batters he faced. Cordero closed it out after hitting Pujols and the cross words ensued.
Instead of mouthing off, the Cardinals might want to figure out what to do about their atrocious defense and sub par relief pitching. Lance Berkman, once Reds-killer supreme, was a liability in right field, and the middle infield combination of Tyler Greene and Ryan Theriot showed the range of two light posts. Carpenter pitched deep into today’s game, but Friday and Saturday the Reds feasted on Jason Motte and the Cards’ bullpen. Tony LaRussa, at home recovering from a bout of the shingles, has some serious issues to address if the series with the Reds in July is to be meaningful for the Cardinals.
My guess is it will be, regardless of the records. There’s no love lost between these two squads and today’s contest added more fuel to the fire. One way or another, there will be fireworks in St. Louis on July 4 when these two teams meet again.