Albert Pujols has been incredible to watch during this interleague weekend series against the Cardinals. The best hitter in the game absolutely crushed two homers into the bleachers yesterday afternoon during an otherwise impressive pitching performance from Tomo Ohka. Terry Pluto mentioned it this morning in his column and I brought it up yesterday but the Tribe could be developing some pitching depth during this injury plagued stretch (especially if Ohka could maintain anything close to what he looked like yesterday). Unfortunately, the Tribe managed only three hits and one run off of Cardinals spot starter Brad Thompson. In addition, the Tribe committed some costly running errors and the Fox broadcasters were particularly rough on Jhonny Peralta’s lackadaisical play at shortstop. The series rubber match tonight is an exciting matchup between two former Cy Young winners.
Reigning AL Cy Young Cliff Lee will be pitching for the Tribe and 2005 NL Cy Young Chris Carpenter will be on the mound for the Cardinals. Lee has had remarkable success in his career in interleague competition. He is 11-2 with a 3.42 ERA against NL teams. Carpenter is 7-9 with a 4.85 ERA in his interleague career. Lee’s record is the highest active interleague winning percentage. This pitching matchup is one of the main attractions for this national TV spotlight game.
The other attraction is the great Albert Pujols who has pretty much been the only source of offense for the Cardinals over the past two days. His aforementioned two solo homers last night were all the Cardinals needed and his homer to the bleachers on Friday night in addition to another RBI led to 2 of the Cards 3 runs in game one. The Tribe pitching against a thin Cards lineup has been excellent outside of Pujols’ success. I was surprised to see Ohka pitch to him with the bases empty before he launched his second bomb.
The shot was hit just as Tom Hamilton was citing the amazing league leading 18 IBB which Pujols has drawn in only two and half months. The next closest player is Chipper Jones who is not even in double figures on the year. Our very own TD is vehemently advocating that the Tribe should have and has to pitch around him. He is red hot and I would think that would have to be the strategy this evening. I could also see Wedge letting his Cy Young award winning pitcher decide on his own when to pitch to the best hitter in the game.
The Indians need this game for their third consecutive series win. The Brewers are on deck this week before a trip to Wrigley Field which should be well attended by Tribe fans in Chicago. The seagull problem continues to get a ton of play in the press. I was told by a friend who attended the game that people slow to catch on continually kept running from the concourse to see who hit a home run when in fact it was just the Tribe’s new policy of lighting off fireworks at each half inning to scare away the birds. I would imagine that Jon Miller and the ESPN crew will reference the problem a few times tonight. That should, however, be a buried story in this national TV game and will make for an eventful Sunday Night as you try to divert your attention from the Orlando Magic coming back down to earth.