Number 400 Comes in a Losing Effort For Pujols, Cards


On a night filled with action and entertainment in Washington, the Cardinals were left with mixed emotions following a heartbreaking 11-10 loss to the Nationals in 13 innings. Albert Pujols belted his 400th career home run off Jordan Zimmermann, becoming the third youngest player in history to reach that milestone. In doing so, he joined fellow Cardinal Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth as the only players with 400 home runs, 1,200 RBI’s, and a career batting average of .330.

That’s not a bad list to be on if you ask me. However, the homer was not enough as the Nats took game one of the series and the Cards fell even further behind the Reds in the N.L. Central standings.

Pujols’ home run was part of a four run fourth inning with which the Cardinals took a 5-3 lead. The Nationals then responded right back with five unanswered runs over the next three innings. From there, the redbirds battled back to tie the game at eight and eventually take a 10-8 lead in the top of the ninth thanks to a two run single from Randy Winn. The Cards seemed to have the game well in hand until closer Ryan Franklin blew just his second save of the year by allowing a two run homer to Roger Bernadina.

The 10th and 11th innings passed by quickly without a single hit from either team, after there had been at least one run scored in every previous inning except the first. The 13 inning thriller finally came to an end when an infield single from Ian Desmond brought Nyger Morgan in to score, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.

The game was dominated by offense as the teams combined for 30 hits and 10 walks, and both teams went through at least seven different pitchers. Chris Carpenter allowed 10 hits and six runs in six innings of work, while striking out a season low one batter. However, only three of his runs were earned due to yet another throwing error by Felipe Lopez. Lopez now has 11 errors on the season, several of which have directly impacted the outcome of the game. It was a rare bad outing for Carp, who was 3-1 in the month of August with a 2.60 ERA prior to Thursday night.

Surprisingly, the home runs by Pujols and Bernadina were the only two of the game as both sides scored their runs by stringing multiple hits together. John Jay and Yadier Molina were a combined 1 for 12 at the dish and 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. On the other hand, Randy Winn went 4 for 6 and drove in three crucial runs in the late stages of the game. It was obvious that the Nationals wanted no part of Albert Pujols as he was intentionally walked three times after taking one deep. Not to be forgotten, newly acquired third baseman Pedro Feliz finished with a pair of hits and has now hit safely in all seven games since joining St. Louis.

A walk off victory was the perfect way to bring an end to a four game losing streak for Washington and prove their capabilities to number one overall pick Bryce Harper, who was introduced to the team before the game. The Nats had been shut out three times in the past week before this offensive explosion.

As for the Cardinals, the story remains the same. They simply cannot seem to beat teams with a losing record. It is extremely frustrating to watch a team with so much potential beat other top teams in the league and then unexplainably lose to some of the worst teams in the league. It just does not make any sense whatsoever. The Cards have now lost three in a row to last place teams and lost eight of their last eleven games.

Inconsistency is one thing that every team hates, but right now, it’s the one thing that St. Louis can’t seem to avoid. Every winning streak in August has been followed up with a long losing streak, which kills the team’s momentum. Sure, most teams go through a stretch or two throughout the year where they are inconsistent, but this playoff run is the most inopportune time for that to happen.

The way I look at it, the Cards need to pick up at least one game per week on the Reds for the rest of the season to overcome this four game deficit. If they can do this, they will have earned themselves a spot in the postseason. It was certainly great to watch Albert Pujols make history, but the Cardinals will be history if they don’t turn it around.