There are two significant stories from today's 7-1 Cardinals win over the Cubs:
- Marlon Byrd went to the hospital (precautionary) after a foul ball bounced up and hit him in the face. Word is he's going to be OK, but is day to day (aren't we all)?
- Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals posted his 20th win, becoming the second NL pitcher (after Roy Halladay) to do so this year. Ubaldo Jimenez, with 19, still has a shot. With two 20-game winners, the 2010 NL has more such pitchers than the last four seasons combined (one, Brandon Webb in 2008).
There are a few more things to say about today's one-sided loss, but before that, the presence of Matt Pagnozzi catching for the Cardinals reminded me of a story. Matt Pagnozzi is almost 28 and not really a prospect; his uncle, Tom Pagnozzi, was the Cardinals' more-or-less regular catcher for much of the early 1990's.
In 1991, the Cardinals were in Wrigley Field to close the season. Neither the Cardinals nor Cubs were anywhere near contention, so both teams were playing for pride and personal stats. The Cardinals -- managed that year by Joe Torre -- were a running team. They stole 202 bases that year, second to the Expos, and coming into the season's final game, had nine players in double figures in stolen bases. As I recall it, they had by doing so tied a record.
Enter Tom Pagnozzi, who ran pretty well for a catcher, as the old saying went. He came into that last game with nine steals. As it turned out, Torre didn't start him that day, but in the ninth inning sent him in to pinch-run. Everyone in Wrigley knew that he was going to take off to try to get that 10th steal.
The Cubs' catcher that day was Hector Villanueva -- who, if you remember him, was a pretty bad defensive catcher. His CS% was under 30%. Sure enough, Pagnozzi took off, and Hector threw him out. The Cubs won the game 7-3. Check out who pitched for the Cubs that day.
As a bit of a related trivia question -- don't look -- who leads the 2010 Cardinals in SB? I'll answer at the end of this post.
Anyway, I thought that story was much more interesting than anything that happened at Wrigley today. The paid attendance was announced as 36,553 -- again, it appeared that included at least 10,000 no-shows, though the bleachers were fairly full. It brought the season attendance to 2,985,600, so they'll pass three million tomorrow. The per-game average is 37,792, down almost 2,000 paid tickets per game from last year -- although the in-house total has to be down far more than that.
Tom Gorzelanny should probably have been shut down for the year. Preparation or no, you have to believe that non-displaced fracture was still affecting his pitching today. He had nothing from the first inning on, issuing four walks and allowing seven hits, including a three-run homer from Allen Craig (who is listed in the Wrigley scorecard as "Allen, Craig" in their last name first style). Four Cubs relievers gave up no runs (except a bases-loaded walk by Justin Berg which resulted in the final run charged to Gorz), but the Cubs couldn't do anything against Wainwright except Aramis Ramirez's 24th HR of the year.
So who leads the Cardinals in stolen bases? Albert Pujols, who swiped third base today to give him a total of 13. The running game has become far less important in recent years for many teams; the long-departed Ryan Theriot will lead this year's Cubs with 16. No other Cub has more than nine (Starlin Castro). So to say the Cubs need a "speedy leadoff man" -- ridiculous. Give me guys who can get on base ahead of middle-of-the-order power hitters. The Reds, who lead the NL in runs, rank ninth in steals; the Mets, who lead the league in steals, rank 14th in runs scored.
Food for thought. Beat the Cardinals tomorrow, at least.