The Cubs couldn’t seal the deal on the first-ever sweep of the Cardinals at new Busch Stadium, but the weekend wasn’t a total wash, at least in the eyes of National League general managers.
“The emails have been flowing in,” said Cubs GM Jim Hendry. “‘Great work’ from Tim Purpura in Houston and ‘Thanks so much!’ from Omar Minaya in New York … like we had something to do with it.”
Hendry was referring to the injury suffered Saturday by Cardinals first baseman and one-man wrecking crew Albert Pujols. While attempting to snag a foul ball, Pujols strained his right oblique, forcing him onto the 15-day disabled list. Some experts say Pujols may miss significantly more time.
The Cubs went on to win Saturday’s contest 8-5, powered by a fourth-inning Aramis Ramirez grand slam. The bullpen did their best to give the game away, surrendering a pair of runs in the ninth on the strength of two Scott Williamson wild pitches, but it wasn’t enough as Bobby Howry later slammed the door, earning his first save of the season.
The bullpen did give the game away Sunday, as David Aardsma followed up a shaky Greg Maddux outing by being even shakier. In just two-thirds of an inning, Aardsma gave up three runs. Although only two were earned, the soon-to-be career farmhand’s ERA somehow ballooned to 8.10. One of the runs charged to Aardsma was inherited by Will Ohman, perhaps the only Cubs pitcher worse than Aardsma.
Those three runs proved critical as the Cubs mustered a run of their own in the seventh, when Ronny Cedeno singled in Jacque Jones, who is suddenly hitting .306. That run would have tied the game had Aardsma and Ohman not pitched like Aardsma and Ohman.
Number of the weekend: 1
Games the Cardinals actually missed Pujols, who was replaced Sunday by world-renowned Cub-killer Jim Edmonds. Edmonds reached base in each of his four plate appearances, drove in three runs and scored twice.