Rick Ankiel Rick Ankiel Rick Ankiel Rick Ankiel!!!!!!
Okay, with that out of the way, on to the members of the Cardinal team who really matter to the Dodgers chances of sweeping the series and making all my delusions come true.
Jose Alberto Pujols -- 1B
0.315 -- 0.417 -- 0.554
According to espn.com, his surname is pronounced "POO-holes". Only in America! Or the Dominican Republic, I guess, where he was born.
His swing has no holes. Many people consider him the best hitter in the game. Pujols is having a down year, by his standards, since he usually has a slugging above 0.600.
I'm thinking that if Penny and Lowe are really on their games they and the pen might keep him to something like 2-8 with one walk and no home runs. And then Hendrickson will be destroyed by him. The tall stiff has nothing that can hurt Pujols. We can only hope that Pujols will need a day off Sunday. ( After I wrote this I decided to check the stats. Pujols's OPS vs. Hendrickson is 2.270 in 8 plate appearances. Just walk him! )
Yadier Benjamin Molina -- C
0.264 -- 0.336 -- 0.316
I would suggest that only Juan Pierre is allowed to run on him, and only then because the poor little blighter can't really do anything else besides steal bases. Yadier has caught 17 of 31 thieves this year, which is more than half. Kemp or Ethier will be DOA if they try to steal. Martin will probably be out too. Furcal might be okay to steal if he was fully healthy. I think Saenz could steal because Yadier would drop the ball in amazement if he saw him going. Too bad Saenz probably can't hit his way on base.
He's not a threat at all with the bat.
Adam Thomas Kennedy -- 2B
0.217 -- 0.282 -- 0.290
Wow, I had no idea. He's batted ninth in 3 of the past 6 games, as part of LaRussa's wacky pitcher-batting-eighth plan. He's not likely to start against Hendrickson on Sunday, since his OPS against lefties is 0.395. More bad luck for the tall bearded stiff.
Scott Bruce Rolen -- 3B
0.264 -- 0.336 -- 0.392
Rolen the Bruce is no longer a superstar. He's not even a star. He's only 32 but his stats are of a man in his late 30's. A few months ago when the Dodgers were trying LaRoche and Betemit and Abreu at third base there was some chatter that the Dodgers might try to trade for Rolen. Good thing they didn't, really. His stats aren't much better than Nomar's.
David Mark Eckstein -- SS
0.286 -- 0.332 -- 0.350
Eckstein's OPS with runners in scoring position is 0.555. It's 0.535 with two outs. Ah, but "close and late", according to espn.com's standards, he's batting 0.459 with a 1.041 OPS. So he really is clutch. Call him David Clutchstein!
James Patrick Edmonds -- CF
0.243 -- 0.319 -- 0.381
Rolen's fate is his fate. At least his age gives him a better excuse than Rolen. I'm having a hard time shaking loose from the notion that the Cardinals still have a big three of Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds. It's down to just the one with the funny name now.
Christopher Edward Duncan -- LF
0.283 -- 0.378 -- 0.536
The Cardinals have only two good hitters in their lineup. Duncan is one of them. And yet he's started only 4 of the last 10 games. I can't figure out why. I'm not finding any mention of an injury. Career scrub Ryan Ludwick has been getting a lot of playing time in left field, for some reason. He has 9 home runs, but not much else, with a 0.306 OBP. Duncan is clearly the better option, the better player. Maybe LaRussa just hates Duncan. I wouldn't put it past him.
Richard Alexander Ankiel -- RF
0.270 -- 0.316 -- 0.570 ( AAA, PCL )
He hit a home run yesterday in his outfield debut for the Cardinals. He also struck out twice, and that's going to be the problem. If he can only manage a 0.316 OBP in a hitter's league at the AAA level, it's unlikely he can manage an OBP above 0.300 at the big league level. But if the Dodger pitchers make a mistake, he is more than capable of taking them deep.
Adam Parrish Wainwright -- P
ERA -- IP -- SO -- BB -- HR
4.35 -- 134.1 -- 88 -- 49 -- 9
Wainwright is a mild ground ball pitcher, with a 3:2 ratio of grounders to fly balls. The Dodger fortunes on Friday may come down to how many of those ground balls find a hole, especially if there is a man on first with less than two outs. It would be nice if the Dodgers skipped over the luck part and just cranked out a bunch of extra base hits against Wainwright, but that doesn't seem likely.
Penny will face Wainwright tonight. It will be sad if the Dodgers can't win this game. You have Penny against a lineup with two ( maybe ) good hitters, and on the other hand a mostly solid Dodger lineup against a decent but not overpowering pitcher in Wainwright. Dodgers should win 4-2, or something like that. But to avoid the jinx I'm predicting the Cards win 13-1. We'll see.
Braden LaVern Looper -- P
5.25 -- 121.2 -- 59 -- 37 -- 15
LaVern is another mild ground ball pitcher, in spite of his non-ground ball surname. Again the Dodgers have to guard against falling into the trap of hitting a bunch of first or second pitch weak grounders. The Dodgers counter with Lowe. Same analysis as Wainwright's game, except that I wouldn't call Looper an even decent pitcher. He's bad. The problem is the offesive team still has to earn their runs. This season Looper has pitched 5 games of at least 7 innings and 1 or 0 runs allowed. There are no sure things. ( Three of those games were in April, though. )
Anthony Loza Reyes -- P
5.66 -- 82.2 -- 56 -- 29 -- 9
Starting in late June he had four awful starts in a row, and then followed that with 4 decent starts in a row. The Dodgers counter on Sunday with Hendrickson, who is also a hit or miss kind of pitcher. No final score in this last game would surprise me. Not even a final score of pi to e.