The Cardinals have scored fewer runs this season than the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Reds, Red Sox, Marlins, Angels, Rockies, Tigers and Mets, among others, and the frustration is really starting to build in St. Louis. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it may have reached a tipping point Friday, when superstar slugger Albert Pujols and future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa shared a heated exchange in the Cardinals’ dugout.
La Russa called for outfielder Ryan Ludwick to steal second base with two outs in the eighth inning and Pujols at the plate. Ludwick, of course, was gunned down, and Pujols was left standing at the dish.
Albert flipped his bat and helmet in disgust, then knocked over two trays of gum in the home dugout. La Russa yelled “that’s enough,” and after a few moments added “I (expletive) know how to manage.”
Both La Russa and Pujols played it off as a non-issue when asked to describe the incident Saturday and it sure sounds like a heat of battle moment. But few would argue that the Cardinals are struggling, or at least under-performing in a weak National League Central division. In fact, the Reds are currently in first place by a half-game.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch told the media, including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, that starter Dallas Keuchel will come off of the disabled list and rejoin the rotation on Friday against the Tigers. Keuchel has missed nearly two months with a neck injury.
Prior to landing on the DL, Keuchel was 9-0 with a 1.67 ERA and a 69/18 K/BB ratio over 75 2/3 innings. He seemed to be on his way to potentially win another Cy Young Award.
Hinch also noted that Collin McHugh will start on Saturday and Lance McCullers will start on Sunday.
Braves starter Aaron Blair had a nightmarish bottom of the third inning on Wednesday afternoon against the Diamondbacks. He had just given up a run on a Daniel Descalso triple hit to center field that center fielder Ender Inciarte read poorly. In the following at-bat, Ketel Marte laced a curve ball to right field. Sean Rodriguez wasn’t able to get to it in time, so the ball bounced off the fence and caromed back towards the stands along the right field line. By the time Rodriguez was able to retrieve the ball, Marte was already on his way home and scored standing up.
The inside-the-park homer will certainly provide a boost to Marte’s stats. He entered Wednesday’s action batting .196/.255/.370 in 51 plate appearances.