Cardinals 7, Astros 6 (10 innings)

In many ways, this has been a tough year for St. Louis. The Tony LaRussa Celebrity Roast. Having Scott Spiezio and Sidney Ponson on the payroll. Will Leitch’s outing of Albert Pujols’ personal trainer. Those creepy Holiday Inn ads with Joe Buck.

But though all of these indignities, the Cardinals are still atop the NL Central, and should have enough ammo to see off the other 3 contenders for the divisional crown. There’s 5 games distance between St. Louis and Houston after the former’s last 2 wins in Clutch City, the most recent of which came about via Brad Lidge allowing a 9th inning solo HR to Spiezio, and then pouring additional kerosene on the blaze, blowing his 4th save (and costing Roger Clemens his 2nd victory) in the process. Roy Oswalt was Houston’s surprise relief option in the 10th, and Pujols deposited his second pitch into the right field stands.

Earlier, a 3 run HR by Craig Biggio erased a 4-1 St. Louis lead. It was Biggio’s 2884th career hit, making him the All-Time Leader Of Players Unfairly Implicated By David Wells.

Though we’ve already established that a) Mark Redman is the most deserving member of the Royals pitching staff and b) the casual baseball fan would gain no pleasure whatsoever in seeing the most dominant young pitcher since Doc Gooden take on the game’s best, we’ll just let this sink in one last time : after tonight’s 4-0 win over Texas, Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano is 10-1. His ERA is 1.83. Liriano has struck out 102 in 88 innings while walking just 23. He won’t be in Pittsburgh this coming Tuesday evening, and much like this letter to the Austin American-Stateman, that’s fucked up.

Wevie Stonder II won’t be going to the All-Star Game, either, and while his credentials aren’t nearly as hot as Liriano’s (6-0, 1.12 after 7 shutout innings in the Angels’ 6-4 win over Oakland), it would be reasonable to wonder aloud how much better off his club would be had they moved him into the starting rotation sooner.