Late afternoon loss frustates Cardinals
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A day after Albert Pujols complained about hitting in late-afternoon shadows following a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, his manager backed him up.
Tony La Russa said Tuesday he’d been hesitant to criticize conditions after a 4-1 loss because it might be perceived as sour grapes. The Cardinals were 2 for 22 the last seven innings and the Brewers weren’t happy with the visibility, either.
“There’s something to it, but you’re vulnerable talking about it because it’s the same for both teams,” La Russa said Tuesday. “There is definitely an issue. We’ve just got to deal with it.”
The game started at 3:10 p.m., and by the middle of the game the mound was in the sun with pitchers striding into shadows. Players weren’t happy about the start time given it wasn’t been a TV decision.
Pujols would have preferred to start the game during the noon hour, when the Cardinals begin most weekday day games. Day games on Sunday start at 1:15 p.m.
He said Monday he only saw the ball well during his first-at-bat, and had trouble defensively at first base.
“I’m not a guy that looks for excuses, but this is pretty ridiculous,” Pujols said after going 1 for 4 with a double. “You can’t play like that in a big league stadium.”
Pujols emphasized he didn’t want to “disrespect” Brewers starter Randy Wolf, who worked eight innings. But he said he couldn’t remember conditions that bad.
“It wasn’t fair for us to see,” Pujols said. “It wasn’t fair for them to see, either.”
Pujols added if you didn’t get some offense early, you’d be in trouble.
“You can’t see it. You almost feel like somebody is throwing a resin bag,” he said. “My second at-bat it went from the light to the shadows and I’m like ’Where’s the ball?’ I’m glad it’s the last 3 o’clock game.”
Pujols said he complained to the team about shadows a week earlier “and they didn’t care about it.”
Many Cardinals take early batting practice because it’s tougher to see during the regular time in late afternoon.
La Russa said it can be difficult hitting during twilight at many ballparks but noted this was a different matter.
The Brewers made their feelings known to the umpiring crew, even though they got home runs from Ryan Braun and Nyjer Morgan in the final seven innings.
“You can go on the other side and those nine guys can tell you the same thing,” Pujols said. “Fielder was like, ’This is ridiculous.’ Even Braun was like, ’This is worse than our place.”’
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke, a former major league player, said shadows have always been a problem in baseball. The Brewers do their best to minimize it by closing half of the roof at Miller Park, but the Cardinals don’t have that option at Busch Stadium.
“I didn’t hear them complaining a lot about it but it was tough to see,” Roenicke said. “I remember trying to hit in those shadows and it’s really tough.”