Last week there was a discussion on this blog whether Soriano is a new leadoff hitter prototype. Turns out, Lou Pinella has been thinking about Soriano and the leadoff position. Yesterday, against the Cards Lou decided to move Soriano to thrid in the lineup, and moved Theriot up to the leadoff spot.
The Cardinals won the game for a few reasons:
1) Pitching. Dempster pitched a decent game, but had a rough inning where he gave up 3 runs. Marmol essentially gave the game away in the 8th, and got injured in the process.
2) The Cardinal offense. We have seen already this season that this Cardinals team has significant offensive fire power. It is obvious that they are from the city with the highest murder rate in the USA (in all fairness, this is partly due to the disputed unicorporation line that divides the county from the city), because they are deadly with a wooden bat. Last night, Pujols also showed that he can do it with his legs in the pivotal eighth inning where he hit a single, stole second, and then scored on Ryan Ludwick's single. Pujols is really a once in a lifetime kind of player and its unfortunate that he plays in the same division as the Cubs.
3) The lineup change. Now, I know there are many who might disagree with me, but I love Soriano at the top of the order. OBP aside, there is something magical about a leadoff hitter who has the power to hit a dinger every time he is at the plate. Now, I know he chases wild pitches sometimes, I know he strikes out too much to be a leadoff hitter,etc. Just bear with me. I really feel that the success of many great hitters is in part due to psychology-- getting in the opposing pitcher's head, outguessing and manipulating a pitcher to throw the pitch you want, when you want it.
Soriano is extremely intimidating to pitchers at any spot in the lineup, but I would argue that he is most intimidating at the leadoff position. Soriano at leadoff also gives the whole cubs lineup a little extra bite, it is as if we are saying, "we are so fresh that our leadoff hitter can hit homeruns like your guy who hits third, that's how much better we are than you". Once we place a prototypical leadoff hitter in the lineup, our edge dissipates and we end up with non-intimidating Theroit up at the plate in the 9th inning with one out and the tying run on first. Admit that you would have rather seen Soriano. I'd put money on the fact that Lou was thinking the same thing, or he could have been distracted by the thought of a Doughnut.
We'll be live blogging the game tomorrow, be sure to join us. Nowhere else can you get this diehard humor and analysis. Also, A-Ram got a little hurt last night, it's unclear how long he will be out for. Enjoy your Saturday!