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MLB on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra: Dodgers @ Cardinals

by Matt Smith

Mlb5XtraHlToday’s game on BBC radio is a clash from the National League, with the St. Louis Cardinals (50-41) hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers (49-42).

The BBC’s coverage begins at 19.00 and first pitch is scheduled for 19.15.  Jonny Gould is away this week, so Mike Carlson takes over in the presenting chair with Josh Chetwynd joining him from Arizona.

Today’s game is the fourth and final game of the series and the home fans will be waving brooms at Busch Stadium as they look to complete the series sweep. 

Coming out of the All-Star break, the Cardinals have been able to throw both of their aces at the Dodgers during the first three games.  Chris Carpenter dominated the Dodgers’ lineup on Thursday in a 7-1 victory, while Adam Wainwright pitched six scoreless innings yesterday as the Cards came through with a 2-0 win. 

The batters had the upper hand on Friday, but the presence of Carpenter and Wainwright still enabled St. Louis to gain an advantage.  With strong starters either side of Game Two, Tony La Russa was able to pull starter Jaime Garcia after 3.1 innings with only two runs of damage having been inflicted and turned the game over to the bullpen.  Joe Torre stuck with Chad Billingsley a little longer, the Dodgers’ bullpen having been called on early on Thursday after Clayton Kershaw lasted only 4.1 innings, and his four innings cost his team seven runs as the Cardinals went on to win 8-4.

Game Four should be an intriguing encounter because while the Cardinals have the momentum, on paper it is the Dodgers that have the better of the pitching match-up in today’s game. 

July 11, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Vicente Padilla of the Dodgers in action during the Major League Baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Dodgers defeated the Cubs, 7-0..Josh Thompson/CSM.

Vicente Padilla is an enigmatic character, but he has the stuff to dominate when his mind is on the job and he is healthy.  His fastball sits around 93 MPH and has good movement, running into right-handed batters, and he can ramp it up to 95 MPH to get a punch out.  His signature pitch is his curveball which actually works as several different pitches because he can throw it at different speeds, with a standard one snapping over at 75 MPH and his looping, cartoon-like curve that crosses the plate anywhere between the upper 50s and mid 60s. 

It’s a fun sight to see him use it to completely baffle Major League hitters and while we won’t be able to watch it on the radio, the gasps of the crowd and the reaction of the commentators will let you know when it has floated through the strikezone.  Padilla has been in good form since coming off the DL midway through June and he was masterful a week ago in the ESPN Sunday Night game against the Cubs, pitching eight scoreless innings.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Suppan delivers a pitch in the first inning of their MLB inter-league baseball game in St. Louis, Missouri, June 15, 2010.  REUTERS/Sarah Conard  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

As for the Cardinals, they are living in hope that Jeff Suppan can find some semblance of form.  Suppan was released by the Milwaukee Brewers at the start of June after putting up a 7.84 ERA in fifteen games.  St. Louis decided to bring back their former player as the latest reclamation project for pitching coach Dave Duncan. 

Suppan has always been a crafty pitcher rather than being able to miss bats with a blazing fastball.   His ‘heater’ sits at 87 MPH and it’s essential that he has excellent command of the pitch, otherwise he gets into trouble.  He complements the fastball with a 79 MPH change-up and a slow breaking ball around the 70 MPH mark.  Suppan has taken the loss in his last three outings. 

Will the Cardinals complete the sweep, or will the Dodgers salvage a win from the series?  Tune into BBC 5 Live Sports Extra this evening to find out.

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