Shadows make hitting tough at Busch Stadium

Shadows make hitting tough at Busch Stadium

ST. LOUIS -- For once, the Brewers and Cardinals are united in their complaints.

Hitters from both clubs were frustrated on Monday by the hitting conditions at Busch Stadium, thanks to a 3:15 p.m. CT start on the Labor Day holiday in a game Milwaukee won, 4-1, over St. Louis. By approximately the second inning, shadows had crept from behind home plate into the field of play, leaving the sort of field that every hitter dreads. Hitters were standing in shadow, while pitchers were throwing from a place of bright sunshine.

"It's tough," said Albert Pujols. "I don't want to look for excuses, but it's tough to play a 3 o'clock game. You can't see anything. Even their side, all the guys that were hitting the ball were like, 'It's tough to see the ball.'

"Obviously you don't want to take the credit from [pitcher Randy] Wolf. He threw a great game. Kept the ball down, didn't make any mistakes. I don't want to disrespect the job that he did. He kept us off-balance and made some good pitches. But it's pretty tough after the second inning. It's like [trying to see] a rosin bag. It's ridiculous. This is a big league stadium, and it's not fair."

Despite the fact that Milwaukee managed 12 hits and four runs on the afternoon, Brewers hitters shared Pujols' perspective.

"The conditions were definitely not conducive to good hitting today," said Ryan Braun, who homered in the third inning. "It was really challenging to see, so you knew when we got ahead, it was going to be really challenging for them to score runs. From about the third inning on, I don't think you saw many good swings at all. It was at least as bad as our place is typically during the day."

Cardinals cleanup hitter Matt Holliday, who went 0-for-4, was more succinct than his teammate Pujols but no less emphatic.

"If you don't get a hit in your first two at-bats, you're not going to get a hit unless you get lucky," Holliday said. "If you get lucky you might have a chance. It's like hitting in a dark living room. If you can't see the spin on the ball, how do you know what it is?"

St. Louis slugger Lance Berkman, who was out of the lineup on Monday, had complained about the afternoon shadows in August. Pujols said Monday that after the Cardinals' last 3 p.m. start, he appealed to have this game time changed. He did not indicate to whom he directed his plea.

"I'm glad that's the last 3 o'clock game," Pujols said.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.