Lets get the unfortunate introspection started. Trust me, I’d rather not dissect the latest Cardinals meltdown, but in order for the mind to move on, some theraputic cleansing must take place. Here I go. You can only stare into the abyss for so long before the need for reasoning ceases to exist.
The Cards are a classic case of frustration, a team that fails to put it all together at the same time. Last week in Milwaukee, the starting pitching hurt this team. This week in St. Louis, the bats aren’t getting the job done. According to BJ Rains on twitter, The Cardinals are 3-8 against the Brewers this season, hitting .229, carried a 270 on base percentage and a .332 slugging percentage. The Big Three(Pujols, Berkman, Holliday) are hitting .184 against the Brewers this season and .306 against other teams. The Cardinals swept the Marlins, and seemed poised to come home and do damage against their rival division leader. Instead, the Birds have faltered. According to Bernie Miklasz’s calculations, the Brewers bullpen has pitched 27 scoreless innings, allowing 21 baserunners, with 24 strikeouts, a .165 batting average to add up to a 0.67 ERA. The Brewers are 22-8 in their last 30 games and only getting stronger, going 10-4 on the road, while the Cards have gone 14-16 at home since the All Star break. That’s just not good enough.
Last night, the Cardinals played like lazy souls. That’s what I see out there right now. Lollygagging pathetic baseball players.
Notes from Last Night’s Game-
- The lineup last night wasn’t good enough. With the loss of Matt Holliday to a back injury, the outfield featured Jon Jay, Allen Craig and Corey Patterson, which scares absolutely no one. Craig’s first game back, Jay is slumping and CP is a bench hand. Lance Berkman wasn’t in the lineup because he doesn’t hit Randy Wolf well, but with Holliday hurting, a quality power bat like Berkman had to be in the lineup. A weak lineup.
- Albert Pujols continues to struggle ONLY against the Brewers lately. Take away the Brewers and Pujols is having an electric second half. Lets look at it as one examines his paltry sub .120 batting average against Milwaukee. He tore up the Chicago Cubs at Busch two weeks ago, and then collected 1 hit in the Milwaukee series. He tore up Florida and comes home and is currently 1-7 with a sacrifice fly against the Brewers this week. It all adds up to a player who is consistently shut down by his team’s top rival. That’s bad news. With Holliday out, Pujols had to step up and he didn’t. My bet is that Pujols lights the Rockies up this weekend when the Cards are 6 or 7 games out of first place. Albert is 1-25 in last six games against MIL and 5-42 on the season. That’s downright horrible.
- Pujols and Berkman are 10-76(.132 BA) against The Brewers.
- Please don’t blame the umpires. Yes, Skip Schumacher was safe at home on Tuesday night and The umpire botched a play at first base that Pujols was correct that the Brewers runner was out but was called safe. You can’t pull two unfortunate mistakes from two games and hang the losses on them. The Cards have scored 4 runs in 18 innings in the two biggest games of the season. That’s not up to par and makes this team resemble a dead bunch.
- Right now, this team doesn’t look like a playoff team and doesn’t deserve to participate. Its almost time to get the memorial service scheduled, the autopsy finished, and the suits and shovels in motion. As my wiser than 20 year old scotch Pj Nolan pointed out, the last two games have made this very clear. The Cards aren’t built for the playoffs.
- The Loss of Lance Lynn and Holliday hurt last night but that can’t be placed in the blame box either. Losing your hottest bullpen hand and hottest bat in 18 hours is a huge loss, but the rest didn’t take care of business last night.
- Mitchell Boggs is pitching himself out of a bullpen position. He came in and allowed two inherited runners to score on a two run single. He allowed two runs on Sunday in Florida. While the bullpen has been lights out for the better share of the past month, Boggs’ control is slipping and his efficiency is lacking. With Eduardo Sanchez on the mend, Boggs spot is getting hotter. When Lynn comes back, Boggs may find himself in a watercooler role in the bullpen.
- Jason Motte carries more value than Boggs because he is getting stronger as the season progresses. Motte hasn’t allowed a run in 16 straight appearance and his ERA is sharp along with his strikeouts to walks ratio. Motte is finding better location on his 98 mph fastball and mixing in a slider. Motte is a useful weapon. I keep him over Boggs.
- Chris Carpenter stands as the last line of defense tonight. Expect a hot, intense, fiery performance from Carpenter as he stands in front of the Brew Crew freight train. Every ACE must step up and stop a losing streak. Now it’s Carp’s time. If Carpenter can’t stop a losing streak to your rival, the deal is done. If he folds, count this Cards team.
- Speaking of starting pitching, Edwin Jackson and Jake Westbrook acquitted themselves quite nicely in this series. A pre-series warning turned into a strength. Jackson atoned for his rough start in Milwaukee and threw 6 innings, allowing 3 runs with 5 strikeouts to a hot hitting offense. Westbrook started badly last night, allowing 3 runs in the first 4 innings while walking 4 but settled down for 8 innings and pitched 4 shutout innings to close out his night. Starting pitching hasn’t been the issue in these crucial losses.
When I arrived at work this morning, a co-worker/friend of mine tried to pull information about the game from me and I simply didn’t want to talk about it. There are times when examinations can be rendered and others when nothing needs to be said about a corpse. After running through Florida, the Cardinals have found a speed bump that won’t give in Milwaukee. The 2011 Cardinals trademark has been come from behind triumphs and a never say die atttiude. What happens when your luck runs out? This team turns me into a mad man and I can’t control it.
The Cardinals botched a chance to gain ground in the division and now can only hope to stay within 4 games of the lead. They failed. To quote the great Robert De Niro in the underrated cop drama COPLAND, “You had the chance to do something, I gave you the opportunity, and you BLEW IT!” In this case, the mentally impaired receiver of DeNiro, Stallone’s sheriff, is the Cardinals team. The Cardinals dropped the ball. When I think of this team’s awful play in the last 48 hours, I think of a cop chasing a bad guy through the streets. In this case, the cop is the Card and the bad guy is the Brewers(STL perspective). The cop is poised to chase him down, make an arrest and has the tools and backup to do it. Instead of catching up to him, the cop trips up and breaks his leg. He wastes a chance to make an arrest, put a dent in the crime rate and do good. He fails. That’s the Cardinals this week. Failing to take advantage of an opportunity.
Bottom Line-If The Cardinals lose tonight’s game against Milwaukee and fall six games out of first place, the rest of the season starts to unravel. Every time we lose to the Brewers, the team’s chances take a bullet. Will the Cardinals go down for the count? When their back is against the wall, how will the Cards react? Can they be rescued by Carp and the arrival of fresh lumber?
My question-Are they worth saving? Of course, because if you are a true baseball fan(not the one who tells you he doesn’t care yet likes to comment when the losing streak hits 2), you will never stop rooting for this team. If it’s in your blood, the urge never dies. However, the lights are dimming on this season. If we can’t find a way to beat the Brewers, we don’t deserve anything. One can’t that enough in order for the message to be correctly delivered.
Stay tuned for more tortued drama from the St. Louis Cardinals.
So long for just awhile,