I don’t often dwell on too much in my blog that doesn’t deal with baseball in some way, but I will today, because I think that it is important. As everyone knows, today we are celebrating Memorial Day, a day of remembering and honoring those who have died serving our country. While we always remember and are grateful to those from previous wars, the current Iraq war definitely stands out in front in many of our minds. Whenever I hear reports about an American casualty, I always think about where they might be from and of their family and friends. So, even if only a few people read this blog, I want to set aside this part of it, to honor those who have laid down their life for our country.
And, I also want to thank all of the armed forces currently serving. Some are Stateside, some are in Iraq or other places around the world. The drive they possess to serve their country is the reason we are a free nation, because it is the same drive that generations before them possessed when they were fighting for our freedom. I have known many soldiers over the years and not one of them regrets their service time or the time spent in Iraq. Instead, they are all proud to have served and to have given to their country. And, I am proud of them.
Thanks for letting me give you my Memorial Day spiel. 🙂 On to baseball….
If I wasn’t the first one to mention Bonds hitting homer 715 in a post, I was certainly in the first few. But, I still didn’t get a mention on the MLBlogs Bonds page. Go figure. Probably because I didn’t dedicate a whole post to it; instead just mentioning it in passing. But, that’s alright. I don’t think I need to waste a whole post on Bonds. I’ve said it a million times. I wish he would just go away.
On to a subject I like talking about much, much more. The St. Louis Cardinals. They suffered two losses at the hands of the reigning NL West Champs, the San Diego Padres. You always hate to lose a series, but I guess eventually it has to happen. It’s been quite some time since it last happened. Even if the Padres repeat as champs, they don’t scare me in the slightest. We would have no problem taking them again in the NLDS.
The team we are playing next, however, has scared me a lot in the past. Both in ’04 when we beat them to advance and ’05 when we did not, I was scared to death the entire series. There were a lot of strikeouts, a lot of big plays, walk off hits and homers and in general….just a lot of drama. And the reason for a lot of my anxiety has to do with a man by the name of Roy Oswalt. The same Roy Oswalt who is on the mound tonight for the Houston Astros.
Now, overall, the ‘Stros aren’t nearly as frightening as they once were. Their team is aging and aren’t the competitors they once were. Not to mention, their big star, Roger Clemens is semi-retired, not sure if he’s going to return to baseball or if he does return to what team. (Side note: My money is on him returning, but I’m not sure what team I see him returning to.) I think that for the Astros to even have a chance this year Clemens would have to return.
They are miles behind the first place Cardinals and this year they are even contending with the newly competitive Cincinnati Reds for 2nd place and a possible wild card spot. (I guess you could throw the Brewers into the mix temporarily, but don’t expect them to keep their current pace.) Although, I’m staying with my original prediction that the wild card will go to either the Braves or Mets, whichever team falls to 2nd place in the East.
Nevertheless, these are the Houston Astros. They are one of the great Central division rivals we have had over the years. Anybody who has talked to me for 2 seconds or who has read the statement at the top of my blog knows my loathing for the Chicago Cubs. In the past, they had been a decent rival and certainly one that was fun to hate. But, in the last couple of years, they are barely even making a sound and can barely be considered a "rival" anymore. The Astros and us, however, have been rivals, going back and forth in wins and all along playing some good baseball.
Every Cardinal fan can surely tell you where they were when Albert Pujols jacked one a mile out of the park against the so-called "Lights Out Lidge" in the NLCS to give us one more day of life and the series back to Busch for one last game.
So, I always look forward to a series against the Astros. And, I certainly always look forward to a series at home.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that tonight doesn’t look good for us when you read Oswalt vs. Marquis. It doesn’t help matters that Houston won both of the 2 game series we played against them earlier this year.
Oswalt’s line is pretty average, (5-3, 3.36 ERA), but we all know what he is capable of. In his last 3 starts, he’s give up only 6 runs in over 20 innings of work and still has taken the loss or no-decision each time. And, of course he dominated the Cardinals in last year’s NLCS. 2 of their wins came with him on the mound. But, he wasn’t that commanding during the regular season. He went 1-2 against the Redbirds during the season with a 5.21 ERA.
So far this year, Marquis isn’t looking too great with his 5.12 ERA. But, as he’s shown in recent starts, especially his most recent start, he can keep us in the ballgame. He may require a lot of run support, but if you give it to him, he can get the job done.
The question is, will he get the needed run support against Roy Oswalt tonight? A luxury of being a Cardinal fan is you never have to go into a game thinking you can’t win. You may think the odds aren’t in your favor or that it will be a tough match, but you know that you have the potential to when any game, no matter who the opponent or who the pitcher. The Cardinal bats are so lethal that when you guard against one guy or one style of play, the Cards can attack from a different area.
So, of course, I still fully expect a Cardinal win tonight. So, let’s get to it. We have a little revenge to take care of tonight.
In other news, the Chicago Cubbies made a late inning gasp for breath last night against the hard hitting Atlanta Braves. The Braves hit the ball out of the park a the rate of a homer an inning, but Chicago kept themselves within striking distance. They evened up a 4 run deficit in the bottom of the ninth to push the game to extras. But, in the top of 11th, the Braves added one run and it would be all Atlanta would need. Chicago did nothing in their half of the frame.
That means another loss for the Cubs and so the score still is:
Albert – 24 Cubs – 18
Number 25 off of Oswalt tonight? (Or Lidge??)