I talked yesterday about how the Cardinals don´t need to win every game the rest of the season, but need to concentrate on winning each series that they play. They have now won 4 out of their last 5 series.
However, after dropping the first game in this series to Atlanta, they are now in danger of losing another series. They would have to win both of these next two games vs. the Braves and to do that, they have to go through Tim Hudson.
Hudson, a former 20·game winner, as part of the Big 3 in Oakland, has never really hit his stride in a Brave uniform…..until this year. He leads the league with 15 wins and is 6th in ERA. He´s one place behind his teammate John Smoltz, who…..oh yeah…..we faced last night. Honestly though, I think Hudson´s most impressive stat is that he´s only allowed 5 home runs all season. Almost every one of our relievers either has that many or are well on their way there. And our starters? They had that many probably in May sometime.
Still, our offense is good with everybody is on and lately they have seemed to be clicking. The key to this game will be two things. The two things that we have not the last two games. The first is a solid outing by our starter. Tonight it´s Joel Piñeiro. If he can keep us in it, I´m confident that our offense will be able to get to Hudson.
And two, the defense. All of the errors the past two days have really hurt the Redbirds. They will need to regain their defensive ability in order to not let the game get out of hand. They have eight errors the past two games. EIGHT. That´s ridiculous. For a team that has the likes of Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, this shouldn´t be happening. And those eight errors aren´t even including the four passed balls that Yadi had. Are you kidding me?
Game time in 2 minutes,
I can´t ever say that I´m happy about a loss, especially by 8 runs…….however, I am willing to look past it. It´s obvious the Cardinals aren´t going to win every one of their games from here on out. To make up the ground in the central, they need to concentrate on winning each series. They´ve been rather successful at this lately and I hoping it stays that way. So though we lost last night, I am content in knowing that we got the series win against Florida.
Our next series begins tonight and it´s against Atlanta. This is no easy task because the first two pitchers we have to face are John Smoltz and Tim Hudson. Both can be very, very dominant pitchers when they are on, have ERAs just barely over 3 and are on club that is also fighting for it´s life to have a playoff spot. The Cardinals are 3 games behind the division leading Cubs (it pains me to say that) and the Braves are 3 back of the Wild Card, currently led by the Pads.
I stayed up to watch this first game of Wells vs. Smoltz, but it´s currently on a rain delay. The Cubs and the Brewers are on way too late, so I guess I´m going to have to catch up on all of my baseball tomorrow.
The Crew and Cubbies switch up opponents tonight, so that the Brewers are now taking on the Giants and the Cubs move on to the D·backs. Hopefully, the West leading Arizona can squash the Cubs and give us a chance to gain a couple of games on them.
But in order to do that, we have to have to take at least 2 of 3 from Atlanta. And in order to do that, we need to play tonight. If we get rained out again, I don´t know when it would get made up. We only have one more off day and it´s Monday, when the Braves are playing the Marlins. So maybe at the end of the season. But I´m getting ahead of myself because perhaps it won´t get rained out at all.
Time to take on Atlanta,
I think it was pretty universally acknowledged in Cardinal Nation that the Cards needed pull off at least a 5-2 road trip in order to still be in conention by the time the trip was over. It seemed a difficult, if not impossible task for two reasons. 1) We had not fared well on the road so far this year and 2) We would be playing the very two teams who had played well enough to be ahead of us in the division.
But the Cardinals came out of the gate with a startling urgency. With some of the younger players wanting to make a good impression and fighting for possible starting spots next year and the veterans of the club starting to turn it on, the Cardinals downed the Brewers in 3 straight games. After which, came our most hated rival, the Cubs. The Cubs squeaked by with the first two wins of the series, which meant that with a sweep we would be right back where we started. Following a rainout, however, the Cardinals came back and won a hard fought game against the Cubs, making it a 4-2 road trip. Not quite the 5-2 we were hoping for, but with the rainout, I’ll certainly take it. It puts the Cardinals squarely in conention, sitting a measly 3 games back of the Brewers and the Cubs who are both tied for first.
But it’s certainly far from over. As the Astros found out last year around this time, it’s easier to hold a team off than to catch them. Not to mention we are chasing two teams, which, obviously, is much harder than chasing just 1. Still, the teams we are chasing are having a terrible August that might just continue long enough to get us into the lead. So far in August the Cubs are 7-11, the Brewers are 6-12 and the Cardinals are 9-9. Just by plaing .500 ball we are looking good compared to the other two teams. Just think where we’d be if we had played good against those last place teams. And even though the Cardinals are .500 in August, they’re starting to turn it on as of late. In the last two weeks, they are 9·4 and have won 3 out of 4 series. And that´s basically how we have to get back in this thing……winning one series at a time.
We close out the month with the Marlins, the Braves and the Astros. Of those teams, only the Braves are playing .500 ball. Florida and Houston are both 13 games under, so hopefully we win both of those series, at least. Especially if our big guys keep producing.
In his last 7 games, Pujols is hitting .464 with 4 walks, 4 home runs, 5 RBI and 9 runs. The only thing bad here is that he only has 5 ribbies on 4 homers. That´s way too many solo shots. Guys need to be getting on base ahead of him, so that he can really do some damage. He´s had home runs in his last 3 games.
In his last 7 games, Rolen is hitting .367, with 5 extra·base hits, including 1 homer and 6 RBI. Who is this guy? Rolen´s really turned it on in the last week or so. I hope there´s more where this came from.
In his last 7 games, Edmonds is hitting .286, has 3 extra·base hits, including one home run, 7 RBI and 3 runs. And .286 is actually down for him. He´s hitting .371 for the month of August and slugging .474. That´s pretty good for a guy who was hitting a measly .250 in July and slugging a mere .143. If these guys keep this up and really start to get in the groove at the same time, it should be a good rest of the month.
Ankiel also went deep last night for his 4th home run since his August 9th call·up. That´s 4 dingers in 9 games for a .750 slugging percentage. And he´s hitting .313 to boot. I certainly don´t expect him to keep hitting home runs at this pace, but it´s provided some nice pop in the outfield for now. And best of all is his arm. I´ve stated for a long time that we really need another good arm in the outfield. Edmonds defense in center is great and he can definitely throw guys out, but when he´s not in the line·up, our outfield seriously lacks the ability to throw guys out at the plate or anywhere else for that matter. But after Ankiel gunned Ryan Theriot out at 3rd yesterday, more teams are going to be careful running on him. It´s sort of like Molina. Your reputation takes away half of would·be base runners.
Only 3 games out,
Before I get into Cardinal baseball, how about that Yankee game? 8 home runs by 7 different players? And not of them is A-Rod? Are you kidding me? You figure there are a lot of balls getting hung over the plate that game to have that kind of a homer happy night. So I’m surprised that Alex didn’t get in on the action, much less to go 0-5. It also shows you how much under ability these guys have been playing all year. This is what the Yanks are capable of doing when they’re running on all cylinders. Every guy down the lineup 1-9 has the ability to put the ball in the stands. Half of their lineup could be cleanup on almost any other team in the league.
Ok, on to the NL Central. What a bittesweet day of baseball. The Cardinals played a hard fought game against Pittsburgh and actually came up on the winning end to stretch their streak to…….4 games. I can barely believe it. The sad news? The Brewers fought back Glavine and his quest for 300 in their win over the Mets and the Cubs won as well. So, the Cardinals still sit at 6 games back of first place and gain nothing on Chicago.
I’m happy for the win though. This kind of back and forth game is the kind of game that Cardinals would win last year and have been losing this year. And even though it seemed back and forth, they never really let the Pirates fully get their foot back in the door and pretty much stayed in control the whole game. Still, I wish the Redbirds would have been able to put them away sooner. You just can’t get in the habit of letting teams hang around in games, especially when we go back to playing higher caliber teams. Both runs that were scored off of starter Adam Wainwright were runs scored with two outs. A sac fly or something may happen when you have 0 or 1 outs, but once you have 2 outs, you have to do everything possible to shut that door.
That said, I felt the Cardinals played hard. Ryan Ludwick laid our for a terriffic play in left field. And Scott Rolen came in hard to homeplate on a play that he should have been out on by a mile. But the catcher couldn’t come up with the ball and Rolen was safe. Great baseball. Though, the Pirates may want to invest in a new catcher. He made two mistakes today that cost his team and earlier this season he did the same against the Cardinals. I can’t remember what game, but I remember another similiar play when he couldn’t handle a simple relay throw for the out.
These next games against the Pirates are getting to be pretty much must-wins for the Redbirds. Sweeping or taking 2 of 3 from the lower teams in the division are a necessity if the Cardinals expect to cotinue competing for the division. That said I think I should explain the following.
I’m not naive when it comes to this team. I know that they have played horrible ball this year. I know that they barely held onto the NL Central title last year when they were AHEAD for most of the year, let alone trying to climb back into contention. And I’m painfully aware that even if this team somehow makes it into the postseason that they’re chances are almost nil. Anybody else remember the 2004 World Series when we didn’t have Carpenter? Yeah, their are other pitchers and other games, but don’t think that the 2004 loss and the 2006 win don’t have anything to do with Carpenter. There is something about going out there with your dominant ace against the other team’s dominant ace that boosts your team’s self esteem, not to mention pushing everyone else on your staff back and deeping your rotation. Losing Carp has been the biggest blow of the season thus far.
Nevertheless, I have faith. Blind faith, maybe. But faith none the less. I believe my team can do it. Or maybe more accurately, I WANT to believe my team can do it. But this is what baseball is all about, right? Every team’s fan has that sort of faith on Opening Day. They all say, “We signed free agents!” “We called up our top prospect from our farm system!” “It’s a new year!” Now, it’s the All-Star break and fans of some teams like the Royals and the Devil Rays have resigned themselves to another season of under 500, poorly executed baseball.
But the rest of us still have hope. Not all of the teams will be rewarded. The Mets, Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres and Rockies will not all make the posteason. In fact, only half of them will. Yet all of those teams are only 6 games or less back and it is ‘possible’ for any of them to do it. So I hold onto the hope. It’s certainly better than giving up on a season. How many people gave up on the Redbirds last year? Like they say, in baseball, anything is possible.
I’d like to hear from anyone else on this topic. When do you say enough is enough when it comes to your team? Do you hold onto hope until the bitter end, until that magic number for the first place club finally reaches 0? Or is that just asking for disappointment such as was the case for Houston fans last year? Is there a point in the season where you finally admit your team is too far gone, even if they have not ‘technically’ been eliminated? I’m really interested in thoughts about this. Obviously baseball is a good starting point, but if you have another sport you’d like to bring up on this topic, I’m open to that too.
Alright boys, time to get busy tonight, taking another one away from the Pirates.
I can’t tell you how much I hate rainouts. When I got home last night, it was too late to watch the game, but I got up this morning fully intending to. I took a shower, got some food and prepared to sit at my computer 3 hours this morning watching the game. But when I clicked MLB.TV, instead I was greeted with the letters "PPD." Grrrrrr. And to make matters worse, they have moved the afternoon game this Saturday to a 6:05pm start time. Oh well. Since it’s Saturday night, I might watch it live anyway.
The rest of baseball played, however. And that included a 2 home run night by Barry Bonds. Bonds has said repeatedly that he feels better than he has in years. He seemed to prove that by leading the league in homers during Spring Training, but had sloped down quite a bit come April 1. But perhaps last night was breaking out of his slow start, when he crushed two home runs off of two different Pittsburgh Pirate pitchers. He’s not 18 homers shy of Aaron’s hallowed mark. I hate seeing it happen because it’s one of those things that’s clearly inevitable. Should he stay healthy, it’s not a matter of if he breaks the streak. If he stays healthy, the streak will be broken and it will be broken this year. It’s not something I’m excited about it, but I’m sure I’ll get over it.
Something else happened was that the Cubs lost. I am pretty surprised about this, because the last that I had checked the score it was 5-0 in Chicago’s favor and Zambrano was on the mound. But the Reds were able to tag him for 6 runs in the 5th inning. Although a couple of those were scored off a reliever, they were still his runners and so attributed to him.
The Marlins gave D-train his third win by continuing to pound the cover off the ball. This young lineup that was at the bottom of everyone’s predictions last year looks like they may make a serious run this year. They lead the Majors in triples, runs scored, RBIs and slugging. They lead the NL in doubles and average and are tied for 2nd in the NL for homers. Watch out Mets and Braves.
Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully we get a game into tonight.
Fingers crossed for good weather,
Let me preface my liveblog by giving you the best highlights of the Atlanta-Houston game so far:
Houston had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out when Braves RF Francoeur made a diving catch and popped up to throw Aubrey Huff out at home. It was a GREAT play. He followed that up in the next half inning by going yard. 2-0 Braves! Then in this last inning, the Astros loaded the bases, but Smoltz gets Huff to fly out (to Francoeur) to end the inning. I think Smoltz and Francoeur are my new favorite players. I feel a clinch coming for the Redbirds! Oh, now it’s 3-0 Braves.
A live blog coming your way soon…..
Alright, the Cardinals take the field and Reyes prepares to make the first pitch. Yes, the Cardinals are sitting in a great position with the Astros currently losing, but they still need to win. They want to win. The champagne tastes much better when you just won the game than if you lost it.
Top of 1st
8:20- First pitch….strike one.
8:22- It looked like Reyes got Gwynn swinging on strike 3, but the ump said he didn’t go around. Instead he drops in a blooper for a hit.
8:24- Reyes makes Tony Graffinio look pretty bad on a swinging strike and then nails him looking for strike 3. 1 out.
8:25- On ball 1 to Prince Fielder, Gwynn steals a base off of Molina, as Yadi bobbles it taking it out of his glove.
8:27- After getting behind Fielder 2-1, Reyes gives up a homer and Fielder has as many homers this season as his number with #28. 2-0 Brewers.
8:28- Reyes quickly gets Bill Hall 0-2 before throwing a great change up on pitch number 4 to strike him out. 2 away.
8:30- Ugh. Now Geoff Jenkins takes the kid deep. 3-0 Brewers. How about out #3 Anthony?
8:31- Well, it won’t be Corey Hart. He hit a gapper for a triple and pitching coach Duncan hurries out to the mound to talk to young Reyes.
8:33- David Bell drops in a bloop hit and that’s all for Reyes. LaRussa heads out to the mound to take the ball after Reyes gives up 4 runs in only 2/3 of an inning. Ouch.
8:35- Brad Thompson takes over the pitching duties as the Brewers send their 8th man to the plate this inning.
8:36- And that 8th man, Mike Rivera grounds out into a fielder’s choice. The inning is FINALLY over.
Bottom of 1st
It’s tough being down before you ever step up to the plate, especially four runs, but the Redbirds are about to do just that.
8:38- It’s Carlos Villanueva on the hill today for the Brew Crew. Miles welcomes him by lining the ball of his pitching hand. 3B Bell picks up the ball and fires Miles out at first.
8:41- After a plethera of Brewers staff looks at Villanueva’s hand, he decides he’s fine and promptly gets Chris Duncan 0-2.
8:43- Duncan fights back to make it 2-2 and then fouls off three straight pitches before striking out for out #2.
8:45- Pujols watches four pitches for a count of 3-1 before barely getting thrown out at first on a ground ball after Fielder contorted himself to make the catch.
(Houston update: Atlanta still leads 3-0 in the top of the 6th after getting the ‘Stros got out of a bases loaded jam in the 5th.)
Top of 2nd
8:47- Thompson strikes out the first batter he sees in the 2nd, pitcher Villanueva
8:48- Thompson makes quick work of the next two Brewers batters by getting both to ground out to Ronnie Belliard at 2nd by throwing only 3 pitches.
Bottom of 2nd
8:51- Preston Wilson is up, batting cleanup again tonight. He shows bunt and takes for strike 1.
8:52- Wilson SHARPLY lines a single to LF Corey Hart, but it bounces off his glove and Preston ends up at 2nd on the error. Rally time boys!
8:53- Villanueva walks Rolen on five pitches.
(Houston update: They have runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Let’s go Smoltzie!)
8:55- Juan Encarnacion hits a ball barely fair to 3B Hall. He throws a ball in the dirt to 2B and they barely get Rolen out on the fielder’s choice.
8:56- Good news and bad news. With 1st and 3rd and only 1 out, Ronnie Belliard lines out to 2nd. Good news? Look below.
(Houston update: Smoltz strikes out Orlando Palmerio to end the inning.)
8:58- Yadi Molina hits a dribbler to Bell for the final out of the inning.
Top of 3rd
9:01- Thompson keeps Fielder in the park this at-bat and he flies out to CF.
9:02- Bill Hall strikes out on 3 straight pitches. Looks like Thompson on his A-game tonight.
9:04- Thompson falls behind Geoff Jenkins 2-0, battles with him to make it full and finally walks him.
9:05- Hart hits a dribbler to the SS and Miles make a good play to nail him at 1st by a step. Inning over.
Bottom of 3rd
(Houston update: This is where it gets scary. Smoltz leaves the game at 3-0 and the Braves bring in pitcher Macay McBride. It’s 1st and 3rd and Berkman’s up. Yikes.)
9:07- Vizcaino pinch hits for Thompson for out number one.
9:09- Miles hits a ball to center and Gwynn runs a mile to make a great catch.
9:10- Duncan strikes out for the 2nd time today.
(Houston update: Berkman hit an RBI single. 3-1 Braves, but Houston has runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs. Never mind. McBride just struck out Luke Scott for the first out of the inning.)
Top of 4th
9:12- Jorge Sosa, ironically acquired from the very Braves we are rooting for comes in to take the mound.
9:13- Bell hits a chopper to the mound and Sosa throws him out at 1st.
9:14- After Thompson did a tremendous job in his relief appearance, Sosa promptly gives up a home run to Rivera that is just over the fence and just fair in the corner. This guy has done nothing since being a Redbird and I hope he doesn’t pitch in the postseason. 5-0 Brew Crew.
9:16- Count goes full to fellow pitcher Villanueva. He looks at strike number 3 right down the middle. 2 outs.
9:18- Easy pop fly to Encarnacion ends the inning.
(Houston update: Tyler Yates comes in to end the inning for Atlanta and Houston strands two. Braves still lead 3-1 going into the bottom of the 7th.)
Bottom of 4th
9:20- Albert Pujols does his best attempt to start a rally by hitting a flare out to right.
(Houston update: I can see the Braves fans tomahawk chopping down in Atlanta. Chop away! I used to hate this cheer and now it’s music to my ears. 🙂 )
9:22- Wilson hits into a DP and kills attempted rally. Ugh again.
9:23- Rolen works the count to 2-2.
(Houston update: The Braves go 1-2-3 and now it’s the top of the 8th. It’s far from over. The ‘Stros have comeback a lot lately. Still, we are only 6 Astro outs away from the Cardinals being NL Champs.)
9:24- Rolen takes strike 3 to end the inning.
Top of 5th
9:27- Sosa comes back out for the Redbirds to face Tony Graffanino and falls behind 2-1.
9:28- Rolen gobbles up a slow roller to nail Graffanino at 1st. One down.
9:29- Fielder drops a hit into CF to bring up Bill Hall.
9:30- Hall lifts the ball to center and there’s a near collision. Luckily, Encarnacion catches the ball and doesn’t get nailed by Duncan in the process.
(Houston update: Houston doesn’t score in the 8th and they are down to the final 3 outs as the Braves head to the plate in the bottom of the inning.)
9:32- Geoff Jenkins nearly get plucked by Sosa by avoids it to make it a 1-1 count.
9:35- Jenkins works the count full before lining the ball up the middle. 1st and 2nd Brewers.
9:36- Hart strides to the plate and looks at strike one.
9:37- Hart looks at strike 2 before Yadi blocks a ball in the dirt to hold the runners.
(Houston update: Bob Wickman is pitching the 9th for Atlanta and starts out with a strike. Looking good Bob. 3 outs to go.)
9:39- Hart strikes out in a 7 pitch at-bat.
Bottom of 5th
(Houston update: Taveras strikes out swinging. 2 outs to go!!! Now, a grounder to Renteria. 1 out!!!)
9:41- Encarnacion flies out.
(Houston update: You don’t see this very often. As a Cardinal gets an out, cheers literally ERUPT in the stands as the Cardinal fans see the final score and then begin the tomahawk chop. Ladies and gentlemen, the Cardinals are your 2006 NL Central Division Champs!!!!! It’s October, baby!!)
9:45- Cardinals go 1-2-3 and I don’t have to type so fast now that I’m not watching 2 games at once. Leaves me more time to respond to comments. So…..Cardinal fans where are you at??? If you stop by, comment and tell me what it feels like now that we’re in the playoffs.
Top of 6th
9:46- Sosa’s on the mound for another inning and gets Bell to ground out for the first out.
9:49- Rivera works the count full and Molina fights the sun to get the 2nd out on a foul popout.
9:50- Villanueva strikes out for the third time today, but I bet he doesn’t care. He’s pitching a 2 hitter.
Bottom of 6th
9:52- Schumaker pinch hits for Sosa and lines out to RF, as Jenkins make a running catch.
9:53- Miles grounds out for the 2nd out of the inning.
9:54- Dunc strikes out for the THIRD time today.
Top of 7th
9:58- Chris Narveson comes in to pitch and strikes out the first batter he sees, Gwynn.
10:01- Duncan reels in a fly ball from the bat of Graffanino
10:02- Narvenson gets ’em 1-2-3 as Prince Fielder grounds out to Prince Albert at first.
Bottom of 7th
10:03- Pujols almost squeaks a grounder through the infield, but Bell lays out to make the play and throw him out at first.
10:05- Bell gets a workout as Wilson also grounds out to him.
10:06- Scott Spiezio, red goatee and all, pinch hits for Rolen and works the count to 2-2.
10:07- Inside. Ball three. Spiezio rips one foul and almost has another triple. Instead, he’ll go back and hit as the count stays full.
10:08- Spiezio pops out on the infield. Out 3. Still 5-0 Brewers.
Top of 8th
10:11- A guy that’s pitched in my hometown, Josh Kinney, comes in to pitch, as does Mike Rose, replacing Yadi Molina, as does John Nelson, replacing Miles at short.
10:13- Nelson gets his first play as Hall grounds out to him.
10:14- Jenkins hits the ball up the middle as it’s just out of reach of a couple Cardinals and he’s aboard with one out.
10:15- I was wrong. I just saw Miles running after a foul ball. Nelson did replace Miles at short, but he’s not out. He went on to replace Belliard at 2nd. Belliard’s out of the game. And Kinney strikes out Hart.
10:17- Kinney looks sharp as he strikes out Hart to end the inning.
Bottom of 8th – Come on Redbirds. It’d be really nice to win this game.
10:19- Encarnacion drives the ball to deep left field, but it drops inches from the wall into Corey Hart’s glove.
10:21- John Nelson lines out for the 2nd out.
10:23- Mike Rose gets just the third hit of this game, but it’s in vain as Rodriguez flies out to end the inning.
Top of 9th
10:24- Braden Looper replaces Kinney to pitch the 9th.
10:26- Rivera sends the first pitch he sees to center field for a single.
10:28- Villanueva strikes out for 4th time, competing with Dunc for the most K’s today. Quick shot of setting up the bubbly. It’s almost time to celebrate.
10:29- Gwynn grounds into a fielder’s choice, as the Cardinals middle infield isn’t able to get the DP.
10:30- Graffanino can’t pull the trigger quick enough and he strikes out to send St. Louis to the bottom of the 9th.
Bottom of 9th
10:33- Miles flies out for the first out.
10:34- After 3 K’s, Duncan does something different. He goes deep and finally gives the Redbird crowd something to cheer about. There goes Villanueva’s shutout.
10:35- Pujols wants in on the action and makes it back to back for his 49th long ball of the year. Man, 50 would have been so sweet this year.
10:39- Apparently, Pujols’ drive went longer than Dunc’s. Can Preston follow suit? He’ll face new pitcher Francisco Cordero.
10:40- He cannot. He strikes out for the second out. And it’s up to Scott Speizio, the hero from yesterday’s game.
10:41- Nobody wants to be the last out. Spiezio drives the ball deep for #13 on the year. 5-3 Brewers. At least if they lose, they’ll feel like they’re celebrating for a reason.
10:42- 2-2 count on Encarnacion and he strikes out swinging……and the Cardinals are the champs. Lol. Strange indeed. Game over.
But, I don’t care HOW they did it. Just that they did it. The Cardinals are your 2006 NL Central Champs. We’re going to the postseason and that’s all that matters. After 162 games, we came out on top!
Now let’s go get the Padres!……or the Dodgers??? We’ll know shortly.
Fan of a celebrating team that’s going to October,
Per Matt Leach, Carpenter sits tonight and they’re going to start Reyes. This is definitely the right move. You give Reyes the feeling of pitching in an important postseason-like do-or-die game, without it actually being do-or die.
You rest Carpenter and have him start preparing for game one of the division series and possibly get him twice in that same series.
The only thing that could put a kink these plans would be of course if we don’t win tonight and Houston does. But facing John Smoltz? Goodbye Houston. And I think we’re going to win anyway.
By the way the Astros game is starting right now and Sampson is on the roster, so the rumor that Oswalt is pitching isn’t too. Hope Sampson gets beat up pretty bad.
Let’s go Cardinals/Braves (I NEVER thought I’d say that),
That’s right! The magic number is indeed one.
Half of the Saturday equation is complete. The ‘Birds squeaked by with a W. (Thank you Scott Spiezio!) I am supremely confident that the season will be over Sunday, if not tonight. Chances are very great that either we will tomorrow, Houston will lose tonight or Houston will lose tomorrow. Any one of those three things happening would send us to the playoffs and make the make-up Giants game unnecessary. Still, it is best if the Astros just lose tonight and get it over with.
We can save Carp’s arm because Sunday’s game would automatically become meangingless.
In other news, the Reds are completely out of contention. As for the West and Wild Card, it’s coming down to the wire. The Phillies won their game and much like the Astros, it’s all they could do, but watch and wait. The Padres and the Dodgers are playing right now and the Phillies need them both to lose to gain ground in the Wild Card race. And they have the right guys on the mound to bring home the win in Wells and Maddux. Bot teams currently have the lead in the late innings. It’s not looking good for the Phils.
It’s been awhile since the Cardinals were not playing important games in September, whether or not they made the playoffs. It’s great to be a fan of a team that you love to watch win and that is capable of winning 90+ games every season. And makes you even happier that you’re not a Cubs fan. 🙂
One last thing.
Dear Braves, If you could please beat Houston tonight, I will forgive you for coming back to beat the Cardinals in the 1996 NLCS and robbing me of my first chance to see a World Series after I had already obtained a ticket. Thank you for your cooperation.
It’s tomahawk time,
It’s hard to believe, but it’s taken a week worth of games for our magic number to go from 5 to 2. I definitely thought we would have clinched by now.
What we needed last night was a Redbird win and an Astros loss and that’s exactly what we got. Believe me, I’m not a Braves fan, but after they beat up on Houston I was doing the tomahawk chop right along with the 40,000 fans at Busch. Now Atlanta, can you give us one more win tonight?
With the magic number at a mere 2, the Astros chances of making postseason play are slipping fast. There are still a number of various possible situations in these next few games, but almost all of them still end in the Cardinals heading to divisional play.
I’ll highlight just a couple of these possibilitites.
1) Best case scenario
As I said previously, the best possible outcome would be two wins from the Cardinals and 2 losses from the Astros. We completed half of that equation last night. If we duplicate it tonight, the Cardinals are in and without the expense of Carp pitching on Sunday, not to mention the stress.
2) Worst case scenario
Clearly the worst case scenario would be if the Astros somehow wiggled their way into the playoffs. They can no longer beat us outright, but it’s still possible they could make it. But there are only a couple ways this could happen. They could either finish 1/2 game behind the Cardinals (if we go 1-1 and the Astros go 2-0) or they could finish 1/2 game ahead of the Cardinals (if we go 0-2 and the Astros go 2-0) after Sunday’s game. If either of those happen, the Cardinals would play the Giants. If after THAT game, it’s all tied up, then we would play a one game tiebreaker in Houston. If we lose that game the Astros are in. Or if the Astros ended up 1/2 game ahead and then we lost that game to San Francisco, the Astros would win, without a tiebreaker game being necessary.
3) Worst case sceario with the Cardinals still making the playoffs.
This means that even if the Cards make it, there is definitely a string of events Cardinal fans don’t want to see. That would be to finish Sunday’s game 1/2 game ahead or behind of Houston using Carpenter. Then to play the Giants probably using Reyes and finish in a tie with the Astros. Then to have to play the tiebreaker game in Houston probably using Suppan (or perhaps Weaver since it’s a road game). We could win that game and still be in the postseason. But then we would have to go into divison play most likely the following day or the latest the day after that, (only if the Phils take the Wild Card), having used our 3 best pitchers. Marquis starting game 1 of the NLDS is a scenario I’d rather not see.
At this point, it’s not likely the Phillies will make it as the Wild Card, so if that’s the case we will not see the Mets round 1. We will instead play whichever team comes out on top of the NL West race; either the Dodgers or the Padres.
So the fun is far from over. It’s crazy to think of two opposite ends of the spectrum of possibitlies in options 1 & 3. Sure, the Cardinals would make it either way, but HOW they make it will go a long way in determing how they do in the NLDS and ultimately the NLCS.
But, it all starts tonight. We will know a lot more following the game against the Brew Crew and even more following Houston’s game against the Braves.
Atlanta, if we’ve ever needed your help, it’s now. We need you to be the spoiler.
Tomahawk chop the ‘Stros
Things are starting to get desperate. With Oswalt pitching yesterday I still feel the worst is over. And while I remain confident that the Cardinals will still pull this out, I realize we are by no means out of the woods. And I’m not sure that we will win with our pitching staff in tact and everybody fully rested. At this point, chances are we will need to use Carpenter again before the season ends out, which is rather disappointing.
But, as Preston Wilson said, It’s still Houston looking up at the Cardinals.
The Braves will also provide much more of a threat to these ‘Stros than the Pirates have been. They make not be the NL East Champs this year, but they won’t go down without a fight. Look what they did to the Mets recently.
As I said, we’re not out of the woods and whenever the Rocket is pitching, the Astros have a chance to win. Still in order to make the playoffs you’re looking at the Astros really needing to win these next 3 games against Atlanta. 3 games isn’t a big deal, but it is when you’ve already won 9 straight. Basically, you’re asking Houston to go on a 12 game winning streak, in Atlanta and even then, it might not be enough.
Here’s how it shakes down:
Right now, the Redbirds still are control of their postseason fate. We have three games against the Brewers and one make-up game against San Fran, but only if it’s necessary. Let’s say for a moment that it is. That means if we go 4-0, no matter what Houston does, they can’t beat or even tie us and we’re headed into October. If we go 3-1, then the ‘Stros can force a one-game playoff, but ONLY if they go undefeated the rest of the way.
The only way they can beat us without the one game playoff is if they go undefeated and the Cardinals only go 2-2 in their last four games. And of course it goes down from there. If we go 1-3, they would only have to go 2-1, or we could lose them all and the Astros would only have to squeak out one win over the weekend.
But of course Cardinal fans are hoping to be able to do this without using Carp, without having to make up the game against the Giants and without having a one game playoff (that does NOT favor the Cardinals). And it still can be done. All it would take would be a Friday win and a Saturday win for the struggling ‘Birds and 2 consecutive losses for the boys from Texas and we’re in. Barely. But we’re in. And all in one piece.
I guess the most frustrating thing in the last couple weeks of the season is that there has been glimmers of hope. Jimmy cranking out a homer in his first start back from injury. Unexpected guys like Bennett or Spiezio getting hot and winning games. Pujols being Mr. Walkoff. Marquis looking untouchable.
The problem has been that these have all just been just glimmers. Because then you have Edmonds striking out, the utiltity guys cooling off, Pujols not winning the game, and Marquis getting hammered.
Right now I don’t care about the World Series or even the Division Series. I don’t care about the first place Mets or the red-hot Phillies or which California team ends up ahead in the West. I just want the Cardinals to play baseball like they can and not even get Houston an option.
For the time being, it’s still in our hands. One more loss and that ceases to be the case. Then, it’s in Houston’s hands because they could at least tie us by continuing their winning streak.
Let’s go Redbirds,