If the Cardinals fail to make the postseason, we certainly can’t blame anybody but ourselves. Colorado completed a 4 game sweep of the Reds this afternoon, giving St. Louis ample opportunities to close the gap in the NL Central. We had our chance against the Brewers and will now have to face a very good team in the Atlanta Braves. We need this win more than ever.
The last I had seen the Reds were up by one run against the Rockies. Then the next time I looked at the game, the Rockies had taken the lead. Surely it must have been a 2 run homer. But I was incorrect. It was a solo shot and……a steal of home. What? Seriously? So not only did the Reds lose, but they lost by one of the coolest plays in baseball. That is fantastic.
The game just got over and the video isn’t up yet, but I can’t wait to see it. I want to know if it was a straight steal or not. Because if it was, major props to rookie Chris Nelson. He did his job in a big way. After Giambi got on, Nelso was put in to run for him. As a pinch runner in a tie game, your job is simply to score. By whatever means possible, get your butt across homeplate. And that’s exactly what he did. He moved to 3rd on Votto’s error and then stole home.
Again, I don’t know if this was a straight steal or not, but the last person that I know did a straight steal of home was Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox last year. He stole it off of Yankees lefty, Andy Pettitte. I remember watching that play and the disbelief on Pettitte’s face.
I’m definitely a fan of the running game. Home runs are great, but so is a team that can play small ball when the time comes. If you only rely on homers, you will suffer when your big guys go through a drought. I miss the old school days of Whiteyball and watching guys like Coleman, McGee and Smith make it look so easy. Another play I’d love to see live is a guy getting on and then stealing 2nd, 3rd and home in the same inning. I think Werth did it once a year or two ago, but before that, it hasn’t happened in probably a decade.
But, bottom line is Reds lose and the Cardinals MUST capitalize tonight against Atlanta. Wainwright is the man for the job. Here’s hoping the offense can score him at least a few.
Rocks come through again,
Well, the Rockies have done their job. They have won 3 in a row against the Reds and will go for win #4 and the sweep today. It’s just too bad that the Cardinals can’t do the same. Instead, they continue to lose to horrible teams, dropping another series to the Milwaukee Brewers.
A great chance to catchup while the Brewers have gone on a 4 game losing streak is null and void with the Redbirds going 3-7 in their last 10. We now turn our attention to the Atlanta Braves, a team who is very much in the thick of the postseason race, a team who had control of 1st place in the East until very recently.
The Cardinals have been known to play to the level of their competition (i.e. sweeping the Reds, then taking 2 of 3, while losing to everyone else) and they will need to do that now more than ever. The Reds are a good team. They will not continue to lose. That means that whenever we have a chance to gain some ground, we need to do it.
If the Rockies sweep this afternoon, we have a great chance of gaining a game with Wainwright on the hill. That would put us 5 back with 24 left to play. We’ll see shortly if that’s how it plays out.
Sweep them Reds,
A lot of these games tonight are no-brainers. Party Like It’s 1982 obviously want…
…the Cardinals to beat the Reds.
…the Braves to beat the Phillies.
…the Marlins to beat the Astros.
If the Cubs beat the Brewers, and we win, we gain a game & are only 3 1/2 games out of first.
If the Brewers beat the Cubs, it’s good because it’s always good when the Cubs lose.
So what do I do? Who do I root for? We need the Brewers to lose, but I don’t think I can root for Chicago. Plus, I really do think the Cardinals playoff hopes are over. But then again, I can’t ever stop hoping until their elimination number reaches 0. Ahhhhh. I can’t take it.
Rooting for _____________,
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.