The Reds lose 3 of 4 to Houston to drop them to 7-11 in the month of September. And the Cardinals continue to befuddle us all by taking 3 of 4 from the Padres. Oh, Cardinals, had you not lost to the Astros. And the Pirates. And the Nationals. And the Brewers. And the Cubs. TWICE. It might be a different situation right now.
As it stands, we can only look to the future. What’s done is done. The Cardinals are 6 games back from the Reds, but actually only 5 back in the loss column. Not that this makes me feel a ton better. All it means is that at least two of our games, the Reds can’t do anything about. But we need their help for the other 5 games. Or rather, the help of the Brewers, the Padres and the Astros.
I’m so glad that the Reds are playing the Astros again this year because once again, the ‘Stros are smoking hot, playing ridiculous 2nd half baseball. If they ever get their act together in April and May, look out….that team will be a contender.
Wainwright looked sharp on the mound today, which he attributes to refocusing himself. Hopefully, that’s something he will strive to do all the time because he only gave up 1 run in 8 innings, tying a career best of 19 wins on the season. 20 just eluded him last year, but I think he’s up for the challenge this year. I think he has to finish ahead of Halladay in wins and ERA to have a chance at the Cy Young because Halladay will probably finish ahead of him in Ks, plus probably have more innings, complete games and shutouts.
Holliday continues his hot September, while driving in his 99th run of the year. Having two guys at the century mark should make for a decent team, but it shows you how important support is. Colby Rasmus is providing that now, but for a while there was nobody.
At least the season is getting exciting to watch again. But we have to keep winning and hope that the Reds opponents are up for the role of playing spoiler. Let’s go, Brew Crew….we really need you now!
Pieces of the St. Louis Cardinals puzzle are starting to come together. We’re seeing more offense from people other than Pujols. Holliday has been very clutch the last couple of games, which is something we have to have from him, especially if there’s a week Pujols is scuffling. We’ve seen Yadier Molina and Pedro Feliz have big-time hits in key at-bats.
The front end pitching has been good, enough to keep us in games. The back end, which has been a season long strength tried to give away our last game against the Brewers. Ryan Franklin produced heart attacks all around the midwest (a tribute to Jason Isringhausen, perhaps???) but eventually got the job done.
Indeed, things are looking up.
We have taken 2 of 3 from the Reds and now came with avengeance against the Brewers. Yes, the fight is still an uphill battle. And will be so the rest of the season. But at least we are in the battle and what more could we ask for after basically trying to give the division away? We need other teams to defeat the pesky Reds because they are in every game they play and they don’t quit until all 9 innings have been played. The Rockies came to our aid this time as they beat the Reds in a well-fought match. Once they walked Ubaldo Jimenez to lead off the inning, I felt that the Rockies had a good chance to get something going. Of course, there’s always the wild card, but I want the division. It’s one team to climb over instead of two.
In the Brewers game, we saw glimpses of what the Cardinal offense can do, but we have yet to see the entire team clicking on all cylinders. Doing that and getting hot at just the right time will be the only chance we have at all in winning the division. We need big games out of every guy in a Cardinal uniform. Pitching, hitting and defense all have to step up huge, creating a perfect storm of Cardinal domination.
They will aim to do just that tonight against the Brew Crew once again, although I have my doubts about sending Kyle Loshe to the mound. How much I wish he was not pitching. But if the offense can score him about 15 runs, we might be ok. And of course, here’s hoping that the Rockies pull off another great win as well.
September collapse for the Reds,
What will happen tonight? I honestly have no clue. The Cardinals have started playing a new game called, “Let’s stress out our fans as much as possible.” Back and forth, they have gone all season with the Reds between 1st and 2nd place. Finally, after slipping back to 2 games and being at the risk of going 5 games back, if they would get swept.
Instead, they do what very few thought was possible. They swept the Reds, once again claiming first place by themselves. Things are looking up! Wait, no, just kidding. False alarm. Now, the Cardinals go 1-4 in the next 5 games, losing 2 of 3 to Chicago and a 2 game sweep by the Brew Crew. Really? To make matters worse, the Reds go on a tear against their opponents (even when Votto wasn’t in the lineup) and we’re back in 2nd place. Not only that, but we’re back by
3 1/2 games, the most games that have separated us and the Reds all season.
Oh, but wait. Something is very different about this year. Most years, we’re contending for and fighting off opponents only for the NL Central. But for the first time in awhile, the Cardinals are actually in striking distance of the wild card as well. In fact, our opponent tonight is only a game ahead of us in that race.
So a lot going on. And I have no idea what’s going to happen. The Cardinals play good, they play poorly, then they rip multiple home runs in the same game, they they are getting shut out by some hack pitcher. Which Cardinal team will show up tonight? Your guess is as good as mine.
Add to the mix, a still fairly new Westbrook, a new guy at 3rd to go along with that ever-revolving door at 2nd base, Rasmus who may or may not be in the lineup, Brendan who still can’t hit, but suddenly looks like the Wizard out there with his defense, and a recent call-up of a backup catcher and it’s too much for me. All we can do is wait and see what will happen between us and the Giants and the Reds and the Dodgers.
All I know is that I don’t enjoy being 3 1/2 games back and I’d like the Cardinals to start playing like they’re capable of. There’s definitely talent on the team, but I’d like to see a little more desire. The will to win. What scares me is not the Reds lineup, their pitching or any of that. It’s the fact that they believe in themselves to win every game, even when they’re behind. Am I crazy or does that remind anybody of the ’06 Cardinals?
Takin’ down San Fran,
How do you sweep the first place Reds and then lose to such bad teams?
How can you be the only team to lose a series to the Cubs in a month & not once, but twice?
How do get swept in a 2 game series by the Brewers, a team who is a dozen games out?
How do you not manage any sort of rally against said Brewers until it’s too late?
How are your only two hits prior to the 9th inning from Allen Craig and the pitcher?
How can you play so many games without seemingly any heart, hustle or drive to win?
How do I always feel like we will squander any lead?
How do I always feel like the Reds will come back no matter how far down?
How do the 2010 Reds seem an awful lot like the 2006 World Champs?
Just a few questions that I definitely have no answers to…..
Sad about being 3 games out,
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 _____________,
Obviously, the Cardinal fan in me wants to believe that it’s always possible to make it to the postseason. Even when our backs are against the wall, the Redbirds have been known to do amazing things. Even when we supposedly “backed in” to the playoffs in 2006, the Cardinals pulled off the impossible: a World Series victory. And, in 2005, when all hope was lost in Houston, Albert managed to get all of a Brad Lidge pitch (and then some) to give us one more game back in St. Louis.
But as we all know, not every year is meant to be. So the question is this: do the Cardinals have a legitimate shot at a postseason berth? Obviously, once they’re in, all teams are on equal footing. But, for now, can they squeeze out enough wins to sneak in at all?
I think so. And here’s why.
Ok, first I concede that first place is pretty much a distant hope. Fine. There’s still the wild card and that’s not a bad position to be in, historically speaking.
- Of the 13 years the wild card has been around, 8 of the 13 National League wild card winners have won the first round of playoffs and advanced to the NLCS
- Of those 13 teams, 8 have advanced to the World Series.
- And of those 8 teams, 2 have actually won the World Series.
- And of those same 8 teams, another 2 lost to AL wild cards.
So going in as a wild card doesn’t seem so bad.
Before tonight’s game we sit back 4 1/2 games from the Wild Card. Again, not that bad. The hardest part is the fact that we have 3 teams to climb over. If it was just Milwaukee, I would say it was totally doable. But, now we also have Philadelphia and the always pesky Houston Astros.)
(Side note: Houston fast must drive themselves crazy with the thought that if their club ever played halfway decent first half ball, their 2nd half play would put them in first place just about every year. I checked and since 2004, the ‘Stros have a September .619 winning percentage. If they could play at that level, all year, it would have been good enough for first place for every year, except ’04, when the Cardinals smoked the other teams by winning 105 games. And compare that to the Cardinals September record over the same period: a measly .479 winning percentage. And this is a team who has gone to the postseason every year except 2 since 2000. But I guess that’s why you play 162 games. By the way, I didn’t have the patience to check all of the other teams, but if anybody else wants to figure out your team’s September record from 2004-2008, please post it. I’d love to know if the ‘Stros have the best or not.)
Ok, back to Cardinal baseball. 4 1/2 games out. We have 17 games left and 4 of them are against Chicago. But the teams ahead of us play quite a few games vs. each other. The Cubs have 6 more against Milwaukee including the last 3 games of the season. They also have 3 more against the fore-mentioned, September-hot Houston Astros (although 2 of them will be made up at a later date.) The Brewers have 4 more against the Phillies.
All of this is good and bad. It’s good because someone has to lose. It’s bad because both teams can’t lose. That means we need to play near perfect baseball and all of these teams to pretty much split when playing each other, while losing the rest of their games. It’s hard, but not impossible. Our elimination number is still in double digits at 13, so there is still plenty of hope at this point.
Nevetheless, there is one wild card spots and four teams that want it. Only one will win. Let’s just hope that it goes to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Looking for the rubber match win,
Why can’t the Cardinals just win? Come on. If they had played even halfway decent lately, we could easily be in first place right now. Instead, we’re still four games back of 2 teams and riding a 6 game losing streak. It’s enough to make you lose your mind. The Cardinals have got to win this game against the Reds to avoid falling any further behind. A win here would put them no more than 4 back and possibly less, depending on the outcome of the Cubs game (the Brewers are off today) and still within striking distance.
The problem is, there is less and less time for striking. The Redbirds must get hot and must get hot right now. Sitting 4 games in back of Chicago, a sweep of the Cubbies this weekend, would have us tied with them. Not to mention the 3 game set against the Brewers next week. That’s what’s keeping us in this hunt. We get to play 7 games against the team we’re chasing. Our destiny is in our hands. Let’s go out and get it!
Avoid the sweep,
It’s coming down to the wire. A little over a month of baseball left with no off days. The Cardinals are in third place, 1/2 game behind the Brewers and 2 games behind the Cubs. The performance of all three fo these teams over the next moth will determine who the division champ is, as this is clearly still up for grabs.
And the Cardinals are not the only ones feeling the excitement of catching up. New York has now taken 2 straight from Boston to pull them back within 6 games behind the Sox and are currently leading 2-0 in today’s game. The Phils have taken 3 straight from the Mets and now only sit 3 games behind them and are also winning 5-3. Also, the Padres have won their last 3 games from the D-backs and are now tied atop the NL West (or are in first if you go by their percentage).
This is by far, one of the most exciting years of playoff races that I can remember. Almost every day I have several games I would love to watch, but instead have to settle for box scores. This is definitely what September should be all about.
Tonight the Cardinals take on Houston for the rubber match in this 3 game set. Getting out of tonight with a win and therefore going 2-1 in this series would be huge. I can’t state enough how important it is for the Cardinals to simply just to win each series as it comes. Sweeping a team would be a bonus, but just winning each series should be more than enough to propel us to first in this division of .500 ball teams.
Of course I always love for the Cubs to lose regardless, but if you look at the standings, the ideal was probably for the Brewers to win 2 of 3 games. If that happens and the Cardinals win tonight, then that means we would remain 1/2 behind the Brewers and be just 1 game back of the Cubs. Either of those teams sweeping would not have been as good for us in the standings.
The Cardinals are currently all tied up 1-1 with the ‘Stros and as I watch them, I’ll continue to keep one eye on the other games to see who just might be our competition in the postseason. That’s right….our competition. I still feel this division is ours for the taking and will continue to feel that way until one of the other teams wants to prove me otherwise.
Wanting a Brew Crew win,
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,
Last night’s game was so great. The Cardinals continue to play hard, old-fashioned, scrappy baseball like they’ve done ever since I can remember. Even though i don’t think it’s a good habit to continue to fall behind in order to get a come-from-behind win, that’s two in a row now that the Cards have done just that. And to be honest, they do feel pretty good. Really, as long as it doesn’t happen every game, it can be a good thing. It’s a testament to a team that doesn’t give up, who plays a hard 9 ever game and expects good things to happen no matter who is at the plate or who is pitching. Everyone particpates. Everyone makes things happen.
Last night a lot of guys made things happen. It’s getting to the point that it’s hard to even know who to pinpoint as being the key to the game. So I figured I would just take it by category.
Several guys contributed here.
- Albert Pujols´ hit was the spark plug that started it all. It was his 5th straight home run per game. He continues his torrid hitting during this important stretch run of the season.
- Molina is a completely different hitter this season. Last year he hit .216 for the whole season with only 4 home runs. Then in the postseason, he turned it up, getting better with each series. He ended up hitting .412 in the World Series against Detroit. Overall, he hit .358 for the whole postseason, with 6 extra·base hits, including 2 home runs. One of those home runs, of course, was the game winner that sent us to the Series in the first place. This year he´s right back there, hitting .282 and already has four home runs, including his first multi·homer game. Last night he not only hit 4th home run of the season, he hit the double that tied it up. Very clutch.
- Jimmy Edmonds. What can you say about him? It seems like he´s either striking out or hitting a home run. But he has come up at some very big points in his tenure with the Cardinals. And tonight was yet again one of those times. He came in as a pinch hitter in the 7th inning, and corked a ball deep to the outfield stands for the eventual game·winning RBI.
- Ryan Ludwick made a really nice catch against the wall in left. Last year we had Duncan out there, who couldn´t catch a fly ball in a bathtub and now we have this amazing surplus of outfieldes. First Ducan´s fielding has improved a ton. He still doesn´t look the most graceful, but he catches almost everything he can get to now. Then you have Ankiel´s arm, which he has already showcased quite a bit. And then Ludwick. All viable options. You add that to Encarnacion, Edmonds, Taguchi and other guys in the system like Rodriguez or Schumaker and we´re sitting pretty well. Someone´s likely to get traded next season, if not before the deadline.
- Ryan Franklin did something unusual. He gave up runs. That doesn´t happen very often and his 2.01 ERA proves it. But he didn´t let it get out of hand. He picked a guy off of first and got out of the inning.
- A lot of people mocked the Braden Looper idea. They said he was a lousy reliever and would make an even worse starter. Yet, Looper has been one of the main staples of our rotation. When other guys have been hurt long·term or have been out of sync for awhile, Looper has come through. He´s one of two Cardinals with 10 or more wins and last night he provided another solid effort. He went 6 innings, giving up 2 runs, striking out 5 and walking none.
- Izzy continues to be as good as he´s ever been. He´s bounced back better than I could have ever hoped from surgery and last night he got his 25th save of the season. He´s 4·0, with a 1.56 ERA and has only blown 2 saves all season. This year when Izzy gets on the mound, I trust him, unlike last year when I would just cringe with fear.
So, with all that combined, it provided us with our 3rd win a row and a guarantee of a series win in Florida. The Brewers lost, so we now sit a mere 2 games behind them. However, those pesky Cubs won yet again, so that kept us at 3 back from first. place.
Tonight, however is a different story. The Giants already beat the Cubs, so this is a huge chance to gain some ground. All we need is a W for the series sweep and to only be back 2 games in the standings. We´re counting on Anthony Reyes to make it happen for us.