I mentioned a few posts ago that the Cardinals have been stuck around .500 ball and with the loss to the Cubs tonight, this continues. Here’s a breakdown of the Cardinals win / loss record by month.
March / April – 15-14
May – 15-12
June – 14-13
July – 13-11
August – 14-12
While every month the Cardinals have been over .500, no month have they been more than 3 games over the .500 mark. Before tonight’s game, they were 3 games over for August and had a chance to go up to 4 or 5 games over tomorrow. But once again, the Cardinals have failed to get on a roll. They’ll win 3 in a row, but then they’ll promptly lose 3 in a row.
The Cubs seem to always step it up when they play the Cardinals, but .500 against a last place team is not acceptable. The Cardinals desperately needed to win at least 3 of 4 from the Cubbies. Now, that they have dropped the first one, they have the extremely difficult task of trying to take a doubleheader.
I’ll be at the 1st game tomorrow and I’m super excited that my favorite player, Yadier Molina is back and I will be able to watch him play. Watch for me on TV!
Let’s take 2 from the Cubbies tomorrow,
After an off day, it’s back to work for the boys in Red. And no better team to compete against than the Chicago Cubs. It’s usually a pretty good series with a lot of intensity. It doesn’t matter that the Cubs are playing under .500 and completely irrelevant this year. It’s ALWAYS fun to beat the Cubs.
I think Brandon Phillips was jealous of the rivalry we’ve had with
most of the division besides the Reds, which is probably why he’s always
trying to start crap. He’ll soon realize that the Reds are not here to
stay and will fade away just as quickly as they came on the scene.
A Votto-less Reds team beat the the Astros yesterday, meaning they were able to pull up a half game on the idle Redbirds. So it’s time to turn the engines on full force. You don’t want the Reds pulling even and thinking they have a chance.
And it starts today with sweeping or at least getting a series win against the Cubbies. Let’s go Cardinals!
First pitch in an hour,
So after taking 2 of 3 from Houston, it was time to see if the Cardinals could take their recent success to Atlanta, and beat a tougher team and a tougher pitcher in Tim Hudson. The Cards sent their ace, Chris Carpenter, to the mound to do the job.
Big surprise: once again we did not get Carp a win. Are there any other teams who have sent their #1 guy to the mound 6 times and still haven’t gotten a win for him? He’s pitched well. There was one game where he let it get out of control, giving up 8 runs over 4 innings. But besides that, he has gone deep into games, getting out of jams and deserving a win. But every game either the Cardinal bats or the bullpen have conspired against him.
Last night, it was the bats. For all the talk of bullpen trouble, they actually held their own. Sanchez was again impressive. I could watch that guy pitch all day. There was unnecessary drama in the 9th. The tying run was once again at the plate with a runner on. And he flew out to Matt Holliday who made a pretty decent over the shoulder catch on the warning track, just shy of home run distance. The drama has probably given me ulcers, but I’ve grown to accept that may just be the way it is with the Cardinals. And as long as they win, I probably won’t complain (too loudly) and last night they were able to win. Combine that with the Reds loss and it was a pretty good night. Unfortunately, the Cubs won.
After a night when the big boys ripped the cover off the ball, it was not so big guys making the noise last night. Yadier and Descalso each had an RBI to knot the game at 2-2 and after the Braves homered to make it 3-2, Descalso hit a sac fly to again tie the game at 3-3 in the 9th inning. Then it went to extras where things got interesting. You figure the 10th inning is where they have to make it happen. They have Pujols, Holliday, Berkman coming up that inning. Back to back to back jacks, perhaps? Nope. They go down easy, 3 up, 3 down.
But in the 11th inning, the Cardinals start to make some noise. With 2 runners (via a HBP and walk) and 2 out, Nick Punto steps to the plate. Punto was brought to St. Louis to be an all-around utility guy, because he’s decent with his glove. Not because of his extraordinary bat. In fact, going into this at-bat, he’s already 0-5 on the night, hitting .160 for the season. But on some nights the cards fall just right. (No pun intended.) Normally, Theriot would be leading off and in this spot and not Punto, but he was recovering from rib cage soreness. But the stars aligned and Punto ripped the ball down the right field line for a 2 RBI triple. And that would be the game. 5-3 Redbirds.
I really do feel bad for Carp. I know they always talk about team wins rather than personal wins, blah, blah, blah. But it has to be bad on the morale to go out their game after game and not be able to secure the win. And Carpenter is equally responsible for their win last night because he kept the game close despite a couple bad breaks. One that jumps to mind was the play in the 7th inning. Berkman made a decent throw to try and get the base runner at 3rd and instead hit him in the back. Nothing you can do about that. But it meant runners on 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out. So they walk Chipper to load the bases and face Brian McCann. Carp induces the double play and they get out of that inning that could have been a lot more damaging.
Speaking of that Berkman throw, it would have been nice to see him throw a runner out. The Cardinals have not had one outfield assist this year. Not one. I mentioned before how bad the Cardinal defense is. This is just a team that is more offense than defense, which has not usually been typical of Cardinal clubs. I mean, when Edmonds was in the outfield, he would have had several assists this year, not to mention many runners being scared to go on him. But I do have to give it up for Nick Punto. He did make a nice play last night. And with the lack of quality defense has a whole, it’s nice to see the occasional great play.
I’ve been watching the 76 second Reebok recaps of the games. Sometimes they will include home runs or game winning doubles, but mostly it’s just great defense packed into 76 seconds, which I love. I watched probably a week’s worth last night. And not one Cardinal play was on there. That should tell you something about Cardinal defense.
The only other scary moment of the game was when Gerald Laird got hit in the head in the 9th inning with a bat. I mean he got hit hard. So hard that he fell over and looked pretty dazed. Molina was already out of the game, so if Laird had to come out, it would have called for an emergency catcher situation, which the announcers were saying was Daniel Descalso. That would have been interesting to say the least. I had to be the emergency catcher one time on my college softball team. It was a lot of fun, but I also wasn’t catching a 97 MPH Jason Motte fastball.
So after a horrendous beginning, the Cardinals now have won 5 series in a row. A win today or tomorrow would give them 6. They aren’t dominating teams and sweeping them, but that’s okay. If you win every series, you have yourself a championship. It’s just one series at a time. And that seems to be the way the Cardinals are handling it. And while you have guys like Schumaker and Craig out, or Freese sitting, you need to see guys like Descalso and Punto deliver. One thing in common of all championship teams is that they don’t just look to their 3-4-5 guys to get it done. Production comes from surprising places at times and it comes from up and down the lineup. For maybe the first time this year, I believe the Cardinals really do have a shot to play in October and to play well. They have this way of rising to the occasion when everyone has doubted them. Hopefully they can keep it going today.
Takin’ down the chop,
The Reds are coming to town. This is a series most Cardinal / Reds fans have been looking to since the beginning of the season. And now here we are, almost a month into the season and it turns out, the teams are deadlocked at one game over .500, in a first place tie.
The Cards have an eternal rivalry with Chicago and at times with the Astros and the Brewers, but the Reds have sort of been like the Pirates. They simply take up space in the division. Then last year’s young studs helped propel the Reds to success they haven’t seen since the 70’s.
Add to that Brandon Phillips and the fact that he’s an idiot. Most Reds fans around here at least acknowledge that so it’s really surprising to see the number of people on message boards that back him. I’m loyal to my team, but if we had a player continually mouth off to the process and on Twitter, trying to act tough for no reason, I don’t think I could back that.
Of course the really stupid part weren’t his comments. He’s entitled to say whatever he wants. The main issue is coming to tap Yadi’s shinguards like he didn’t say it. If Phillips wants to make comments, fine. Just don’t come to home plate with your bat tap, like you didn’t say it. That of course, is exactly what Yadier said to him, and let to the pushing match between the two and the entire fiasco on the field.
That was last year, a long time ago, but I promise no one has forgotten about it. The question is, will they act like they have forgotten about it? No idea. I expect some booing of Phillips from the Cardinals and am anxious to see if Phillips taps Yadi and if he does, if Yadier responds.
Of course the best revenge is winning and completing a sweep of our division rival would be so gloriously sweet.
Bring on the Reds,
I drove to Kansas City and watched the Royals play the Indians on a very, very chilly night of baseball. Felt like I should’ve been watching the Chiefs, as cold as it was. I rooted for the home team, but they eventually fell in extras thanks to some poor work out of the bullpen. But I got to see my first Major League game of the season. I’ll be going soon to Busch.
On to Cardinal baseball.
Today was a double header, which the Cards ended up splitting with the Nationals. You always want to win 2 obviously, but I’ll take the split and hopefully tomorrow we will take the series win as well. As the saying goes, if you can win every series, you’re doing pretty good.
It was even better combined with the Cubs splitting their double header and losses by the Reds and Brewers. These four teams are now tied for first atop the central division, all at .500.
Both games with the Nats and the Cards, the teams were two runs apart. In the first game of the doubleheader, Westbrook was far from sharp. But he also didn’t get a lot of help behind him. The problem with the Cardinal defense is that it is simply ‘adequate.’ Sometimes things that aren’t recorded as “errors” is still sub-par defense. A ball that Theriot only knocks down that a better shortstop would record an out on. Tyler Greene making a poor throw to 2nd, allowing them only to get 1 out instead of the double play. And then the obvious errors: the drop balls, the missed catches, etc. We knew from the beginning that the defense would not be the best it’s ever been. And that’s why the pitching and the hitting needs to be as sharp as possible.
Ankiel getting his first plate appearance in the first inning of the first game got a nice round of appreciation applause, which was great to see. Ankiel took out a half page ad in the paper thanking them for their support. Great move, Rick.
In the second game, Jaime Garcia was again plagued by poor defense, but managed to pitch good enough to nail the win, both for himself and the team. Also in the night game was the first save opportunity since LaRussa announced that Ryan Franklin would no longer be his pitcher of choice in save situations. Mitchell Boggs got the nod and locked in the save. And all of Cardinal Nation breathed a sigh of relief.
In both games, the Cardinals continue to rake. Everyone was getting hits, even guys like Punto and Descalso. And the big guys continue to do what they’ve been doing. 23 hits among the two games is certainly not too shabby.
Two for one baseball,
At one point the only team in worse shape in the NL Central than the Cardinals were the Houston Astros. But the Cardinals put together a winning streak and starting passing teams. First, came the Pirates. Yesterday another win put them one game over .500 and helped pass up the Cubbies.
Technically they are tied with the Brewers at 1 1/2 games back of the Reds, but one behind them in the loss column. So far today the Brewers and the Reds are losing. There’s a lot of baseball left to be played today, but if both those teams get saddled with losses and the Redbirds win, they will be officially in 2nd place and only 1/2 game behind the Reds.
This is quite a feat for a team that was completely imploding on themselves the first week of the season. With any luck and the bats staying hot, 1st place could be ours easily within the week. Let’s go Cardinals!
The most wonderful time of year is upon us. Every major league team will begin that long trek to October in hopes of becoming world champions.
All day today I would ask people, “Do you know what tomorrow is???” And when they would shake their heads no I would yell, “Opening Day!!!” where I would be greeted with a shrug, a bewildered look or a shake of the head. They just don’t get it.
And that’s why I love to blog. Because I can share with all of you blog-land people my crazy excitement for the best day of the entire year….the start of baseball season. And what’s better, you get it!
I can tell by my stats that lots of people stop by and read my blog every day, so here is your invitation. Stay and leave a comment. It’s so much more fun that way!
Good luck to your teams this year, whoever they may be as long as they are not the Cubs or playing the Cardinals. 😉
Happy Opening Day,