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,
In Anthony Reyes’ last two starts (13 IP) he has received exactly one run of support. That’s right, count ’em. One.
At this point, I don’t even know what we need. Pitching? Hitting? A strong outfield arm? All of the above?????
I am not kidding when I say that I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a Royals fan. We’ve now lost 8 straight and I’m going crazy. I can’t imagine these teams that go on these 8, 9 or 10 game losing streak….and sometimes several times in the same seaon!
No end in sight,
It doesn’t seem to matter who we play these days: White Sox, Tigers, Indians. We’ve lost to all 3 of these teams over the course of the last week and are in the midst of a seven game losing streak.
It is a good thing that we won enough games before this to take that 5 game lead over the Reds in the Central. Otherwise, we would be in 2nd place right now. As it is, we’re barely hanging on to 1st.
I don’t even have anything new to write anymore. We aren’t pitching ever and occasionally not hitting. That’s about it.
Tonight our favorite new, young pitcher with the flat cap is on the schedule. Can he live up to the hype surrounding him (at least temporarily) taking Mulder’s spot? This will be his first game in the Majors where it’s at least somewhat permanent and considered more than just a spot start.
Let’s hope him and the bats come through tonight,
The seemingly never ending road trip finally comes to a close. Of course it seemed that way because we just got swept two series in a row since I don’t even know when.
Nothing is falling our way right now and that’s not a good sign. To be a playoff contender you have to be very very very good and also a little bit lucky.
Take yesterday’s game in the first inning. Eckstein reached base with an infield single. Next up was Timo Perez. He hit a slow dribbler to first base (played yesterday by normal catcher Ivan Rodriquez) and just barely beat out the diving Pudge to be called safe. That was huge. So instead of one on and one out, there’s now two on and nobody out. Not only that, but with Pujols coming up, if you have that empty base anyway, they’re going to give Pujols nothing to hit and probably walk him. So, Timo was able to leave the bat in Albert’s hands. What happens? Pujols and Rolen both strike out.
Of course, these things happen from time to time. But, lately these things are happening to us all the time. We’re not making things happen. And nobody seems to have the solution. That’s the scary thing.
One game the pitching might be okay (like with Ponson on Sunday or Reyes in his start vs. the Sox) and the bats fail to come through. Or the hitting might be good and the pitchers give up 20 runs. Nothing is working together. And it’s so frustrating because there is so much talent on that team.
Molina picked off another guy at first yesterday. He’s constantly doing this and I don’t seem many other catchers that quick and that alert to be able to pick off runners at first. Edmonds made a ridiculous catch in the outfield. Running straight back on a ball you think he’d never catch up to, he somehow catches it backhanded about a foot from the fence. But, it’s so hard to enjoy those moments when you’re getting beat again and again. And again.
The real test comes now. We’re still playing interleague games, but at least we’re back home. We’ve always been better at home. Next, we’re playing the Indians and then the Royals. A whole different caliber than playing the White Sox and the Tigers. Hopefully, we’ll know after this game if we are just playing really lousy baseball right now or if the Sox and Tigers are really just that much better than us. With the kind of season they’re both having, it’s no doubt that they both have great ballclubs and will likely both end up in post season.
It will also be nice to see Reyes have another start coming up on Tuesday. We’ll see if he can repeat his last pitching performance, but perhaps get a little more run support this time.
I can’t stand losing and being a Cardinal fan, we’re not used to these massively long losing streaks. Hopefully, the streak will end tonight with Marquis on the mound.
One last thing. The Tigers third baseman made two great diving stops on Sunday. But, the first one should be competitive all year long for one of the best plays. And, this is coming from a Cardinal fan who sees Scott Rolen play all year long. If you get the chance, watch the play. But, basically, he dove completely laid out and I think the ball hit is glove while he was still in the air. He’s now a foot or so in foul territory and came up throwing from his knees as he was falling backwards. And, somehow still nabbed the runner at first. I was thoroughly impressed.
Alright, time to go take on the Indians.
Make it stop Marquis,
P.S. Thanks to all who particpated a couple of posts back by listing your all-time favorite baseball movies. The discussion’s still going on though, so if you have a favorite, make sure to post it!