It’s an understatement to say that the Cardinals play hot in September baseball. Those who have watched the Cardinals for years just know that’s the way it is. That’s why when you’re predicting who’s going to make the postseason, it’s rather hard to bet against the Cardinals, even when they’re a few games down. Something about this club just turns an extra cylinder with the calendar turns to the last month of the season.
It’s the same reason (only in reverse) why you see clubs like the Brewers, Reds and Pirates in a slide during September baseball. Although, the Brewers aren’t in a slide, so much as a complete freefall. I would be so frustrated if I were a Brewers fan.
The Cardinals are currently 6-1 in September this year and have gone 58-29 in September since 2011. The Cardinals know how to crank it up in September and luckily, for us Cards fan, this year has been no different.
We all know that winning in the postseason is about getting hot at the right time. The Cardinals are getting hot. The question now will be if they are able to keep that pace going up through the rest of September and into October. All I know is that this team has been fun to watch lately. It seems that every piece of the puzzle is starting to finally click together.
There are 19 games left and the Cardinals have a 4 1/2 game lead in the central. I like those numbers.
Here’s an article that sums up exactly how good the Cardinals are year after year, even when they haven’t necessarily been all that good this season.
Finally in 1st,
Ok, so it’s only a 3 game winning streak. Maybe nothing to get too excited about yet. But I feel that in the last few games the Cardinals are playing with a tad more hunger. Granted, their first win against the Padres was the result of Shane Robinson’s arm / questionable call combo that had me climbing the walls. But, at least the hitting seems to be getting more on track. Adams is starting to contribute in big situations again and Taveras even had a nice little pinch hit tonight.
But still it’s only a 3 game winning streak. As nice as it is, until I see a 7 or 8 game winning streak, or heck….even just going 7-3, or 8-2 in the next 10 games would be nice. Because here’s the problem. The Cardinals are 13-12 since the All-Star Break. If they should lose tomorrow, they will be right back at .500 ball. They have been at .500 ball for awhile now. It’s just not so noticable because most of the teams around them are in the same boat. In fact, the next two teams after them in the division (Pirates and Reds) are 5-5 in their last 10. .500 ball is not going to win the division and it’s certainly not going to be enough to sustain them in postseason play.
We all know that it’s not always the best team in baseball that celebrates in October. It’s the team that gets the hottest at the right time. And that’s what I’m hoping to see from the Cardinals. A little spark, something that says they are on the verge of getting hot and ready to compete in October. What’s scary is that the Brewers are starting to look like that “hot” team more and more. They’re that team that battles back and even if they’re done, you feel they’re going to come back and take it, just like that did tonight vs. a good LA team.
So it’s only a 3 game winning streak. But here’s hoping it’s that spark.
Time to get hot,
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 Cardinals offense has disappeared. A club that is capable of scoring lots of runs every game has averaged 2 1/2 runs per game. And let’s be honest…with our pitching, we are going to need more than 2 1/2 runs per game.
Although almost more sad, is the fact at how close all these games have been. Other than one game against Padres when we got killed by 8 runs, every game has been decided by 1 or 2 runs. I said it last season and I’ve already said it several times this season; the Cardinals are becoming good at being “just short.”
Getting a run here or there is just not cutting it. The Cardinals are going to have to figure out a way to mount rallies. I feel like the big guys are going to start coming through eventually. Pujols and Holliday are going to have the back to back home runs. But unless they play small ball successfully, get runners on, steal, hit and run and get a few rallies going, they are going to continue to fall just short. The pitching has actually been surprisingly good so far this season, which is not necessarily going to be the case all season long.
It also doesn’t help that the Reds are still undefeated. Early or not, this first week sets the precedent for the rest of the season.
There’s an off day tomorrow and that we start our west coast road trip. Hopefully the Cardinals will figure out how to get it done on the road because they certainly aren’t doing the job at home.
Waiting for the offense to wake up,
You know the Redbirds have seen better days when they have to scratch, bite and claw their way to a 4-3 win over the Pirates. But hey, I’ll take it.
It looked bleak at the beginning. A decent start by McClellan (2 ER over 6 innings) and good pitching by the bullpen looked like it would be wasted by the absence of hitting once again. The Cardinals were already 2-0 by the time I turned the game on in the bottom of the 1st thanks to another Pirate home run. This time the culprit was Lyle Overbay.
But slowly and surely the Cardinals fought their way back. It was one run at a time and every run was hard fought and earned. No home runs to show for our guys. The first run was the easiest. It came by way of a Lance Berkman leadoff double followed by an Allen Craig base hit. Berkman seems to be running great and I have to say this surprises me. He’s faster than I thought he’d be. And Craig just continues to impress. He’s been driving in runs left and right, hitting .364 on the season with 4 RBI on the young season. He seems to be who Jon Jay was last year and I like what I’m seeing from him.
In the 5th, the Cardinals manufactured their second run. Theriot and Rasmus got back to back bases hits putting runners on the corners and Albert came through with a sac fly which tied the game at two runs a piece.
The 7th inning ended up being the decider. Theriot drew a one out walk and Rasmus moved him into scoring position with a base hit and again it was Pujols with the RBI. He hit a ‘just enough’ ground ball that was perfectly placed between short and third to score Theriot.
The only moment of worry after that came in….what else? The 9th. Franklin got his first two outs easy before giving up a hit to Ryan Doumit. Flashes of a 2 out Padres comeback went through my mind, but this time he settled down and struck out the final Pirate batter to secure the win as well as his first save of the season.
Now many people might think Albert deserves all the credit for this game, but I would disagree. Albert was important, but to me the hero was Ryan Theriot, so I was happy to hear him on ‘star of the game’ afterwards. After all, all Pujols really did was get an out and a lucky base hit. If Theriot is not on base, those amount to nothing. Theriot did just what the leadoff guy is supposed to do; get on base however he can. And he did that tonight by getting on base 3 times. He hasn’t been particularly productive so far this season (than again, what Cardinal has?) but if he can continue to get on base at a high clip, there is no doubt runs will be scored. The Cardinals have plenty of guys who don’t strike out and can get the sac flies or the base hits to score those runs if he can get on and get into scoring position.
Nearing .500 ball,
I guess you really can’t fault Loshe’s performance, but you can’t credit
him either. If he had pitched like that as our #5, I would have
thought it was fantastic. But as either #3 or #4 (can’t really figure
out yet where Westbrook is going to fall), he needs to be a bit better.
The first two runs were the result of a double to the corner of the
outfield. That happens. But the home run he gave up next was the nail
in the coffin. And it’s that kind of pitching that he needs to avoid.
It’s all about better location. Get the ground ball outs.
All things considered though he looked sharp as he breezed through the
first few innings, even without the offense backing him up. We again
lacked that “big hit” that plagued the Cardinals all last year and seems
to be repeating itself this year. It doesn’t help matters that
Holliday had surgery and Pujols hasn’t caught fire yet. Pujols playing
the Pirates mid-season? That’s money.
My favorite moment though was Berkman coming up lefty with runners
aboard. I literally laughed out loud as I realized that this was the
exact situation I used to fear Berkman’s bat on when he played for the
‘Stros because he seemed to ALWAYS come through no matter who we had
pitching. As he strode to the plate, I said, “Ok, Lance, I expect you
to do that kind of damage for us now.” (You talk to the players during
the game too, right? No? Just me then? Um….)
But Berkman the ex-Cardinal killer did exactly what he had done against us a million times. He drove in the runner. Beautiful.
Time to see if McClellan deserves the 5th starter spot that was handed to him when we lost Adam Wainwright. All I ask is that he hold it close and let the offense do their thing. Surely, the offense has to start breaking out here at some point. And I feel that one of these games Albert’s going to have to hit 5 home runs or something crazy. It seems the bigger the slump, the bigger the break out game for him. Why not let it be tonight?
I even wore a Cardinal shirt today although I was slightly embarrassed to do so. Hopefully it gets them on a roll. Of course, if it does, I suppose I will have to wear Cardinal shirts until they lose…..
Cardinals 6th starter,
Winning streak, anyone? That’s right, we have the opportunity to have a SEASON HIGH streak of…..wait for it…..2 games. Ok, so I may be being slightly sarcastic here. In any event, two Cardinal wins in a row would be great.
In not so great news, we have Kyle Loshe on the mound. Supposedly, he has the potential to be good if healthy, so this is certainly his chance to prove it. So, let’s see how good you are Loshe.
In better news, we are playing Pittsburgh. We have a history of doing well against the Pirates and Albert has absolutely OWNED them over his career. So I expect this to be the series where we really see his big bat break out.
Without further ado, let’s go Redbirds!
Looking for a good outing by Loshe,