Tagged: Red Sox

Chris Nelson is my hero

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,
Tiffany

I LOVE September baseball!

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.

Go Cardinals!

Wanting a Brew Crew win,

Tiffany

The Cardinals look and party like it´s 1982 in win over Brewers.

How about that game?  I don´t think I could have asked much more than a 12·4 killing of the Brewers.  And all while wearing their old school baby blue Molina uniforms.  I´m a very superstitious baseball fan, so I´d like them to stick with the uniforms tonight too!

There were a lot of great things about this game.  First of all, it was a total team effort  Every starter had at least one base hit, as did pinch hitter Aaron Miles.  That´s 10 Cardinals getting something done.  Next, Eckstein, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Molina and Wells all had mult·hit nights, including 3 hits for Pujols and 4 hits for Edmonds.

This is just a continuation for the incredibly hot streak Edmonds is on.  And much like last year, how good the Cardinals are rolling depends on how good the veterans are rolling.  You need young kids like Ankiel, Ryan and Ludwick to come up, give some new life and help win a game or two.  But it´s that veteran presence day in and day out that will keep the Cardinals winning games.  We need consistency out of Rolen and Edmonds.  And right now Edmonds is on fire.  After a dismal July of hitting a horrible .143, he is now hitting .410 in August.  It was his 6th multi·hit game of the month.  Now if he can just find his power stroke back.

Another huge positive of this game was the continual barrage of hits.  It was essential a game of small ball all the way through for the Redbirds.  The Cardinals scored 12 runs, which would normally make you assume that they smacked at least a few dingers out of the park.  Not so.  The Brewers homered twice for their 4 runs.  You know how many times the Cardinals went deep for their 12 runs?  None.  They also had no triples and just 2 doubles.  But there were a whole lot of singles and a whole lot of walks.  They went the other way, they poked the ball into holes and just generally played smart baseball.

The Cardinals also played their trademark ¨hard nine¨ all the way through this game.  After getting behind early 3·0, they didn´t give up, but fought back and ended up winning this game easily.  They also never just laid down and gave away outs.  One situation I´m thinking of in particular was in the 5th, when the bases were loaded with 1 out and Kip Wells was batting.  He took a couple of swings where he looked absolutely awful.  But he didn´t hit into an inning ending double play, nor did he just take a normal strikeout people would expect from a pitcher.  Instead he fought off a pitch or two and ended up poking a single down the line for 2 RBI.  That is good baseball.

On such a good night, I hate to talk too much about what went wrong, but there was one thing that concerned me.  The first was almost failing to capitalize with runners on.  The first couple of innings, the Cardinals got guys on with less than 2 out and did squat with it.  We are just lucky that the Brewers let us stay in this game.  In some games, those might be all the chances you get and you need to take advantage.  Overall, the Cards left over a dozen runners stranded on the basepaths.

I could have also dealt with some more hustle from Pujols on one of his infield singles.  If Ryan Braun had any kind of heat on that ball he threw across the diamond, Pujols would have been out easy.  And you could see on the replay, that he just stood there for a minute in the box, thinking it was going to go foul.  Then when it was clear it wasn´t he took off.  Pujols is a great player and the best hitter on our team, but I hope he never becomes the guy who doesn´t hustle or run things out.  It doesn´t really seem in his character to do that, but sometimes after playing so long, it becomes hard to run everything out.  It makes me glad to have players on our team like Eckstein, who takes nothing for granted when running and Rolen, who probably has the best home run trot of anybody in the Majors, with his head down all the way all around the bases.

As for the competition, I am continually impressed with Ryan Braun as an offensive threat.  He really is a great hitter.  He reminds me a lot of Chris Duncan when he was up last year for his first half·year in the bigs in terms of being power hitters.  He hit 22 homers in just 280 at·bats.  Braun has now hit 23 in 291 at·bats.  Both strike out a lot because they are power hitters.  Duncan struck out 69 times in those at·bats last year and Braun has 64.  The difference is that Braun is hitting a crazy .354.  It just seems like if he makes contact, it´s going to be a base hit.  The Brewers have a great player in this guy.  If his defensive play improves to match how good he has been offensively, he will be something special, I think.

The last thing I think I will discuss will be Kip Wells.  The same Kip Wells, who all of Cardinal Nation was ready to drive out of St. Louis forever or at least tar and feather.  In the early months, he dropped 7 straight decisions at one point and was 3·13 going into August.  He´s tied for 11th for the most runs given up in the NL and tied for 2nd for the most losses in the NL with 13.  Yet, this is his 3rd good start in a row and he definitely is showing some signs of improvement.  After getting down 3·0 via 2 long balls by the Brewers, he settled in and allowed only 1 hit in his next 5 innings.  That shows great concentration in a tough situation.  He easily could have made a bad situation worse, but instead he pitched great and let his team get back into the game to get him the win.  That is what we´re going to continue to need out of him and the rest of our staff.

The Cubs also lost, so we are slowly inching our way towards first place.  We´re now 3 games back of the Cubs and 4 1/2 games in back of the Brewers.  The best we can be after this series with the Brewers is still 2 1/2 games back, but now we can only be 6 1/2 back at the worst.  It is imperative that we win at least 1 of the next 2 games.  Taking 2 of 3 from the Brewers heading into the Chicago series would not only be a huge boost, but I really see it as a must.

Complete random side note: As I´m typing, I´m watching the Yankees game and Shelley Duncan had hit a 3·run shot with 2 outs to tie the game up 3·3 and send New York and Baltimore to extras.  That is Cardinal outfield Chris Duncan´s brother.  However, Baltimore scored one run in the 10th already, so hopefully New York can come back again in the bottom of the 10th for the win because right now the Sox are losing in the 9th inning.

Tonight´s matchup for the Cardinals is newest Cardinal pitcher, Joel Piñeiro against Brewer Yovani Gallardo.  Gallardo is coming off his worst start of the season when he gave up 11 earned runs, so hopefully he can continue that trend for one more game.

Bring back the baby blues,

Tiffany

Solid win by the Redbirds

So clearly I didn´t write anything during the game last night.  I was too tired to do anything, but watch the game.  (After all, it started at 2am my time.)  Plus, the lack of comments doesn´t help.  People are reading the blog.  They´re returning and clicking through it according to my counter.  So, I´d love to hear comments from anybody and everybody.  This blog isn´t just a place for my opinion, but for anybody who has one.  So, let´s hear anything you might have to say about the Cardinals or anything else going on in baseball.  I´ll discuss it.

On to tonight´s game.  I got home later, so it was already 5·0 when I turned on the game.  I was sad I missed it, but glad it wasn´t the other way around.  I´ll have to wait until the game is archived to see what all I missed, but they did mention that Rick Ankiel got things going with a 2·run home run.

Shortly after, I started watching, the Dodgers put together a little offense and got a run of their own.  But the Cardinals pitchers stayed strong and the Dodgers would get no more.  Looper pitched a good six innings, only allowing 4 hits and that one run.  The effort earned him his 10th win of the season.  And then 4 Redbird relievers combined to finish out the game, allowing only 1 hit between them.

But the Cardinal offense wasn´t done.  Rick Ankiel drove another home run deep to outfield stands and tacked on one more Cardinal run.  It also provided his 2nd curtain call since he was called up on Thursday.  I think it´s safe to say Cardinal Nation loves Ankiel.

Everything I´ve read from Cardinal fans has been extremely supportive of Ankiel, but unfortunately, I´ve seen a few negative things from other fans.  Those who seem to think he´ll choke or not continue to be a great Major League hitter.  And that´s too bad.  I think this is a guy you have to root for no matter what.  His story is an example of the best baseball can be.  He also made a heck of a catch in the outfield today.

We would have had two more runs, but Edmonds was robbed of a 2·run home run by an outstanding catch at the wall.

The Brewers and Cubs games tonight will decide if we stay even in the standings or go up, but I´m hoping for the best.  One thing is certain: the race is definitely getting very interesting again.  But, it´s tough.  As a Cardinal fan, I really want the Redbirds to win it all.  But, if we can´t, I want the Brewers to do it because the Cubs absolutely can´t win.  So while I´m not rooting for them yet, I will if the Cardinals drop completely out of it.

But before I turn on the Brewer game and see what happens, I´m watching the Red Sox game.  Beckett appeared to have a complete game shutout in the works, but then he gave up 2 hits and lost the shutout.  Next reliever.   Another run.  Boston has now brought in Papelbon with 2 on and 2 out.  And he gets the last out.  Too bad.

Alright, time to turn on the Brewer game.

Go ´Stros,

Tiffany

It’s been awhile

I’m back.
I have been very busy at work the last few months and while I have kept up with baseball and the Cards, I have not had time to watch every game and or to even think about blogging. We were trying to get a product out the door on a deadline and now that it has been completed, I hope to spend a little more time watching Cardinal baseball and with my blog.

I realize that there is no way that I can recap everything I’ve missed talking about the last few months, so I’ll just go ahead and pick up where things are right now.

It’s really a great time to come back to the blog, I think, because there is so much happening in baseball right now. First, the Cardinals are starting to look like a team that maybe has a shot of contending. After being in 3rd place for quite sometime and well behind the Brew Crew and even the 2nd place Cubbies (gag), the Cardinals have recently come on strong. After taking 3 of 4 from the Brewers over the weekend, the Cardinals are now in pouncing distance of them at just 6 games back. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that the Redbirds still have 6 games left against the Crew and 8 games against the Cubs this year. So if the Cards can stay close, they definitely have a chance to help themselves the next couple of months. Not to mention the games between the Brewers and the Cubs, where someone has to lose.

This upcoming series is a big one. We will be playing the Pirates and we have to win a couple of games right here, especially with the Brewers playing the Mets. You figure with Glavine on the mound and the kind of ball the Mets have the ability to play, the Brewers are in for a tough series. So it’s an excellent time to gain some ground.

Right now, there is excitement seemingly everywhere in baseball, not just in St. Louis. 3 huge milestones will be chased tonight throughout the baseball world. A-Rod attempts to hit number 500 in New York and not only that, but when he accomplishes the feat, he will be the youngest player to ever reach that mark. I just hope they get a win and shave off a few more games in the AL East Race. I don’t want to see Boston win it.

Over in LA, the Giants/Dodgers rivalry will be heating up and even more so, with Barry one homer shy away from maybe the most hallowed record in baseball; the all-time home run record set by Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. It’s only a matter of time before it happens, but of course, knowing it’s that imminent can sometimes make a player press too hard at the plate, so we’ll see how he handles the pressure of pursuing the great Aaron and his record.

Last, but not least, Mets pitcher Tom Glavine sets his sights on 300 career wins. I’m rooting especially hard for this one because not only do I respect Glavine as a pitcher, a win for him means a loss for the Brewers. And that is something I am very much in favor of.

What a day this could be if all of these feats happened on the same night. Even if they don’t, they will all happen this season, barring injury, in a year where there has already been so many stories with Sosa and Thomas already hitting milestone home runs and Griffey not too far behind. Craig Biggio earned hit number 3000 and if Randy Johnson could have ever stayed healthy he would have had a chance at 300 wins as well. Definitely a historic year to say the least.

The last thing that makes this an interesting day is that the non-waiver trade deadline has now passed with a lot of the wheeling and dealing for the year done. Though there are a few GMs that seem to prefer trading after the deadline, waivers and all.

The Cardinals made very little noise, acquiring righty Joel Pineiro from Boston for cash and a minor league player to be named. Honestly, I don’t know much about this guy. I know that Boston had designated him for assignment, but by this point, I trust that if the Cardinals are interested in a pitcher, there is usually a good reason. Dave Duncan has worked a lot of miracles in that pitching staff, even with guys that were supposedly done, such as Jeff Weaver last year. And Pineiro doesn’t appear to be that far gone looking at his numbers. The best part about this is that the Cardinals didn’t get rid of a ton of players as I feared might be the case. That tells me that they haven’t given up fighting in the Central yet and that they plan on being a contender instead of just a seller at the deadline.

Other notable trades include Matt Morris coming to the Pirates. Once the ace of the Cardinal staff, Morris will be seeing the Cardinals a lot more in the NL Central than he did as a Giant. Morris was always a favorite of mine, a Cardinal that was hard to see go. I hope he does well in Pittsburgh.

Also, of note, Eric Gagne went to Boston. This deal surprised me a ton, considering he had a no-trade clause to the Sox. I really didn’t think he would waive this to setup for Papelbon. That makes the Sox downright frightening in the late innings.

Well, I supppose that is more than enough for my return blog. I will be back tomorrow where hopefully I will be saying that the Cardinals are just a mere five games away from first place.

Go Glavine,
Tiffany

Off day ramblings about the first week of baseball

As uaual, with an off day, I’ll discuss just a few random thoughts I’ve had lately and also get a chance to take a look around the league to see what other teams are doing. But before I get into all that, I want to look at how the Cardinals have fared so far this season. We’ve swept and been swept so I think you can safely say we’ve been on both sides of the baseball coin.

Let’s start with the Mets series. Are the Mets a good team? Absolutely. Is that why we lost to them 3 in a row? Definitely not. I don’t know if it was because it’s still early in the season or what the problem was, but the Cardinals were not playing simple, fundamental baseball. And with a team as good as the Mets are, you can’t afford to be off your game that much. They will make you pay. All in all, this lineup was essentially the same lineup we faced in October and we took 4 of 7 from then.

The reason why we were swept by New York is the same reason we were swept by Pittsburgh.  Not executing good, fundamental baseball.  It just wasn´t happening for us in the opening series with the Mets.  But luckily, it didn´t take the Redbirds long to figure it out.

In the Mets series, the Cards committed four errros in three games.  Inexcusable, especially because they were mostly routine plays for a Major Leaguer.  In the Pirates series, only one error was committed and it was on a rather difficult play.  Plus, a couple of very difficult plays were made.  Pitches were executed.  Runners were advanced.  Guys took an extra bag when they had the opportunity.  Fundamental baseball.  Compare that to the Mets series where the pitchers struggled to close the door, even when the defense messed up and the offense just wasn´t executing at all.

Well, now it seems the Cardinals main objective is putting any and all closers out of business. I mentioned previously about all the runs scored off of Billy Wagner during the NLCS.  Then, you have the Cardinals basically single-handedly causing the demotion of Brad Lidge from the ´Stros.  And now the latest victim……Salomon Torres.  2 games, 2 save opportunities, no saves.  So, closers, look out.  If you value your jobs, don´t play the Redbirds. 🙂

Ok, on the rest of the NL Central.  I know it´s way early in the season, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it looks like it might be more of the same for the Wrigley faithful.  Honestly, I can´t imagine how anyone could have picked this team to win the division.  They made a lot of good moves on paper, but until they can back it up on the field, I´m not willing to put them any higher than 3rd.  It´s sort of hard to really enjoy making fun of the Cubs anymore because a rivalry becomes pretty much nonexistent when one team finishes on top and the other in the cellar.  Nevertheless, the series with the Cubbies each year is always good for a little smack talk between the clubs.  I´m still predicting a good year for the Brewers with a 2nd place finish, so I anticipate the Milwaulke-St. Louis rivarly will start to heat up more this year.  Especially with Jeff Suppan now wearing a Brewer uniform.  (Can´t wait to see him pitch Sunday!)

Other things in baseball.  Everyone´s talking about A-Rod and the history he´s making in New York.  6 dingers n 8 games?  Incredible.  Still, I think this sort of thing is also the undoing of the Yankees at times.  Because the Cardinals 3-2 game is just as much a ´W´ as the Yankees 10-1 win.  The Yanks have scored 52 runs in 8 games this year while the Cardinals have taken 9 games to score 26.  But guess what?  The Yankees are playing .500 ball and we´re one game over.

Don´t get me wrong.  I like the Yankees.  And sure, it´s fun to watch your team´s sluggers bash the ball all over the park.  There have been games when every bat in the Cardinal lineup is hot.  But when all is said and done, it doesn´t matter how many runs you clobber your opponent by.  Because eventually in October you will play 3 other great teams to win it all.  And when the Tiger arms absolutely shut down your big bats, where do you turn?  A guy like David Eckstein to shoot the ball into a hole somewhere and start a rally.

I still pick the Yankees to take the East over the Sox because they definitely have the offense and their pitching isn´t horrid, but unless they get a new gameplan and quick, I say by the end they´ll be watching the World Series from their couches.  Though I would LOVE to see a Cardinal-Yankee World Series for sure.

And about those Red Sox.  How are the beantowners feeling about ol´ Dice-K now?  He´s pitched good in his first two starts, but he´s also now taken his first loss against Seattle Mariners phenom Felix Hernandez.  (That kid´s amazing.)  By the way, they´re paying him 420,000 this year for his services.  I have no doubt that Dice-K will do a great job in the Majors….but I think there´s a lot of talent out there for a lot less money.  Just one example.  In his first game, he pitched 7 innings, giving up 6 hits and 1 run.  Great line.  But Wainwright copied it exactly in his first start, except he gave up just 5 hits.  It is impressive that Matsuzaka struck out 10, but in his last appearance he only struck out 4, so obviously it´s not an every time thing.  Wainwright has just as many wins and his ERA is under 2.  And we didn´t pay 51 million to talk to the guy.

One pitcher off to an absolutey ridiculous start is Danny Haren of the Oakland A´s.  In two starts his ERA is a tiny 0.69, but…..he´s 0-2.  The A´s have scored a grand total of 1 run in both of his starts combined.  How about a little run support here?  Maybe they would be interested in trading him back to us for Mark Mulder?  They can even keep the hot catching prospect.  I kind of wonder if that trade isn´t why Walt is so gunshy about big names now.  But that´s okay; if he can keep looking like a genius for getting major production out of the Kip Wells and Braden Loopers of the world, let the Giants have the Barry Zitos.  Dave Duncan has got to be the best pitching coach in the world.  Maybe more ex-catchers should consider the field of pitching coach.

I read a lot of negativity about the Cardinals in pre-season that basicaly said Dave Duncan can´t solve all our problems, he´s not God, etc.  Well, maybe not, but I´m pretty sure he can do miracles at least.  Because somehow the biggest question mark (starting pitching) of the off season, as well as the next biggest in spring when we found out about Kinney (relief pitching) has turned into our biggest asset.  They´re getting wins when our big-time offense is not.

This has been brought to my attention lately, especially last Tuesday when I saw the pitching matchups around the Majors.  Jeff Weaver (Mariners), Matt Morris (Giants) and (Jason Marquis) were all starting.  Matty Mo´s been gone for a few years now, but Weaver and Marquis were key parts of the rotation down the stretch last year.  Well, Weaver went 2 innings…yes, 2….and gave up 7 runs to sport a hefty 31.50 ERA.  Marquis has pitched much better, but still remaine winless as a Cubbie.  On the other hand, the Cardinals won by starting Triple A Memphis pitcher Randy Keisler.  I really like irony of it all.

I´m interested to see what other fans think of Keisler.  Is he a valid option to start for awile?  And if so, how long?  Does he only start if we find out Carp is going to be out for a short while?  If it turns out Carpenter is gone for the season, do we start looking for more long term solutions?  If so, who?  Or is Keisler an acceptable long term solution?  Any and all thought are appreciated and not just about that.

If you agree/disagree with any of my ramblings, I´d love to hear about it.

Well, I´ll probably preview the Brewer series tomorrow, but for now it´s late here and I must go.

Closing down closers,

Tiffany

A 3 game series agains the Mets looks different in August than it did in May.

With the Cardinals off yesterday I turned on the other early game that was on: Yankees at Red Sox.  I hadn’t watched in any of the earlier games in full (a few innings here and there), but I definitely had been following along to each of the Yankees wins and Red Sox losses.  I’ve always somewhat liked the Yankees and rooted for them, but my reason for rooting for them nowadays is purely out of my dislike for the Red Sox.  I wanted them to lose.  Badly.  Because, truth be told, I’m not a "Yankees fan."  By this I mean, that if I could guarantee the Cardinals would get a sweep, but the Yankees getting swept by the Red Sox, I would sell them out in a heartbeat for the Cardinals.  But, since baseball doesn’t work like that, I’m very happy to watch them pound the Beantowners all weekend long.

So as I watched the fifth game’s pitcher duel unfold, I cheered for the Yanks.  It was a great game and the historic "Boston Massacre" again took place.  Fantastic.

Ok, on to Cardinals baseball.  We start our next series against the New York Mets tonight.  Everywhere on mlb.com this is being billed as an "October preview."  Of course our last series against the Mets was being billed the same.  But, that was long before everyone realized how serious of a threat the Mets were this year.

The Mets have played well and have silenced any critics who thought they were just having a fluke couple of weeks or even months.  It is now evident.  The Mets are playing good baseball.

This will be our second series against the Mets this year.  Some things have changed since our last meeting; some are very much the same.  All in all, what does meeting this New York team mean this time around compared to our last series against them?  Well……a whole lot.

Things that are the same

  • The Cardinals and the Mets still have the top two records in the NL.
  • The Mets pitchers still have one of the highest strikeout rates in the Majors.
  • The Cardinals hitters are still some of hardest to strike out in the Majors. (In 3 games, the Mets pitchers only managed to strike out Cardinal hitters a mere 9 times, the lowest SO total against the Mets.  Of the other teams who have only played them 3 times (the Astros, the Dodgers and the Rockies) the strikeout totals are much higher….18, 20 and 21 for their 3 game set.
  • The same two pitchers that won two games in the last series will be pitching in this one (Marquis and Mulder).
  • Scott Rolen is still a superior 3rd baseman to David Wright.  (Had to throw that in there….still can’t believe Wright got more votes for the All-Star game.)

Things that are different

  • While both still in first place, the records of the two teams are no longer almost identical.  The Mets have been winning far more games.
  • Tom Glavine, who kicked our butt last time, and was scheduled to pitch THIS time will be pushed back and we won’t face him.
  • The Mark Mulder who beat the Mets 1-0 last time may not be the same Mark Mulder who repeatedly got worse as the season went on, ended up on the DL and is making his first start back.
  • Last time we played the Mets, Jeff Weaver didn’t wear a Cardinal uniform.  This time he’ll go to the mound in one and try to win the first game of the set.

And, that’s just a short list.  These games have many complicated factors and there will be many other reasons to watch these games.  The biggest key (as I believe it was last time) will be their pitching against our hitting.  For other comparisons, here was my Mets preview from May.

Last time they sent Glavine, Trachsel and Lima to the mound and we countered with Suppan, Mulder and Marquis.  This time the matchups are Maine, Trachsel and Williams against Weaver, Mulder and Marquis.

The good news of course for Cardinals fans is that it would have been Glavine again in this first game.  They thought he might have had to miss the rest of the season due to a blood clot, but thankfully it was nothing serious and he won’t have to have surgery.  I might want a Cardinals win, but I certainly would never root against the health or well being of an opposing player.  Nonetheless, I am perfectly happy not to have to see Glavine in this series.  Apparently, this start will be the only one he will miss.  He was the reason we didn’t sweep the Mets the last time and I’m hoping with a less experienced guy on the mound, our hitters will do a better job this time around.

Overall, last time our hitting lagged in areas.  Pujols went hitless for the series and that doesn’t happen very often.  In fact, the only other team to keep Pujols grounded for a whole series was Houston back in July.  Also the number 2 spot (with several people filling the role) went 1 for 9 against the Mets pitching staff last time.  That’s not likely to happen again if Duncan is hitting there for the series.  He’s currently riding a 8 game hitting streak and during that time had 5 game multi-hit streak going.  Oh yeah……and a 3 game home run streak going.

So while our hitting looks to be alright, it certainly will be a huge test.  Even without Glavine, the Mets aren’t in first place for nothing.  Trachsel has 12 wins and though we beat him once we’ll have to work hard to beat him again.  We only scored one run off of him last time.

Our biggest question mark (as always) is our pitching.  It was unstable then…it’s even more unstable now.  Marquis won last time he pitched against the Mets, but it’s Marquis.  No one can predict how he’ll be and no one knows what to expect.  He’s on and off more than a light switch.  Question mark number 2 is Jeff Weaver.  Acquired later in the season, he’s been anything but dominant.  Still, he has the ability to get outs.  And coupled with run support, he has the ability to keep it close and win the game.  But, it’s far from in the bag.  Pitching the first game though, getting the win would be a great way to open the series and set the bar high for what’s to come.

The biggest question mark of all is Mark Mulder.  It’s hard to believe that this is the guy who, in his last start against the Mets, allowed only 4 hits and no runs in 8 1/3 innings, striking out five.  He would have gotten the complete game, but in the 9th he accidentally plunked a guy and LaRussa brought in Izzy to close it down.  Mulder won the pitching duel against Trachsel 1-0.  It was easily his best performance of the season.  From then on it would all be downhill.  Fresh off the DL and a couple of rehab starts, we’ll see if he can regain the magic once again against these Mets and get us a win.

For now, it all starts with Jeff Weaver.  Hopefully, he’ll start this series off on the right foot.

During the last series, I had a pretty good dialog going with Mets fans.  I’m interested to still hear from them.  In May, the Mets winning their division was still a dream while now it is very much reality.  What has changed for Mets fans since that time?  Do you feel you have more at stake now?

Maine over Glavine any day,

Tiffany