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July 2008

Nothing Doing

Posted on July 31, 2008 at 5:52 PM
At least not in the Cardinal neck of the woods.  No deals made at all, not even a minor prospect for a reliever.  That's a bit disappointing, as I talked about in this morning's post.  It just seems to me that with the momentum of a decent Carpenter start, making a gesture trade, at least, would have an impact in the clubhouse.  I'm sure that some players will take this as "they think we've got enough to win" but a lot of Cardinal Nation is taking it as an overvaluation of prospects by those that drafted them.

I'm not saying that they should have parted with Rasmus or three or four of the top guys.  But we all remember when Player X or Pitcher Y was the next big thing who would be a big star, only to see them fizzle out at the major league level.  There comes a point where you have to accept the risk that a player will blossom elsewhere to obtain a player that can help you win right now.  Otherwise, you have situations like Anthony Reyes, who went from a World Series starter who would have commanded quite a bit of talent after the '06 season to a middling talent in '07 to barely worth a minor league reliever (apparently) in '08.

There could be waiver deals still, of course, though the chances of quality left-handed relievers being available is very slim.  Right now, though, the Cards have to win with what they have.  A victory tonight over Atlanta gives the Cards the Wild-Card lead after the Brewers were swept by the Cubbies.  (Not something I particularly wanted to see, but you take the silver lining where you can.)  If you can go into August in the WC lead, you've probably done something right with your season.

Let's hope that the shuffling of roles in the 'pen pans out (if Izzy can get back to closer level, that's huge) and when Wainwright returns, his presence helps the team out as well.  Buckle up, folks, we've got a wild ride ahead.

The Big Day

Posted on July 31, 2008 at 8:00 AM
For the second time this year, a start was highly anticipated, with ramifications for the rest of the season.  Unlike Mark Mulder's implosion, though, Chris Carpenter's night was much more of what we wanted to see.

Four innings was a little short, but he was getting close to his pitch count and came up in the top of the fifth, which was a logical place for a pinch-hitter.  He got stronger as the night went on, only allowed one run (though numerous base runners) and has something to build on for his next outing against the Dodgers at home.  (I'm sure he'll get a standing ovation when he takes the mound that night!)

It's another one of those nights where it's hard to pick a goat.  The bullpen did well, keeping the Cards in the game until they could pile on late.  All the starters got a hit.  Almost everyone either scored a run or drove one in.  It's a terrible day to pin it on someone, but since we are stuck with the conceit, we'll go with Troy Glaus again, only because his only hit and RBI came after the game was pretty much in hand.  Still, it was good to see him break his o-fer slide.

When I left work yesterday, it sounded like the Cardinals were real players for Jason Bay.  Now, not so much, especially with the Red Sox in the mix.  Also, it was almost a slam dunk the Cards were bringing Will Ohman back with them from Atlanta.  Matthew Leach says not so fast.  John Mozeliak says (you take what a GM says right now with some grains of salt, of course) that sending Randy Flores down was more about Carpenter's return than being close on a lefty.  So now what?

Maybe there will be an out-of-the-blue trade, like the Ken Griffey Jr. one that just came down.  But after seeing Carpenter's start last night, there has to be added pressure on Mozeliak to make a trade.  He's seen that Carp is back and will give a boost.  It's not that he went out there, his arm fell off, the season is pretty much over and there's no reason to deal.  He's back and that should keep the Cards in the race.

In other words, the players have done their part.  Isn't it time for the front office to do theirs?

I'm not suggesting they recklessly throw prospects at someone to make a deal and I realize that there may not be anything out there that will improve the team.  But I think Mozeliak has to work doubly hard today to make sure there's nothing.  Getting a trade done will help morale for the team as well, a team that is now tied for the National League Wild Card.

No matter what the front office does, the team gets another shot at Atlanta tonight before flying home to take on the Phillies this weekend.  And waiting for them tonight is an old "friend".

Remember way back when Mike Hampton was the most prized free agent on the market?  When the Cardinals made a huge push for him, coming up second to the Rockies because of the school system (and they paid more)?  Remember when Hampton used to dominate the Cardinals?  (He's 10-8 lifetime with a 3.59 ERA now, but it sure seemed like he was always beating the Cardinals in the 2000-2002 time period.)

Well, he's back.  Personally, I was surprised that he made it through his first start without getting placed back on the DL.  (Heck, getting through warmup tosses is an acheivement when you have Hampton's medical history.)  He does end the streak of the Cardinals facing entirely new-to-them pitchers, as a few Cardinal batters do have a history with him.  Pujols especially seems to enjoy facing him, but he enjoys facing most pitchers.

For the Cardinals, Joel Pineiro takes the mound.  It'd be really nice to see Pineiro go through six, at least, since the bullpen was used a little bit last night.  If he doesn't let Mark Kotsay beat him, he might have a chance to do that.

The Cardinals have a chance to really complete a crazy second half of July.  Four wins, five losses, win, loss, four wins (with one tonight).  For a team that was really consistent in the first half, usually winning two of three, they've been a bit streaky lately!

If the Cards make a move today, obviously places like MLB Trade Rumors and others such as the VEB fan posts will be good places to look, but I'll try to come back and give my opinion on it was well.   

The Waiting Ends

Posted on July 30, 2008 at 9:20 AM
All the talk today is going to be about Chris Carpenter.  Before we get into that, let's look at last night's game.

Hero: Albert Pujols.  Tied it up with a home run and then took the lead with more of his infamous baserunning.  You may hate it when he risks and loses, but when he gets it right (which seems to be most of the time), it really is a wonderful thing.

I also want to single out Ryan Franklin.  I've been on him pretty hard as a closer, and, honestly, he scared me even when he was in the setup role.  But the numbers don't entirely lie.  He did a good job before in that role and was great in it last night, even getting a win out of it.

Goat: He's as streaky as they come, isn't he?  Troy Glaus had another hitless night while everyone around him was pounding the ball.  Save them for when we need you, Troy.

Cubs win again, so the Cards are within one of Milwaukee (and the wild card) while staying four back of the Cubs.  The hope going in was that the Brewers and Cubs would split while the Cards won in Atlanta.  It'd be real nice to see the Brewers take a game tonight.

OK, so Carpenter.  How hard is it to believe that when he last took the mound, the Cardinals were starting their defense of the World Series title?  Some things have changed since he pitched for St. Louis last, haven't they.  That'll happen when 485 days pass.

Some people think he needs more rehab starts.  But it's obvious that he's already better than what we have in the back of the rotation.  So what if he only goes five innings?  That's all those pitchers are doing anyway, and hopefully he can do it with less damage.  He's not having pain or anything, it's just a question of stamina and control.  Besides, now that Teixeira's gone from Atlanta, the Braves are pretty darn close to a minor league team anyway.

So what do we expect out of Carpenter tonight?  It seems to span the spectrum from "It's Chris Carpenter!  Cy Young!" to "Another broken-down has been."  I think we'll see some good stuff out of Carp tonight, while he's out there.  I'm terrible at predicting numbers, but I'd guess five innings, four hits, three earned, three walks, four K.  Something in that neighborhood.  Leave your predictions in the comments and we'll see who is closest.

It's not like the Braves will know what's coming.  Carp doesn't have a whole lot of history with the current makeup of the squad.  Which is what the Cardinals have been having lately, facing three pitchers in a row that no one had ever seen.  Tonight, the streak continues, but this is no last-minute callup or rotation filler that they'll be facing.  Jair Jurrjens is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.  He was able to shut out the Phillies for eight innings in their own pitcher-hating ballpark.  You aren't likely to do that on a fluke.  The only NL Central team he has faced is Pittsburgh and has split the two starts against them with a 4.36 ERA against them.

And in other ace news, Wainwright isn't quite ready for a rehab assignment.  Whether that is due to his results in yesterday's side session or not is a matter of opinion.  Unfortunately, this means he won't be ready for the Cub series in Wrigley next weekend.  Carpenter should get to pitch the series finale, though, so at least one of the big guns will be in use.

Folks, the season is over 2/3rds over and the Cards are still in the race.  No matter what happens from here, it's been a darn good run.

Who Was That Masked Team?

Posted on July 29, 2008 at 7:35 AM
It was a game unlike many others this year.  The Cardinals got out to an early lead and kept extending it.  The starter pitched seven strong innings.  And the bullpen--well, at least the lead was big enough to keep it from really worrying the fan base.  (I'm not sure that everyone felt completely comfortable even with the nine-run lead.)

The Hero would have to be Joe Mather.  Three for five, the two-run HR that put the Cards on the board, a double that drove in a run.  Nice to see him finally get a breakout game in the majors, especially since Rick Ankiel's status is still up in the air.  (My gut feeling is that they'll wind up putting him on the DL Wednesday when they activate Carpenter.)

I'm going to give the Goat to Troy Glaus for his 0-5, 4 LOB night.  Ron Villone definitely was a consideration, but he wouldn't have been out there for that extended of an outing if the lead wasn't as big as it was.  Villone really should be used for just one or two batters, something LaRussa's been good at doing but could be better.

Other stuff: Just a day after saying Ryan Franklin was the ninth inning guy, Jason Isringhausen has been reinstalled as closer.  That's not a magical fix-it move--I was worried about Franklin even before he was the closer, this just may move the blowups to the eighth instead of the ninth--but I think that Izzy will cause less heartburn in that slot.  He's had some good outings since he came off the DL.  There will still be some bumps in the road, I'm sure.  And that should mean that the Fuentes talk is probably dead.

Adam Wainwright's going on rehab.  Sounds like it's going to be a short one so he can be ready for the trip to Wrigley.  Whether that means he'll be a bullpen guy or not is not clear.  I think, with this Izzy move, they'll probably put him back in the rotation.  I'd rather have five good innings out of Wagonmaker than one every once in a while.

Cards catch a bit of a break in that Tim Hudson went on the DL yesterday, which means they don't have to face him tonight.  Instead, they get Jorge Campillo.  Which means it's another case of a pitcher the Cardinals have never seen before.  If they treat him like they treated Morton last night, there's no worries there.  Todd Wellemeyer goes for the Birds.  The Braves haven't seen much of him either.

Cubs beat the Brewers, so the Cards stay four out in the divisional race but move to two out in the wild-card.  

Fresh Start

Posted on July 28, 2008 at 2:51 PM
OK, back to some optimism.  The Cards are only four games behind the Cubs, who haven't just set the world on fire lately.  Even the Brewers had trouble with the Astros.  Plus, those two teams play each other, so a win by the Cards and they gain ground against someone.  And Carpenter does return this week.  Things could be much worse, right?

And Atlanta's got their own problems.  They are trying to trade off Mark Teixeira (one of my personal favorites, honestly), Brian McCann and Chipper Jones probably won't play (or not much) in the series, and tonight they don't know who they are starting, according to the official site.  (ESPN lists Charlie Morton.)

Of course, after tonight the Cards face Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens, but after that they get to try to knock Mike Hampton back onto the DL!  (If they don't, that could be a long night as well, knowing his history against the Cardinals.)

If Morton is pitching tonight, hopefully it's not another case of "young unknown pitcher tying up the offense".  That's happened often enough in Cardinal history, though they were able to break out against Brandon Knight on Saturday.

Braden Looper goes for the Cardinals, and save for Chipper Jones (who probably won't play, as noted), no one has seen a lot of him either.  Looper really needs to get through six or so innings tonight if at all possible.  The pen probably will come into play early in potentially every game this series, so anytime the starter can still be out there in the seventh, it's a huge bonus.

The series preview and YNOT are up at the Clubhouse for your perusal and entry.

And news you really don't want to hear: TLR says Franklin's still the closer.  That 8.38 ERA for the month of July must not weigh very heavily in the decision making.  Nor the fact that he's given up home runs in three consecutive outings.  I know I speak for a lot of people that won't exactly be relaxing if the Cards have a late lead tonight.

Think positive, think positive..............

A Helpless Feeling

Posted on July 27, 2008 at 5:29 PM
Back in 1997, the Cardinals were in a pennant race with the Houston Astros.  At least from my memory, it seemed like the Cards kept hanging around and couldn't make a move.  All the talk was about getting McGwire.  Then the Cardinals played a series against the Astros right before the deadline and lost, pushing them 7 or so games out.  On the trading deadline, the Cards got McGwire, but it really was too little too late then.  (Though, obviously, it worked out in different ways over the long-term.)

That's the feeling I get with the Cardinals saying wait for Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright to get back.  Sure, Carp goes this week it now appears, but I still get the feeling that if you expect this to be that boost that puts the Cards over the top, it may come too late for them really to make a run.

Honestly, I'm thinking after this weekend, even though the Cards are still about where they were going into it, it's not likely to really matter without some sort of injection.  The bullpen is killing the team, but the starters aren't helping by forcing the pen into action much earlier.  And the offense--save the extra inning blowup, and even then there were some of the same questions--needs to kick into gear.

Let's recap in our own special way, starting with the last game of the Brewers series:

Hero: Skip Schumaker.  2-4 on a night when the hits weren't plentiful.
Goat: Ryan Franklin.  Taking you from victory to defeat with one swing.

Hero: Ryan Ludwick.  2-4 with a run and a RBI.
Goat: Mitchell Boggs.  The Mets may have your number, but you've got to last longer than that.

Hero: Albert Pujols.  Hitting the GW HR on a five-hit night will do that.  Honorable mention to Skip Schumaker for six hits, including getting AP to the plate.
Goat: Joel Pineiro.  Staked to a four run lead before taking the field, he immediately tried to give it back.  Plus he didn't even make it to the fifth either.

Hero: Albert Pujols.  2-4 and kept Santana from getting the shutout.
Goat: Kyle Lohse.  That second home run in the sixth was on a "I don't care" pitch, it looked like.

So, as it stands right now, the Cards are four back of the Cubs, three back of the Brewers for the wild card.  It's hard to say mail it in, but what if this latest run of six losses in seven games is more of a testament to the Cards finally coming back to earth than just a bump in the road?

Being that I think the front office isn't going to panic and do something short-sighted to make a run this year, I don't think it matters too much here at the deadline which it is save for one thing: Kyle Lohse.  His value probably won't ever be higher.  If he could fetch two top prospects, wouldn't you have to do it if you think things aren't going to get better?

I'm not necessarily advocating such a move, I'm just saying that it'd be understandable if it came down.  I know a lot of people would be screaming about the Cards giving up on the season, but remember the white-flag trades of the White Sox had them celebrating in October just a couple of years later.

On the more realistic front, at least depending on your point of view, there are reports that the Cardinals are the front-runners for Brian Fuentes of the Rockies.  There's still talk about the Cardinals wanting Matt Holliday in that deal as well, but I really can't see that coming down.  Getting any arm into the bullpen may have a stabilizing effect on the rest of the corp.  I'm sure that's the hope, at least.

I've not heard any more on Roy Halladay than the initial report that the Jays had talked to St. Louis about him, but I would really like to see that one come down.  Getting a pitcher that could reliably go 7 innings would do wonders for the 'pen as well.

Off the field, as noted above, Carpenter comes back to the flock on Wednesday.  I'm actually a little disappointed, because his next rehab start was supposed to be with Springfield in Little Rock and I was starting to make plans to go.  That said, after his strong start on Friday at Memphis, there was little chance he wasn't going to make the next turn in the majors, especially with the team starting to crumble.  It'd be great if he could get into the sixth and be the real Chris Carpenter, but we'll just have to wait and see.

And, finally, the Anthony Reyes saga ended.  I don't know much about the guy coming back--I've not had a chance to read Erik's take at Future Redbirds yet--but to me, it seems to be a case of an organization just destroying a prospect.  Whomever was to blame and whatever the problems were, for his value to drop so drastically in just a couple of years is hard to fathom.  If nothing else, he should have been given a few more chances this year to build up his value a little bit.  I hope Reyes has a lot of success with the Indians.

That's enough for now.  We'll take a look at the starters sometime tomorrow.  Before I go, though, a note to the United Cardinal Bloggers.  Any of you that aren't on Facebook, you might want to consider joining up.  I've set up a group for us to use as a sounding board/discussion area for future projects.  Instead of sending roundtable e-mails around, we might just put up a discussion thread and then use that for the transcripts to blog.  So check it out when you can.

One More Try

Posted on July 24, 2008 at 2:34 PM
Really, is there anything to say about last night?  Sabathia was on, was dominant, and we have to be glad for the few Cardinals hits and the fact the score stayed close.

Hero?  I guess Brendan Ryan, for breaking up the no-hitter.  None of the pitchers were that great.  Looper kept it close, but could only go five innings after continually getting into trouble.  Jiminez and Izzy both went two, but gave up a run in that time span.

Goat?  Albert Pujols.  Flying out with men on first and second basically put paid on that game.

Newest rumor buzz: Roy Halladay.  Discussion on various sites agrees that a trade like that would take Colby Rasmus.  The dissension comes from whether he's worth it.  My initial reaction is no.  The Cards are going to need cheap, quality offense in the years to come and Rasmus should provide that.

The other side of the coin, though, has merit.  Rasmus may not pan out.  Halladay is pretty proven.  'Course, that's what they said about Mark Mulder.

If there was anyway to get Halladay without Rasmus (say, Anderson, Todd and Reyes), I'd have to say go for it.  Otherwise, I just don't know.

Tonight, the Cards try to avoid the sweep with Todd Wellemeyer going against Ben Sheets.  The Cardinals have been able to solve Sheets before, but it's a tough puzzle.  Albert's really liked to see him in the past.  Maybe he can stop that homerless streak tonight.  The Cards scored three runs in seven innings on him earlier in the year, which didn't give him the loss but the Cards did win the game.  He's fairly unknown to the Brewers; though they won the matchup against him this year, he got a no-decision allowing two unearned runs in six innings.

Housekeeping:  I forgot to note it last week, but CATB has passed the one-year milestone.  Over 300 posts when you combine the Wordpress version and this one.  Glad y'all are still reading and I hope you enjoy it.  If you are on Facebook, please join the CATB blog group over there.  Thanks!

Who Do You Blame?

Posted on July 23, 2008 at 8:06 AM
Another night, another late-inning come-from-ahead-loss.  A strong first inning is not a portent of things to come.  And a reliever allows a home run.  So, where do we start with the blame?

Do you, like TLR, take on the offense?  Six runs in two games isn't necessarily a recipe for success, I'll grant you.  But look at the lines for Milwaukee and St. Louis last night.  Same number of AB.  Same number of hits.  Same number of total bases.  The Cardinals even walked twice when the Brewers didn't walk.  So it's hard to lay it too much on the offense when Milwaukee can do the same and win.

I think the problem is the bullpen, but maybe not for the reason everyone is talking about.  Look, Lohse had labored through the seventh.  If there is a bullpen combo that TLR trusted, he'd have pulled Lohse after seven, used Pitcher A in the eighth and pitcher B in the ninth (perhaps with Villone in the middle to get Fielder as well).  Right now the Cardinal staff has 13 arms on it.  There should be no reason to extend starters like they did last night.

But the problem is there are very few that can be trusted in that pen.  Springer's been pretty good, but he's pitched too much recently.  McClellan, obviously, has that trust (though it backfired last night).  Villone can be trusted against lefties, but he's not a guy you can throw out there for an inning.  Thompson has been giving good innings lately.  After that, who?  Izzy and Franklin are very dangerous.  Flores hasn't been effective.  Boggs is out there, but you know they are trying to save him to start Friday.

All these arms and the game is still left in the hands of a tiring starter.

That said, Kyle Lohse pitched a heck of a game.  It's too bad he didn't get a win out of it, but it was just more of what we've come to expect from him.  I'm still not sure the Cards should sign him to an extention--this screams "career year"--but I'm glad that they picked him up in spring training.

Unfortunately, the goat has to go to Kyle McClellan.  It's tough being in a tie game where one mistake can cost you the game, but you really don't want to give up a home run in that situation.  A couple of base hits, it's possible you can work out of that.  A home run there, especially after the Brewer comeback, is just demoralizing.

So after another Cubs loss, the Cards sit in third, two games out.  Earlier in the year I'd started to write off the Brewers, but now they may be our best chance to keep the Cubs out of the playoffs.

The Cards can only split this series and that'll take a herculean effort with the pitchers for the next two days.  Tonight, Braden Looper goes against CC Sabathia.  On paper, that's not even close.  Since he's been in the AL, there's not a lot of heads-up data against most of these Cardinals, though Troy Glaus has been pretty hot against him.  Maybe he can bounce back from the 0-3 from last night.  Sabathia's been dominant since moving to the NL, though, with a 1.88 ERA after three starts.  Looper, well, you never can be sure what you are going to get with him.  The Brewers haven't had much trouble with him in his career and this year, he's 1-1 against them but has an ERA of 4.09.

The bad news wasn't contained to wins and losses last night.  First off, Chris Duncan hits the DL.  Some may find that a reason to rejoice, but Duncan had started to look better since his return from Memphis.  Plus, with him going on the DL now, the odds of him getting traded at the deadline are almost nonexistent.  He can be traded with his permission, I believe, but nobody's going to take him on while he's hurting.

Then, in Memphis's game, Colby Rasmus goes down with a potentially season-ending MCL injury.  We'll know more today, so that could be his dad's (who is the poster that put up the info) overreaction, but it doesn't sound good.  Which means that we won't get that extra offensive boost by getting Rasmus into the lineup either.

Wonder how all of this affects what Mozeliak is doing or needs to do?  Will we hear of any trades soon or will this be another quiet deadline?

Behind The Eight-Ball

Posted on July 22, 2008 at 7:56 AM
The Cardinals have playing a hard nine down.  Too bad yesterday went 10 innings.

I wasn't able to watch much of the game.  Monday night is Promise Keeper night for me and between that and doing the dinner/cleaning kids routine beforehand, I only got chances to glance at the TV in the first few innings.  What I saw looked good, though.  The Cards seemed to continually put runners on and had a nice 2-0 lead early.

Of course, all it takes is one wrong pitch, which is what happened when Pineiro faced Rickie Weeks with two on.

The offense didn't do much in the middle innings, waiting until the ninth to tie it up.  Unfortunately, Albert Pujols wasn't able to come through this time in the ninth.  His homerless streak is up to 13 games.

Again, you have to give hero props to Troy Glaus for his two for four night, plus driving in those first two runs.  It's almost ridiculous how hot he is right now and I'm afraid what'll happen to the team if he comes back to earth.

Goat is pretty obvious, though when you read the PD story, it quickly becomes questionable why Ryan Franklin was out there at all.  You'd think you might go with some fresher arms in that situation, especially since Franklin hasn't exactly been dominant even at the top of his game.

So now, to hold serve in this series, the Cards are going to have to beat either Sabathia or Sheets, neither of whom are considered "gimmies".  Sure, the Cards have had some success with Sheets in the past, but he's really been pitching well lately and he's not a player you'd want to face needing a win for a split.

Before we get there, though, old friend Jeff Suppan comes off the DL to face the Cards.  His last few pre-DL starts were pretty bad, but you figure he's rested and ready to go if nothing else.  The Cardinals have had good success against Sups, though it's a little surprising that Yadier Molina, who caught him for so long, only is one for six.

St. Louis counters with Kyle Lohse, the current staff ace and one of the few pitchers on staff that anyone has any confidence in.  Lohse has done reasonably well against the Brewers in his career, though you'd expect new second baseman Ray Durham to be in the starting lineup.  Lohse did lose to the Brewers back in April, though.

I see that Friday's start is TBD.  Hopefully LaRussa doesn't try for a bullpen game.  That's not likely to have much success this year.

And if Mozeliak is crazy enough to send Jess Todd to Texas for Eddie Guardado, there might be a storming of the front office by the fans led by the Future Redbirds crew.  I can't imagine that has any chance of happening. 

Using the Broom

Posted on July 21, 2008 at 8:27 AM
Very good weekend for the Cardinals.  Let's recap:

Hero: Troy Glaus.  Two home runs off of a very tough pitcher.
Goat: Ryan Franklin.  A two run lead in the ninth becomes one after two batters.  He was fairly lucky to wiggle out of that.
Notes: Pretty impressive to have four home runs off of Jake Peavy.  Being able to take the first game helped with the confidence this weekend, I think.

Hero: Rick Ankiel.  Three hits, including a home run and was a part of the game-winning eighth inning.
Goat: Braden Looper.  Six earned runs in three innings.  You aren't often going to win games with that kind of start against Greg Maddux.
Notes: I knew that if they could split the first two games, it'd be a good weekend.  A sweep of them only reinforced that.

Hero: Albert Pujols.  Three for four with the bases-clearing double that got the Cards back into it.  AP hasn't gone yard in a while (since the Fourth of July) but he's definitely producing.
Goat: Yadier Molina.  An 0-4 when everyone else is hitting.  Some of the bullpen guys were candidates too, but their lapses didn't wind up hurting the team.
Notes: Another come-from-behind win. I figured this one was done early with the way Wellemeyer has been throwing and having memories of last year.  Glad that they proved me wrong.

Hero: Troy Glaus.  Miles's slam was nice, but without Glaus in the eighth, the Cards face Hoffman and that probably doesn't happen.
Goat: Jason Isringhausen.  That may be the last time we see him in a save situation.
Notes: Nice first start of Jaime Garcia.

All in all, a good weekend for the Cardinals.  The Hard Nine mentality was in full force, getting into that San Diego bullpen and causing some damage.  I don't know what the team is going to do with Isringhausen.  It's becoming obvious you can't put him into a close game, for whatever reason.  He looked very good on the first batter and then it just started unraveling.  There's no one in the bullpen that I have complete confidence in and only McClellan gets close.  Hopefully Mozeliak is still working the phones.

The weekend got better with a fairly successful rehab start from Chris Carpenter.  If the only thing we have to worry about as Cardinal fans is Carp's command, we're in good shape.  It's not surprising that he's a little rusty, having not been in a game situation in over a year.  A couple of more starts and he should be good to go, I'd think, barring no setbacks.  Which is something you can never be sure about, especially with Cardinal rehab pitchers.

Now the Cardinals get to take on the Brewers.  Both teams will say this is just another series.  To some degree, it is.  But the two teams only play each other twice more this season, if my examination of the schedule is correct.  I don't think it's any coincidence that the Brewers made the move for Ray Durham right before this series.  A Cardinal victory in the series would really put some doubt in the minds of the Brewers, especially with both of their aces going in the series, and it would give St. Louis some breathing room in the wild-card race as well as keeping them competitive with the Cubs.

Tonight, Joel Pineiro gets the call against Seth McClung.  The Cardinals haven't seen much of McClung, though Troy Glaus, currently the hottest hitter on the face of the earth, does have a home run against him.  At least McClung throws from the right side, so maybe the Cards can get to him.  Pineiro has faced the Brew Crew once this year, allowing two runs in 6.1 innings.  He's mainly been able to hold the Brewers down, but after his rough outing against Pittsburgh, there's little confidence there as well.





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Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
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Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
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Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
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Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
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Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
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Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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