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August 2008

UCB Project: Cardinal Dinner Party

Posted on August 29, 2008 at 8:00 AM
EDIT: After I posted this, I noted that the last portion (including my fourth member) had been cut off.  Find the rest after the jump....

For this installment of the United Cardinal Bloggers, we are taking a break from the on-the-field stuff to deal with one of those traditional hypothetical questions that get asked at ice breakers and job interviews.

“If you could invite any four people to a dinner party, who would it be and why?”

Obviously, being that this is a UCB project, we are putting a Cardinal twist on it, in that the four people must be tied to the St. Louis franchise, be it as a player, a manager, a general manager, a broadcaster or whatever.

Check out other participating blogs to see how similar—and, likely, how different—we are.  Rockin' the Red, Cardinal Nation Globe, BertFlex and Redbird Ramblings have posted theirs. (Fungoes is up now as well!)

Narrowing it down to just four people is a difficult proposition.  The Cardinals have such a rich history that there are numerous selections that could be made.

When considering my four, I tried to consider both my favorite players and personalities from my knowledge of Cardinals past plus how rich the baseball discussion would be.  With that in mind, let’s go around the table.

First off, I’ll go current and select Albert Pujols.  Not only is Pujols one of my favorite players, but I think being able to ask him questions about hitting, his thought process, how he goes about things would be fascinating.  Stan Musial was a great hitter as well, but I don’t know if he put the thought into hitting that Albert does.  It may be Musial’s natural humility, but his most famous quote on hitting is “Wait for a strike and hit the [expletive] out of it.”  Besides, Pujols would probably have numerous stories about the current and recent band of Cardinals.  And you’d have to ask him about the time he took the bat out of John Rodriguez’s hands, basically saying he wasn’t going to need it.

I think it would be fascinating to listen to Pujols talk to another one of the guests, Bob Gibson.  To hear the best pitcher in the franchise’s history talk to one of the best hitters, talking about how they approached their craft, would be astounding.  To find out what he was thinking during those World Series games, how he finished an inning with a broken leg, and, of course, talking about 1968 would be awesome.  And, if the food takes too long to arrive, who better to do some intimidation for some good service?

Who better to have around a table telling stories, though, than the legendary voice of Jack Buck.  He could talk about working with Harry Carey, seeing numerous World Series teams, or just how he did follow what Mike Shannon was talking about.  And what would be better than hearing, after he’s tasted his food, “That’s a winner!”


  Continue Reading

Too Little Too Late?

Posted on August 28, 2008 at 8:05 AM
You know, you'd think the Brewers would know better than to do stupid things against St. Louis after last year's beanball war that started them on a slide out of the playoffs.  Apparently, Carlos Villanueva didn't get the memo.

Like Bernie said (and it's a fascinating look at the comments from Pujols in the link), it's not likely Villanueva really was the cause of the uprising, because this team always plays a hard nine.  But don't underestimate how much firing up Albert Pujols does for him and this team. Pujols has always been one to help keep the team going, getting them riled up at the right times.  If he just lets Villanueva get away with his actions, perhaps the Brewers are a little more focused with momentum.  Instead, AP got the Cards ready to take that momentum.  It helped that he was the leadoff hitter in the eighth, because you just knew he was going to do something.

And wasn't it fitting that the winning run scored on an infield grounder after Milwaukee had done the same earlier in the game?  Watching them score a run with three balls that didn't leave the infield made me think that last night was going to go the way of Tuesday night's action.  When the Cardinals had Pujols and Ludwick on with no outs and didn't score in the fourth (I believe), I thought the same way.  And I was sure it was over when Joe Mather popped up with the bases loaded, though he definitely had a good at bat there.  An 0-4 with that at-bat as well give him the Goat, however.

It might have been a last gasp in relation to the playoffs, of course.  The Cards are still 3.5 out, where they were when the series started, but now have only 28 games remain.  6 more with the Cubs, which won't be easy of course, and 6 with NL West-leading Arizona.  It's not going to be easy to make that ground up, though I'm sure the Cardinals will play hard and try to.

Still, last night would have been exciting even if the Cardinals were already eliminated from the playoffs.  Maybe not to the same level, but it's baseball--the game can be taken without context and still be a lot of fun.  Even if the Cardinals are out of it after a week or two in September, the last few games will be worth watching, if only because, well, it's baseball.

The next United Cardinal Bloggers project is set for tomorrow, so be sure to check it out.  And maybe we'll take a look at the first game of the Houston series as well.

Turn the (Calendar) Page

Posted on August 27, 2008 at 7:46 AM
If you were of the belief, as I was, that the Cardinals needed to sweep this series to have a viable chance for October baseball, it seems like the Redbirds are now kite flying, because they are playing out the string.

What is there to say about last night's game?  The recurring theme in the game story today was that they were flat and uninspired.  I didn't get to see much of the game, but the parts I did, they were creating chances, but just not following through.  Albert Pujols flirted with a two-run HR in the first--if that goes fair, does the game change?  If Ankiel can drive in a run in that inning to tie it up, how does that affect things?  If Pujols doesn't pop out with runners on the corners, would that have been the inspiration needed?

I did feel that the Cardinals were in trouble when it went to 2-0, then 3-0.  It felt like the game was slipping away, that Milwaukee was just not going to make enough mistakes to get the Cardinals back into it.  And then the 7 run ninth made everything look much worse.

Still, looking at the box score makes it tough to come up with a hero.  Without that HR from Braun, Todd Wellemeyer would be in the mix.  He did a pretty good job for six innings, getting out of trouble.  Instead, though, I'll go with Aaron Miles, the only person to have more than one hit in the game.

This is actually one of those rare games where a Goat is easier to find that a Hero.  Pujols goes 0-3, failing in that run-scoring opportunity mentioned earlier.  Brad Thompson gave up 4 runs and Jamie Garcia 3, but the game was pretty much out of reach anyway at that time.  I think the Goat goes to Rick Ankiel, though, for his 0-4, 2 K day.

So now what?  The Cardinals start finishing the schedule up and looking forward to callups.  Colby Rasmus, however, won't be one of them.  I don't know that I'm completely surprised by that, though I did think it'd benefit St. Louis to take a look at him at the major league level.  Still, I take issue with how management, especially Tony LaRussa, presented this refusal.

John Mozeliak's "he's been hurt, so it's hard to bring him up" actually is a reasonable argument.  And if I'm Rasmus, I think I could live with that.  If the reasoning had been, "We have a lot of outfielders and he probably won't get to play much," that'd make some sense as well, though getting a taste of major league life could be a powerful motivator.  Heck, even a "We're keeping our options open on his service time" would be a little pragmatic, but understandable.

But does LaRussa go with any of those tactful explanations?  No, he flat out says "he hasn't earned the callup".  This in the same article that mentions people like Kelvim Jimenez coming back up.  Has he had the season people expected of him?  No.  But he was hitting well before the injury.  It just seems to me that you aren't laying the groundwork for a good relationship if you start talking like that.  And with LaRussa's reputation (whether deserved or not) with young players, it doesn't take much to hinder.  Unless, of course, TLR isn't planning on being around next year...........

In other news, apparently the Cardinals still don't have a handle on Chris Carpenter's injury.  This comes as a major shock to people that follow the Cardinals, who know all about their stellar track record when dealing with hurt players.

Oh, sorry, my sarcasm button got stuck.  Let me fix that.

So, with this new information and the fact that the season likely isn't going to have much drama the rest of the way, I'm guessing the odds are we won't see Carpenter again on the mound, or if we do, it'll just be a short start to make sure everything is fine.  I wouldn't expect him to pitch 10 more innings this year, in other words.  I would like him to get out there and make sure he can have a start and be fine, but that's probably not necessary.

Back to the field.  If the Cards are to have even the slimmest of chances (BP has them with only a 7.4% chance of playing after the season, odds that dropped over 6% with last night's loss) they have to win tonight.  They do have Adam Wainwright going for them, which is nice.  Wainwright has done OK against the Brewers in the past, though Ryan Braun has done well against him (just like every other Redbird hurler).  If he actually pays attention to the scouting report, unlike others, perhaps he can get him out as well and be on his way to a victory.

Manny Parra is going for the Brewers tonight.  He's gone three times against the Cardinals this year and has a 5.79 ERA but no decisions to show for it.  For his career, well, the current Redbirds are hitting .301 as a group against him.  If they can't score runs tonight, the season really is over.

Even if the season is practically over, there's still baseball to watch and for that, we should be grateful.  It will be soon enough when fall arrives and the only thing on TV is sitcoms and football.  I shudder at the thought.

The Line Is Drawn

Posted on August 26, 2008 at 8:03 AM
They invade our space, and we fall back...Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far and no further...
--Jean-Luc Picard, First Contact
OK, so maybe the Brewers aren't really the Borg.  (If you want, the Cubs could fit that analogy this year, just so relentlessly evil.)  Still, this two game series that starts tonight is where the Cardinals must draw the line.  A sweep, and they stay fairly relevant in the wild-card race, only 1.5 out.  A split keeps them 3.5 out, but with only 28 games left and the Brewers with the easier schedule.  And, obviously, if they are swept they start playing out the string and getting a look at the young guys next week.

The last time the Brewers came to Busch (or, shall we say, invaded Redbird space) they swept the four game series right after the All-Star Break.  The Cardinals can't fall back again.

The Cards are 4-9 against the Brewers this year, though they've had their chances.  Milwaukee can't throw Sabathia, which is to St. Louis's advantage.  And, apparently, there will be no chance the Cardinals aren't fired up for this series after some perceived extracurricular celebratory gestures in the last series.

So let's line out who's going tonight.  Obviously, the Cardinals would like to have Carpenter going.  Failing that (and with Wainwright going tomorrow night), Todd Wellemeyer isn't a bad choice.  Wellemeyer has a nice 2.13 ERA for the month, getting back to his May form after a couple of rough months.  He has no decisions against the Brewers this season, but has thrown 11 innings in 2 games and has fashioned a 1.64 ERA.  Historically, the Brewers haven't done much against him, though not a huge sample size.

Ben Sheets is, with reason, considered one of the best pitchers in the National League.  But while he's been good against the Cardinals this year, he's not been just overwhelmingly dominant, posting a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings.  Like Wellemeyer, he's not had a decision in the two games he's pitched.  Some of the Cardinals have pretty good historical numbers against him, with (no surprise) Albert Pujols leading the way.  However, I'd be surprised if Albert gets a lot to hit tonight if they don't have to.  Milwaukee won't let him beat them. 

This is a rematch of the July 24th game.  The Cardinals held a 3-2 lead in the ninth before blowing the game.  Get the game to the same point tonight and most of Cardinal Nation would be fine, feeling that the bullpen is much better than it was a month ago.

St. Louis is playing meaningful baseball the last week of August, which is worlds better than most of us expected.  A win tonight, with Wainwright going tomorrow, could make September relevant as well.

Two Out of Three Ain't Great

Posted on August 25, 2008 at 8:57 AM
I know, I know.  You are supposed to just focus on winning series.  Win enough of them and you'll be on top at the end of the year.  But when it gets to this late in the season, when you are in the situation the Cardinals are in, you really need to get the sweep.

It's a Monday, so you know that means it is time for the weekend roundup.

Friday
Hero: Umm, how do you pick one in an 18 run onslaught?  Everyone that played (save one) either had a hit or a run.  Adam Wainwright returned and gave six strong innings, which was great.  Albert Pujols went 3-3 with 3 RBI.  But I think we'll go with Yadier Molina for his 4-5, 4 RBI day.  Still, you could close your eyes and point at a reasonable selection.
Goat: It's either got to be Joe Mather, for coming into the game and going 0-2, or Joel Pineiro for giving up two runs in three innings.  I think I'll give it to Pineiro, but with the caveat that it's doubtful he was throwing his best pitches when up 15-1.
Notes: Wow, that was a fun game, wasn't it?

Saturday
Hero: Albert Pujols wanted the sweep, you can tell.  A 3-5 day with three RBI, including a HR.  And, as Derrick Goold put it, "it took one replay-ready diving catch in left-center field and one bruised palm for [Chipper] Jones at third base" to get him out at all.
Goat: Kyle McClellan.  Two runs in an inning with the game tied is going to be a problem.  The rest of the bullpen just added on.
Notes: This was a tough one to lose after being up 3-1.  Still, it was one of the better outings for Kyle Lohse than we've seen in a while.  Perhaps he's starting to turn a corner.  Or it was just the weaker lineup.

Sunday
Hero: You could go with Pujols again, especially since he started off the scoring with another home run.  But I think most would agree that Brian Barton had a heck of a game, with three hits and 2 RBI in the nine hole.  Hopefully the oblique that he tweaked isn't serious, because it is starting to look like that time in AAA did him some good.  Braden Looper is also in the Hero conversation after another seven inning outing that kept the team in the game.
Goat:  Ryan Ludwick.  0-5 and left 8 on base.  If he's going to hit behind Pujols (especially while AP is this white hot), he's going to have to make people pay for walking El Hombre.
Notes: A good solid win for the Cardinals.  Which at least kept them in the race.

So, the difference in winning and losing Saturday is that, even if the Cardinals sweep this last set against the Brewers starting tomorrow, they can't retake the wild card lead.  On paper, the series is sweepable, but then things are out of your control.  Still, 2.5 out with 30 games left isn't the worst situation to be in, though I don't think we'll see a fade by the Brewers like last year with Sabathia on their squad.

Chris Carpenter seems to be doing better.  He'll throw again Wednesday and, to my untrained mind, it sounds like if that comes out well, he'll be activated for a start a few days after that.  I could see him being activated for a Labor Day start against the Diamondbacks as rosters expand.

Another off day today.  We'll look at the big series tomorrow morning.

A Key Series

Posted on August 22, 2008 at 9:03 AM
With not much going off the field--save the fact that Mark Mulder and Jason Isringhausen don't think they are done and want to pitch next year, which if they do I'm sure it will be somewhere else--we can take a quick look at today's game.

The Cardinals really need a sweep of this series, in my opinion.  Milwaukee goes up against Pittsburgh and they should at least win two of three.  On paper, at least, the Cardinals probably have the advantage in each pitching matchup (see my Birds Eye View for more discussion there).  If the Cardinals really want to be considered seriously, these are the games they have to win.

Tonight we get to see the return of Adam Wainwright and thankfully, that return is in the starting rotation.  I realize that Tony LaRussa won't commit to him staying there, but I think that it'd be very difficult to start moving him around after he makes a start.  It's one thing to talk about that when he's in the minors, but another thing to actually remove him from the rotation.  Wainwright has done OK in his limited appearances against the team that drafted him, though he still has yet to get Chipper Jones out.

On the other side, Charlie Morton goes for the Braves.  The Cardinals torched him in his only appearance against St. Louis, scoring eight runs in 3.2 innings as he filled in for the injured Tim Hudson.  Since then, Morton has pitched much better, with an ERA around 3.6 for the month of August.

Hopefully the bats will be strong tonight and Wainwright will be able to go six or so.  Looking forward to seeing him back on the mound!

That's More Like It

Posted on August 21, 2008 at 8:02 AM
At least the bats showed up in Busch last night.  Now they'll have to make sure to stay hot for Friday.

Big night for Skip Schumaker, who had three hits and a walk from the leadoff slot, scoring three runs.  Lots of players to choose from on the offensive side, though, with Jason Larue getting two hits plus a HR and Rick Ankiel going yard as well.

Another tough night to find a Goat.  Adam Kennedy's 0-4 would do it, I guess, though Jamie Garcia allowing four runners in 1.1 innings was a close second.

But for all the positive feelings out of last night's game, it still was just marking time.  The Brewers won as well, so the Cardinals stay 2.5 back with one fewer game left.  Right now, the playoff odds per the ESPN standings stand at 18%.  This weekend, the Brewers get the Pirates while the Cards take on Atlanta.  It may take a sweep of the Braves to cut into that Brewer lead.

In other news, Adam Wainwright has been named the starter for Friday.  Hopefully this means he'll stay in the rotation, even if Carpenter returns this season.  To jerk him around after he's already made a start would be even worse than doing it before he's activated.  As Derrick Goold said in his most recent Bird Land, can you imagine the Red Sox doing that to Beckett or any other team doing that to an ace?

Izzy may not be done for his career, which would be good.  However, I do think he's done in St. Louis, no matter what.  Still, I wish him well whereever.

Kyle Lohse got slapped with a suspension yesterday, which of course was immediately appealed.  Surely the face that he didn't hit anyone and wasn't thrown out of the game would come into play here.  But the likelihood of him getting it reduced or eliminated is pretty slim, I'd think.  The league won't want to remove the suspension and admit they might have been wrong, but any reduction in games won't have an impact, as he could just serve the suspension between starts.

Joe Strauss had his weekly chat yesterday, following John Mozeliak's second foray into the medium.  Mo made it sound like we might see a good number of the young guys in September, which would be fun.  He didn't say specifically which ones were under consideration, though.

Another off day, the bane of the fan but the relief of the player, so we'll try to get back tomorrow (you know what Fridays and weekends are like) to look at the starting matchup. 

You Have GOT To Be Kidding

Posted on August 20, 2008 at 7:50 AM
To paraphrase the version of Major League you'd find on your local cable provider, "One run? One lousy run?"

If you'd told me before the game that the bullpen would blow up and the Cards would lose, I'd have believed you.  If you said that Looper got run before the fifth, I'd have believed you.  But if you told me it'd be a 1-0 lead going into the ninth inning, I'd have been plenty surprised and I would have almost guaranteed the Cardinals would be in the lead.

It's said that familiarity breeds contempt.  Apparently Ian Snell was darn familiar with the Cardinals this season and was very contemptuous of them last night.  Snell has shown flashes of that in the past and it's not completely surprising that he had a dominating performance, but when you factor in how hard the Cards had hit him this season, it wasn't what people were expecting going in.

The last time the Cardinals scored only one run or less was Aug. 7 against the Dodgers.  In that 11-game stretch, they've hit .279 and scored 50 runs.  For the most part, this year hasn't been about the offense.  Which makes their failure in what was very close to a must-win game all the more disappointing.

It was a very tough ninth last night for Yadier Molina, which possibly cost the Redbirds the game.  A gamble on the bunt that didn't pay off, a dropped relay, and failing to cover home on Schumaker's wild throw home.  It's rare you see Yadi so out of it on the defensive side.

Braden Looper had a whale of a game and almost any other time would have picked up win number twelve. And, on the positive side, the "play nine" mentality is still there, as they had the winning run at the plate in the ninth.  Nothing against Brian Barton, but he's not really the guy I want up there at that moment, and he showed why by chasing a couple of pitches he probably should have let go.

Before the game, Mike Shannon said he thought the Cards needed to go 20-15 in their last 35 to make it to the playoffs.  That now stands at 20-14.  Hopefully the Cardinals can cut into that tonight.  At least the Brewers lost last night as well.

More on tonight's game in a second, but let's take a look at some of the other stuff surrounding the team.

For instance, it appears that Jason Isringhausen is done, at least with the Cardinals. To have been pitching with a torn muscle in his elbow had to be extremely painful.  I understand wanting to go out there, but especially pitchers have to realize that often they are going to do more harm than good that way.  When Scott Rolen was hurting, even if he wasn't doing much at the plate, he could make up for it in the field to a degree.  Pitchers don't have that luxury.  If they aren't on, the team loses.

For all that, though, you have to appreciate what Izzy did for the team.  He's been a very consistant closer for a long time and was a strong part of that 2004-2005 squad that was so good.  It has to be disappointing for him to have missed the World Series and not to get to 300 saves in a Cardinal uniform.  I'd like to think he could get healthy and come back with someone, but that sounds unlikely.

From one injured hurler to another.  Chris Carpenter threw before the game yesterday and we know basically about as much as we did before he threw.  I'm guessing there will be more discussion about that today when they can tell how he's doing and how his body reacted to yesterday's session.

Adam Wainwright, however, is ready to get it going.  If they are going to use him in relief, you'd pretty much expect for him to come off the DL today when they put Izzy on it.  If he's going to be a starter, they may wait until right before his next outing, though that's not as important with all the off days they are having in this stretch.  Wainwright sounds like he's right on the edge of being frustrated with management, a condition you don't want one of your ace pitchers to be in.  But really, who can blame him?

And, on the minor league front, top 2008 pick Brett Wallace was jumped up to AA Springfield yesterday.  The Cardinals are really trying to push their prospects.  Hopefully that won't cause frustration and burnout, but that they'll embrace the challenge.  If Wallace does well at Springfield, it'd keep him on pace to be the starting 3B in 2010.

Today's game pits Todd Wellemeyer vs. Jason Davis.  Wellemeyer has done pretty well against the Pirates in the past, while Davis just came up at the end of July and doesn't have much history against St. Louis.  Hopefully the bats will show up today and the Cards can make some headway in the wild-card race.  

The Idea That Won't Die

Posted on August 19, 2008 at 7:48 AM
Depending on how Chris Carpenter feels today, Adam Wainwright could still be bullpen bound.

Pretty much everyone in the blogosphere has weighed in on this one.  Rockin' the Red, VEB, and Cards 'N Stuff, among others, strenuously argue that Wainwright's place is in the starting rotation.  That's a Winner said bullpen, though that was much earlier in the month.  If you've been reading here, you know that I'm definitely in the starter camp.

It's interesting to note that Wainwright no longer is ticketed for the ninth inning, however.  Apparently Chris Perez has made enough of an impact to keep that role.  I'd guess that Kyle McClellan will stay in the eighth.  So Wainwright gets the seventh?  How often can he pitch, twice a week?  Do you run him out there on back to back days?  Do you only use him when you need multiple innings?

It really seems to me that, being he's a starting pitcher and he's coming back from injury, the best and less stressful place to put him is in the rotation, even if you don't consider the fact that he could throw six innings in a start and none for the next four days or three innings over five days.  When you factor in that you are basically on a four-man rotation for a bit, why wouldn't you want half that rotation to be Carpenter and Wainwright?  It just seems so logical.

All this is assuming that Carpenter is healthy.  If there's even the slightest chance he's not, they probably should think about shutting him down and making sure he's ready for 2009.  It'll be interesting to hear tonight how the throwing session went.

The Cardinals take on the Pirates again tonight.  This will be the last time we see the Pirates in Busch, while the Cards still have three games in PNC later in the year.  Braden Looper goes for the Redbirds.  For the fact that St. Louis has played Pittsburgh so much this year, Looper's only thrown just under six innings against them.  Historically, though, he's been tough on these guys, so maybe that will continue.

Pittsburgh, as they seem to always do when these two teams get together, is throwing Ian Snell.  For the most part, the Cards have been able to jump early on Snell this year, but haven't been able to finish him off.  He's posted a 9.00 ERA in 19 innings over 4 starts, but has only one loss to show for it.  Every time he pitches, Pujols's numbers against him are brought up, but before this season, he had a .563 average with 4 HR against Snell and now the average is down to .444.  He's only 3 for 11 against Snell this season with no extra-base hits and with that elbow reportedly barking, that may not change tonight.  Of course, AP isn't the only one that's been able to hit Snell, either.  (With a 5.91 season ERA, there's fewer people that haven't hit him.)

Cards really need to sweep this series if at all possible.  A good outing from Looper tonight and they will be on their way.

Doing What Needs To Be Done

Posted on August 18, 2008 at 7:59 AM
Twice this weekend I started on an entry, only to be interrupted by the family life.  So, our typical catchup entry:

Thursday
Hero: Tough call.  You either go with Ryan Ludwick, who drove in all three runs and had a home run, or Todd Wellemeyer, who pitched 7.2 scoreless innings.  I think I'm going to go with Wellemeyer, because he kept the bullpen out of the game and that's always a positive.
Goat: Albert Pujols.  Pujols seems to have been off lately, or was until he hit Cincinnati.  An 0-4 with two left on didn't hurt as much with Ludwick picking him up.
Notes: The Cards took three of four from a contending Marlins team, giving them a little momentum.

Friday
Hero: Rick Ankiel.  Very good to see him going yard and it gave the Cardinals an early lead, which was a help to Brad Thompson, I'm sure.
Goat: Tough one to pick, as everyone but Jason LaRue had a hit and LaRue drove in two runs.  I guess I'd say Ryan Ludwick for striking out twice and leaving two runners on, but it just shows that not all Goats are created equal.
Notes: The Cardinals put Chris Carpenter on the DL before the game, which was the easy way to get Brian Barton back on the active roster.  That said, unless they are about 110% sure that Carpenter is going to be OK, it'd probably be best to shut him down for the season.  Even the wild card isn't worth risking his long-term use.

Saturday
Hero: Pretty easy this time.  When Pujols hits two home runs, he gets the nod.  Though there were plenty of others in the mix (Schumaker, Ludwick, even Miles).
Goat: Felipe Lopez, though he did walk twice, still put up an 0-3.
Notes: Nice to see the bats come through.  There's not been a lot of power games this year (at least in a while) so it was good to see them break out.

Sunday
Hero: Ryan Ludwick.  Two for four with an RBI in a game where there wasn't just a lot of offense.  Apparently, it all got used up on Saturday.  Doesn't help that they were facing an All-Star pitcher.
Goat: Jamie Garcia.  Garcia's done well out of the pen for the most part, but apparently Cincinnati figured him out, as he allowed three runs in less than an inning.
Notes: The Cards haven't won on Sunday since the Sunday after the All-Star Break.  It would have been very helpful to have won this one, but you knew facing Volquez it'd be a challenge.

So, after all that, the Cards are still 7.5 games behind the Cubs, who have looked like the class of the NL Central lately (as much as it is terrible to say).  They did cut into Milwaukee's lead, though, and trail the wild-card by two games.

Can the Cardinals catch the Brewers?  Sure, they can.  If nothing else, they have two games left with the Brew Crew.  But the schedule the rest of the way isn't all that kind to the Cardinals.  Adding up the current W/L records for the teams coming up (and counting them each time they play), the rest of the St. Louis schedule is playing .505 ball.  That's a little skewed by the fact they have two more series with the Cubs, but 7 of the remaining 12 series are against teams over .500.

The Brewers, on the other hand, have a schedule that is playing .501 right now, skewed also by two series with the Cubs.  Of their 10 series left, five of them are with teams over .500.  They also get games with San Diego, which will be helpful to them.

The Cardinals do have a 2.5 game lead on the Phillies in the wild-card standings, so at the moment, they can just focus on the Brewers.  Winning four of five this week against Pittsburgh and Atlanta at home would be helpful because the Brewers have three with Houston and three with Pittsburgh at home.

Good to see Adam Wainwright have a very strong rehab start.  It seems like we've watched a lot of these this year, from Mark Mulder to Matt Clement to Chris Carpenter to the Wagonmaker, but Saturday's game for Springfield was the best of the bunch.  The organization, though, really needs to stop pulling him in various directions.  (That's a good way to keep him on the DL!)  Why you don't want him in the same rotation as Carpenter is beyond me.  Especially with the off days and the potential for a four man rotation (though I don't think they'll ever go to that) why not have your best pitchers take the lion's share of the innings?  That seems like winning baseball to me.

The bullpen really seems to have stablized somewhat.  Until Garcia's flareup yesterday, they were just rolling along, getting outs.  Having McClellan and Perez in their roles seems to be working.  So why toss Wainwright into that?  Let him start, I say!

Off day today, so we'll come back tomorrow and take a look at the Pittsburgh series.




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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
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%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
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%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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