Posted on August 30, 2007 at 9:26 AM
Filed Under: Houston Astros
| Milwaukee Brewers
| St. Louis Cardinals
I'm a fan of Harry Turtledove's alternative history books. (In fact, I'm reading The Grapple right now.) In those, as in most military books I'd assume, you get the feeling of the pushes of the lines into enemy territory and the falling back when the resistance is too much.
The Cards have been pushing, rolling through the NL Central to get to within two games, but last night they ran into the immovable object. After running those numbers yesterday, I was pretty sure that the game was over after one run in the first. After Houston was up 4-0, then you had to know it was fight again another day.
Kip Wells had another fairly rough start, though if the Cardinals had been facing a normal pitcher, he might have been able to hang in there and keep the team in the game. He's been shaky the last two games, though, which is an area of concern. If the Cardinals are going to overtake the Cubs, the pitching has to be on a level with how it was most of August. It cannot revert to the mid-season ugliness.
Along with the loss, there was news out of St. Louis that Scott Rolen could be done for the year. That could be a blow since there's no obvious long-term replacement. Brendan Ryan has played some good games over there, but I'm not sure that you want him there on a full-time basis. And there's not much at Memphis to call up on Saturday when rosters expand. Excuse me if I'm not that excited about Miguel Cairo. Rolen's bat has been shaky most of the year, but it has produced in spots. The defense, though, will be sorely missed. You can only hope that it's not going to come back to haunt the team.
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Reading that Post-Dispatch story, something really stands out to me:
La Russa had noticed Rolen was having more difficulty Tuesday than he had been. He asked Rolen if he wanted his last at-bat in the ninth inning and Rolen declined, something he never had done before.
"He was right. I was hurting," said Rolen, who was one for four with a run batted in. "I couldn't wait 'till I got out of the game.
"I needed to come out of the game. It wasn't that I wanted to come out of the game."
I've never, ever heard of Scott Rolen wanting out of a game. Most of the time, you can't even get him to confess that he's hurting. If he's actually allowing that the pain is getting in the way of him playing, I think there's almost a 100% probability that he's done for the year.
OK, let's look for some sort of silver lining/joy-in-every-situation. The biggest would be that the Brewers were able to knock off the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano last night. That keeps the Cardinals just two games out, though it does drop them back into third. Tonight's matchup in the finale of that series is Parra vs. Lilly, so the Cubs have the edge on paper. There's a little momentum on Milwaukee's side, though, so it should be interesting. Go Brewers!
The Cardinals play this afternoon as Joel Pineiro, who has continued to pitch fairly well since his first disastrous start after being acquired, faces Matt Albers. Albers is a righty with a high (5.71) ERA, so the Cards have hope. If he was a lefty with that ERA, they'd most likely be in for a long afternoon. He has a 6.00 ERA for the month of August, his K/BB ratio is 1.5 and his BAA/OPSA at home is .299/.826. Lots of good numbers for Cardinal fans there. However, his one start against the Cardinals, he threw 7.1 shutout innings and got the win back in May (a blowout Houston win noted for Hunter Pence's first career home run--a grand slam). This team is a little different than it was in May, though, and hopefully the prior exposure will be good for the Birds.
A win gets them, at least temporarily, to 1.5 games out. That'll all you can hope for.