In my travels, I have noted that those that wear the Cardinal have not tasted victory since I crossed over the mighty river. So I have brought my banner down from my redoubt to fortify the men and encourage them in their glorious battle for the divisional crown.
(Sorry about that. I started Game of Thrones during this vacation and am about halfway through. It's possible that's colored my thinking a bit.)
Before I get into my admittedly less-than-knowledgeable discussion about the recent four-game losing streak (and the win against Houston before I started my trip), I want to give my thanks to the guest bloggers that have filled in this week and express my appreciation to those that are coming the rest of the week. My internet access has been irregular, but I've been able to use the UCB App (available for iPhone and Android--load it if you haven't!) to see the quality stuff that's been written here so far.
Hero: Lance Berkman. Tiebreaking single plus a long ball later. I'm thinking Berkman wishes he could tow Minute Maid Park around and use it in every game.
Goat: Mark Hamilton. Went 0-3, though he did score a run and drive in one. Tough game to figure out a goat for.
Notes: Albert Pujols moved past Lou Brock for second on the all-time team doubles list. Seriously, the man is passing legends and still has likely half his career to go. Ryan Theriot went deep, which means you know it was a heck of an offensive night. And, unlike some games we could name, the bullpen did fairly well, though Miguel Batista still allowed a run. Also nice to see Lance Lynn get his first win, as he worked out of some jams to limit damage.
Hero: Ryan Theriot. His two hits were about the only positive that could be taken away from this game.
Goat: Pick a pitcher. I'll go with Kyle Lohse, since four runs in five innings is still tough to come back from, but Ryan Franklin and Brian Tallet both didn't cover themselves in glory.
Notes: Tony La Russa managed his 5000th game, which was neat. Just another thing for the Hall of Fame plaque. Otherwise, though, it was a miserable game made worse by the fact that, if the Cards really wanted a chance to win the series with Milwaukee's top two starters coming up next, they really had to beat Chris Narveson. To be obliterated like that didn't set a great tone for an important series.
Hero: Skip Schumaker. The offense was pretty spread-out, but Skip had two hits, didn't strike out, and scored a run. Those kind of days have been few and far between for Schumaker so far this season.
Goat: Chris Carpenter. I know he's pitching better than his record indicates, but to give up a 2-1 lead by immediately allowing four more runs is a tough thing to swallow. You just feel like classic Chris Carpenter would have been a bulldog with that lead, leaving nothing to chance. Now, well, the bulldog is there at times, but sometimes it seems to be napping.
Notes: Lance Berkman got a long ball off of Zach Greinke and the Cards did take a lead on him, so it wasn't like he completely dominated. Still, Greinke is a tough one to completely take out. On a personal note, I was able to see the first inning and a half of this one on MLB Network (my first ever glimpse at the station, wish we had it on our cable system), my oasis in time as sojourner from Cardinal Nation.
Goat: Jake Westbrook. Given a 3-0 lead, he still managed only five innings and didn't leave with it. The bullpen did a superb job, but the damage had been done.
Notes: Extremely solid work out of Jason Motte, Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez. Are we getting back to the Young Pen/Old Pen split, where the youngsters are good and the oldsters, well, aren't? Oh, and the Cards fell out of first place with this loss.
Hero: Albert Pujols. Only one hit, but it was a two-run blast in the first that got things going. Two walks later on also seem to indicate that we have the real Albert going now.
Goat: Miguel Batista. Jaime Garcia leaves with a 6-2 lead, but the bullpen apparently has a grievance against Garcia, as they've now blown 5 wins for him, the most in the bigs. Will this be enough to crack TLR's loyalty to The Poet? Kyle McClellan is due back today and I have not heard the corresponding roster move as of yet.
Notes: Another home run by Lance Berkman. He's already put up more numbers than some of us thought he'd get all year. Trever Miller was his normal, ineffective self (does anyone have more 0 IP outings this year in baseball?)
I see that a few roster moves have been made, with Allen Craig hitting the DL and Andrew Brown getting the callup (and the start last night). Brown is short-term, I'm sure, going back tomorrow, but it's nice that he's gotten a taste. Also, Mitchell Boggs has returned with Lynn returning to Memphis. The pen will need him.
So that's how we got to this moment. Now we'll see McClellan make his return tonight and Matt Holliday his tomorrow, so the team is getting a little healther. Will that be enough to snap this string? The Cubs have been doing the Cards a favor and beating on the Brewers, but that won't last forever.
Hopefully when I return to you Sunday or Monday, we'll have much better things to talk about.
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball