Cardinals-Tigers: Why No One Should Be Surprised When St. Louis Loses

Brian McDowellCorrespondent IJune 19, 2009

PHOENIX - APRIL 15:  Starting pitcher Joel Pineiro of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the game at Chase Field April 15, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. All Major League Baseball players are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson day.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

OK, so tonight the Cards suffered a  humiliating 6-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers, and guaranteeing, for now at least, that St. Louis will have no claim to first place in the National League Central.

The game wasn't much fun for any discerning fan  to watch, but, to try to raise some much needed optimism around a disgruntled Cardinal nation, here are some reasons why tonight's defeat isn't near as bad as we might think it is.....

1. Albert Pujols was benched for much of the game, and the terminally bland Chris Duncan played first base in his place. Letting Duncan play for Pujols is a bit like pulling the Rolling Stones out of a sold out concert at the last minute, and, instead, replacing them with the Jonas Brothers.

The results will predictably not be good. Pujols did manage a few unimpressive at-bats at the end of the game, none of which were enough to clear the bad memories of Duncan's unproductive offense from this sports reporter's head.

2. Joel Piniero was on the mound, so, of course, the pitching in this game was frustratingly inconsistent. Frustrating inconsistency seems to be Piniero's specialty. He threw five great innings, two crappy ones, and had to be carried off the field with a serious leg cramp. It was a standard Cardinals starting pitching performance this season.

3. The fielding in the Cardinals infield was as terrible as ever, especially when Pujols wasn't there.Their middle relievers were also a complete trainwreck, allowing two solo late inning home runs.

Sure, those things can inspire worry, but at least the general level of crappiness that were present in this game consisted of problems that those of us that are unlucky to be regular viewers of Cardinals games were already well aware of.

4. Mentally troubled infielder, Khalil Greene returned to the  roster, with a typically terrible at-bat, continuing his role as both a bad luck charm for St. Louis, and an example of the short-sightedness of the Cardinals' general management.

If this jackass stays on this team, no one should be surprised when they lose.  Hopefully, a series of appearances like this one should give Greene either permanent spot on the AAA team in Memphis, or, better yet, a well earned release into free agency.

5. Molina continued to hit really well. Ludwick had some great at-bats and drew a couple of walks.  Pujols no longer seems to represent the totality of this team's offense. 

So, even though St Louis's sloppy fielding, careless pitching, and lack of clutch hitting did cause the team to lose this game, now is not a time for fans to drown in their negativity.

Next, the Cards will be heading to Kansas City for a three game series against the hopeless Kansas City Royals. If the Cardinals continue to display the general lack of game winning baseball skills that they showed tonight and can't cobble together at least a couple of victories in those games, THEN it will be time to panic.