It's becoming more and more difficult to write exclusively about the St. Louis Cardinals. There are only so many ways to express the essential fact made evident by this unsteady season; that Albert Pujols is the only reliable source of offense on this team. If an opposing team can find a way to shut him down or minimize the damage that his bat can cause, the Cards are dead in the water.
This fact was demonstrated last night by the Minnesota Twins, who easily beat the Cardinals 3-1, without needing much assistance from their heavily touted hitting stars, Mauer and Morneau. Glen Perkins, Minnesota's mediocre left-handed pitcher, effectively shut down Pujols, limiting the slugger to one double, and that alone seemed to deflate any chance that St. Louis had of winning. Even with a pretty decent starting pitching performance by Adam Wainwright, the Cards seemed incapable of producing any forward momentum in this game.
The lefty-heavy lineup of the Cardinals continued to be baffled by left-handed pitching. Joe Thurston offered yet another terrible fielding performance, making an error allowing Justin Morneau to score in the first inning. The Cardinals' bats once again clammed up in clutch situations.
The only causes for optimism that could be squeezed out of this typically terrible St. Louis spectacle were that Rick Ankiel contributed a rare RBI and the Cardinals' bull pen didn't manage to screw anything up.
Otherwise, this contest served as a reminder of why the Cardinals probably won't make the post-season under their current management regime.
Eventually, they will realize that sticking with undeserving and underperforming players with no discernible justification is not a good way to win baseball games.
The Cardinals have lost three games in a row, but amazingly, they are still first place in their division, a designation they share with the Milwaukee Brewers. If they keep playing like this, if they can't find another player besides Pujols that can drive in key runs, they won't be in first place for long.