The Cardinals were down by a score of 10-1 going into the eighth inning of tonight's travesty of a baseball game.
Considering that, losing 11-6 to the Houston Astros doesn't seem quite so bad. However, for a team that is winning their division to get stomped like this by a division rival can only be taken as a definitive sign that there are definitely some holes in the Cardinals' boat.
A statistically strong squad like St. Louis should not be this close to getting swept by the Astros!
The Redbirds' pitching in this game was definitely a trouble spot. It's always difficult to watch Todd Wellemeyer starting the game with his usual total lack of finesse. During his four terrible innings of work, the Cardinals' worst starter allowed four earned runs.
Then one of the worst pitchers in the St. Louis bullpen, PJ Walters, came in and did what Cardinal middle relievers usually do; he made things far more depressing.
Walters allowed six runs, including a Carlos Lee grand slam.
This game was marred by baffling managerial decisions by LaRussa. Why was PJ Walters allowed to hit in the seventh inning?
Why bring Joe Thurston in to pinch hit in the ninth, when the game still wasn't totally out of reach, instead of Yadier Molina? After that fiasco, why did the usually tragic Rick Ankiel pinch hit for the usually decent Brendan Ryan?
I hope that someone in the Cardinals' front office is asking these questions, because if issues like this are not addressed, the chances that the Cardinals are going to make it to the playoffs this year are slimmer than they should be.
I'm not going to say that the news was all bad for St. Louis. They did make a nice attempt at a rally. Mark DeRosa finally offered definitive proof that he was worth trading potential prospects for. He hit two solo home-runs, including one inside-the-park homer.
Ryan Ludwick also helped out offensively, belting a three-run homer in the eighth inning. Albert Pujols was totally shut down by Wandy Rodriguez, but did finally manage to squeeze out a hit once the Houston starter was taken out of the game. He went 1-for-4 in the game.
Otherwise, the St. Louis offense was as stagnant as it's been lately, and this contest was a pretty depressing one.
The Cardinals are only ahead by two games in the NL Central, and three teams are currently tied for second.
They have one more game against the Astros, one of those second place teams. If the Redbirds play tomorrow like they've played the last two games, their lead in the division and their prospects for the post-season won't last long.