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Cardinals-Phillies: Holliday Honeymoon Cancelled by Cards' Bullpen

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20:  Pitcher Jason Motte #60 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 20, 2009 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Brian McDowellCorrespondent IJuly 25, 2009

Unlike their last couple of  games, the Cardinals managed to get all the way through this one without a rain delay, although play was briefly stopped when some moronic Phillies fan shined a green laser pointer in the eyes of at least two St. Louis hitters.

Such diversionary tactics clearly weren't needed by the reigning world champs.

The addition of Matt Holliday has certainly helped and revamped the Cards' offense. However, any misguided fan of the Redbirds who thinks that this trade is an automatic golden ticket to the postseason would be wise to pay attention to this game, in which the Philadelphia Phillies battered St. Louis 14-6.

The St. Louis Cardinals are much better than they were a few days ago, but still have a few glaring weaknesses, mainly in their bullpen.

Kyle Lohse started the game, and got things off to a rough start, throwing over thirty pitches in the first inning and allowing three runs. However, he settled down a bit, and finished his other three innings of work without any major mistakes. The Cardinals had the lead, 4-3, when Lohse was taken out of the game.

However, once the game was handed over to a series of increasingly sloppy St. Louis middle relievers, the Phillies were allowed to go on a scoring spree.

Jason Motte, in particular, gave up four hits, five runs (four of them off a Jimmy Rollins grand slam), a walk, and only got one out.

Josh Kinney, who has been terrible all season, had a similarly bad outing today, allowing four hits and six runs.

Brad Thompson and Trever Miller didn't do too badly in the game, but couldn't fix the onslaught that occurred at the fragile hands of their fellow relief pitchers.

All of the great hitters in the world won't help a team win if their bullpen is garnering these kind of results. I'd hate to see all of the talented starting pitchers and great hitters on the Cardinals denied their rightful playoff berth by the poor performance of their generally terrible bullpen.

Of course, when I say that, I'm not referring to the incredibly talented closer, Ryan Franklin. However, if the pitchers that precede him keep blowing games like this one, Franklin isn't going to get very many save opportunities.

Despite the thumping that the team received at the hands of the Phillies, most St. Louis hitters didn't have a bad day at the plate. In most games, these kinds of offensive numbers would have resulted in a clear St. Louis victory.

New Cardinal, Julio Lugo was downright impressive, going four for five, with a run and a RBI. Fellow newbie Matt Holliday went 2-for-4, also managing to piece together both a run and a RBI.

Rick Ankiel, who seems to have made an amazing turnaround in the last few games, went three for five with a home run. Ankiel also made an impressive catch in center field early in the game, robbing the Phillies of a home run.

It obviously didn't make much of a difference in the final result of this blowout, but it was nice to see nice moments from a guy that hasn't had any in a while.

Ryan Ludwick also belted a home run. Albert Pujols went 1-for-5, and had an RBI.

In fact, the only starting position player for the Cardinals that failed to impress at all in this game was Molina, who went 0-for-3. The Cardinals stranded 10 runners, which isn't good in a landslide like this. Still, after the struggles at the plate they've had so far this season, it was nice to see this team get a barrel full of hits by guys that aren't named Pujols.

Unfortunately, a few of the team's pitchers made all of this offense irrelevant.

If St. Louis is going to be as good this season as they deserve to be, this problem is going to have to be addressed. The Cardinals are now down in their division by half a game, and they are in the middle of stretch where they are playing two of the toughest teams in baseball.

With stakes like these, landslides like this one cannot be allowed to happen again.

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