Well, it's not like the Cards were going to run off a 40+ game winning streak. (Though that obviously would have been nice.) Going up against a team that has the best record in the division with their ace on the mound using a fifth starter is not the sort of game you have a lot of confidence in anyway.
That said, St. Louis made that more of a game than they would have a few months back. Used to be 3-0 was an invitation to turn off the TV and do something more productive with your time. Last night, the only reason I didn't expect much of a rally was that five runs against Chad Billingsley would have been a tall order. The Cards did make a game of it, cutting the lead to 5-3 before the Dodgers tacked on a couple more later on.
The first couple of batters made it look like Mitchell Boggs really had something going. His ball was moving and he was getting grounders. Even after the first, he didn't look too bad. When things started snowballing, though, they got out of control in a hurry.
The boxscore seems to say that Jason Motte was OK, giving up no runs. However, he let the two runners Boggs had left on score, which proved to be huge later in the game. If it stays at 3-0, who knows how the game turns out from there. Maybe he can learn something from John Smoltz (more on that in a bit) when he gets here.
Really wasn't much offense--five hits--so to score three runs out of that wasn't a shabby feat. We haven't been able to say much positive about him, so let's give the Hero tag to Khalil Greene for driving in the third run with a solid single.
So, assuming there is no team crazy enough to actually take on Smoltz's contract, he'll be a Cardinal by this evening. I can't say I'm all that thrilled with the fact that he's going to be a starter for the team, but I'm guessing that the thought process is that he can't be that much worse than what the team has been running out there in the fifth slot and he'll slide into that right-handed relief role for October. For $100,000, it's definitely worth the gamble.
It'll also be interesting to see if Smoltz can get anything from working with Dave Duncan. This isn't your ordinary Duncan project, of course. Smoltz not only has had plenty of success in the bigs, but he worked with his own legendary pitching coach for quite a while. That said, if there's a flaw or something that Duncan has spotted that can tweak Smoltz back closer to the John Smoltz we all know, that just adds to the possibilities for St. Louis. Don't know that there is anything like that, but even just moving to the NL should help Smoltz's numbers.
Not sure what the move will be to get Smoltz on the active roster, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if Motte doesn't get a few weeks down in Memphis to try to straighten things out. Unless they feel he would do better up here learning from Smoltz.
It's not too early to scoreboard watch, in my opinion, and it was good that the Cardinals lead didn't lose its seriousness last night, since the Cubs lost again as well. The team that the Cards just swept has already won the series against the Cubs. I'm not sure if that says as much as it looks like it says, but I think it's a strong indicator that it's St. Louis's year. No guarantees, of course, not until that magic number is 0. (Currently: 35, or in other terms, Matt Morris.)
While you are watching the early part of the game tonight, tune into the United Cardinal Bloggers Radio Hour. I'll be co-hosting along with Mike from Stan Musial's Stance and we'll have Erik Manning on to talk about Shelby Miller and the state of the minor leagues. 9:30 Central time, so give us a listen!