Last night's Cardinals-Dodgers game looked a lot like the baseball we watched all summer here on the North Side: great starting pitching, not enough offense, and a collapse by the bullpen and the defense.
When Matt Holliday dropped that line drive with two outs in the bottom of the ninth (which would have ended the game and sent the series back to St. Louis tied at one game apiece), I think we all knew what was going to happen.
How many times did we see the defense fail the Cubs in the late innings, or Kevin Gregg give up the game-tying and winning runs in the 9th inning?
The answer is way too many, and it feels great to have someone else, especially if that someone else is the St. Louis Cardinals, experience the pain and suffering that the Cubs felt all season.
Let me say this before I go any further. I'm not writing this article out of bitterness or spite. Nobody but the Cardinals deserved to win the Central Division. With the pitching they got from Wainwright and Carpenter, plus the midseason moves they made, they didn't lose a game in the second half of the season, or so it seemed.
No, this isn't out of bitterness. It's about someone else finally experiencing what happened to the Cubs all season. It's about someone else laying an egg against the Dodgers in the playoffs. It's about someone else having all the expectations in the world, then being disappointed. For once, it's not the Cubs.
Anyone who thought that the Cardinals would go 0-2 in LA is insane. As insane as Serena Williams at the US Open. There was no way that Carpenter and Wainwright could lose back to back games, right?
Before last night, it hadn't happened all year.
Even despite the Cardinals' struggles against left-handers, you'd think that lineup could scratch across 2 or 3 runs, and that would be more than enough to get the W.
The Cardinals can make all the excuses they want about Matt Holliday losing the ball in the lights, or the white towels as Adam Wainwright said. The fact remains, the Cardinals have wasted a ton of opportunities in the series, leaving 21 men on base through 2 games.
They say dominant starting pitching wins games in the playoffs. Well, now the Cardinals have to rest their season hopes on Joel Piniero. But let's be honest here. There's no reason they can't win three in a row. Busch Stadium is one of the greatest home-field advantages in all of sports, let alone baseball. That town is baseball-crazy, and even though I'm a Cubs fan, I can attest to the great baseball atmosphere there. If they can win the next two, then anything can happen with Carpenter or Wainwright back on the mound in Game 5.
Are the Dodgers the better team overall? Probably not. Have they played better baseball? Absolutely. Bob Brenly made an interesting observation yesterday on 670 The Score, talking to Dan McNeil. He said the Cardinals were very tense in their pregame warmups and in the clubhouse as well. The Dodgers, on the other hand, were loose and having fun.
I'm sure that played into the Cardinals sucking the last two nights.
Like I said, there's no denying that the Cardinals were the best team in the NL Central, and they have maybe the best 1-2 punch in the game smack dab in the middle of their lineup.
I just think it's great that someone else besides the Cubs realizes it's possible to steamroll through the regular season, but have an untimely losing streak.