St. Louis Cardinals' Bullpen Spoils Another Great Start

Ben WeixlmannSenior Writer IJune 18, 2008

St. Louis Cardinals' starting pitcher Braden Looper cruised through seven innings, allowing just one run and five hits. Looper left with a 2-1 lead, when manager Tony LaRussa turned the ball over to reliever Kyle McClellan.

McClellan clearly didn't have his "A" stuff, and was rocked for two home runs in the eighth inning, leading to the Cardinals second consecutive loss to the Kansas City Royals. These were both late-inning debacles, and while the Cardinals have the injury bug, the main issue has spread to a struggling bullpen.

Looper was fantastic for his second straight time out, allowing just one run in his last sixteen innings of work. After Ron Villone lost the game for the Cardinals last night, giving up an eighth inning home run, it was deja vu all over again for the Redbirds.

Losing two straight to the pitiful Royals is no way to start off a very important stretch of the season before the All-Star Break. Not to mention, the Cardinals have one more game to get things figured out before they travel to Boston for a three-game set against the Red Sox.

The only consolation for the Cardinals is that the Chicago Cubs also lost their second straight game, so the Cards remain just three-and-a-half games out of first in the tough NL Central.

The St. Louis Cardinals are finally starting to miss first baseman Albert Pujols. This injury was none more obvious than watching an eighth inning rally go for naught. The first two hitters singled for the 'Birds, leaving outfielder Ryan Ludwick at the plate with men on first and second and no outs.

Ludwick flew out, Rick Ankiel struck out, Troy Glaus grounded out, and the inning was over, no damage done. Had Pujols been in the lineup, he would have been hitting in Ludwick's third spot, giving the Cardinals a definite opportunity to tie up the game, or even hit a go-ahead blast.

Hopefully McClellan will figure things out, getting the Cardinals back on the winning path tomorrow in the last game of the I-70 series.