Cardinals-Padres: Cards' Sweep, Still Show Big Hole in Bullpen

Ben WeixlmannSenior Writer IJuly 20, 2008

The St. Louis Cardinals managed to keep their most current winning streak alive with a walk-off win against the San Diego Padres on Sunday. The sweep of the Padres extends the Cards' run to five games in a row, but it hasn't been accomplished without some difficulties.

Kyle Lohse was the only pitcher to put together a quality start for the Redbirds in the four-game set, and the bullpen almost lost Lohse's lead, hanging on for a one-run victory.

Sure, I am pleased with the wins, but I am quite concerned with the performance of the bullpen as of late. Ryan Franklin looked good yesterday, but was shaky in Thursday's win. Jason Isringhausen got one out today, but struggled mightily for the rest of his outing.

Ron Villone has been perhaps the best of the bunch this week, and even he had showed signs of trouble.

It's an basketball adage that certainly has a baseball version: "Defense wins championships." In baseball, it's: "Pitching wins championships", and if that's the case, the Cardinals won't be hoisting the World Series trophy this year unless they can figure a bunch of things out.

The offense can continue to blister the competition, but if our bullpen can't hold leads, or more commonly, can't stop giving the Cardinal faithful mild heart attacks, our management needs to look into other potential options.

Rumors have been swirling about Colorado Rockies' lefty reliever Brian Fuentes for weeks, but unfortunately no deal has been reached. It's widely-known that the Rockies are asking quite a bit for Fuentes, but I think it's definitely something the Cardinals need to consider.

Randy Flores showed some good movement on his pitches today, but coming back from an injury, there's no telling how comfortable he can be in pressure situations.

It's wonderful and all that we can celebrate walk-off grand slams by the real "Lil' Scrappy", Aaron Miles. That being said, there was no reason for us to be in that situation, the game should have been won with one swing of the bat from Troy Glaus, as he crushed a three-run shot over the wall in the bottom of the eighth to put the Cardinals up 5-3.

Jason Isringhausen came in and blew the save, but it certainly wouldn't be the first time he's done that this year. Manager Tony La Russa has no right to put Isringhausen in when a save is on the line. What has he done to prove his reliability, Tony?


Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely thrilled with the Cardinals play over the five-game winning streak, but this bullpen situation MUST change.

Otherwise, America's best fans won't get to see Cardinal baseball come October.