We've seen it before. Way too many times, in fact. A miscue, a bad pitch, and suddenly the Cardinals are in a 3-0 hole early in the game, a hole that they don't climb out of as they slog to another loss.
I was afraid we were in for another rough outing from Adam Wainwright. That first inning was a disaster, though the fact that Brendan Ryan and Albert Pujols make errors on the first batter of the game doesn't fill you with confidence either. Giving up the home run to Derrick Lee, who tore up the Cardinals in that weekend series when he was with the Cubs but hadn't done much since arriving in Atlanta, seemed to put the nail in the coffin. Then Waino gave up two more hits after the home run, though he got out of that. All in all, it seemed like a long night.
Thankfully, though, the bats got working. You have to think Colby Rasmus enjoyed being close to home, with a multi-homer game and four hits, plus a walk. Not much else the man could do, is there? That should quiet down the feud talk for a day or so.
The best thing about the big five-run second was that it was everyone but the big bats that got into the action. Matt Holliday, who gets the Goat for getting tossed out of a 7-3 game (which probably was settled but you never know), got out to start the inning, so it was Rasmus and the bottom of the lineup that got it going, finished off by Skip Schumaker's home run. It seemed like the hitters just had to take out some frustration on someone.
By now, though, we've learned about drawing conclusions from a Cardinal game. Sometimes you'd like to think that this kind of game means that they are waking up, that maybe they'll finish September like they started April. However, there have been too many inspiring games followed up by flat performances for us to get too excited.
That said, the lead for Cincinnati is just five after losing on a steal of home to the Rockies. Which makes the Milwaukee series more frustrating, since two wins there makes it three. Even with that, if Wainwright would have been able to win the Saturday game against the Reds, it's a four game mark. It's still a lot of ground to make up in roughly 20 games and the schedule doesn't help this weekend, as the Reds host the Pirates. It'd be pretty surprising if the Cards, even if they were able to win the rest of the weekend, made up any more ground.
Even Tony La Russa seems to have a handle on this team, saying in regards to momentum, "We've got a lefthander going against us tomorrow. We haven't seen him before. We have everything going against us." Ah, Tony. We so know the feeling.
Still, things could be worse this weekend. The Cardinals send out Chris Carpenter tonight and Jake Westbrook tomorrow afternoon. The problem comes in Sunday night, on the nationally televised ESPN game, when Kyle Lohse goes to the mound.
The problem with Lohse is more the fact that there isn't anybody else you can send out there
. I mean, you have Lance Lynn at Memphis, but 1) they are still in the playoffs, so it's not fair to them and 2) you don't necessarily want to throw a rookie in the middle of a major league pennant race for his first exposure. You'd have to weigh teams not knowing much about him vs. general rookie nerves and learning curve, and I don't think the answer would be positive. Lohse does feel like he's made major progress and, for the most part, his start last time was acceptable. If he can figure out how to finish off innings, then perhaps the Cards will have something.
With the Cardinal radio broadcasts going back to KMOX next season, it's not surprising that there are going to be some shakeups at KTRS. First up is Mike Claiborne, who was let go yesterday
. I've never been overly impressed with Claiborne, who seems like a good guy but not necessarily one that comes across that well on radio especially, but it sounds like he probably will get picked up with KMOX, which is good for him.
Perhaps the spark will turn into a flame this weekend. Perhaps it will fizzle out. All I can say is, keep watching and let's find out.