Cardinals Confound Constantly

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Cardinals Confound Constantly
I know that I still owe you Part IV of the Cardinal Adventure from last week and that will come, but we have to get back to some of our regular programming for now.  Take your Dramamine, because it's again a roller coaster of a ride.

Wednesday (7-3 loss vs Chicago)
Hero: Colby Rasmus.  2-4 with a run and an RBI.
Goat: Chris Carpenter.  Five runs in six and a third.
Notes: Just a miserable game.  The Cards load the bases in the second with nobody out, but can't score.  You knew that after that things were going to go downhill.  Carlos Zambrano has pitched so well since the All-Star Break that you can't let him get off the hook.  Even with that, though, the Cards had a 2-1 lead in the seventh before everything just fell apart.

Hero: Jake Westbrook.  He finally figured that, to get a win, he had to have a scoreless outing.  Eight innings, no runs should win for you most of the time, though it's not a guarantee with this team.
Goat: Colby Rasmus.  Not only did he go 0-4 with two strikeouts, he also had a double play and both of those strikeouts came with the bases loaded.
Notes: This was the game I attended and it was great to see them get a win and shoot off the fireworks afterwards.  Matt Holliday had a good game, Albert Pujols got a hit, and it was an all-around good night at the ballpark.

Hero: Yadier Molina.  4-4 with 5 RBI is a heck of a good night.
Goat: Ryan Franklin.  Pretty tough to find any goats in this one.  It's weak, but Franklin did give up a home run in his only inning of work.
Notes: Not only did just about everyone tear the cover off the ball against one of the top pitchers in the National League, but Kyle Lohse turned in a tolerable performance.  He's now won back to back starts, with a 4.36 ERA in that span.  It's not anything to write home about, especially with his contract, but it does inspire hope that he can be a serviceable four or five next season.

Hero: Jeff Suppan.  For a guy that was a fill-in for Jaime Garcia (and I'll try to touch on that issue in a bit), he did a fabulous job.  One run in five innings is about all you can expect out of him, and apparently it has won him another start against Pittsburgh this week.
Goat: Fernando Salas.  Sure, Kyle McClellan blew the game, but Mac did get a good inning in before letting old pal Ryan Ludwick (and then Matt Stairs) go deep to put the game out of reach.  Salas, though, was bailed out of his miserable outing and, without those three runs he allowed, maybe the game goes a little differently.
Notes: Kinda rare to see more walks than hits, especially when it's not a low-hit game.  Cards walked 8 times in this one to go along with 7 hits, but couldn't get enough runs in to put the Padres away.

Hero: Adam Wainwright.  Carried a no-hitter into the sixth and allowed only one run in eight.  That's the Waino we know and love.
Goat: Skip Schumaker.  0-4 in the leadoff slot.
Notes: Rasmus had another nice game, with two hits including his 23rd home run.

Hero: Matt Holliday.  A couple of hits, which is more than most of the team managed.
Goat: Chris Carpenter.  A mistake pitch turned into the only runs of the game.
Notes: I'm guessing no one really wanted to play this game.  One scoring inning and an 1:52 game?  Too bad they couldn't have just cancelled this game when it was apparent it wasn't going to make any difference in the playoff races.

So, in the last week, the Cardinals have lost two games to teams under .500 and won three of four against a team contending for a division crown.  That is the most frustrating part about this team.  It's not that they get beat by good pitchers and good teams.  Then, you chalk it up to not being good enough.  But they play around .600 ball against teams that are good and .400 against teams that aren't.  Even .500 against those weak teams gets them to a significant last couple of weeks instead of playing out the string.

Which, again, means that there could be a frustrating week coming up.  The Cards have been bad away from St. Louis and bad against bad teams.  Going to Pittsburgh and Chicago for their last road trip of the year just doesn't seem to bode all that well, does it?

It's a little late, due to the trip and all, but I wanted to weigh in on last Wednesday's Garcia issue.  The fact that half of Cardinal Nation knew that Garcia was being shut down before the pitcher himself knew seems to be a completely avoidable breach.  I know that Tony La Russa has taken responsibility for that, but it seems on the face of it that it'd be pretty easy to have that talk with Garcia before the press than the other way around.

Garcia's being pushed off again, so I'm guessing he'll get one more start at home and that'll be it.  I have no problem with that or with him being shut down, but I think there's some communication issues in the clubhouse and that's just one more example of it.

It's interesting to note that it looks like someone new will lead the team in batting average this season.  Remember when Pujols was just a point away from leading all the Triple Crown categories?  Now he won't even win the Triple Crown on his own team.  I'm sure two September slumps (likely both caused by injuries, but still) will factor into the negotiations in this offseason.

As noted, Cards in Pittsburgh tonight.  AP tends to like the place, but he was curtailed there last time around.  Westbrook takes on Paul Maholm, who limited St. Louis to two runs in six and two thirds the last time they were in PNC Park.  Might be another low scoring affair this evening!
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