Expectations Met

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Expectations Met
Well, it was a road game against a cellar-dweller.  Was there really any doubt how last night's game was going to turn out?

Just for kicks, here's something interesting.  The last time the Cardinals won on Tuesday, they had a brawl during the game, as it was that sweep in Cincy that had everyone fired up.  That was six weeks ago.  Sadly, that doesn't bode well for this evening, either, as that series was the last time they won on a Wednesday.  Then again, when you are 13-24 in that stretch, it's not too surprising that it's hard to find a day that you have been successful.

Albert Pujols had a nice night, with two hits and two RBI, while Jake Westbrook did a 180 from his game last Thursday, allowing three runs in the first and five runs in the four innings he pitched.  It really makes it tough for the fans to sit through a game when a team like Pittsburgh scores three in the first--and you are pretty sure those three are going to hold up.

What else can you say about them?  Tony La Russa is right, they at least had some chances last night, unlike on Monday when it was like they didn't bother to show up.  However, that's been the story most of the year.  They have chances, but they don't capitalize.  They get shut down by pitchers that get blown up by the rest of the league.  

At least some of the youngsters are getting to play.  You had Tyler Greene and Allen Craig in the first two slots of the lineup and Joe Mather got into the game as well.  'Course, you had Craig go out on a double switch and eventually Aaron Miles inserted into the game, but it's a step.

What was more newsworthy than the game, though, was the fact that Felipe Lopez was unconditionally released yesterday afternoon.  The given cause was that his tardiness to the Florida game yesterday was "the straw that broke the camel's back" according to Matthew Leach on Twitter.  I can see that you have to do something if a player is repeatedly not listening to authority, but I'm a little surprised that they flat-out released him.  

For one thing, it could be a reward for him if someone like Atlanta or San Francisco picked him up for the next two weeks, trying to push to the playoffs.  I doubt that anyone will do that, but it's a possibility.  Secondly, you'd think they'd have done something more subtle, like tell him he could go home or not play him at all, subtly showing the younger players that you don't do things right, you sit.  (Then again, for some of the younger players, they may feel like even if they do things right, they sit, but that's a whole other story.)

It's also telling that they made this move, apparently with La Russa's agreement, even though he was Lopez's "biggest advocate".  That could mean TLR doesn't care, that he's not going to be back next year, but I don't think that's the case.  I don't think TLR cares as much about sending a message if he wasn't returning.  

What it may mean is that TLR is willing to be a little more flexible with the front office, not necessarily pushing for the veterans.  He's seen how it worked this year and, for the most part, those guys (Miles, Randy Winn, Jeff Suppan) haven't been difference makers.  Will he take that info and factor into his calculus next year, perhaps letting a player like Craig stay instead of reaching into the Proven Veteran bin?  We'll have to see.

Cards play Pittsburgh again tonight, of course.  You know, Pittsburgh has four wins in 10 tries against the Cards.  Without them, their winning percentage would be .343 instead of .347.  Yeah, I know, not a big deal.  Kyle Lohse, who has pitched somewhat better but you still figure Pittsburgh can get him for three or four, goes up against Charlie Morton.  Morton is a righthanded pitcher with an 8+ ERA that the Cards haven't seen this year.  You can imagine what the results will be this evening.  Then again, Pittsburgh's won four in a row, so stretching it to be five might be, well, a stretch.

Things for you to check out today.  Nick over at Pitchers Hit Eighth has his first post up about our Fox Sports Midwest trip, so head over there to read his thoughts on the TV truck.  Also, over at i70baseball, you'll find Bill's comments about Social Media Night, including the first group picture of the UCB.  You might want to, but you'll never be able to unsee it, especially with the big ugly thing right in the middle.  And for you fans of the now-defunct Fire Joe Morgan, the brains behind it will be running Deadspin today, so keep an eye over there.

Finally, it's Wednesday, which means UCB Radio Hour.  Tune in tonight or drop by our chat room as Justin from Intangiball and I talk about Lopez and the team in general, and Matt Sebek will stop by and we'll deconstruct Social Media Night.  Should be a great one, so hope to see you at 9:30 this evening!
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