If the Cardinals had any remote chance of making the playoffs, it went down the drain on Friday night. On a rain soaked night, St. Louis dropped their third straight game to the Pirates in their 10-2 defeat.
The game started out with a 73 minute rain delay that only made the chances of a meaningful victory that much more remote.
Joel Pineiro took the mound for the Redbirds but looked more like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with his inconsistent pitching.
"I didn't make my pitches when I needed to," said Pineiro "It was tough. I felt like two different pitchers once again. It feels like inning to inning. I'll go one inning and it's three ground balls on six or eight pitches, and then I come back, and it just gets away quick for some reason."
Pineiro's struggles could have come from being shuffled around in the Cardinals rotation the past month. Friday's start was his first in 26 days as he was moved in the bullpen as the Cardinals worked with a four-man rotation.
The constant shuffling and mindset Pineiro had obviously affected his game plan. Even manager Tony LaRussa couldn't explain how his struggling starter continues to decline.
"It's puzzling from Joel's side," La Russa said. "You watch him and you get excited, because he makes a pitch or two, and you think it's going to be what he's going to do for most of the night. And then he'll throw the ball down the middle and get hurt."
"That's really been a puzzling part of his pitching. The potential is there for him to be good, but too many times, I'm not sure exactly why, the ball ends up in a bad spot."
Pineiro managed only four innings work while being charged with seven runs on eight hits. The constant strain on his psyche from playing musical chairs between the bullpen and the rotation had taken its toll on the young pitcher.
Even with Pineiro's struggles, it was the entire team that caused its downfall. Ryan Ludwick was caught off guard as he misplayed a fly ball that equated to an extra base hit. Slugger Albert Pujols was caught sleeping on the base paths after a first inning double.
The bullpen once again couldn't even shut down the Pirates as Randy Flores and Ron Villone contributed earned runs of their own to nail the door shut on the Redbirds.
With the news of Chris Carpenter and Rick Ankiel done for the rest of the season, it certainly does look like the Cardinals have thrown in the towel because they simply couldn't stop the bleeding.
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