Do the Cardinals have enough magic to overcome their setback last week and make the Milwaukee Brewers disappear from first place in the National League Central? Where is the magic of escapologist Harry Houdini when the Cards need him?
I’ll answer the first question in a minute. Houdini is dead, however, and the Cardinals' chances of overcoming Milwaukee are likewise starting to flat line.
Before the Cards-Brewers series last week, the usual baseball related eternal optimism was on an upswing in good old St. Louis. The Redbirds had just returned home after massacring the Marlins in Miami.
Back in Missouri, the Kirkwood-Rock Hill neighborhoods’ outdoor bistros were bustling down the road from the Magic House where the freight train tracks slice the road in half.
By winning the first two of three games, the Cardinals could have sliced the Brewers' lead more than in half, but St. Louis’ train was derailed by the rocking-and-rolling beer makers from Wisconsin. Milwaukee won the first two games of the series and stretched their lead to five games over the Redbirds.
LaRussa was ejected during the 5-1 loss to Milwaukee last Wednesday. Yes, TLR continued his now miserably embarrassing lambasts against anything and anyone he perceives to be sticking a knife into him.
Instead of arousing his team to fight back with important wins, he’s yelling a good game at everyone from fans to umpires and ballpark lighting coordinators. The umpire who ejected him on Wednesday was working the plate on Thursday and Tony probably realized it.
“He missed the call,” LaRussa said about first-base umpire Josh Wilson, according to MLB.com. “And then a short fuse, very undeserved ejection. So we’ll see how he handles tomorrow [Thursday], see if he has a carryover, if he gets upset, wants to take it out on us.”
LaRussa also said the missed call had nothing to do with the Cardinals losing the game, 5-1. Maybe his getting tossed by Wilson was a ploy to get the umpire to lean a few pitches St. Louis’ way, as postgame host Mike Claiborne suggested. Maybe it worked.
In the finale of the series that Thursday, the Cardinals won what was billed as the biggest game of the season so far. They were in danger of falling six games behind the Brewers with about 45 games left in the season.
Milwaukee left town four games up on the Redbirds with six more beer mug-to-beer mug matches scheduled in the regular season. So far the Brewers have won the beer wars. They are 9-3 against the Cardinals this season.
Milwaukee may have won three times as many battles, but the war isn’t over. Or is it? It could possibly be if the Cards don’t straighten up and fly right.
After the first two beat downs of the last Brewers series, even eternal optimist Mike Shannon—the legendary Cardinals player turned broadcaster and longtime partner of Hall of Famer Jack Buck—sounded so sad on the air that I almost wanted to turn him off.
After turning up the heat and taking two games out of three from the Colorado Rockies in St. Louis, the Redbirds had Shannon sounding better, but then they turned the cold air back on.
The Cardinals fell seven games out of first place while losing twice to the Pittsburgh Pirates after very sluggish performances at PNC Park in Pennsylvania. The Pirates series may as well have been held in Transylvania because it appeared last night that the life blood has been sucked out of the Cards' pitching and offense.
Seven games is the furthest the bludgeoned Cardinals have been out of first place all season long—and we thought the four games Milwaukee left the Cards behind in last week was bad.
The behind whipping handed out by the Brewers meant the Redbirds will now have to sweep the remaining six games with Milwaukee just to draw even in the season series.
It means the Redbirds will have to go on a tear the likes of which they haven’t done since 2005 when they won the division by 11 games over the Astros.
It means the Brewers appear to be better than the Cardinals even without the services of second baseman Rickie Weeks, who was having a tremendous season before he was injured.
After winning the first game of the season series against Weeks and Milwaukee, 6-0, the Redbirds proceeded to limp into a 9-2 record against the team that turned out to be their main division rivals this season.
Milwaukee in 2011 has outscored the Cardinals 59-37 in head-to-heads.
If those head-to-head matchups were beer heads, then the Redbirds would have been fried. During the annual Red River Rivalry college football game between UT and Oklahoma in Dallas, as my devoted readers know, fried beer is a delicacy at the yearly Texas State Fair.
As the reigning beer head, or head Brewer, Ron Roenicke is now the leading candidate for NL Manager of the Year.
I hope the Cardinals don’t give him any more help.
The Brewers beat down last week appears to be carrying a lingering effect in the almost lifeless Cardinals dugout.
Now, it’s time for you, the best baseball fans in the world, to come to life and tell me what your take is.
Comment or contact Lake Cruise at firstname.lastname@example.org.