St. Louis Cardinals Lose Again, Struggles Still Exist

Ben WeixlmannSenior Writer IJune 7, 2009

PHOENIX - APRIL 15:  Starting pitcher Joel Pineiro #42 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the game at Chase Field on April 15, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks 12-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS—Struggles. That’s been the single word of choice from St. Louis Cardinals’ manager Tony La Russa the past week or so. After a three-game slide to one of the worst teams in the National League, there isn’t much else you can say.

That doesn’t mean that there were some positives to come out of Sunday’s affair, albeit few and far between. Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus led the game off with back-to-back hits, and Albert Pujols drove them both in on a rare two-RBI sacrifice fly. 

It was all downhill from there, though. Starter Joel Pineiro pitched what La Russa called, “OK. Capable of doing better”. He was tagged for three runs in five-plus innings, and the Cardinals’ offense could never muster up a comeback.

It would be one thing if it were just the hitting or the pitching that was having issues, because one could pick the other one up. It’s a whole different story when neither one can produce. 

Pineiro, in my opinion, did enough for the Cardinals, but another bullpen debacle put a halt to any comeback talk.

There were some very straight-forward and purposeful questions asked by the scribes today in the postgame press conference, and I wasn’t all too encouraged by what I heard.

“The club you see is the club we’ll play” La Russa noted when asked whether any Triple-A Memphis players could help boost the current situation. “We’ll figure something out for tomorrow.”

They don’t have a lot of time, either. They’ve been outscored by the lowly Rockies 28-7 over the last three ballgames, and the front office doesn’t seem to have budged one bit as far as making a move.

“You either do or you don’t in this league,” La Russa said. 

It’s quite certain that over the past two weeks, the Cardinals haven’t had much of anything.

The lone bright spot for the Cardinals’ lineup as of late has been the play of Colby Rasmus. He’s hitting the ball a lot better and looks much more confident up at the plate.

“He’s been swinging that way for a while now,” La Russa remarked, when questioned about Rasmus’ 2-3 afternoon. “He’s taking good at-bats.”

I’ve been teetering back-and-forth as to what I think could be the potential issue with these Cardinals. Some days it looks like the pitching, and others it looks like the hitting, but most days lately it’s been both.

I tend to blame the bats more though. Every time the Cardinals seem to be in good position, one of the supposed “big bats” comes up to the plate and doesn’t get the job done. 

The speculation that a player like Mark DeRosa or Matt Holliday would become a member of the Cardinals continues to die more quickly by the day as far as I’m concerned.

The only positive that I can fathom from this awful rud is that the more the Cardinals lose, the faster ownership would be to make a move.

Fact of the matter is though, is that this team has been performing poorly for a while now.  With the latest loss, the Local Nine are 2-5 in the month of June, and have scored five runs just once.

Pitchers can only do so much if the run support isn’t there. Although I understand that slumping happens, it should not, and is not acceptable in such long stretches like this. 

It puts mounds of pressure on not only the starting pitchers but the bullpen to go out and put up zeroes, because they know that even the slimmest of mistakes could cost the team the game.

La Russa isn’t only visibly frustrated, his comments spoke volumes today.

“Score more runs, would be a step in the right direction,” La Russa said.

It really doesn’t get more rudimentary than that. That sounds more like a second-grade lesson explaining the difference of winning and losing.

If Triple-A Memphis isn’t where the Cardinals are going to get that extra bat to put them over the hump, then they need to look squarely at some of those prospects and package them together for a bonafide Major Leaguer who will get the job done.

 “Guys are bothered, and they aren’t pleased,” La Russa commented.

There’s no reason to feel any other way if you are wearing the red-and-white right now.  This team is in a lot of trouble.

“You got to keep breathing, keep working,” La Russa said.


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