I wish that just once this team would display some killer instinct and put a team away when they have a chance for a sweep. Edinson Volquez was on today, no doubt, but the Cardinals had their chances. Just winning series for the rest of the season isn’t going to get it done anymore – they need to start putting teams away.
- Not that I’m particularly happy about it, but a random comment on a post of mine from May brought me around to re-reading said post – I don’t mean to be self-effacing, but it’s eerily prescient now.
- On the good news front: Adam Wainwright had, by all accounts, a great start for AA Springfield on Saturday. Waino has declared himself ready to come back to the Cards, in any capacity. This fan believes the organization would be foolish not to install him as a starter.
- With Wainwright’s return on the near-horizon, that brings us to another evalution of the current status of the starting rotation. Things seem to have flipped on end, as all of a sudden Kyle Lohse looks like the vulnerable one in the rotation. Braden Looper has been just shy of unbelievable in his last four starts, going seven innings in each and giving up no more than two earned runs in each. Joel Pineiro has won his last three starts, by pitching solidly, if unspectacularly. Todd Wellemeyer has returned to his early season form in his last five starts, sporting a 2.30 ERA in those starts while unfortunately only winning two. His 7 2/3 shutout innings against Florida Thursday night was easily his best start of this season. With lots of off-days coming up, the Cards could figure on a four-man rotation. Who’s the odd man out? Here’s hoping it’s not Wainwright to the bullpen.
- It’s time to accept the NL Central division title for what it is at this point – a lost cause. As many choices as we Cardinal fans have for a nail in that coffin, another one came Friday night when the Cubs put up three runs in the ninth to beat Florida. They scored eight runs in one inning today en route to a 9-2 victory. Time to focus on Milwaukee and the NL Wild Card. There is still positivity in that.
- Rick Ankiel continues to be horribly inept at times when the Cardinals need a big clutch hit. Today it was strike outs. One in the sixth with bases loaded and one out, and one in the ninth with two runners on and two outs. Troy Glaus doesn’t escape the glaring eye here either, also striking out in the sixth with the bases loaded. Ankiel was particularly bad though. He flailed at pitches from Volquez in the sixth, clearly overmatched, when all he needed to do was get the ball out of the infield to score a run. At that stage, Cincinnati was still only up 2-0, and even one run could’ve made a huge difference in the outcome of the game. I’d be a big fan of Ankiel back in the two hole – Ryan Ludwick and Glaus can fight it out for the cleanup spot.
- Chris Perez continues to impress in the ninth-inning pitcher role (I don’t dare call him the closer, for fear of Tony showing up on my stoop ready to bash my head in). CP63 has really put in some solid performances since returning to the big club, including some one inning-plus appearances. Good for Tony. You can teach an old dog new tricks (even if it’s because he’s run out of excuses for the old tricks).
- Speaking of Perez, I’m really falling into severe man-crush status with the one-two punch of Kyle McClellan and Perez in the eighth and ninth innings. Hard to believe they’re both rookies, and with any sort of luck (and avoiding any moronic attempt by Duncan and the clan to try to make McClellan a starter), we could watch them fill those roles for the Cards for the better part of the next five to six seasons. Ditto Jaime Garcia – one who is more apt for the Wainwright path at this point, relieving this season, starting next – who I hope will get an honest shot at a fourth or fifth starter’s role in Spring Training next season.
- The Cardinals have three off-days in the next eight. Then it’s home on the 26th and 27th for a quick two-game set with the Brewers. I don’t think it is even debatable to call those two games immensely important in the Wild Card race. The Birds need to take care to set their rotation right with these off-days to get their best going against the Brew Crew. Could we see Wainwright in one of those games?
- The two series leading up to the Milwaukee set are two games against the Pirates and three versus the Braves. I realize this sounds very optimistic, but there’s no reason why the Cardinals can’t win all five of those games. The Pirates are, well, the Pirates. And now they’re the Pirates minus Xavier Nady and Jason Bay. The Braves are very banged up, although they have gotten Chipper Jones back since the Cards’ last series in Atlanta.
- Knock on wood (loudly, if you feel the need) – but the Brewers appear to be scuffling a bit since they ran off eight wins in a row. The Dodgers have had their number, and lead now as I write. The Cards need to take advantage at every turn – as mentioned above, just winning series will no longer cut it.
Here’s to five wins in a row by this time next week!