Well, okay, maybe the Cards need to run off fifteen or eighteen more wins in their next twenty to truly make that statement, but hasn’t it seemed like a few things have gone the Cardinals’ way lately?
- Yadier Molina gets caught up at second base having tea with Lance Berkman, but is able to scramble back to first and keep a rally that looked destined to be squashed alive?
- Speaking of that rally, bases loaded with none out, and a textbook 2011 Cardinals double-play ball gets eaten at the plate instead? No matter, with the pitcher coming up and nowhere to sacrifice runners to, a double-play or strikeout puts the inning in serious … JAKE WESTBROOK DID WHAT?!?!
- Ryan Braun eats it going around third after the Cardinals silver-plated an inside-the-park home run for him? (BTW, you *must* watch the animated GIF of said dirt eating.)
Westbrook certainly didn’t have his best stuff last night, but Randy Wolf’s was worse. Two Cardinal batters hit by pitches, lots of home runs surrendered, defensive hi-jinks – is this all sounding familiar to you yet? Sure it is, you’re just used to watching it in red and white instead of the opponent’s colors.
Here’s the thing about Westbrook – he didn’t have to have his best stuff last night. In my opinion, he hasn’t had to have his best stuff all year. My (completely speculative, of course) guess is, if you asked Tony La Russa or John Mozeliak before the season what Westbrook’s role in the starting rotation would be, it would be to keep the Cardinals in games. If he steals one for you himself here and there, bonus! Keep the team in games, let the offense do the work, profit! Unfortunately, those types of games have been harder to come by. (Yes, I know the bullpen and the lead had a lot to do with last night’s game, since Jake threw fewer than 70 pitches – ugh.)
That’s not to completely throw Westbrook under the bus either – the offense, while scoring lots of runs, is having to do it in unconventional ways far too often (see: Jake Westbrook – In play, run(s) – Grand Slam). Even with his home run from last night tallied, Albert Pujols is hitting under .200 against the Brewers, with a .590 OPS. Lance Berkman is just shy of .160 at the plate, an OPS of .510. Your two most reliable run producers in the lineup are failing against your stiffest competition. That sort of performance is not going to result in eight runs against the Brewers most evenings.
But alas, suddenly a team that looked like it might lose twice a month the rest of the season has now lost twice in a row for the first time since late July. A team that had scuffled against the Brewers all season and looked ready to pack it in has won a couple of games in enemy territory and – GASP – may actually be having fun doing it!
I dare you, St. Louis Cardinals, I DEFY YOU, to continue to make the rest of this season interesting. It only takes seven or eight in a row, just ask the Brewers.
A continued supply of well-bounced balls won’t hurt matters any…