And the roller-coaster that is the Cardinals season heads back downhill again. A sweep at the hands of the Diamondbacks puts the Cardinals really on the brink of irrelevancy in the NL Central race. With Milwaukee’s win, they drop to three games back (just two behind the Cubs). So, if nothing else, we can rejoice that the Cubs aren’t in first anymore.
VEB has the description of the last weekend better than I could ever put it. It was nice to see the Cards try to rally in the ninth yesterday, but I’m not sure that gives them any momentum going into today’s game. A successful rally, well, that’s a different story.
Though I would like to suggest something fairly radical. Let’s let some extraneous position player start the games and put all the pitchers in the bullpen. Apparently, if you pitch out of the Cardinal bullpen, you pitch much better than you do if you start. Great to see Kip Wells getting outs yesterday.
And that brings us to today’s game, which I think is a must-win for the Cardinals. Milwaukee goes to Pittsburgh tonight, but their win or loss isn’t that important. I mean, a loss would be great for the Cardinals, but it’s a toss up on whether they will lose or not.
But to force the action, to stay close, the Cards have to win, especially since it’s a game against the Cubs, who they are also trailing and they get 4 times this weekend. Get within one of them win a win, take care of business in Cincinnati, and see what happens in St. Louis starting Friday. If they can have a 7-2 week, this would be a great time to have it. Even 6-3 this week should keep them solidly in contention with three games with the Brewers still on the schedule.
So, what’s the matchup for today? Joel Pineiro goes for the Cardinals. I’d say he’s been a great pickup, that he’s done all that you’d expect from a guy off the scrapheap. But talking up players around here seems to be a recipe for disaster, so we’ll not mention any of that. I will say that there could be some trouble with the Cubs, if history is any indication. Soriano and Jacque Jones have both had a good bit of success against him, so if Pineiro’s good fortune in a Cardinal uni is because of a lack of familiarity, that goes out the window today. It could be instructive to see if he’s really made some change since he’s been in the NL.
Ted Lilly goes for the Cubs. Nobody but Eckstein has really faced him all that much, though Pujols does have a home run off of him. Lilly has been struggling lately, as his ERA was 5.40 in June and 5.05 in August. He’s 1-2 against the Cards this year with a 3.60 ERA.
There’s a 60% chance of rain in Chicago today (of course), but I bet they’ll get this one in. Hopefully the wind will be blowing in–the Cards, as decimated by injuries as they are (hate losing Chris Duncan’s bat on top of all the rest), don’t need to get into a home run contest.