It’s a different feeling here in late September. The Cardinals are playing games that matter, but they matter for the other team. However, it’s a credit to the “hard 9” mentality of the team that they’ve been able to pull out wins the last couple of nights, crippling other teams’ postseason dreams. Not that you take a whole lot of joy in that–especially the Brewers, because it looks like the Cubs are going to October–but it’s something to take solace in.
Nice to see the Cards take care of business against Pedro Martinez last night. Not having Pedro was one of the reasons the Cardinals were able to take care of the Mets last October, I think. So it was nice to know that they, at least for one night, could beat a top pitcher.
More impressive was Joel Pineiro spinning 8 scoreless innings with only three hits. There has been a lot of talk about Pineiro coming back next year. It seems to me that he’s gotten better as he’s gone along. I thought that when he first came around, a lot of balls were being hit hard at people. Then he had some games where the ball was hit hard–period. A rough calculation of his BABIP is .278. If he could maintain that, he would be a serviceable fifth starter. If the price is right, the Cards probably should bring him back.
Albert scored another run, bringing him to 97. He’s also just 2 shy of 100 walks, which was his goal coming into the year. For all the talk about his good eye and discipline, 98 walks is a career high. He’s disciplined enough to wait for his pitch, but he usually gets it and doesn’t miss. Also, in the past he’s had more potent of a lineup around him, so he’s never gotten the Barry Bonds treatment since Edmonds or Rolen would come up and make pitchers pay.
If Pujols can hit like he has in the past in Pittsburgh, he’ll get both of those marks this weekend. I’m still not sure he can get 3 runs in 3 days, but it’s definitely in the realm of possibility.
Apparently the NL Central is going to be won the way it was played most of the year–by last team standing. The Cubs have done their best to give the division away, being swept by Florida. Milwaukee, though, won’t take advantage of it. They hit Pujols in Wednesday night’s game, opening the floodgates, then make 5 errors last night against the Padres. I can’t see the Brewers winning all three games left against San Diego, so I think we are resigned to Cubbie blue going into October. Hopefully it won’t last long. I’m not sure I could handle a deep Chicago run!