Interesting/nauseating to see the sports media giddiness revved up even higher over the Cubs.
Interesting/nauseating to see the “speeches” Joe Maddon makes that get breathlessly covered by that same sports media infatuated with his “wisdom.” Like his brilliant “we don’t start stuff, we finish stuff” on Friday — the same day Dan Haren hit Matt Holliday in the batting helmet yet poor, poor Anthony Rizzo had his pant leg beaned (prompting, of course, the above tough-guy words from Maddon); the day after Chris Coghlan finished something, for sure — Pirate Jung Ho Kang’s season with a slide far to the right of second base and with his leg up to hit Kang in the leg and fracture his tibia (and a slide by Coghlan that looked all the more egregious when shown again yesterday afternoon on CSN Chicago after the Cubs broadcasters were comparing Yadier Molina’s slide into Addison Russell to that play — which was an inning after Yadi’s slide happened, and to which there was really no comparison at all other than both slides were toward second base); and the day before Kolten Wong was hit by both Fernando Rodney and Trevor Cahill and Greg Garcia was hit by Hector Rondon (and no Cubs were hit).
What’s that saying about actions speaking louder than media-friendly speeches?
Anyway, may yesterday’s game please be the last time the Cardinals have to face those Media Darling Cubs, their Style Over Substance Manager and their Breathlessly Amazing Roster of Players (Jake Arrieta! Addison Russell!! Anthony Rizzo!!! KRIS BRYANT!!!!!!!!!) in 2015.
Before the weekend even began, I knew that if any kind of postseason match-up involving these two teams were to take place, it would be torturous. Living closer to Chicago than to St. Louis, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the fan bandwagon grow and grow and grow ever since Maddon became their manager, the media attention increase more and more and more as the months go along — and I’m ready for it to stop. Especially after this weekend.
Here we are, the final weekend of the regular season. The Cardinals are playing in the postseason — this much we know. So are the Pirates.
What we don’t yet know, unfortunately: the National League Central champion.
The standings tell the story — and the Cardinals, to be trite, control their destiny. That’s been the case since we started counting down the magic number to win the Central. Just keep winning and there’s nothing to worry about.
Except they haven’t won as much as we would like. Since last Saturday, when their victory over the Reds and the Pirates loss to the Brewers gave the Cardinals a 3 1/2 game division lead and reduced the magic number to five, the Cards have lost three of four. The Pirates have won four of five.
Thus the one-game lead and magic number of three with just tonight, tomorrow and Sunday left to play. Continue reading →
Last Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Chicago Cubs 7-2. It was their third straight loss and fifth in their previous seven games, and they remained stuck 1 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings.
The losing streak extended to four Saturday afternoon when the Cubs took the first game of their day-night doubleheader. But then came game two, and especially the 9-run eighth inning for a 13-2 win.
Nothing but W’s since, with the streak now 6 after last night’s tense and defensive-filled 3-2 victory over the Brewers.
That deficit in the standings has turned into a 4-game lead.
The Cards are a season-high 14 games over .500 at 77-63.
Michael Wacha is back.
Over the past seven games Peter Bourjos is hitting .462, Jon Jay .455, Matt Holliday .379 and Daniel Descalso and Randal Grichuk .375 each.
Trevor Rosenthal is tied for the major league lead with 42 saves (even if an incredibly high number of them are very nerve-wracking, like last night’s).
The Cardinals have a magic number of 19 to clinch the NL Central title for a second straight year.
Yes, the Central standings are looking very interesting these days.
Ah, baseball …
The Cardinals at the moment are the closest to first place they’ve been since May 27, when they were 1 1/2 games back. They’re a season-high eight games over .500 at 50-42.
The Brewers, on the other hand, are struggling right now. Just nine days ago, they began July with a 6 1/2 game lead. They lost that day and have lost six of seven since then, plus are 2-8 in their last 10 games.
Then there are the Reds, who are a half-game behind the Cardinals at the moment and thus 2 1/2 behind the Brewers. They spent the first two months of the season below .500, falling as low as six games under at the end of May. On June 24 they were 38-38 and 7 1/2 games behind the Brewers, but have since gone 11-4 (including winning two of three over Milwaukee last weekend) and currently have their second five-game winning streak of that stretch. This afternoon, they’ll look to sweep the Cubs in a five-game series before the Pirates come to town.
After the season’s first 15 games, the St. Louis Cardinals are 9-6 and in second place in the NL Central. And all 15 games have been against the other four teams in the Central, as the Cardinals finished up their series in Milwaukee by falling to the first-place Brewers 5-1 yesterday.
Before moving on to face the Washington Nationals for four games starting tonight and the New York Mets for four after that, is there anything we can learn from those first of 19 match-ups have with each Central team?
The Cards lost just one of the five series they’ve played, only taking one of the three games in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. Otherwise, they’ve won two of three against everyone else. That’s good to see — and especially good was stopping the nine-game winning streak the Brewers had coming into play on Monday.
The Brewers have to be the surprise of the NL Central so far, even though we’re just in the third week of the season. They have the best record in the majors right now at 11-4 and were the first team to double-digit wins. Their pitching is the best in MLB at the moment, with a team ERA of 2.17, with their starters ERA 2.52 and their bullpen ERA an incredible 1.33. What are the odds, however, that the Brewers pitching will still be so sparkling when the Cards meet them again on April 28?
Looking at the rest of the Central, the Cards overall ERA is 3.51 with the starters at 2.78 (third best in the NL, behind the Braves and Brewers) and bullpen at 5.06. The Reds are slightly better overall with an ERA of 3.50, though their relievers ERA is even worse at 5.18. The overall ERA for their starters is 2.94. In the standings, the Reds are 6-9 and in fourth place. Continue reading →
Your post this morning pointed out the main possibility — Yadier Molina missing a significant portion of the season. Most anything else I think the Cards can survive, but Molina going down would be rough.
The Cardinals have depth, but it is young and unproven at a lot of spots. An injury to a key player with little depth behind him could disrupt this team fairly quickly. An injury to a veteran starter and the young arms that have yet to pitch a full season are suddenly going to have to shoulder (pun intended) a lot of the inning load.
The team has the depth in various places to sustain an injury. But young players will have to play up to expectations for the Cards to be able to chug along without a key component. The pitching looks great on paper, but I wonder how hard they will push the young bucks. Time will tell.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t rooting for the Cardinals to have the best record in the National League. Yes, it’s a great distinction to have and home field advantage is obviously a terrific benefit. But I didn’t want the Cardinals to play the wild card team in the division series.
Or either of these wild card teams, anyway.
Especially the Reds.
Let me channel my inner-Brandon-Phillips (and I’m ready to puke just for typing those words) and let me make this clear: I hate the Reds. I hate Dusty Baker, I hate Johnny Cueto, I hate Bronson Arroyo — I could keep going down the list but I especially hate Phillips. Oh, and Thom Brennaman. And sorry, Ryan Ludwick, I even hate you when you have that uniform on. So, the 19 times that the Cardinals have already played them this season is much more than enough.
With a record of 96-65, the St. Louis Cardinals currently top the National League — thanks to the Philadelphia Phillies hanging on to beat the Atlanta Braves last night.
A Cardinals win today, or a Braves loss, would give the Cards home field advantage throughout the playoffs as well as the wild card winner of either the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cincinnati Reds as their division series opponent.
“Maybe I should put more [emphasis on home-field advantage], but I don’t,” Matheny said. “My theory is people start overthinking that and over planning and trying to be a master puppeteer in how that all plays out. I think that stuff comes back and bites you. I think there’s too many good teams in this right now and we got to respect that, respect the game, just like we’ve done all season long and what we do is we go out and set our priorities.
“I made it clear to you guys right now, our priority is getting these guys ready for Thursday. But whenever we walk out there we also don’t want to lose that culture that we developed of going out and maximizing everything we’ve got while we’re out there out. No matter who we put out there, we’re playing to win all the time.”
So, does it look like Mike is saying “take that, everyone complaining about Jake Westbrook starting today”?
Anyway, yesterday’s game was a rather easy 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, and it was cruising along as another shutout until the ninth inning.
With a magic number of one, it’s always best to take care of matters yourself and win to clinch. That’s exactly what the St. Louis Cardinals did, easily, in beating the Chicago Cubs 7-0 to become 2013 National League Central champions.
That’s a clinching winner! (Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
It’s the first time since 2009 that the Cardinals are division champs, and last night’s win was number 95 on the season (to give them a nice 95-65 record after 160 games). Last time the Cards won 95 games? Back in 2005, when they won 100.
Yes, we are spoiled by our team with their ongoing success as they’ll be playing in October for the 10th time since 2000. We also are spoiled by watching some terrific baseball from them this month alone — they’re now 17-8 in September.
All too often, kids come into professional baseball hot off of a collegiate career with potential through the roof. It’s not unusual for the transition to pro ball to take some time. It IS unusual for a guy less than a year removed from his final college game to not only be invited to Spring Training, but also force his way into the conversation about the Big League rotation.
When Cardinal veterans like Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright jump on board, you have to believe there’s something to it.
Cardinals fans know first hand what happens when a guy doesn’t live up to the astronomical expectations. Colby Rasmus? Brendan Ryan? Tyler Greene? Not pretty. And with a rotation of Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller (which left out Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal), there was no need to rush Wacha. Continue reading →