GAME 117: Deadbirds
With a game approach resembling someone coming out of anesthesia, the Cardinals barely fought for a crucial game against their division rivals. The Milwaukee Brewers – hungry, prepared, and better in every way – rolled over the carcasses of the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-1 loss on a somber night at Busch Stadium.
HAMSTRUNG: The Cards had an uphill battle before the game even started. TLR left NL home run leader Lance Berkman (0-13 against Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf) out of the lineup. Then, Matt Holliday pulled up lame with a muscle strain in his back after a workout. If there is a team with more injuries than this one, I’d like to see it.
NOT AS BAD AS IT COULD BE: Whenever Jake Westbrook takes the mound, I instantly tense up like an abused child. He’s a terrifying pitcher, always seemingly on the brink of self-destruction. Westbrook spent most of this start tonight weaving around trouble. He stranded the bases loaded in the first with only one run scoring by inducing a double play. He did the same in the fourth with two runners on and one out. After the third, however, Westbrook settled into an impressive groove that took him into the eighth inning. What a shame the team couldn’t give him some runs.
LET’S GIVE HIM $40 MILLION: You pay premium dollars to premium players who can give you the dramatics right now. Given what we’ve seen out of Pujols this year against our primary adversary, is he really worth the high price tag? Another question: If he’s such a great hitter, why is he seemingly unable to adjust to the way Milwaukee has pitched him? All I know is that the at bat Pujols took in the third was easily one of the worst of his career; things don’t seem to be moving in the right direction.
LIFELESS: With Holliday and Berkman out of the lineup, the Cards couldn’t give Westbrook anything with which to work. Our slap hitters were mildly effective against Wolf, but our sluggers came up empty repeatedly. It wasn’t like they had many chances; the Cards only had four runners left on base. The “efforts” of the Cardinals’ Zombie affiliate really deflated the crowd and dug a permanent home in the ground for this dwindling 2011 season.
SO NOW YOU USE HIM: The previous night, TLR had the chance to use powerful lefthanded weapon Marc Rzepczynski against the lefties in the tenth inning and declined for mysterious, undefined reasons. So of course TLR uses Zeppo in the ninth inning with the team down by two runs and nothing on the line. If you still think LaRussa has any kind of game plan with his pitching staff, then you might be crazier than he is.
WHY NO REPLAY? With a Brewer on first base and nobody out, pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy bunted back to Zeppo. His throw to Pujols sailed high, pulling him off the bag. But then, at the last second, Albert touched the bag with his toe before Lucroy reached the base. TLR stormed out of the dugout and managed to get himself tossed. Instead of creating a scene, why not appeal to instant replay at that moment? I wish they would provide this option in limited circumstances in order to get crucial calls correct. I don’t get it.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Westbrook. He really gave the Cards the chance to win this game. The bats were silent, unfortunately.
CONCLUSION: This is officially the end for this team. If they can’t be bothered to play at their highest level against their division rivals in a crucial series, then you might as well order the tombstone.