GAME 119: Unworthy Of The Race
Inconsistency confounded the Cardinals again, as the offense could only muster two hits and no runs through the first six innings in support of a struggling-but-tough Jake Westbrook. Does this team want it or not? Confronted by their direct rival in the wild card race, the Cardinals (64-55) lost to the Pirates 2-1 at a deflated Busch Stadium.
AUTOMATED STRIKE ZONE: Opponents of an automated strike zone like to say that they’re a fan of “the human element” of the game. Tonight, the “human element” produced a strike zone wider than Rosanne Barr’s ass. Home plate umpire Lance Barrett was ridiculous in what is unquestionably the worst-called game of the season. Barrett’s strike zone was so bad that soft-spoken third base coach Jose Oquendo erupted into a Spanish-laden tirade and was ejected. Why would it be such a bad thing to have an automated strike zone get the call correct, and save everyone a shit-ton on complaining on Twitter??
OUT OF SYNC: Jake Westbrook and Tony Cruz had a terrible night together. Westbrook stepped off the rubber at least ten times in frustration over Cruz’s slow game calling and mysterious pitch selection. Westy didn’t help matters by throwing 50 pitches in the dirt, forcing Cruz to hop around the plate like a hemorrhoid-tortured kangaroo. I can’t wait to see the sure hand and master game planning of Yadier Molina when he returns tomorrow!
SLOW STARTERS: Can this team with the best offense in the National League please score a freaking run before the sixth inning?? Westbrook was left to fight off the Pirates by himself, as the offense (once again) took the first few innings off. Sure, the strike zone was awful, resulting in several called strikeouts. However, there were several awful at-bats helping Pirates starter James McDonald. Here’s a helpful hint: when the strike zone is already terrible, don’t swing at pitches skimming the dirt around home plate. I realize that Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran have fallen into simultaneous slumps, but that merely means that some of the other players need to focus on working counts and slapping the ball. Instead, they’re hacking at the first pitch far too often and failing. We need an earlier, more focused attack from the top of this lineup. Eight baserunners, one run – unacceptable.
FROZEN: David Freese was red-hot in July – what happened?? Freese is currently batting .176 halfway through August, with a Ray DeRousse-like .255 slugging percentage. Eddie Gaedel could probably do that well. Especially bad was Freese’s at-bat in the ninth, as he struck out on a ball so far outside that it almost hit the hot dog vendor out on Clark Avenue. Combined with the Holliday/Beltran vortex, it’s easy to see why the National League’s leading offense and run differential™ has struggled to pile on the runs.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: I guess Westbrook. Nothing too exciting there, though.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Fuck you, Lance Barrett!
CONCLUSION: Sure, the strike zone sucked. Still, you can’t fault the strike zone when an offense this potent can’t score more than one run in nine innings for two games in a row. Even worse, the Cardinals didn’t come into this game with a fire up their collective ass. It’s the Pirates … the playoffs are on the line. You either come out and make a statement, or you start making plans for the winter. I’m pretty disappointed in the answer I saw tonight.