GAME 134: Three Out Of Four Ain’t Good
Going into this four game series against the Washington Nationals, nobody expected the Cardinals to sweep the team with the best record in the National League. But the Cardinals, after suffering an embarrassing series loss in Pittsburgh, really needed to shoot for a split. Instead, they (barely) salvaged just one game out of the set, as the Cardinals lost the final game 4-3 to position themselves in imminent danger of falling out of the wild card.
GREAT, NOT SUPERB: Jake Westbrook really rose to the challenge presented to him, deftly escaping nine hits over 5.1 innings and only giving up two runs. This is good, but opponent Steven Strasburg was much better. Westbrook battled before he unraveled in the sixth; however, Matheny pulled him before he suffered any damage. He was left adrift, as has been the case lately, by a late-coming, dead-in-the-water offense that couldn’t manage to score until Westbrook had left the game. It’s really not Westy’s fault that he was forced to pitch under such pressure against a red-hot Nationals team.
JUST TWO HITS: Look, I know Strasburg is good (are the Nationals really going to try and make a run without this guy??), but the league’s leading offense™ should be able to muster more than TWO HITS against the guy. And those two hits won’t matter at all anyway when they come from the same guy (Matt Holliday). Well, unless the hits were home runs, I guess. But they weren’t.
LANCED: The, still close in the seventh, came apart with another awful, head-scratching performance from Lance Lynn. He gave up two runs in the inning, and, once again, looked gassed. Is something wrong with him? Does he really think that giving up six earned runs in four innings of relief (a 12.46 ERA) is the way back to the rotation? He has looked awful, and should only be used for blowout losses until he corrects the problem.
TYPICAL: As usual, the offense began pecking away late in the game with the team far behind. Daniel Descalso ripped a surprise two-run homer once Strasburg was gone, and late-inning replacement Tony Cruz slashed a two-run double to pull the Cards within a run. Still, another one-run loss, another loss to add to this team’s despicable resume of games in which they scored three runs or less.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Westbrook heroically kept them in the game. Holliday provided all the offense.
CONCLUSION: The Cardinals really needed to go for a split here. Sadly, they’re pretty beaten up (Yadier Molina was out for additional rest, Beltran left the park hobbling on a bad left knee) and mostly demoralized, while facing the hottest team in baseball. For whatever reason, the baseball gods have not booted them out of the wild card chase. Yet. But it’s coming unless this drifting, rudderless team can find some inner strength.