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Upcoming Series Against Milwaukee Represents What Could Have Been

August 30, 2011
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Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers has words with Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals at first base at Miller Park on August 3, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

The last time the Brewers and Cardinals began a series against one another, the two teams were tangled in a seeming down-to-the-wire race in the National League Central. The Cardinals stood a mere 3 games behind the first place Brewers at the time. Hopes were high in St. Louis. Win three in a row, we’re tied for first. Except, that’s not what transpired. The Brew Crew took two of three from us in our home ballpark and marched onward to win 21 games and counting in August. St. Louis has only gone 7-9 since the series against the Brewers was completed. Several Cardinal players have been quoted as saying they are shocked to be so far back in the standings. “If you would have told me in spring training that we would be 10 games out, I would have told you, ‘You are crazy,'” first baseman Albert Pujols said. “Look around. With the kind of ballclub that we have, it’s hard to understand where we are at.” Pujols hit the nail on the head. The collapse of this Cardinals ballclub, that in recent years seems to have become an annual event, doesn’t make sense. St. Louis has been credited to possess the best offense in the National League for most of the season. The pitching, at least on paper, has not been awful. But it’s been all about missed opportunities. The Cards have had more than their fair share of late game letdowns, granted most of the damage in this area came from now-unemployed reliever Ryan Franklin. Starting pitching has been incredibly inconsistent, so while the numbers don’t look too bad, some nights have been downright awful. But the other problem that St. Louis fans forgot could exist is defensive ability. This could quite possibly be the worst defensive St. Louis club in the past two decades. The careless mistakes and misplays affect the entire team. The pitcher has to stay on the field to get another out, the bullpen has to come in earlier and as a result tires over time, and runs are scored when the pitcer did little to nothing wrong. Despite all the shortcomings, Cardinal players haven’t given up just yet, even though most fans would agree the season is over. “We’re kind of in a win-only scenario,” points out left fielder Matt Holliday. “We have to win the majority of our games. We need them (the Brewers) to lose quite a few of theirs. I think we all know that the mathematics are simple — we need to win a lot, and they need to win a little. It’s not just this series. You’ve got to win the other games, too. We’ve got to beat everybody.” The persistence of the Cardinals team is admirable. The result of say a 90 or 85 win season would be nice, even though we would have nothing to cheer about in October. To win 90 games the Cards will have to win 20 of their remaining 28 games, and to win 85 they must win 15. It’s good to see the club’s leaders still fighting at this point in the season: “It’s going to be up and down, up and down, and there are no breaks. But you can’t give up yet. We can make a run,” Pujols said. “If I tell you right now that the season is over, it’s kind of giving up. We don’t do that until the last out of the season.” If there was ever a time for the Cards to start a winning streak, it’s this series in Milwaukee.

-KG

 
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