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Boston loses. Tampa loses.


Scrat1

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And the Cubs lost. For the first time in what seems like weeks, the Cardinals managed to win while the Cubs lost. It has seemed for the last two months that the teams' fortunes were nearly in lockstep -- every time the Cubs lost, so did the Cards, while almost every time the Cubs won, the Cards won too.

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And the Cubs lost. For the first time in what seems like weeks, the Cardinals managed to win while the Cubs lost. It has seemed for the last two months that the teams' fortunes were nearly in lockstep -- every time the Cubs lost, so did the Cards, while almost every time the Cubs won, the Cards won too.

I was listening to a radio show on Friday when someone what taunting the host for being a Cub fan. He told him that not only does everyone know what is going ro happen to the Cubs...but that the Cubs do also.

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I was listening to a radio show on Friday when someone what taunting the host for being a Cub fan. He told him that not only does everyone know what is going ro happen to the Cubs...but that the Cubs do also.

There are a lot of Cards fans who dismiss the Cubs contemptuously as always finding ways to fall short. That's a silly notion. This is not the same Cubs team as the one that was so inept for decades. The Cubs pitching staff is not particularly impressive once one gets past Carlos Zambrano, but they've been getting the job done for the most part and they've been healthier than the Cards staff has been.

The Cubs have been almost invincible in Wrigley this season -- or were until the O's took a series from them earlier last week. If the Cards allow the Cubs to do what the Royals did -- sweep a series in St. Louis -- the team's season could go down the tubes in just three games. The Cards need to hang tough against the "pond scum", then win at least 2 out of 3 from the Cubs next weekend.

Pitching is still problematic. The Cardinals starters have a 37-18 won-loss record, best among NL teams and 2nd only to the Angels overall, but 3 of the 5 starters in the opening day rotation are either on the DL or recently came off the DL. Only Braden Looper (9-5, 4.26) and Kyle Lohse (9-2, 3.94) among the starters have been completely healthy (so far, to the best of my knowledge).

Todd Wellemeyer (7-2, 3.46) was pulled from his June 5th start against the Nats after 6 scoreless innings, complaining of elbow pain, and missed a start before giving up 8 runs in just 3-1/3 innings against the Phillies on June 13th -- apparently because his elbow wasn't quite ready yet. He did pitch 5 scoreless innings against the Tigers last Thursday, so maybe he will be healthy for the second half -- I hope!

Adam Wainwright (6-3, 3.14), the staff leader until Chris Carpenter returns, has been on the DL himself since June 7th with a "sprained middle finger" on his pitching hand. The Cards are expecting Wainwright to be back after the All Star break, but they're sounding less and less confident. Post Dispatch story yesterday

Joel Piniero (2-3, 4.33) has pitched much better than his record indicates. Since coming off the DL on June 12th, he had 3 successive no decisions in which he allowed no more than 2 earned runs, before suffering a loss to the Royals last Friday night. Defensive lapses in the 2nd led to Piniero being charged with 4 earned runs in that inning, but he pitched well enough that La Russa left him in the game into the 8th inning. That proved to be slightly too long, as Ron Villone relieved him with the bases loaded and 2 out and allowed 2 inherited runners to score. Piniero should be solid in the second half.

Rookie Mitchell Boggs (3-0, 4.37) hasn't really pitched quite as well as his record indicates, but he was pretty good in his last start Saturday in Kansas City. He got into trouble in the first and second, but escaped without any runs scoring, then struck out the side in the third and surrendered only 1 run through six innings. This may indicate that he's ready to handle a regular turn in the rotation -- or it could be just that he's been lucky up to this point and will be brought crashing down to Earth as his NL opponents assemble the "book" on him.

If we could keep our starters healthy, I'd put them up against the Cubs or any other rotation in baseball, the way they've pitched so far this season. Understand that most of them don't have much of a track record, or are performing substantially better this season than their career records would lead one to expect, so a recession to the mean should be expected.

The weak point has been the Cardinals bullpen. Just as the starters lead the NL in wins, the bullpen leads MLB in blown saves and losses. Jason Isringhausen's arthritic hip was cleaned up after the 2006 season and he was superb last year, but I'm convinced it's bothering him again -- despite denials from him and the team. He went on the DL after May 15th with a "hand laceration", from slugging a clubhouse TV, and has pitched so-so since coming off the DL on June 17th. Ryan Franklin continues to close out games, even though Izzy is off the DL, and he's had 9 saves in 11 opportunities -- not quite star caliber, but "adequate". Only Franklin (2-2, 2.82, 38.3 IP), Russ Springer (1-0, 2.16, 25 IP), and rookie Kyle McClellan (0-3, 2.66, 44 IP) have generally been reliable out of the bullpen. Mark Mulder has joined Randy Flores (1-0, 5.12, 19.3 IP, DL) and Ron Villone (1-2, 5.76, 29.7 IP), but he was less than impressive in his rehab starts in AA and AAA and Cards fans aren't expecting too much of him.

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