Passing Through – Cardinals
The NL Wild Card race has become increasingly difficult to watch of late, with Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and St. Louis playing like they’d rather not take part in MLB history’s first one game playoff series. Los Angeles can’t hit, Pittsburgh has become wildly inconsistent, and St. Louis is unravelling on the mound. This edition of Passing Through features the latter of those three teams, loosely clingling to the top Wild Card Spot. With three games against the Padres and four against the Dodgers, who are just one game behind them in the standings, the Cardinals could be playing for their season.
St. Louis Cardinals
Chris Carpenter still hasn’t returned to a rotation that needs him more than ever. In his abscence Lance Lynn has been bumped from the rotation to the ‘pen, Jake Westbrook will miss at least one turn with an oblique injury, Jaime Garcia has been beat up since returning from injury, and Adam Wainwright seems to be fading down the stretch in his first season after Tommy John. On offense, Carlos Beltran is visibly hobbled and has been dramatically worse over the second half, while Lance Berkman will miss the rest of the year recovering from knee surgery. The Cards came West for seven games, and in the state they are in, every win they can earn is critical, as they will likely have trouble amassing many before October.
San Diego Padres: September 10-12
Traditionally, the Cardinals like to whoop up on the Padres, especially in important games. Trend = bucked. In game one Logan Forsythe and Cameron Maybin each threatened to hit for the cycle, in a 17 hit night for the home team. Jaime Garcia lasted only 3 innings, allowing 4 runs. Young Shelby Miller followed with three frames, allowing two more. The Padres would blister the bullpen for five additional scores, winning 11-3. The second game was a failure of another variety. The Cardinals refused to seize control despite 8 walks surrendered by San Diego pitching, and 3 Padre errors. The Padres scored 5 runs in the fourth inning and, thanks to a throwing error committed by Pete Kozma, 3 of those were unearned. San Diego took the evening 6-4. On Wednesday the Padres polished of their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals since 1995, with a 3-2 victory. Another sharp start by the only reliable starter the Redbirds have left, Kyle Lohse gave way in the bottom of the sixth, when rookie catcher Yasmani Grandal broke up a 2-2 tie with an RBI single. The Cardinals threatened in the ninth, but the Padre bullpen made it stand.
Los Angeles Dodgers: September 13-16
The Cardinals will begin a crucial series in Chavez Ravine on Thursday, attempting to regain some kind of rhythm in their March toward the playoffs. Lucky for them, the Dodgers have been suffering badly from their wretchedness at the plate, averaging 2.67 R/G, while scoring more than 3 runs just twice this month. Adrian Gonzalez has contributed to this pallor with a .636 OPS since “The Trade.” Matt Kemp is currently out of the lineup with a shoulder injury, but had been in a hellish slump since bruising his knee in Colorado on August 28th.
- Game 1: Lance Lynn (taking Westbrook’s turn this time through) v. Josh Beckett
- Game 2: Joe Kelly (who took Lynn’s spot, when he was sent to the pen) v. Chris Capuano
- Game 3: Jaime Garcia v. Clayton Kershaw
- Game 4: Adam Wainwright v. Joe Blanton
Something can be decided this weekend if one of these teams takes control of their tailspin. It would certainly be better to see a team earn their matchup with Atlanta, rather than just outlasting the misery of two other cities until October 5th. Somebody, please play ball!