QUESTION: How can the Cardinals be losing to the likes of Pittsburgh and Washington on this crucially important road trip. Is the season slipping away for St. Louis?
The Cardinals went all in on pitching prior to the trade deadline. The slightest slippage usually means a problem. So far on this road trip the Cardinals have lost ground to the Reds despite allowing 11 runs in Pittsburgh while the Reds were allowing 38 in SF. The Cardinals then lose while scoring 10 runs.
More and more, the wild card appears to be their salvation, but that means outkicking either Philly or Los Bravos. Trending in wrong direction.
It's hardly a trend isolated to this road trip. The Cardinals have struggled against teams beneath them in the standings all season, as detailed in yesterday's Bird Land entry. Check the updated numbers from the entry: The Reds are 41-21 against teams with losing records in today's standings, and that includes a 1-5 record against AL dregs Kansas City and Seattle. Cincinnati uses losing teams to improve their standing.
After last night's loss, the Cardinals are 33-30 against losing teams. If the Cardinals' miss the playoffs, this road trip will be the whiff that people peg as the reason. But really, this road trip is just the continuation of a trend that has sabotaged the Cardinals all along.
KEVIN WHEELER (host of "Sports Open Line" on KMOX):
I don't think the season is slipping away just yet but the team's 3-game losing streak against a couple of bottom feeders is certainly increasing the stakes of that Labor Day weekend series against the Reds. That is becoming a do-or-die series because of all these silly losses to bad teams.
LARRY BOROWSKY (founder of Viva El Birdos and editor of "Maple Street Press Cardinals Annual"):
They just don't have enough good hitters anymore. During their swoon in the last 10 games they've played without three run producers who were in the Opening Day lineup (Rasmus, Freese, Ludwick). The offense has struggled all season long to get production out of the leadoff position, and the down-order hitters (Molina, Ryan, Schumaker) are all having off-years . . . . that doesn't leave much of an attack. The Cardinals have only won 5 games this year when their pitchers allowed more than 4 runs; that ranks 28th among the 30 big-league teams.
There's still time for the Cardinals to make a late charge, and they certainly have the arms to put together a long winning streak. But they've been so inconsistent in all other phases of the game, so prone to beating themselves, that I don't have much confidence in them.