I had hoped that the team would take 2 of 3 in Houston, but thought they would lose 2 of 3. Woody had been hot; Oswalt usually hypnotizes Cardinal bats; and then we can beat up on the rook. Didn't quite work out that way.
Houston of late has been a house of horrors for the Cardinals - except for one indescribably exquisite HR in the 2005 NLCS - so losing 2 of 3 doesn't bother me. What's more important is they didn't lose much ground to the Cubs, and they made up the one game they lost by beating Cincinnati last night 8-5.
Some comments on happenings around Cardinal Nation.
- Looks like I was dead wrong about Joel Piniero. He's pitched quite well since being acquired. He certainly pitched well enough to win on Thursday, but for the fact the Cardinals haven't figured out Albers like the rest of the NL has.
- Lots of type has been spent concerning the physical condition of Scott Rolen. He is, and remains, one of my favorite players; if he asked out of his final AB on Wednesday because he was in too much pain, well, that's a warning shot to the organization. Shut him down and let him heal. Making the playoffs this season is a long shot, anyway; even if by some miracle the Cardinals do make it, it's unrealistic to believe they'll survive past the NLDS. I'm not saying we should mail in the rest of the season, not by a long shot - the team's fought hard these past 3 weeks to get back into contention, and will continue to do so - but the long term health of Rolen is much more important than keeping him active at 50% or less for the rest of this season.
- Should they make the post-season, what will their rotation be? You gotta go with your best 3 starters, of course. Wainwright being the ace of the rotation is a no-brainer. I would think Looper's earned a chance to be the #2 starter. So who do you choose for #3? KFW, no friggin' way. Too inconsistent, and it is true he seems to have reverted back to his first half form in recent starts (I can't believe a rainout in Chicago would have messed with his head/preparation so much he's lost the bubble). So it's Piniero or Reyes. Reyes, although he has pitched much better in this turn in the rotation, is still VERY prone to the big inning, whereas Piniero has been tough.
So I'd go with Wainwright, Looper, and Piniero. Note that I use no statistical analysis to back this up; call it a hunch.
Of course, this is all subject to change depending on how the month of September plays out.
At any rate, Wainwright attempts to pitch the club back to .500 tonight against the Reds, and we will be waiting anxiously to see how that works out. Our old friend Jason Marquis works today for Chicago against those Astros, and the Brewers send Dave Bush to the mound at home against Pittsburgh.
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