My father-in-law's birthday was Saturday, so we had a small family party for him last night. While barbequing a few steaks (provided by my mom-in-law, and you should have seen the size of these pieces of meat - Brontosaurus burgers, indeed) I managed to monitor the Cardinals/Cubs game until the bottom of the fourth. Although I didn't see the Cubs score their unearned run in the second.
By the time the TV came on again, it was the sixth, and Villone was on the mound. I assumed Carpenter had hit his pitch limit of 80 pitches, as reported by ESPN during the bottom of the first. As you know, that inning rapidly fell apart thanks to a key error (Kennedy), a couple of balls just out of reach, and a booming double by Cedeno.
Imagine my dismay to open stltoday.com and see this.
My opinion: After taking essentially a year off, this game was the first real high-adrenalin game Carpenter's pitched since opening day 2007 - arch rival, hostile crowd, meaningful game. I think he tweaked his triceps muscle with the effort. Smart decision by Chris not to power through it and pull it vice strain it. Obviously we'll know more today based on his level of soreness. The report that he experienced no discomfort in his shoulder is great news. The report that the pain didn't radiate down his arm is also good.
With him we have a puncher's chance to get back into the race. Without him, well, being 7 out of the divisional lead and 3 back in the Wild Card already makes that a very tough task.
On to Florida. Some other random thoughts:
In their most recent 7 games against their two main rivals, the Cardinals have lost 6 of 7. Their only win was Saturday. More painfully, they were in at least 3 other games, leading all those in the seventh (and on 2 occasions, leading in the ninth).
The club outscored Chicago 16-12 in the series. Unfortunately 12 of those runs came in one game.
My obvious team loyalty has allowed me to believe the Cardinals could still catch Chicago this season. Being 7 back (8 on the lost side) with 42 to go makes that somewhat unlikely. Assume the Cubs go 22-22 over their next 44 games. St Louis would need to go 28-14 just to catch them. More damning is this. This weekend, whenever the Cubs needed to make a play they did, starting with Lilly's pitch to Looper on the suicide squeeze Friday and ending with Fukudome's catch in the ninth last night. Whenever the Cardinals needed to make a play, starting with Looper's bunt attempt and ending with Ludwick's strikeout against Samardzija in the seventh last night, they didn't always make it. That difference separates the good teams from the contending teams. That difference will keep the Cubs in front in this division, and (gulp) the favorite to represent the NL come October.
I'm not giving up; I'll never give up. But that's a good team playing confidently and playing well. They're not going to trip. It's getting late in the day to make a run.
37 minutes ago