Monday, September 14, 2009

That Was Less Fun Than Expected

Going into the Atlanta series, I thought their pitching could cause the Cardinals some trouble. I even went pessimistic with my predictions, saying Atlanta could win 2 of 3. But I didn't expect to get swept.

Not much to say about Friday's game. Pineiro was good, but Jurrjens was better. I remember thinking when Detroit decided to traid Jurrjens away for Renteria that the Braves had done quite well; Jurrjens looked good as a rookie in 2007, and was going to improve. He hasn't become the #2 starter I expected, yet, but he's only 23 years old, so it's not like he's over the hill or anything.

Saturday? Just frustrating. I've become so inured to the Cardinals not being on the Fox game of the week that I don't even look at the listings anymore, I just assume we'll get to watch the Mets or Yankees or Red Sox or some lousy game pitting two west coast teams. So I was somewhat surprised to turn the game on in the bottom of the fourth and see the Cardinals on. They were down 4-2 at that point.

Not seeing that it was a lazy Saturday afternoon, and that the kids had decided to take a nap (or at least remain in their respective rooms being quiet), I dozed for most of the next hour. Somehow I managed to wake up for the bottom half of each inning and watch the Cardinals strand 10000 runners on base through 8 innings.

And what a bizarre bottom of the eighth. Notwithstanding Franklin's blown save in the ninth, the Cardinals should have blown the game open in the eighth - Atlanta tried to hand them that game. First, though, proper kudos need to be given to Mark DeRosa. He caught a break on the passed ball, because McCann had a play on him at second if he doesn't double clutch the throw. The steal of third was genius. It also led the the rest of the inning; because of the steal, Bobby Cox brought the infield in, which meant that Molina's line drive was too hot for Escobar instead of an out and DeRosa was able to score the tying run.

Then the ridiculous started. Jones let's a ball get through the 5-hole. A blown flip on a double play grounder from Schumaker. A flat out miss of a tag on Schumaker going down the line, followed by LaRoche not throwing back down to second to try and get the out, giving the Cardinals the lead. AP walked intentionally. Too bad Holliday couldn't drive the final nail home, especially in light of how the ninth inning went.

I think we should be concerned about Franklin. I know he said all the right things about the extended layoff and he wasn't sharp, and he did buckle down after McCann's double gave Atlanta the lead again. Franklin not being right reshuffles the entire bullpen, and makes our shaky right-handed set-up problem that much worse. Let's hope his renewed concentration after the double is a sign of how he will pitch the rest of the season.

I have no idea what happened to Carpenter yesterday, but oof - that hurt. And Vasquez was as tough as expected on the Cardinals. Let's just move on.

I'll have a preview up later today on the Florida series (although it's already posted over at CardsClubhouse). Their pitching isn't quite the caliber of Atlanta's over the weekend, but they are starting Nolasco, a lefty rookie (first-time lefties typically make life difficult for St Louis), and Josh Johnson, so it won't get that much easier.

On to other news:

Magic Number Watch

Clinch Division: 11 (Cubs won 2 of 3 from Cincinnati)

Eliminate Rivals:
- Houston: 6 (took 2 of 3 from Pittsburgh)
- Milwaukee: 6 (swept Arizona)
- Cincinnati: ELIMINATED (lost 2 of 3 to Chicago)
- Pittsburgh: ELIMINATED

UCB Fantasy Baseball Playoffs:

You may remember me, a long time ago, mentioning that several Cardinal bloggers had bandied together to form a Head-to-head fantasy baseball league. I haven't talked much about it, because my draft was soo bad I ended up with no power at all to speak of from the 5 outfielders I was playing, and I spent most of the first half of the year fighting to get out of 1oth place in a 12-team league. But, since week 9, something changed with the team; I don't know if it was Derrek Lee remembering he doesn't suck, or the acquisitions of Michael Cuddyer and the Melky Cabrera, or the fact that my pitching staff (Oswalt, Carpenter, Lackey, Greinke, Blanton) have pitched their butts off. But I haven't lost a week since Week 8 (with 2 ties). It doesn't hurt having 2 Cy Young candidates in the rotation.

Also, I got smoked by the two best teams in the league the first time through, and returned the favor the second time; I was the first team in the league to hang a loss on the best team in the division (capably managed by Pip over at Fungoes), which led to a flurry of activity by him on the waiver wire (at least, that's the story I'm sticking with).

Anyway, I didn't want to jinx it. But I managed to climb out of the second division and finish third overall in the league, behind the aforementioned Fungoes and Matt Leach, who blogs for Not too shabby.

I faced off against Dan over at C70 at the bat, and despite a horrendous week from my pitching, I managed to survive, winning 5-3-2. Next up? Leach's team. I got him the last time when my team was hot, so we'll see how things go this time around. No matter what, however, I won't finish worse than 4th in the playoffs, and that's cool. We came a long way, baby.

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