That, presumably, is what it felt like to be on the other end of Kyle Lohse and Colby Rasmus's win Sunday—some truly existential frustration was on offer in the course of Samardzija allowing 11 baserunners in five-ish innings.
This is one of those miserable games where the only thing to do to start the healing process is make it more miserable. How bad is Jeff Samardzija? He's not as bad as Chad Hutchinson, whose minor league numbers are staggering—10.2 strikeouts and 9.6 walks per nine innings, finally rendering the batter completely obsolete—but he's less interestingly bad, too. He's stuck between a reliever's repertoire and a starter's strikeout rate; he puts up numbers that look kind of like Mitchell Boggs's, except he was really good at football.
He shut the Cardinals out for nearly six innings. And he shouldn't have. Not just morally—it's literally difficult for me to see how he did it, and how it seemed so easy and natural. If I've learned one thing from this 2010 season, and I have, it's this: two-out hitting isn't clutch, it's just a great way to set oneself up for crushing disappointment. No-out hitting—that's what's really clutch. The Cardinals led off four innings with baserunners, but then they allowed the Cubs a two-out handicap before doing anything with it. Bad move.
This was the one to win, but really it was just the one to win-est—Randy Wells v. Adam Wainwright and Carlos Zambrano v. Chris Carpenter are games the Cardinals should feel just as confident and determined to win. And then they should win them!
Today's Numbers To Watch That Aren't "Games Back", of course, belong to Adam Wainwright. He's still got a chance to avenge 2009 and win 20 games, and getting it today would take some pressure off his final starts. But he's also in position to take the National League ERA title, which has been passed around startlingly frequently of late. Mat Latos got knocked around on Sunday, falling to third place with a 2.43 average, which left Wainwright 0.08 runs behind leaderboard stalwart Josh Johnson.
And as of Monday Johnson is no longer a moving target—he's been shut down for the season with various Josh Johnson-style ailments. Roy Halladay lurks just behind Latos, at 2.44, but in fifth place Tim Hudson's fallen all the way to 2.62, thanks to the same Cardinals offense that couldn't put Jeff Samardzija away. (Good news: I can now spell Jeff Samardzija without the assistance of Google auto-suggest.)
The good news: The PCL Championship starts today! It will be sharing space in our newly emptied-out Major League gamethread, pending the creation of Viva El Redbirdos.
And while we're on the exceedingly pleasant topic of the Redbirds, was there a more improbable performance this year than the one that put them in the championship in the first place? Lance Lynn is a fine prospect, one who was victimized a little by non-FIP issues this year, but I find it difficult to imagine a situation in which our latest finesse-righty turns to his teammates, still shell-shocked from the day before, and says: Hop on, boys—this high-80s fastball is carrying us to the promised land.
And then strikes out 16 batters in seven innings.