ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 24: Juan Rivera #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores a run against Gerald Laird #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The sub-.500 Los Angeles Dodgers emphatically completed a three-game sweep of the slightly above .500 St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium this afternoon. Jaime Garcia was roughed up by the Dodger bats, which banged out nine hits and plated seven runs--all of them earned--off the Cardinals' once sensational sophomore, who only managed to last five innings on the day. Whereas the Dodgers' offense slugged, the Cardinal hitters were largely a non-factor until the game was out of reach, scoring the final three runs in a ballgame that finished with a 9-4 score.
Ten days ago, the Cardinals were within striking distance of the red-hot Brewers even as they slowly fell back in the standings while Milwaukee won game after game and the Cardinals played respectably. After the Sunday night victory over Colorado, though, St. Louis has swooned. In Pittsburgh and Chicago, the Redbirds lost the first two games of the three game series before avoiding the sweep with a win in each series' final game. There was no avoiding the sweep at the hands of the Dodgers. After a narrow 2-1 loss on Monday, L.A. dominated, outscoring the host Cards 22-6 in last two games of the series combined. With such results, it is no small wonder that fans are frustrated and questioning the club's desire.
With a 2-7 mark in the last nine games, the Cardinals have been in a standings free fall that has made playoff hopes seem dillusional to even the most optimistic member of Cardinal Nation. Even though the Pirates defeated the Brew Crew in afternoon action, the Cardinals are still 10.0 games back of Milwaukee in the National League Central standings. At 67-63, the Cards are closer to the sub-.500 Reds (3.5 GB of St. Louis) and Pirates (5.5 GB of St. Louis) in the standings than Milwaukee. Further illustrating the long shot of catching the Brewers is the fact that the Cardinals are nearly half-way between them and the Cubs in the standings. The Cards are 10.0 GB of Milwaukee and the Cubs are 10.5 GB of the Cards.
Yes, there are still about five weeks left in the baseball season. And, yes, the Cardinals still have six head-to-head games with the Brewers. The season is certainly not over, but the Cardinals do not seem to currently have a much greater chance at the playoffs than Lloyd Christmas had at winning Mary Swanson's heart.