each win counts as one win, and each loss counts as one loss - nothing more nor less, regardless of how ecstatic or heart-rending each one is. nevertheless, we just witnessed two of the more disspiriting games in recent memory - certainly, the worst since that dodgers sweep this summer, the one that involved aaron miles discovering that he can make that last number in his slash line move independently of the others. sitting 3 games out, with five left to play, not only requires that the cardinals win most or all of the remaining games, it requires that the braves lose most or all of their remaining games. not a zero probability, but probably nothing you want to think too hard about. in case you're inclined, though, consider the following: our wild card elimination number is now 3. that means that if we lose and/or the braves win a number of games totalling 3, we are out of the race. in other words, if the braves win two of the next five games, we have to go 5-0; if the braves win only one of the next five games, we have to win at least 4 of the next five. if the braves lose all five remaining games, we STILL have to win at least three games. not impossible, but the combination of us winning a lot of games and the braves losing a lot seem pretty poor. mostly, i'm annoyed at the recent losses - as much as one can be at individual games - because there's certainly a level of avoidability to them. watching a team - with an expanded september bullpen, mind you - push 3 or 4 relievers night after night, without rest, is frustrating. jason motte, for instance, pitched 6 of 8 nights from september 9 to september 16. yet, the only conceivable defense for the reliever usage (that we want to put the best guys out there every night) is turned upside down on the position player side. last night we watched skip schumaker start in the outfield, with ryan theriot at second. seeing both of them start the same game should pretty much NEVER happen - skip schumaker is more or less only useful against RH pitchers (career wOBA v. LHP - .245; .338 v. RHP), and ryan theriot's only excuse for being on the field is when there's a leftie on the mound (career wOBA v. RHP .303; v. LHP .344). as dempster was a RH pitcher, skippy or descalso would have been tolerable choices at second base, but allen craig would have been an obvious choice in LF. adron chambers would not have been a terrible second choice as the best lefthanded hitting OF who wasn't already on the field. instead, we ended up playing more subpar defenders in the field than we needed to, defenders who were not paying back on the offensive side the runs they gave up with their gloves. 'one burst and we will probably crumble.'
now, in fairness, we're doing about as well as it was reasonable to expect at the outset of the season. we're at 86 wins now, which for a wainwright-less cardinal team, was about what i would have predicted. to the extent we're able to put together any kind of winning streak in the last five games, we will have exceeded my expectations from the beginning of the season. i'm just left with this strong sense that we've left maybe half a dozen games on the table through terrible in-game decision making and the refusal to cut bait on players with no role on the team. still, i do think the team deserves some credit. while the roster management has had