a dreadful loss, to be certain. worse than the one in the series opener to jeff francis, who while unknown outside of the 303 area code is in fact a good young pitcher with loads of promise. baseball america had him rated #23 on its list of the top 100 prospects in baseball -- and #2 among left-handed starting pitchers. so getting shut out by him, while frustrating, can be written off as a good pitcher having a good game. jamey wright, on the other hand, is not a good pitcher; it's harder to rationalize last night's one-run output as a product of the pitcher's skill, and more tempting to blame it instead on poor play by the cardinals.
it also extends the cardinals' mini-run of mediocrity. in their last 12 games the cards have gone 6-6 against easy competition, and they've played at least two winnable games into losses during that stretch. now they've lost two of three to a team with a 5-31 road record. . . . .what's going on?
stl has played at such a very high level for so long now that we've come to expect near flawless baseball. but it's hard for any team to sustain that level of excellence indefinitely. maybe it's time we let go of the expectation. the cardinals are 50-30 this morning; suppose they go 46-36 the rest of the way and finish with 96 wins. is that good enough? or do we judge it a disappointment?
this spring at curveblog i surveyed 100-win teams to see how they did the following year. one finding: of 41 100-game winners since 1969, only 12 won 100 again the following season. 17 of those teams won 90-99 games in the following year, and 12 won fewer than 90. there would be no shame in posting 96 wins. (that curveblog post included this tossoff: "the 2004 yankees outpaced their pythagorean projection by a whopping 12 games, suggesting they are primed for a serious fall." sometimes we get lucky . . . )
stl remains "on pace" for 100 victories in 2005, but would it make a difference if they fall a few games short of that standard (as long as they reach the postseason)? i for one am letting go of the expectation. a sluggish stretch now is ultimately submerged in the 162-game swamp; so too the distinction between 97 wins and 101 wins. come october it will not mean a thing.
of greater import: how throws mulder today? how fares rolen's knee?