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Game 69 Open Thread: June 20, 2006

mulder vazquez
6-4, 5.32 7-4, 4.32

i contributed a guest piece to South Side Sox, an SB Nation brutha site with a vacationing blogger (aka The Cheat). wrote it up a week ago, before The Cheat had left town -- and before the cards' last two series wins. how were we feeling back then?

The Cardinals are down this year. They play in a weak division and a weak league, so they are still contenders, but it's not the same airtight club it was in 2004-05. . . . .The adjective that described the last two editions of the Cardinals -- balanced -- doesn't apply this season. They may still finish with the National league's best record (for a 3d straight year, if it happens), but unless they make a big trade they're going to be vulnerable in October.
i'll stand by that assessment, even though st louis has won 5 of 6 and increased its nl central lead by 3 games since i wrote the piece. indeed, the two series this week will give us a clearer picture of just how october-worthy the cardinals are. their pitchers will go up against two playoff-caliber offenses -- the white sox rank 3d in mlb in scoring, the tigers 9th -- and the lineup will face october-type pitching staffs, facing the #1 (detroit) and #4 (chicago) ranked teams in american league era. obviously, albert's absence is going to blur the outcome; and whatever results these games produce, they won't count once the postseason actually starts . . . . nevertheless, these two series can prob'y tell us more about the cardinals' champ'ship hopes than, say, a sweep over colorado.

the cardinals have won 13 of their last 18 games vs defending world champs: 2-1 vs boston last year, 4-2 vs florida in 2004, and 7-2 vs arizona (including a sweep in the nlds) in 2002.

will carroll on pujols' accelerated recovery schedule, at today's baseball prospectus:

Sources with the team indicate that most of the impetus comes from Pujols himself. Always a driven worker, Pujols has put that same energy into his rehab. . . . . The Cardinals have all the information and understand that Pujols knows how to play with injuries; they're in firm control of the situation.
let's all hope that last sentence proves to be true. i'm withholding judgment on that, in part because i have heard whispers -- well-informed ones -- that edmonds, who is quite clearly playing in a lot of pain, may yet require surgery before this season is out. . . . . and may need 8 to 12 weeks to recover.

caveat: that's not fact, it's just informed opinion; it may turn out that they can hold jimmy together through the end of the season. cross fingers . . .

stl affiliate quad cities hosts the midwest league all-star game tonight; follow the action here.