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Game 87 Open Thread: July 9, 2006

you all saw that coming, right?

when zpiezio came to the plate in the 9th inning as the cardinals' last hope, the stl offense had made 16 consecutive outs; so surely you anticipated that the next four men would reach base off lidge and pull the cards even at 6-6. i mean, how obvious was that?

i was following the action on MLB Gameday while sitting through the end of an 8-hour training session in a windowless room. there were nearly 40 of us, all working on laptops and logged in to the same wireless LAN -- which didn't have quite enough signal to go around. each trainee would periodically (say, every half-hour or so) get dropped from the system and have to punch in a few keystrokes to get back online; it then took a few clicks/strokes more to reactivate Gameday. the routine got old very quickly, and i felt like saying, "screw this; i give up" at any number of points. but, vexing as it was, i punched in my keys and kept waiting for the damn thing to reload . . . .

and that has been the stl fan's season in a nutshell. we keep having these outages -- the back-to-back sweeps in cincy/houston at the beginning of may; the 1-5 swoon in early june, during which albert got hurt; and of course the 3-13 freefall that began in comiskey park -- and during the interruptions we sit there staring at blank screens, for what often seems an interminable period, waiting for the season to boot back up and the wins to begin streaming again. nothing more aggravating; you want to walk away. but you don't. you can't.

hopefully yesterday's comeback signaled that the cardinals are dialed back in and reconnected to the server. they blew three games like that in june -- games they led heading into the 9th. now they've got one of 'em back -- and maybe, too, a little of their mojo. i'd like to say that this was a turning point, and maybe it will prove to be such; but you could also argue that the cardinals yesterday didn't play much differently from how they played on the cleveland-kc homestand, and that the main thing that changed was one more or less random outcome on a 2-out, 2-on, 3-2 pitch in the top of the 9th. you could argue that the team was simply due for some better luck, that after coming up just short in about half a dozen close games over the last 5 weeks, chance alone dictated that they should finally win one.

but i'm putting my money on mojo, and here's why. at various intervals throughout this season, some of you guys have described a certain expression of pujols' -- the i'm-hitting-a-homer-now look. i never knew what y'all were talking about and, frankly, thought you were a little crazy . . . . until yesterday. then i saw it, right after the buzz job by oswalt -- a deadly little assassin's smile as he waited for the 1-0 pitch. didn't see it live, of course, but i saw it 50 times on sportscenter. that didn't seem random to me; that appeared to be one incredibly hard-headed man staring down another incredibly hard-headed man and saying: i am going to impose my will upon you. now that's mojo.

call it mojo or call it dumb luck -- the cards won their 1st back-to-back games in three weeks, and now have a chance to win their 1st series in the same span. their lead in the standings -- 3 games -- is exactly where it was the day albert went onto the disabled list; they have gone 13-18 since then.

i wouldn't bet on them going 13-18 over the next 31 games.

quick minor-league note: eric haberer graduated to double a and made his debut there last night, pitching springfield to a win with 6 solid innings. his stay may only be temporary -- he's replacing stu pomeranz, who is on the disabled list with a strained oblique . . . .

carpenter pettitte
7-4, 2.88 7-9, 5.37