the cardinals are starting to remind me vaguely of barbaro -- crippled, but prob'y not mortally; decent chance to survive, but no longer able to run w the thoroughbreds. keeping up with the nags and plowhorses of the nl central is proving more than enough of a challenge.
i can't fault them too much for last night's defeat. the offense missed a few opportunities, but that's gonna happen; can't capitalize on em all. they scored 6 runs against a tough pitcher, gave their ace plenty of clearance and played good defense behind him, even pushed across a late tally when that became necessary -- all this with no bench and with the cleanup hitter / infield anchor lost for 7 innings. a laudable effort. the cards did enough things to win the game; the reds simply did more. they didn't panic after falling behind early; chipped away, scored two key two-out runs, and got to a relief ace who hadn't been scored upon in more than a month. that's right: before last night, isringhausen last yielded a run on july 1 against kansas city. he'd reeled off 14 scoreless innings in a row -- 15 if you count the three outs he recorded last night prior to the walk and the homer.
so, hats off to the reds; they hung in there, kept their composure, and played a hard 9. they deserved to win.
and the cardinals? they played hard too, and also deserved a reward; but i have to confess, i was expecting them to lose. once the reds tied it at 6, i figured st louis would find a way to get beat. that's not meant as a jab at the cardinals' character; just my read of the zeitgeist. the ball's been slippery all season.
so wouldn't it be in keeping with the sport's perverse spirit for this hobbled team to gallop deep into autumn? it seems as if the burden of expectations catches up with them every october. they go into a playoff series as favorites, fall behind a game or two, tighten up, and stop hitting; they're done in 4 or 5 games. but this year, should they make the postseason, no such burden; nobody's mistaking this cardinal team for a champion. perhaps they'll run a little more freely, and shrug off october's inevitable missteps and stumbles a little more easily.
but october's a long way off. . . . .