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ah, hell -- they're toast

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i can no longer stick up for isringhausen. i think he's got both brains and guts, but it's just not possible to defend his performance anymore; i've been trying to do that all season, and i'm plum worn out. his era's by month:

april 6.00
may 0.77
june 5.25
july 0.69
august 7.04

i expect he'll get it back together before the season is out, but i just don't have the energy to make the case. i'm removing myself from that detail; take your shots at him. he deserves 'em.

and the rest of the team deserves 'em as well. isringhausen was merely the last in a succession of cardinal self-defeaters last night. the team's every weakness was on exhibit: bad baserunning; bad coaching; bad defense; bad starting pitching; bad relief pitching. my cheerful slogan from early this season --- "you can beat the cardinals this year, but you still can't beat pujols" --- has now sadly been inverted:

you can't beat pujols this year, but you can still beat the cardinals.

i've been watching this team for 35 years, and in that time i've seen them recover from god knows how many painful losses -- some of them far more painful than last night's -- and go on to win divisions and pennants and even championships. but i don't sense that this year's club has a whole lot of resilience left. set last night's defeat aside; we're talking about a team that currently fields one good starting pitcher and three good hitters; a team with a lot of broken parts -- the rotation; the shortstop; the centerfielder; the closer. st louis is good neither at putting runs on the board (7th in the league) nor at keeping them off (also 7th), and they have lost their ability --- so uncanny the last couple of years -- to win games by sheer force of will. quite the opposite. as rob put it at the birdwatch: "this team isn't good and it knows it isn't good."

the competition isn't good either, so albert and the boys may manage to hang on and "win" the division or back in as the wild card. but as i watched the cards regurgitate another victory last night, it struck me that wins and losses no longer mean anything for this team. the ballgames just pass through the system and come out the other side, undigested, accruing in their respective columns -- but the cardinals absorb no nutrients, build no mass, acquire no energy. food and air get forced down their throats, so technically speaking they are still alive -- but in roughly the same sense that a comatose patient is.

i'd like to think they can pull out of it. but at a certain point . . . . .

ok, so miracles have happened; people have opened their eyes and resumed living after years-long comas, and only slightly less often than that sore-armed pitchers have come off the dl and restored the vitality to sloughing baseball teams. let us hope, then -- however foolishly -- that mulder's performance tonight stimulates a few brain waves.

not even dave duncan seems wildly optimistic about that possibility, though, to judge from this morning's post-dispatch.

the guy he replaces in the rotation, anthony reyes, made his return to memphis last night with six shutout innings --- angry ones, according to whopperman, who was in attendance. reyes gave up 5 singles and 2 walks during his stint, struck out 9, and got 2 groundballs vs 7 flyouts. brad thompson tossed 2 hitless innings in relief.