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the results of that stupid game speak for themselves; i don't have much to add. discounting the two plate appearances by trachsel, mulder faced 20 hitters and retired 7 of'm.

he never should have been out there; but then, he shouldn't have been out there for this game or this game or especially this game. after the latter outing, you might remember, la russa told the post-dispatch: "Since we need him so much, I'm going to decide to remember he has been improving" -- this after the left-hander had yielded 9 runs in 2.1 innings. two months later, nothing has changed; mulder yielded 9 runs in 3+ ip last night, and duncan and la russa are deciding to remember he has been improving because . . . . well, because they need him so much.

because mulder's plan A, and there is no plan B.

the cards have scored 7 and 8 runs on successive nights vs the league's #1 pitching staff --- well, now #2, since the cardinal bats have knocked the mets out of the nl era lead --- without a win to show for it. the losses are the 11th and 12th the cards have sustained this season when scoring 6 or more runs, which sounds pretty bad. is it? surprisingly, no. in 2006, nl teams are a combined 569-141 when scoring 6 runs or more, an .801 winning percentage. before last night, the cardinals were a league-average team in this regard --- they were 40-10 when scoring 6+, an .800 winning percentage. the last couple of nights' losses have knocked them a win or two off the league pace, but it wouldn't be accurate to say that the cards are hemorrhaging games in this category.

it would be accurate, though, to say that they're considerably worse this year than in previous years. in 2004-05, the cardinals were a combined 110-16 when scoring 6 runs or more, an .873 winning pct. so this year's 40-12 record represents a 5-game dropoff from the last two years --- that is, to match the .873 pace of 04-05, the cards this year would need to be 45-7 when scoring 6 runs or more, or 5 wins better than they are now.

slide down the run-scoring scale and the differential gets even bigger. when scoring 3 to 5 runs --- the fat part of the distribution curve, accounting for roughly 40 percent of all games -- the 2004-05 cardinals were 78-54, a .591 clip. this year's team is playing just .400 ball in those games --- they're 18-27 when scoring between 3 and 5 runs. that's a whopping 9-game differential --- to be at .591 this year, the cards would need to be 27-18.

but, as in the 6+-runs category, the cardinals fare poorly only by comparison to the 100-win teams of their immediate past. they're about on par with their nl competitors in 2006, who have a collective winning pct of .423 when scoring 3 to 5 runs. it's a high-scoring year; takes a lot of runs to win games. so the cards' 18-27 record is only 1 game below the league average; they`re not hemorrhaging games here, either. but where they used to excel, this season they have come all the way back to the pack --- they are no longer exceptional. just another team.

you may have noticed that the cardinals this year have tallied 6+ runs more often (52 games) than they have tallied 3 to 5 (45 games) -- one of the many weird things about the 2006 outfit. since they're below avg when scoring 6+ and when scoring 3-5, they must be way above average when scoring 2 or fewer --- right? indeed so --- they've gone 8-20 in their low-output games, a little better than 3 wins above average.

to bring this post back to the subject at hand: in 3 of the 12 games the cardinals have lost while scoring 6 runs or more, mark mulder was the losing pitcher. isringhausen took the loss in another 4 cases. so in that sense, the last two nights' frustrating games have been signature defeats --- the run of the mill for the 2006 cards.