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wells freezes over

the cardinals finally found a proper role for kip wells: he pitches after everybody has left the ballpark and most of the fsn midwest audience has fallen asleep in front of the set. wells took the ball right around midnight at the start of the 13th inning and hung in there for 2 innings, or two outs longer than he lasted in his previous start. the royals hit several balls pretty well, but they considerately aimed at the cardinal fielders, who --- refreshingly --- executed the plays without error. (they made 4 boots in the first 5 innings.) the one ball that eluded them, a one-out triple by dave dejesus in the 14th, wound up not hurting as wells managed to pitch around the hit; when ludwick whacked one out of the park leading off the bottom half, kip had his 3d win and the cards had salvaged a split in the '07 i-70 series.

wells was a fitting winner for such a game, a 5-hour marathon of brutally bad baseball --- shoddy defense, stranded baserunners, untimely pickoffs, and all-around misexecution of basic plays by both teams. the cardinals even made some of their good acts look bad --- e.g., pujols' game-tying double in the 9th inning, which he stood and admired from the batter's box as if it were going to leave the yard; probably cost the team a crucial base. i missed most of the game, mercifully; but i was able to catch a representative sample, watching the cards fail to put the ball in play with the winning run on 3d and one out in the 9th. reading the box score and play-by-play log this morning, and scanning through last night's game thread, i can see that the way i spent most of my evening --- chasing a runaway dog, then fixing a flat tire, all the while trying to keep two tired, cranky children from erupting like volcanoes --- was more rewarding than watching the cardinals.

we did get the damn dog back. foul-breathed cur . . . .

so ends the cards' 28-game march through the bottom of the major-league standings. at the outset i'd hoped the cardinals could go 17-11 during the stretch; in fact they went 16-12, an incredibly good showing insofar as they posted a 5.50 team era during the stretch and were outscored by 7 runs. here's the overall linescore:

cardinals 972 158 282 52 2 40 76 .290 .342 .471
opponents 1007 165 290 53 9 29 91 .288 .353 .445

they won 5 series, lost 3, and split 1, and for the first time all year played reasonably well against good competition --- beat the athletics 2 of 3 in their park and broke even with the surging rockies, whose split with the cardinals at the end of may is the only series in the last 9 that colorado has failed to win. but the cards didn't fatten up where they needed to, against the last-place teams: they played 12 games against cellar-dwellers (washington, kc, and cincinnati) in the last month and went just 6-6 in those contests. if they'd just gone 7-5 or 8-4 instead . . . . well, never mind. they didn't go 8-4, and they didn't deserve to; they didn't play well enough.

the cardinals did pick up two games on the brewers and rose three places in the standings during the 28 games; their record is now 10th best among the 16 national league clubs. the first half of their 2007 season was fully encapsulated in that ballgame last night --- uneven, interminable, at times unwatchable. yet for all their mistakes, they survived --- however little they may have deserved to. likewise, they have made it through an awful, blunder-filled spring and reached the summer with --- however undeserved --- something to play for.

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