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the cards are now 11 games out of the nl central division lead --- first time that has happened since 1999. they fell as many as 10.5 games behind late last year . . . . . the 2006 world-title team had the same record after 137 games that this year’s team has, 74-63 --- but they were 6 games up. this is what it’s like to play in a real division, folks. i think the 2008 cardinals are a better team than that 2006 club, but they don’t have the luxury of sharing the division with 5 weaklings. as HC said yesterday, they didn’t fall out of the race so much as get knocked out of it: the cubs went 20-8 in august, and the brewers went 20-7.

the cards finished the month with a 13-13 record, despite having a better run differential (+20) than any month this season besides april. they had their second-best monthly scoring average (4.9 runs/game, bested only in june) and second-best era (3.77, bested only in april), and they only blew one late-inning lead, back on august 3 --- before chris perez became the closer. they outhit their opponents by 40 points in august (.300 to .260) and outslugged them by 30 (.451 to .421) . . . yet this is the month where they reached the end of the line.

i’m like HC: i have no regrets about this season, no frustrations that will gnaw at me all winter. at this moment i am wondering how a lineup with pujols, glaus, and ludwick in it can struggle so badly against lhp ---- ludwick has overcome his longstanding reverse-split to post a .913 ops against lefties this year, and albert is batting > .400 against them in 2008. but that’ll fade. the standings as of this morning are just, and i am at peace: st louis stands 3d in the nl central, which is where they belong. good team, but not good enough in this division in this particular year.

today is the last day of the season for memphis and springfield; we’ll probably find out tomorrow who’s getting called up for september. quad cities also finishes its season today; palm beach starts its playoff series tomorrow at home against dayton. batavia plays on for another week and is fighting for a playoff berth; johnson city’s season is over. all 6 of those farm-system affiliates finished (or will finish) the year with winning records.

i’m gonna head out and enjoy the holiday; game time is 3:10 CDT this afternoon, and the thread will pop up about 1/2 an hour before that. i’ll toss out this question before i go: excluding a miraculous run to the postseason (which ain’t happening), what’s the one thing you’d like to see from this team in september? for me, it’s to have chris carpenter demonstrate that his arm is sound. he’s active as of today and assigned to the bullpen; 10 good innings from him between now and october, with no complications, will put a smile on my face.