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A Frustrating Setback. Or Maybe a Disheartening Defeat.

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You know, I sure am getting tired of writing about disappointing losses. I'm even more tired of trying to come up with synonyms for the words 'disappointing' and 'loss'. This season has put my personal thesaurus to the test, and it's been pushed just about as far as it can go.

Adam Wainwright continues his inexplicable struggles against the Pittsburgh Pirates, of all teams. Against Pittsburgh, Das Wagonmaker has an ERA of 4.73, his worst mark against any team he's faced at least five times. (His next worst mark is against the Cubs, at 4.13.) He's still won plenty of games against them, though that's largely due to the fact they're a lousy enough team the Cardinals can usually beat them even with a poor starting performance. Sadly, that was not the case last night.

So yeah, it was a rough night here in Cardinal land, as we lost with our ace on the mound for the second time in a row. The offense didn't look particularly anemic, to be honest; they put plenty of men on but just couldn't get them home.  It felt like one of those early 2009 losses, in fact, a game when runner after runner seemed to just sort of die out there somewhere between second and third as it got later and later. Paul Maholm, an intermittent thorn in the Redbirds' collective side, wasn't all that good, but when you let a guy off the hook that many times you can't possibly expect to come away with the win.

Believe it or not, though, there was some good news to be had in last night's game. Two pieces, in fact. The Cincinnati Reds were roundly drubbed by El Gigantes (16-5, bitches!!!), meaning the Cardinals didn't lose any more ground in the division race, a fairly shocking development just on its own these days. If you're looking for cracks in the Cincinnati armour, there are plenty to be found, as their pitching suddenly seems appallingly mortal. Edinson Volquez was blown out of the first inning in the first game of their series against the Giants, and both Mike Leake and Travis Wood, the Reds' talented rookie duo, got hammered last night. Wood was tagged for seven runs in just four innings, while Leake allowed six hits -- among them two homers -- and six runs while recording only a single out. Sort of makes you really appreciate Jaime Garcia all the more, doesn't it? (Knock on wood.) They're still hitting, but even just a small letup on that side of the ball could be disastrous for the Reds considering the way their run-prevention corps is functioning of late.

The other bit of good news is less important to the team, possibly a bit more important in the grand scheme of thigns. (Or maybe not; it's really tought to tell on these things sometimes.) Albert Pujols, while notably failing to hit home run #400 of his illustrious career, did got 3-5 on the night, raising his batting average for the season to a cool .322, which just happens to be one single, solitary point lower than Joey Votto's National League-leading .323 mark. (Votto went 1-4 on the evening, in case you were wondering.) This is significant, of course, because Albert currently leads the NL in both home runs and RBI (as well as a whole bunch of other stats that actually mean a lot more than RBI, but that's a complaint for another day), and has been on an absolute tear of late. It's often been said in order for a player to win a triple crown again at least one of the three statistics will have to have a really down season (i.e. a year when no one hits .360 or tops 50 homers), and this could very much be that year. If Albert were sitting just at his career average right now he would have a comfortable ten point lead on Votto. I honestly don't expect to ever see another Triple Crown winner in either league; it's just too hard to do. But if there's one player I've learned you don't ever, ever bet against it's Albert Pujols.

Now for another bit of bad news: while the Cards are playing the Pirates again tonight, and thus should have every chance in the world of winning the series, they're also facing Jeff Karstens, who to this point in his career has conducted an extremely effective campaign to have th Bud Norris Society renamed the Jeff Karstens Society. He's faced El Birdos three times, covering eighteen innings, and has a nifty 1.50 ERA to show for his troubles. I think we'd better hope Jake Westbrook has a better night than what A.D.A.M. just did.

A couple other random things:

Roy Oswalt played left field last night. It was pretty cool. Video here.

The other day, when Tom wrote about prospects in the Cards' system, there seemed to be some grumbling about Pete Kozma getting lots of undue flak from Spectniks (I need you all to help me make this word stick; I really like it), just because he isn't Rick Porcello. I've heard a lot of the same stuff over at Future Redbirds plenty of times. I really must protest this line of thinking. Pete Kozma isn't seen as a bust because he isn't Rick Porcello; he's seen as a bust because he's been largely awful to this point in the Cardinals' minor league system. His bat has been slow to develop, he makes errors at a startling rate for a player drafted with a sterling defensive reputation, and he isn't really super young for his level anymore. Rick Porcello really has nothing to do with why Pete Kozma takes so much flak.

On a totally unrelated note, Rick Porcello was awesome last night for the Tigers. Sigh.

I saw "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" last week, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, if only for an absolutely perfect use of the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb" and their inclusion of my absolute favourite T-Rex song of all time on the soundtrack. I never read the Scott Pilgrim comics; I somehow missed them, but my friend Travis did read them and assures me the movie tracks remarkably close to the original story, minus some stuff they left out for time reasons. I'm serious, you should go and see this movie right. effing. now. And if you hate it, you suck anyway. So there.

I was shopping the other day at Macy's, and as I was walking along I happened to spy something which perturbed me deeply. It was a Margaritaville brand cordless frozen concoction maker. That's right, a cordless margarita maker. (I believe it was called the Explorer model.)  Of course, being Margaritaville brand it was ridiculous expensive; I believe it was right around $300. Now, far be it from me to question the way anyone lives their life, but might I suggest if you're seriously considering purchasing a cordless frozen drink maker so you don't have to at least stay within extension cord distance of an outlet while making margaritas you likely have one of four things.

  1. Entirely too much money.
  2. Entirely too little brain.
  3. A pretty serious drinking problem.
  4. All of the above.  

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.

Have a lovely day, everyone. It's pretty damned beautiful outside, and if the meteorological types are to be believed it's actually supposed to stay that way today. Enjoy it while you can.

The Baron's Playlist for the 25th of August, 2010 -- A Little Piano Interlude

"Across the Ocean" - Azure Ray

"Traffic Light" - Snow Machine

"We Used to Wait" - Arcade Fire

"Telethon" - Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton

"Perfect Day" - Lou Reed

"Down There By the Train" - Tom Waits

"It's a Motherfucker" - Eels