Well, that was awful, and to top it off I don't have the time to do it full justice—I've got places to be, as it were. (Terrible food! And such small portions!) So let's just get the awfulness out in the open:
- The Cardinals lost to the Pirates, of all teams. The Pirates are the team they're supposed to beat! And they tacked on one of those late-innings non-rallies at the end, which are just killing me. When the team's winning—when it doesn't seem to fall behind in the first inning as part of a handicap agreement—Felipe Lopez bouncing a ball off the foul pole for a solo home run feels predestined and kind of cruel to the other team. When it's not winning, it's just a little sad.
- Jake Westbrook lost to the Pirates! Westbrook has been just-fine, but the Cardinals haven't taken advantage of it at all, which means that we'll be hearing that one-win-in-five-starts thing until—well, at least until his next start. Last night was the first game for which blame can really be lain at Westbrook's doorstep; for the most part what frustrates us should be that the Cardinals had previously lost three of the four quality starts he'd thrown. By Game Score, his first two starts as a Cardinal were tied as his third-best performances of the season; normally, that means the trade is a success.
- The Reds, of course, won a game that could well have been a heartbreaking loss. I'm not sure I've ever seen a Fangraphs chart quite like this before:
- Joey Votto narrowed Albert Pujols's lead in two categories of the triple crown and widened his lead in the other. Hey—if the Cardinals are going to miss the playoffs I needed that!
- As if things weren't bad enough already, I learned in the overflow thread that a New World Order will detonate a bomb in South Korea next month! Come on! Silver lining: mysterui didn't post a direct link to 4chan. Cloud lining: because the New World Order forced the thread off of 4chan!
All things considered, it was a bad night to be a fan of either the Cardinals or the Old World Order. The problem isn't whether or not the Cardinals can make up 3.5 games in the next month right now—it's that they're 3-7 in their last 10 games. They need to prove they can play well again, and regularly, before we worry about whether there's enough time to catch Cincinnati.
This weekend the Cardinals get four games against the Washington Nationals, and the Cardinals should—prescriptive should, not descriptive should—win all of them. 3.5 games back still feels doable; for some reason four seems like a particularly strong psychological barrier. The Cardinals descriptive-ought to have an easier time with Jordan Zimmermann (just back from elbow surgery), Scott Olsen, Livan Hernandez, and John Lannan than they could with four members of most any other rotation, so the schedule won't be the problem if they can't gain ground here.
Er, wait—The Reds, after a day off, get Tom Gorzelanny, Randy Wells, Casey Coleman (winner of the Baseball Mogul Simulated Name soundalike award for 2010), and Randy Wolf. So it looks like it'll come down to who's best able to beat up on mediocre pitchers, a gentleman's duel if ever I've heard of one.