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Septembers Spent Surging

You know, I was absolutely certain the Cardinals were going to lose last night's game. No, not when Edwin Jackson pulled one of his Bad Jackson performances out of the bag. Not ten minutes before first pitch, when the tendency is to always think your team is going to come out and lay an egg. No, I was convinced by noon yesterday the Cards had absolutely no chance to win the game last night.

After all, they were coming off a series against the Philadelphia Juggernauts in which they took three of four and looked like the clearly superior team in doing so. With that kind of performance, was there any doubt the Cardinals would come out and do to us what they've done to us the rest of this maddening season? I just knew they were going to pull that football away, lose to the second-division Mets, and we would all be left flat on our backs in a cloud of swirling autumn leaves, wondering how we could have let them do it to us again. Aaauuuugh, we would all say to the September sky. Aaauuuugh indeed, the uncaring but not entirely unsympathetic sky would say back to us.

But, somehow, it didn't happen. Even with Evil EJax showing up, the offense did what this offense was supposed to do, and simply pounded the opposition into submission. Albert went all Saiyan 3, Adron Chambers's grin made an appearance, and just like that the Cards had their 85th win of the season.

That's 85 wins with 8 games to go, just a single victory shy of the 2010 and 2008 editions' win totals. The 2009 team won 91 games; if the Cards managed somehow to go 7-1 it would be their highest win total since 2005. That's right. The Cardinals have only won 90 games once since 2005. Kind of depressing, no? Or it would be, I suppose, if not for the 11 wins in 13 games we're watching right now, which make it much easier to forget the frustrations of both this year and the last several.

One year ago (one year and six days, to be exact), the state of the team prompted me to pen a post entitled "Septembers Spent Swooning," recounting the Cards' various collapses and implosions in Septembers since 2002, the last truly great St. Louis baseball September. Well, until this one, I suppose.

So what is the difference? What does this team have none of those other teams had? Hell, I don't know. I wish I did, and I could tell you all about whatever magic this squad seems to have conjured up, but nope. In fact, I've given up trying to make heads or tails of this season and this team. They've come back from the dead to chase a playoff spot, and given just one week more I think they might do it. As is it, eight games is an awfully short time span to make up more than two games in the standings, but there's a reason we always ignore small samples. Given a small enough sample size, just about anything can happen. Even a miracle.

 The Braves, unfortunately, were of no help last night, shutting out the Marlins to hold serve. Jaime Garcia takes the mound for El Birdos tonight; a quick check of BRef tells me he has started a pair of games against the Metropolitans, throwing 13 innings, and owns a 2.08 ERA for his troubles. I only recall the 20 inning affair, in which Jaime was untouchably brilliant, so I'm going with that and feeling pretty good about the chances of another win tonight. (Felipe Lopez threw a curveball!!!) Realistically, the Cards need to go at least 6-2 this last little bit to have a real shot at catching the Braves. And, really, they should be able to. This is a team playing inspired and inspiring right now, and they've got a soft schedule to close out the season. It may not happen, but damned if things don't feel like they're just lining up the Cardinals' way right now.

So enjoy it. Go outside and breathe in September, and enjoy the knowledge you can sit down tonight and watch a meaningful ballgame in Busch Stadium in the waning days of the season.

The Baron's Playlist for the 21st of September, 2011 (click for 8tracks)

"Already Warm" - The Mayfair Set

"Let It Melt" - The Mayfair Set

"Senhor F" - Os Mutantes (It's Fritz vacationing in Brazil!)

"Baby" - Os Mutantes

"The Traitor" - Martha Wainwright

"Dis, Quand Reviendras-tu?" - Martha Wainwright 

"Everything Went Black" - Thee Oh Sees

"Corprophagist (A Bath Perhaps)" - Thee Oh Sees