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Matchup/Diary Game # 91 at Pittsburgh

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Brandon Backe   Dave Williams
7 - 6, 5.06   7 - 6, 4.38

During the one game over the weekend that I was able to watch, the Cardinals announcers were talking about how the Astros top brass were looking at the Cardinals series as a convenient gauge for determining whether this team is going to be in buy mode or, if not sell mode, at least watch mode, as in watch everyone else make a deal.

If that's true, I hope that what McLane and Purpura and Smith and the rest took out of the series in Saint Louie is that the team is real competitive and a single bat could go a long way. Carpenter was in control throughout Sunday's game, but a single hit could have won the Friday night marathon, and an extra hit in either of two innings Saturday could have at the very least led to a tied game after nine. I truly think that an enlightened approach looks at the series in that fashion, rather than simply at the results, simply at the sweep.

And dare I say that the Cards were a little lucky? lboros over at Viva El Birdos noted before Sunday's game that the Cards had hit .207 in their seven previous--and that they'd won five. Truly, Edmonds Pujols Walker Rolen three or four times a game puts some pressure on a pitching staff, but the Cards only scored in five of 29 innings during the series, and the Astros in three of 31. That's fringe level production no matter how you slice it, even from the winners. I might maintain that Pujols' homer Friday (which was maybe two feet beyond Taveras as he leaped onto the bullpen fence), and Rolen's double off Clemens (as out-of-sorts as the Cards third-sacker looked throughout the series) were only two examples that jumped out at me of Cardinals luck.

In other words, the Cards series looked close, and in actuality, it was even closer than it looked. And three straight close losses to the best team in the NL is NOT a reason to give up, and shelve the idea of acquiring a bat.

All that having been said, the team has got to win the Pirates series now. Backe, Wandy and Zeke Astacio in this series, besides Pettitte. The bats will need to step up; three of four is definitely possible, but we'll need to pitch as we did in the Cards series, and hit as we did before the break.

P.S. It has been called to my attention that I made an errant statement about Eckstein and his OPS being second on the Cardinals. Such was not the case. Guys like Edmonds and Rolen were higher. I was looking at some kooky split or something and got confused. What can I say? I'm an idiot.

The Bottom Two NL OBP's
OBP Pirate Pos Astro OBP
.265 Ryan Doumit C1 Brad Ausmus .329 x
x .298 Humberto Cota C2 Humberto Quintero .150
.325 Daryle Ward 1B Lance Berkman .400 x
.315 Jose Castillo 2B Craig Biggio .348 x
.265 Jack Wilson SS Adam Everett .296 x
.314 Freddy Sanchez 3B Morgan Ensberg .385 x
x .377 Jason Bay OF1 Willy Taveras .329
x .381 Matt Lawton OF2 Chris Burke .286
x .403 Craig Wilson OF3 Jason Lane .281
.318 Tike Redman OF4 Orlando Palmeiro .356 x
x .354 Rob Mackowiak Util/PH Eric Bruntlett .288
.074 Dave Williams P1 Brandon Backe .324 x
.154 Mark Redman P2 Ezequiel Astacio .167 x
.000 Ian Snell P3 Wandy Rodriguez .250 x
x .161 Josh Fogg P4 Andy Pettitte .100