And then there was one...
The Cardinals couldn't sweep the Astros Wednesday night. But the magic number is down to one with the Brewers 3-2 win over the Cubs in Milwaukee. It's all academic now. But the bummer is would have been nice to see the Birds win on the field. If the Cubs lose Thursday in San Francisco while St. Louis is idle, the Cardinals will be in the odd position of not being able to pop the corks, under order of manager Tony La Russa, until they win a game on the field. Oh, well...
Cardinals Starter John Smoltz pitched six innings and allowed two runs on five hits. But he dropped to 1-2 as the St. Louis hitters failed to drive in any runs. AP photo.
It would have been nice for Cardinals starter John Smoltz to win the game that clinched the NL Central Division title, since he was on the mound the last time the Redbirds clinched it in 2006. (OK, the mound was in Atlanta and it was the famous "back in" game when St. Louis lost at home on the last day of the season while fans at Busch Stadium did the Tomahawk chop as they rooted for the Braves to beat Houston.)
Smoltz pitched a stong six innings Wednesday, allowing only two runs in the Astros' offense-friendly ballpark. Unfortunately, the Birds' batsmen couldn't score at all and they lost 3-0 while the future Hall of Famer was saddled with another hard luck loss even though he allowed only five hits and no walks while whiffing five.
Unfortunately for Smoltz, he had to face off against the second coming of Cy Young -- at least as far as the Cardinals are concerned -- in the immortal Bud Norris. I kid because Norris is just a rookie. But he has great stuff and the Cardinals weren't able to do a thing with him either time they faced him in 2009.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Ryan Ludwick seemed to snap his recent struggles in a losing effort. He was 2-for-3 with a walk.
Lowlight: Thursday is yet another off-day. How the heck is a team supposed to get hot for the playoffs with 37 off days in the last two months of the season. Come on, schedule makers.