Cheap Seats

May 11: Cubs 11, Cardinals 4

I've long been of the belief that it doesn't matter if you win -- or lose -- by one run or 100. A win is a win and a loss is a loss.

But that doesn't apply if a team isn't making its best effort. And the Cardinals sure seemed to be going through the motions Wednesday night.

Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook, who had made three strong starts in a row after a lousy first four, was shaky before an hour-long rain delay. But he was terrible after the return seemingly tossing pitches to Wee Bears hitters without a plan. He gave up five straight hits in the third inning to open the flood gates for six Chicago runs.

The Cardinals have lost only four games this season more than two runs. Is it a coincidence that Westbrook has started three of them?

Westbrook is a ground ball pitcher and the St. Louis infield isn't exactly the quality that we're used to. But the second year St. Louis hurler isn't getting nicked. He's being hit hard and often. Billed as an "innings eater" when he was signed to a two-year deal, Westbrook has managed six or more frames three times in eight starts. He's manged less than five innings in three of those outings.

The blowout did offer the Redbirds a chance to let Ryan Franklin pitch for the second time in May. And, by comparison, he made Westbrook look better. It's unfair to Franklin that he's expected to perform when he's allowed to sit for so long and gather rust. And it was beneficial for him to take one for the team and pitch three innings to save the rest of the bullpen. But the seven hits -- including a pair of triples and four earned runs he surrendered prove Franklin is just wasting a roster spot if this is how the Cardinals plan to use him. They might as well cut him loose and let Franklin try to salvage his career with a fresh start.

To add injury to insult, Ryan Theriot apparently pulled a rib cage muscle in the losing effort. That's a shame since his two hits in three at bats doubled his total for the month.

Cardinals Star of the Game: Nick Punto joined Colby Rasmus and Theriot in the two hit club for the night. I really appreciate the fire and effort he brings to the line-up, which is a good thing since he's going to see a lot of it if Theriot misses much time. Three of the Birds' four starting infielders are currently injured.

Cardinals Play of the Game: Matt Holliday saved Franklin a fifth earned run in the fourth inning when he gunned Kosuke Fukuodome out at the plate when he tried to score from second on a single.

Lowlight: Westbrook's idling performance.

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