The good news is that the Cardinals brought home an important win Thursday night against a capable division rival.
The bad news is that there is no way this team can play the whole season with half a bullpen and a shaky bench and not be torn to bits.
The baseball season is a marathon. A long grind. And it is simply impossible to believe that the Cardinals can win their division and make it to the playoffs if each of their wins is going to be this tough.
They led 6-0 at one point. The opener of the Milwaukee series should have been a laugher and an opportunity to rest the overtaxed arms in the pen. Instead, poor defense and an another awful outing by Mitchell Boggs proved the fact that no Cardinals opponent is ever really out of a game.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Brewers had the tying run on base or at the plate in each of the last three innings and St. Louis had to use every semi-reliable reliever it had -- and some of the less reliable ones -- to hang on for a win.
While the relief corps deserves plenty of the blame, there is still enough to go around to the position players.
First, all six of the Cardinals' runs came in one frame. While it was impressive to see seven guys get on base in eight consecutive at-bats, it's discouraging that the Redbirds couldn't mount any offense in their eight other chances.
Second, the game wouldn't have been nearly as close as it was had the defense played up to snuff.
While the scoreboard showed that the Cardinals made only one error, the truth is that defenders missed many chances to make outs that would have drastically changed the complexion of the game.
Left fielder Matt Holliday played a fly out into a ground rule double in the seventh inning that allowed Milwaukee to get back into the contest. That came after Matt Carpenter made a fine diving stop to his right -- but was unable to scramble to his feet in time to get the runner at first.
With a little bit of luck, Joe Kelly would have had a one-two-three inning. Instead manager Mike Matheny called for Mitchell Boggs with the tying run on deck and the deposed St. Louis closer walked the bases full and then walked in a run.
The bullpen gave up four runs in the last three innings Thursday. It was barely enough to get by. This time.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook won his 100th career game with one run allowed on six hits scattered over six innings.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Trevor Rosenthal's strikeout to end the seventh inning.
Lowlight: Another awful performance by the bullpen. Where will the Cardinals find some much-needed help?