I'd like to say that it's not that the St. Louis Cardinals lost three of their four games with the Cincinnati Reds, it's how they lost them that bothers me.
But it's actually both.
I don't know if the Redbirds were believing their own hype or if their recent hot streak was just good luck. Either way, the club looked plain, old flat the last three games and didn't seem very interested in getting up off the mat.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates took advantage of the situation and turned St. Louis' 4 1/2 game lead in the National League Central Division race to a 2 1/2 game advantage.
While John Lackey stunk Wednesday and then lost his composure to get thrown out of an important game and let his team down, Lance Lynn was fantastic Thursday afternoon. He threw eight innings, allowed three hits and one run with six strikeouts and a walk. And, for his effort, Lynn took a loss to fall to 15-9 for the season.
The Cardinals could only answer with three hits of their own. And Lynn had to get one of them. The Birds looked like they might take the lead late in the game when Matt Adams hit a long drive to right field. But Jay Bruce jumped up and snagged what would have been a home run to shut out St. Louis.
Sure Cincinnati starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is a Cy Young candidate. But big deal. I hear the teams that make the post season have pretty good pitchers, too. So the Cardinals can't use that as an excuse. They need to find a way to scratch out a few runs against tough opponents.
One thing about the Cardinals that has left me scratching my head is the way manager Mike Matheny deploys his players. It seemed for a couple of weeks that right fielder Oscar Taveras couldn't get on the field. Randal Grichuk and Peter Bourjos were taking his playing time -- and the Birds were winning games left and right.
Now, just as suddenly, the Cardinals are playing Taveras every day at the expense of Grichuk and Bourjos. He had his first three hit game, which was nice. But since then he's had two hits in 11 at bats over the last three games. I'm not saying he's too bad to play. I just wonder what would make Matheny pull the plug on the guys pushing Taveras for playing time.
The no rhyme or reason lineups make me wonder if winning is the Cardinals top priority.