The St. Louis Cardinals came within an eyelash of tying the franchise record for series won in a row with the legendary Stan Musial led clubs of the 1940s.
So, it’s hard to be too disappointed.
But, they lost two of three to the lowly Cincinnati Reds because they couldn’t score with the bases loaded and no one out in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth during the series finale. There’s no way to look at it that doesn’t hurt. Especially when it cost the Redbirds a game against the two teams it is battling in the National League Central, the Chicago Cubs for the division title and the Milwaukee Brewers for the top spot in the wild card derby.
I mentioned a few days ago that the Cardinals were primed for a letdown after riding high for so long in tough road series. It’s almost inevitable. When the streak ended, it happened because the offense ran aground with Paul DeJong and Jose Martinez losing their strokes. St. Louis looked more like Mike Matheny’s team than the one Mike Shildt turned around, striking out in bunches, failing to move runners up and losing their offensive focus. Even the backbone of the team, the starting pitching, had a tough couple of days.
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Luke Weaver, who claimed that he’d discovered what was wrong with his mechanics at about the time he was pulled from the rotation, seemed he forgot when he got another chance to start. The Cardinals were really fortunate to still be in the game after two innings. So it’s a shame they weren’t able to make the most of it when the pitching staff settled in the middle of the game and kept Cincinnati to a reasonable three runs.
Unfortunately, the Birds don’t have any time to feel sorry for themselves or even to take a breather. They need to get right back on a new hot streak because there are several teams breathing down their collective necks, hoping to strike midnight on what would be a Cinderella season for a team that slept through the first four months of the campaign. They have to play the Washington Nationals and Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer trying to avoid an ill-timed three-game losing streak.
That’s not going to be easy, especially for a struggling offense.
At the very least, the Cardinals need to find a way to take two of three games against the Nationals, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Detroit Tigers to solidify their position before they get back into playing team fighting for their playoff lives, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and, after a set against the San Francisco Giants, a head-to-head match with the Brewers.
It’s be nice if St. Louis could end up on the right end of a sweep in one of those series to get a head of steam up.
One thing the Birds have to look forward to is adding Adam Wainwright back into the mix. The longtime St. Louis ace completed another rehab assignment without allowing a single run and seems like he’s back on top of his stuff for the first time in a long time. Wainwright, over the past couple of years has looked good in short stints but hasn’t been able to keep it together for a long stretch. The good news is that he’s had a long rest and there is only a little bit of season left. All he needs is a strong three to four weeks. And, with as tight as things have been, one player could make all the difference.