Friday night featured a golden opportunity for the St. Louis Cardinals to pick up a game in the National League wildcard race. Owners of the second spot by two games, the Cards did just the opposite. They lost a 3-2 game on another walkoff against the lowly Cincinnati Reds at Great American(Opinions may vary) Ballpark. That's three walkoff losses in Cincy for the Reds against the Cards.
Overall, since August 1st, the Cards have lost 10 games against Cincinnati, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Oakland. Add up those teams records and you get a mark that is 104 games under the .500 mark this year overall. That's bad folks. It's not the work of a prospective playoff team looking to get hungry late.
August looked like a month for the Cards to blaze a trail through the wildcard competition and instead they went 14-13 and left the door open. Can September be any different? Friday was a false start.
Alex Reyes pitched six competent innings and Yadier Molina and Randal Grichuk helped extend the Cards home run streak, but those were the lone bright spots. The relievers constantly lit gasoline fires around the mound, loading the bases in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. It bit them hard in the end. Will the lack of execution cost the Cards this fall as the playoffs loom? The Cards don't play like a playoff caliber club nor one fans can trust.
2016 has been an odd season for the fans to digest. This Birds team is approaching Hitchcockian status. The starting pitching has been average at best, and their 4.00+ ERA backs that up. The bullpen has experienced upheaval and change, with Trevor Rosenthal going down midseason and Kevin Siegrist looking like a guy on the verge of a big injury(elbow related). The offense ranks among the top 5 in the majors in slugging(.447) and home runs. Their 191 home runs sit only five long balls behind the Toronto Blue Jays.
The final month isn't going to be as forgiving or easy for the Cards. A pivotal series against Pittsburgh(two games back in wildcard) starts Monday. The Cubs and San Francisco Giants await during the middle portion of the month while series at Wrigley land on September 23-25 and the season ends against the Pirates on October 2nd. It will be earned.
However, there are layups on the schedule as well. The Cards get this weekend in Cincy to right the ship and face Milwaukee for four games next weekend before getting Colorado for three and the Reds for four to start the last homestand of the season just over three weeks. Stop messing around and beat up the bad teams. Spoiler subplot and all, the Reds shouldn't deter a hard hitting team like the Birds. It's reaching ridiculous status.
Here's the good thing about baseball. Every day is a chance to get things right. You don't play once a week. The Cards have taken the field today in Cincinnati and already have a 1-0 lead with a runner in scoring position. They've taken the lead on a home run in the first. Can they hold up and get the win? Can they win Sunday? It will depend on their ability to put it all together. Pitching, defense, and power.
It's been watching the Cards emulate a Michael Bay summer action film this season. It's time for them to transition into a fall heavyweight contender by winning the closer battles.
While they haven't been consistent or trustworthy, the talent is there for a good run.