The Cardinals are seven games behind the Cincinnati Reds with 20 games to play -- and none of them against the Reds, whom the Cardinals know they can beat.
The Cardinals beat the Reds 12 times in 18 meetings this year. They can't say that about the rest of the National League Central.
A 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Monday night dropped the Cardinals' record to 22-27 against the rest of
the division and 16-24 excluding last-place
There isn't much reason to look at the scoreboard for a while -- unless the Cardinals get a little closer.
"It looks so bad and bleak. Forget it," shortstop Brendan Ryan said. "Win as many as we can, and where we're at, we're at. Living and dying every inning and checking the scoreboard and all that ... I don't even look anymore. Forget it."
The Cardinals lost this one mostly because they stranded 12 runners in a game worked mostly by Cubs rookies. They had the leadoff man on in each of the first four innings and scored in none of them.
CUBS 5, CARDINALS 1: LHP Jaime Garcia's shot at winning National League Rookie of the Year took another hit as his record fell to 13-8. He allowed just two earned runs in six innings but left trailing 4-0.
NOTES AND QUOTES
SS Brendan Ryan has hit safely in his last five games, going 10-for-20 to raise his average to .227. "I'm trying to do what I can," he said. "But it's too little, too late. You're always competing, trying to live another day, both career-wise and in the standings. I'd like to have a job next year in this uniform."
2B Skip Schumaker made an error on a key play Monday, dropping SS Brendan Ryan's low flip on a probable double-play ball in the third inning, though Ryan and manager Tony La Russa said the shortstop was to blame. The Cubs got two unearned runs after that on the way to a 5-1 win. "(The throw) was a little low. So I'm kind of blaming myself," said Ryan. "I'm not happy about it. It cost us a couple of runs. It's disappointing." Said La Russa: "It's Brendan's error, I can tell you that. That's not Skip's error, no way. It was just a bad feed."
LHP Trever Miller, who
had to return from the road last week to have his ailing left forearm examined
RHP Adam Ottavino, who has been out since late July with shoulder inflammation, has been throwing aggressively in the bullpen and hoped to pitch before the end of the season. Manager Tony La Russa. However, said it would take a "major green light" for that to happen.
LF Matt Hollilday, whose batting average is up to .308, had two more hits, extending his hitting streak to five games, in which he is 9-for-19.
OF Nick Stavinoha has spent a couple of tours in the minors this year, but he has made his mark as a pinch-hitter. His pinch single Monday gave him 13 hits in 44 pinch at-bats for a .295 average. His pinch-hit total ranked tied for third in the National League.
By the Numbers:
.300-30-100 - 1B Albert Pujols has only to maintain his average above .300—he has 10 or so points to spare—to achieve a record 10th straight season from the start of a career in which he has hit at least .300 with 30 or more homers and 100 RBI.
Quote to Note:
"The highs are enjoyable but you can't enjoy them for long. The disappointments are painful and you carry them for much longer."
- Tony La Russa, on managing.
LHP Trever Miller (left forearm strain) did not pitch Sept. 7-13. He threw about 25 pitches in an afternoon bullpen session on Sept. 13 and said he would be ready the next day. But manager Tony La Russa said he probably would give Miller the day off and pencil him in for potential duty on Sept. 15.
C Jason LaRue (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 13. He was moved to the 60-day DL on Aug. 19, ending his season.
RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 17. He won't need surgery, but he probably is out for the season. He has been throwing and hopes to get in a game or two, but manager Tony La Russa said it would take "a major green light" for that to happen.
3B David Freese (right ankle surgery in August 2010, left ankle surgery in September 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 15. He was originally out due to a bone bruise on his right ankle, and then he broke his left big toe in mid-July. He tore a right ankle tendon Aug. 2 in his first rehab game with Class AA Springfield, and he had season-ending surgery Aug. 6. He underwent surgery on the left ankle a month later, but he expects to be ready for spring training.
RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 because of tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7 that found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. As of Aug. 5, he was playing catch but not throwing off a mound. Penny is out indefinitely.