Well, being down 2-1 isn't the end of the world but it's certainly a view that Cardinals fans aren't relishing. The number doesn't scare me—it's only one game and it's not an elimination game. That being said I wouldn't say all is well in Cardinal Nation.
Where did the 100 win Cardinals go? Game one was a masterpiece—the guys in red played the kind of ball that we knew they were capable of. It was about as tight a game as I'd seen them play behind Chris Carpenter's dominant pitching attack. Games two and three however were sloppier and wasted solid outings by Mark Mulder and Matt Morris. Passed balls, throwing errors, questionable routes to fly balls while not necessarily official "errors" certainly didn't live up to the hard-playing, hard-fielding team that I've spent the past six months watching. In short, the Astros have played hard but the Cardinals have gotten themselves in trouble in the last two games. A wise man once told me the rule of holes: if you find yourself in one, stop digging. The Cardinals need to stop giving the Astros extra outs, extra bases and extra opportunities—they're a tough team and need to be played hard for nine innings.
Of course this isn't all gloom and doom, there is a silver lining. Roy Oswalt threw a gem of a game, but Mark Mulder hung in there and showed that Walt wasn't crazy bringing him in. Matt Morris actually fared better than I had expected—frankly putting Matty Mo in the Juice and only seeing one long ball was amazing. What's more, offensively the Cardinals roughed up Pettite, hung in with Oswalt and saw Clemens look vulnerable, if not outright shaken throughout much his outing. If the Cardinals can pick themselves up this series is still not only win-able but can be just what they need to take up their game that one last level to take it all.
The biggest indication that
things could be turning was the Cardinals finally coming to terms with the
monkey on their back that's called Brad Lidge. I'm all for respecting an opponent, but
the guys look outright intimidated at the plate. Leave it to John
And finally, it just seems fitting that this postseason is playing out like the regular season. With Larry Walker clearly ailing, Sanders and Nunez shaken up many might start to proclaim that the end is near, but this is the team that hast lost its corner outfielders and third baseman before and still came together for 100 wins in the regular season. If anything will get this team on track, going back to the patchwork brawlers of the 162 game marathon might infuse the lineup with the focus and energy that's been a bit sporadic lately.
Now if they lose Sunday, it might be time to worry…
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