Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

Saturday's loss to the Houston Astros drop the St. Louis Cardinals into a second place tie with the Philadelphia Phillies for second place in the National League Wild Card race, 5 1/2 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Cardinals start the day, 5 1/2 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers and for anyone other than the ultimate optimist, the chance for an appearance in the playoffs, is down to slim to none.

The Cardinals suffered a tough loss Saturday, after staking starter Braden Looper to a three-run lead after their first at-bat. Looper, couldn't hold the lead with Houston, one of the hottest teams in baseball since the All-Star break, responding, by scoring six runs in the bottom half of the frame.

Looper gave up eight earned runs, as the Cardinals suffered an 8-5 loss at the hands of the Astros.

Albert Pujols, trying to make his case for the National League MVP, had four hits Saturday, falling a triple shy of the cycle. Pujols passed Atlanta's Chipper Jones for the major league lead, with a .362 batting average.

The Cardinals boasting one of the best road records of the season will be trying to avoid the first road sweep of the season Sunday, with every game having more significance to the Cardinals postseason dreams, as they head down the stretch.

NOTES & QUOTES:

...Josh Kinney, a member of the 2005 Inaugural Springfield Cardinals Team, has made a total of three rehab appearances for Springfield. Kinney allowed his first base hit in Friday's appearance, but retired the next three hitters to record his third scoreless innings in his three appearances.

Kinney's claim to fame, for those he don't recall, was that he made six scoreless post-season appearances with St. Louis in 2006, helping the Cardinals win their tenth World Series Title. Kinney had "Tommy John" surgery in 2007 and is expected to join the Cardinals next week.

..."It means that (Sunday) is a really important game," manager Tony La Russia told the Cardinals' official Web site. "We need to salvage a game in this series, and tomorrow is our last chance. ... You don't want to come down here and get swept."

...Who's Hot? Albert Pujols, is hitting .532 (25-for-47) with eight doubles, five home runs, 14 RBIs and 10 runs scored, in the last 12 games.

...Joel Pineiro will return to the Cardinals rotation on Monday, to face the Arizona Diamondbacks.

...Chris Carpenter will throw a bullpen session Sunday and could be preparing to return this season as a reliever, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

...Ray Mileur "My take on the rest of the season, regardless of what happens, the 2008 version of the St. Louis Cardinals, can be considered a success, and the end of phase one of the transition phase.

...September Call Ups: I would suggest you will see, RHP Josh Kinney, LHP Randy Flores, LHP Jaime Garcia & shortstop Brendan Ryan for sure, making the trip to St. Louis, outside of these guys, perhaps they'll bring back RHP Mitchell Boggs and a long shot,to make the trip to the Gateway City, RHP Jason Motte.


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