Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

Ryan Ludwick extended his hitting streak to 21 games in Saturday's 7-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Some losses just hurt more than others. I know it's early in the season and you have to prepare yourself mentally for the long haul of a grueling 162 game season, but losing to the Pirates is frustrating, but losing to the Cubs is just torture. A loss to the Cubs, describes best the old axiom "The Agony of Defeat".

The Cardinals lost a heartbreaker to the Cubs in 11 innings Saturday when Chicago's third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer off of Cardinals reliever Dennys Reyes to go up two games to one in the four-game series with a 7-5 victory. After winning the first game, St. Louis has dropped two straight and with Chicago's win Saturday, the Cubs are tied with the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central.

Ryan Ludwick extended his hitting streak Saturday to 21-games with a two-run single to put the Cardinals up early 3-0 in the third inning, before eventually losing the game in the 11th. Ludwick went 2-for-5 with the two RBIs and is now hitting .405, certainly good enough you would think to be in the lineup every day. According to SABR research, Ludwick becomes the fifth Cardinals players to enjoy hitting streaks of 20 games or more stretching over multiple seasons, most recently by former Cardinals' manager and third baseman Joe Torre.

Tonight the Cardinals will send Todd Wellemeyer to the mound to face the Cubs' left-hander Ted Lilley, in ESPN's Sunday Night's Baseball broadcast, game time 7:05 PM (CT). The Cardinals are 4-0 against lefties this season, a marked improvement over the last few seasons as St. Louis has often struggled against left-handers. The Cardinals bullpen is bushed as St. Louis will need Wellemeyer to go deep in the game for a chance to even the series.

Tonight's game for sole possession of first place, continues a stretch of 14 straight games to open the season for St. Louis, following a seven-game homestand. The Cardinals first homestand ended in a 5-2 record with a split vs. the Pirates (2-2) and a 3-0 sweep over Houston. This 7-game trip began in Arizona (2-1) before these four contests in Chicago with the Cardinals trying to even the series today.

The team returns to play in St. Louis on April 21 for a 6-game homestand against the Mets & Cubs, following the team's only off-day tomorrow.


--- RHP Josh Kinney gave up a damaging, three-run homer at Arizona a couple of days ago and has been pitching from behind too much, was optioned to Class AAA Memphis to allow rookie RHP P.J. Walters to be put on the roster. Kinney may close at Memphis.

--- RHP P.J. Walters made his big-league debut and blanked the Cubs for the last two innings of his four-inning stint, retiring nine of the last 10 to face him, after getting down 3-0 early. "It definitely could have been a lot worse than it was," said Walters. But he added, "I've got to pitch better and save the bullpen better than I did today. We had to use way too many guys and that can't help us tomorrow."

--- RHP Mitchell Boggs, who I had figured as the Cardinals #6 starter, apparently will fill the role of Brad Thompson in the bullpen, rather than Chris Carpenter's in the rotation.

--- LF Chris Duncan, who has started 12 games, hit safely in his 12th game Saturday and seems to have settled into the No. 5 spot in the batting order.

--- RHP Chris Carpenter (torn left oblique muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list April 15. He is likely out six to eight weeks.

--- 3B Troy Glaus (right shoulder surgery in January 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27. He didn't heal as quickly as we even hoped, let alone the Cardinals and he may not play before July.


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