What do the Cardinals want to do to their loyal fanbase today? Win, lose, suffer, or bleed out. Welcome to the Cardiac Cards Motel. Take your seat, and avoid drinking red bull. Hot tea is located right next to the TV remote along with a shrink’s notepad. Play ball!
The Cardinals like to play the blood pressure game. I think of this 2014 team as a nurse who takes the blood pressure at the local doctor’s office. They wraps the patch around the arm, releases the valve and starts to squeeze the pump. Slowly, the patch tightens on the arms and the blood pressure is read. What if the nurse kept squeezing until the strap blew off and the arm was completely red? This is what the Cards are doing to their fans this week. Playing with their feelings. Raising their blood pressures. Causing people to go on long walks late at night talking to themselves, raising the concern of neighbors.
For the people who don’t think baseball is an intense game, please pay attention to September baseball and then proceed into October madness. Forget March Madness. Forget The Super Bowl. Baseball asks a lot of its fans. Stay with me, through 162 LONG games, off days, bad stretches, lonely periods, great moments and infuriating moments. I laugh at those people who call baseball a quiet feeble game. They know very little about competing and just like contact sports.
Today, the Cards control their fate. After finding a way to lose to Wade Miley and the Arizona Diamondbacks last night, the Cards are still only a game ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings. The Pirates face Johnny “Kicking Impossible” Cueto today, with the Reds ace looking for win #20. The Pirates counter with Gerrit Cole, an 11 game winner who is also nasty and has put together a strong second half. Adam Wainwright takes the mound for the Cards, looking for win #21. He will put on the ace hat again and deal against a team with one true weapon, Mark Trumbo, in their lineup. The Cards are facing righthander Josh Collmenter, a talented young arm who started the year in the bullpen and made his way into the rotation in May. Collmenter has a 1.29 ERA in his last 6 starts and won’t be easy to deal with. The Cards wasted their chance last night to beat up on Miley so now they get the best starter in this rotation.
It seems simple enough. Waino against a pitcher with 38 career starts. This is like sending your best gunslinger to the middle of the street against the kid barely anyone knows about. Just draw and shoot? It’s never that simple but Waino gives me faith because of what he has done in September. The reason I didn’t want him to skip this start was due to the current streak he is on. Why play with that or interrupt that? Waino has been filthy good this month. He is 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA, striking out 29 and walking just 5 in 39 innings. Of the 504 pitches he has thrown in September, 347 have been for strikes. After a shaky start and win over the Pirates early in September where he allowed 4 runs, Waino has allowed 2 earned runs in 33 innings. Sure, if he pitches today, you don’t get him until Game 2 of the National League Division Series. I will take that to solidify the division title. I trust the rest of our rotation to get the job done. The only thing that matters is today’s start.
Here’s the issue. Waino can throw a gem but he needs runs. He needs support. He has gotten that in September, but will it continue today.
Here are a few tips to get some runs.
*Start Oscar Taveras in right field. The young man hasn’t blown the socks off anyone in St. Louis, but he deserves to be a platoon starter at the very least right now. He isn’t getting that. Randal Grichuk is better defensively and has more power, but can’t hit righthanded pitchers as well as Oscar can. Oscar, when right, doesn’t have a LHP-RHP handicap. He has shown the ability to hit either in his pinch hitting role and in his spot starts. There is no reason to keep him on the bench. Grichuk isn’t hitting like Matt Holliday did in 2009 after he became a Cardinal. He has hit well, but not red hot. Start Oscar against the RHP. There is no excuse.
*I like Peter Bourjos, but I don’t like his large strikeout total and his tentative baserunning and inability to slide. He can come off the bench.
*Yadi Molina can show up with the production anytime now. He had a couple good productive September games and then he went ice cold. He is swinging and reaching at pitches and has little power. He will play for his defense but if his bat is not there, he shouldn’t hit above the 7th spot. He had 4 hits in the Cubs series, but he has only driven in 2 runs in his last 10 games. His bat can be lethal when it is on.
*Matt Holliday starts today. He showed flu like symptoms last night but apparently got healthy enough to start today. Why? He’s a warrior and no rookie is taking his spot. All we need, Matt, is one majestic swing for a 3 run home run and then you can sit down.
Pray for runs. Score 4 for Waino and let him spin the curve in there and drop the cutter and locate his heater. Waino will drive these Arizona hitters nuts. He just needs a lead. Don’t play around with the fans feelings any longer. All they want is a winner.
After the season the Cards have put together, it’s amazing they are a win away from the division title. The Brewers led for 150 days and lost their grip. The Pirates started late and are surging. The Reds were disappointments and the Cubs were…the Cubs. It all comes down to today folks.
How bad do the Cards want it? Do the bats show up and support Waino and produce a win or will the shade of gray come down closer on this team’s season? There’s been enough heartbreak to spread around the Midwest this season so if the real St. Louis Cardinals show up today, that would be lovely.
Be a good team today and lock up the division.