Bullpen Almost Blows It, but Cards Hang on to Pull Within 1/2 Game

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When Jake Westbrook came back out in the top of the 9th after letting the Pirates back into the game, giving up four runs in the previous inning, my response woke the neighbors and embarrassed everyone within immediate earshot.

After (thank God!) a 7-run 7th inning, the Cardinals led 12-1, and my only concern was that they had expended all their offense in one game. They’ve had these high-scoring games recently that only punctuated days of frustration, and I was hoping this wasn’t one of them.

Then Mike Matheny sent Westbrook, just back from the DL, to the mound. He gave up four runs, but they went to the top of the 9th up 12-5. I was wondering WTF when Westbrook was allowed to hit with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th (Matheny had been tossed by the ump, so perhaps that had something to do with it), and then watched in disbelief as he came out in the 9th. He gave up another run with a bases-loaded walk before he got the hook. Reliever Carlos Martinez gave up two more before Mujica finally came in and doused the fire.

All this overshadowed another strong effort by Joe Kelly. He doesn’t get many strikeouts, and he gives up lots of walks and hits, but very few runners cross the plate. His line last night: 6 innings, 8 hits, 1 run, 4Ks, 3 walks. He worked his way out of trouble several times, including loading the bases in the first, but escaped unscathed except for a run in the 5th.

The offense was gangbusters against starter A.J. Burnett, as well. The top of the order had 10 of the team’s 16 hits and drove in 8 runs, very important. Carpenter was 2 for 3 and a walk, scoring 3 times and driving in a run. John Jay was 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs. Holiday was 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs, and Beltran was 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Yadi was only 1 for 4, but that was a 3-run homer (after being brushed back):

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http://wapc.mlb.com/stl/play/?content_id=30394095&topic_id=0

Yet I approach the rest of the weekend with trepidation. The Cards need to sweep to get back into position to run for the Division lead. They have 22 games to go, and before last night, I wrote back in late July they were going to be tested in a stretch that saw 3 games against the Braves, 5 against the Pirates, 3 against the Reds, and 4 with the Dodgers. They failed that test. In those 15 games, they went 4-11, losing their first 7 in a row. They then lost 2 of 3 to the Cubs. They rebounded to win series against Pittsburgh, the Cubs, the Brewers, the Braves, and the Reds, only to stall again and go 2-5 against the Reds and the Bucs before last night. After this weekend, the Pirates and Reds play 6 times, while the Cardinals have what should be an easier schedule, with 15 of the remaining 22 games at home.

Wain-O is up today; if there was ever a time for him to be awesome, it’s now.

Later,

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