I started to put something together last night, but decided it would be smarter for me to sleep on it. I wasn't exactly in the best mood last night, you see. And even this morning, I don't exactly have warm fuzzy feelings about the Cardinals chances this year. But they are still a team that has won 112 games, so I'm not quite ready to give up just yet. First, a couple of things from the weekend.
If you had told me before the game that the Cards would score 9 runs with Woody on the hill, I would have chalked up a victory. Unfortunately, the BoSox had other things in mind. Overall, this game was frustrating from a bullpen point of view. But with that being said, to have been trailing 7-2 on the road in the 3rd inning and come back to tie the game - twice - not to mention have the tying runs on base in the 9th inning? We need to keep that in the back of our minds as we face the rest of this series. That was a game that really should have been over early, yet it wasn't.
Scoring 9 runs with no help from Pujols and Rolen was something else as well. To have both of those guys hit into double plays, as well as Rolen and Edmonds standing the bases loaded late in the game? Just missed it. This game also proved that yes, Keith Foulke is good but no, he's not Brad Lidge. Unlike the NLCS, these games aren't over as soon as the closer is summoned to pitch the last 2 or 3 innings of the game.
Entering this game, I didn't feel good about Morris on 3 days' rest. I sort of understood it, mind you, but I didn't like it. With Schilling put together with duct tape, though, I thought the Cards should be able to outlast them. Well, I was wrong. While Schilling wasn't great, he was good enough. And while Morris wasn't completely horrible, he wasn't anywhere near good enough. He really should have been out of that 1st inning, with a pair of 2 out walks after having Manny and Ortiz set up 0-2. But, Morris just can't blow anyone away anymore.
In the fifth inning, Mike Matheny gets a leadoff single in a 4-1 game. Marlon Anderson, a guy who hit around .200 in the 2nd half, is up with the top of the lineup behind him. Schilling's ankle is bleeding, Mueller has already committed 2 of his 3 errors on the night. Why not bunt there and make one of those two guys - hopefully Schilling - make a play? That completely drove me nuts.
Speaking of taking advantage - to have the other team commit 4 errors and only score 2 runs is horrible.
Jason Marquis pitching in the 8th inning? I haven't seen anything anywhere, but that leads me to think that Dan Haren may be starting Game 4. While I like Haren in Game 4, here is my complaint. If they don't mind Haren starting Game 4, why didn't they start him in Game 2 in the first place, putting the Cards in a better position to win? Morris could have started Game 4, and Haren would have been available to start Game 6. As is, the Cardinals will have to start Morris again this series if they are going to win it. Of course, the Haren start is pure speculation on my part right now.
Remainder of the Series
As ugly as the weekend was, the series isn't quite over yet. (It's only mostly dead - call Miracle Max.) In my mind, Game 3 is huge, big, gargantuan. If the Cards can beat Pedro Martinez, the series changes, even if it's ever so slightly. After Pedro, the Red Sox will start Derek Lowe, and then back to Tim Wakefield. I personally trust Woody to turn things back around for Game 5 more than I do Wakefield. And the Sox will not have the benefit of the DH in the next 3 games, hurting their offense slightly, as well as hurting their defense slightly. (Although, with the range Millar had at 1st, I'm not sure how Ortiz can be any worse.)
From my perspective, I completely expect the Cardinals to win Games 4 and 5 in St. Louis, especially if Haren does start Game 4. That's why I think Game 3 is so important. I would much rather see the Cardinals head back to Boston needing to take 1 out of 2, instead of needing to win both.
If the series does switch back to Boston? According to reports on KFNS in St. Louis this morning, Boston radio is saying that Schilling is doubtful to start Game 6. If that is true - and believe me, it's way too early to believe that - then the Red Sox will have to be careful with their bullpen in Game 5.
There is still a lot of baseball left to be played. This weekend was so frustrating, as the Cardinals just didn't look like the same fundamental team that had so methodically won game after game this year. But as dark as it seems this morning, one little win on Tuesday night would dramatically shift the look of this series in my eyes, if nothing else.