There was a moment late in Sunday’s game against the Astros that I felt may be indicative of the Cardinals this year. The birds had just scored five runs on two hits, a couple of errors, and a passed ball to take a 5–4 lead. When Houston came up to bat in the eighth, it was pretty apparent the game was on the line with Tejeda and Berkman coming up. It struck me as an important moment not only in the game, but maybe the season.
The should be closer and current 7th or 8th inning rookie, Mike Perez, had been put into the game. Tejeda dove into the first pitch swinging for the fences. The next pitch came in high and tight about 96 miles per hour. Tejeda, who was once again diving across the plate, hit the dirt flat on his back as the ball sailed past the spot where his head used to be. Tejeda dove in far less aggressively for the remainder of the at bat and ended up striking out. Berkman grounded to second, and before you know it, the inning is over.
Perez, a youngster, made it very clear to a couple of veterans that he wasn’t going to take any of their shit. That’s becoming this team’s makeup: a few hard nosed veterans and some young kids who appear to be pretty intense in their desire to not only win the game, but also keep playing in the major leagues. Sadly, it appears they’re going to need a whole hell of a lot more of such desire.
It looks like Adam Wainwright may be out for awhile and that really doesn’t bode well for the Redbirds. Adam’s has had a few bad starts this year, but for the most part, he’s been solid and as close to an ace as the Cards have this year, at least until Chris Carpenter comes back. They say it’s a tendon problem in his finger. They also say he’ll be out anywhere from two weeks to the rest of the season. Apparently, the medical staff doesn’t really deal in specifics all that much. Either way, it’s a wait-and-see approach that will probably turn into a wait-and-wait-and-wait some more approach.
It’s bad, but it seemed a whole lot worse two days ago. It looks as if Todd Wellemeyer is back in the rotation. He had some elbow stiffness and will probably miss a start, but otherwise appears to be ready. I can’t really believe I’m writing this, but that guy has been a complete stud this year and we really need him. It’s probably a little of everything, but Todd seems to have come into his own this year. Pitching coach Dave Duncan certainly helped, but it seems like confidence and maturity may have been what he needed most. Freakishly, he may end up being the key to the rest of the season.
Joel Pinero is also coming back from a hamstring problem. You know what? The guy’s okay with me. I think he gets pretty lucky here and there and it’d be nice if he could go over five or six innings every so often, but he’s a decent enough back of the rotation guy. Regardless of what I think, the Cards really need him to step up.
In the meantime, it seems we are once again trying to patch together a rotation to help us slip by for the next two or three weeks. It seems like this happens every damned year. It usually ends up okay, though it has failed miserably a few times. A few times, it’s worked out splendidly. We just have to hope for the best and assume Dave Duncan can make anyone a good pitcher.
The team doesn’t appear to be strong enough offensively to outslug their opponents, so up until the All-Star Break, the pitching staff (whoever it may be) will have to keep us in ballgames. They don’t have to pitch shutout ball, but they better keep it under five runs if the team has any plans of winning.
If we hang tough until the break, help should come along. Carpenter may be back, maybe even Clement or Mulder, though I doubt it on the last two. Even without any of them, if the team is close, management will probably make a move for a pitcher. The problem is that the guy will still have to beat out a bunch of kids that want to take his job.