By: Jim Tsapelas
In the last two games, the St. Louis Cardinals have lost to the two teams with the most to gain if they could unseat the Redbirds from their first-place National League Central Division perch. On Sunday the Cardinals fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates (81-55) by a score of seven to one. On Labor Day the Cards bowed to the Chicago Cubs (79-57) by the score of nine to zip.
St. Louis has lost four of their last five games. In those five games the Cardinals have been outscored thirty to eleven. The nine to nothing ripping by the Cubs was the largest margin of a Cardinal loss to the Cubs since 1981.
Lance Lynn (11-9) who was making his first start since suffering a sprained ankle on August 29th fell behind on the sixth pitch of the game when Chicago’s Dexter Flower hit his seventeenth home run of the year. This was Fowler’s fifth home run to lead off a game. Chicago has homered in sixteen consecutive games for a total of forty-one runs. In the top of the second, Chicago’s Starlin Castro scored on Fowler’s twenty-second double of the year. In the top of the third, an Anthony Rizzo double, his thirty-first of the season, scored Chris Coghlan. Also in the third with Lynn pitching, Rizzo scored on a single by Miguel Montero.
Lynn never really seemed to feel too comfortable or too confident in the two and one-third innings he threw Monday. Lynn threw fifty-nine pitches, thirty-two of which were for balls. For his day, Lynn allowed seven hits, six earned runs, walked two and struck out two.
Lynn was relieved by Seth Maness who pitched two-thirds of an inning to close out the third. Maness gave up a home run of his own to the Cubs’ Addison Russell; it was Russell’s thirteenth homer of the year. The Cubs scored their ninth run in the top of the fifth, with Tyler Lyons’ pitching, when Montero scored on a sacrifice by the Cubs’ starter and former Cardinal Dan Haren (9-9).
On Monday Division rivals the Cincinnati Reds gave the Cardinals a Labor Day gift. The Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates by the score of three to one. At the end of the day on Monday, the Cardinals, thanks to the Pirates loss, maintained their five and one-half game lead in the Central Division. The Cubs gained ground on the Pirates in their fight for the two Wild Card spots. The Cubs are now seven and one-half games behind the Cardinals and are just two games behind Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals shall participate in the post-season. Cardinal Nation may have cause for concern; however, the Central Division is the toughest Division in the National League, if not in baseball. The Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs are all very good teams. Losing to the number two or number three team in one’s Division is a part, a small part, of a one hundred-sixty-two game season.
The Cardinals’ fulltime shortstop and part-time philosopher Jhonny Peralta put the last five games into perspective. On Monday Peralta said in a post game interview, “We’re five games ahead, so there’s nothing to worry about.” Actually Jhonny it is five and one-half games!
Thanks for reading!