Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Streaks

Not Okay

Throughout the course of the season teams go through various ups and downs. The Brewers, the very team staring down from first place at us, had a seven game losing streak themselves early on in the season. In 2006, the Cardinals had two eight game losing streaks en route to winning the World Series. Obviously stranger things have happened.

That doesn’t mean they should.

Losing makes me grumpy. Blowouts, lost leads, walk offs, they all bum me out. I’m far from a fair weather fan, and if anything I’m a glutton for punishment, seeing as how I watched all the way down to the very last pitch the last three games, and the two that I was in attendance for in Milwaukee I stayed in my seat until the players were shaking hands. I know things will swing back around.

They always do.

Already last night, it was obvious the difference that Matt Holliday makes in the lineup, especially since he wasted no time showing that he hadn’t lost a millisecond in his bat swing. Likewise, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina set off some fireworks of their own with home runs. It felt like those early in the season sweet moments when you knew that the team was going to find a way to win. Especially after managing to tie it up (TWICE), I could feel it coming!

There was something missing last night. Table setters. Home runs rock, but solo home runs don’t get just too many runs up on the board, especially when the other team is finding ways to get two and three runs at a time via the home run or just some good old fashioned small ball. Having the top two in the order (Tyler Greene and Colby Rasmus) having 0-for-5 nights hurt, but 2 double plays, an 0-for-5 for the team with runners in scoring position, and a team total of 7 left on base makes it tough to win ballgames.

But you know, I sure like watching games like that more than blowouts or lost leads. To me that says that there are minor adjustments to make, and when the support team is all getting back in the game, things will get better.

Then again, maybe the boys just need some home cooking. Just in time! Tonight they’re back at home, facing those visitors from the west side of the state in the Royals. The Cards took 2 of 3 from the Royals back in May, but since then the Royals have gone 8-14 and tumbled even further down the AL Central standings. Seeing as how the Brewers, Cardinals, Reds and Pirates are all withing a handful of games of each other, now would be a great time to pick up a few quick wins.

Go Cards! 🙂

Who are the 2010 Cardinals, really?

Chris Lee/STLToday.com

Here we are again. Another off day, two more losses tacked onto the latest losing streak (which is tied for the longest of the season), now trailing the Reds by three games in the NL Central (tied for this year’s biggest deficit), the Giants (who took two of three from the Cards out in San Francisco in late April) headed to town to conclude what’s been a rotten home stand for a team that had a great home record …

The Cardinals are 7-7 for August, which seems appropriate: mediocre once again. In this latest losing streak, it’s the offense that’s (once again) the source of the dive, particularly against the Brewers. This is after the team scored four or more runs every day from July 31 until the streak started last Saturday, Aug. 14.

With the exception of Albert (who had at least one hit in each game), the numbers over the last four games for the rest of the team look expectedly anemic given the game results. Matt Holliday was 2 for 15, Yadi was 1 for 13, Felipe Lopez and Jon Jay were each 2 for 13, Allen Craig was 1 for 11. The team struck out 26 times, with six for Jay alone. Each of the Big Three starters had a loss, with each having a quality start. Jaime’s loss was particularly painful, since he allowed no earned runs in his six innings Tuesday night. Yesterday was Adam Wainwright’s first loss at home this year.

Yet this all seems familiar, right? Déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra famously said. Maybe instead of inconsistency being the defining trait of this team, it’s underachievement. This is a team with five All-Stars, a team picked to run away with the NL Central. And at times, obviously, they do play like that team. They have won 65 games and are still 12 games over .500. The pitching overall is still number three in the majors in ERA, and the Big Three are in the NL top eight in ERA (with Wainwright still first with 2.06). BODY { MARGIN: 8px}.LW-yrriRe { FONT: x-small arial}.MsoNormal { MARGIN: 0px}Albert is leading the league in RBI with 87, tied for first in homers with 31 and fourth in batting average at .314. But there are the Reds, playing the way they are. The “last 10 games” column in the standings is one I always look at. Currently the Reds are 7-3, the Cardinals 5-5.

Driving home last night, thinking about what to write, the song “I’ve Seen Better Days” by Citizen King came on the radio. Seemed appropriate. Then, listening to the chorus, I wondered if it was fitting for this latest streak or a sign of things to come: “I’ve seen better days – and the bottom drops out.”

There are six-and-a-half weeks left, so plenty of time for things to happen. A Twins fan friend reminded me yesterday that last year her team was seven games out in early September and still made the playoffs. Anything truly can happen. And I’ll guess we’ll see what the legacy of the 2010 team will be – one that lives up to its pre-season predictions and five All-Stars potential, or one that has the bottom drop out and fades away.

The Streak Climbs Higher and Higher

And so it continues …

By winning number 8 in a row last night, the Cardinals exceeded a 7-game winning streak for the first time since 2006. Now they have the longest streak since another memorable year, 2004. And watching the team play over the last week reminds me a lot of that amazing 2004 team. They’re playing with confidence, they’re playing with energy – even when they’re trailing or tied, you know they’re going to come back and get it done.

Winning is obviously fun. The always quotable Brendan Ryan provided some words of wisdom on winning after Tuesday night’s game. “It can be contagious and it sure seems like it’s gotten contagious. We know in the first half we never played our ‘A’ game. We’d like to find out what our ceiling is.”

That’s the intriguing thing about winning streaks: you never know how long they will last or the ultimate impact they will have. And the end to a particular streak doesn’t necessarily mean the rollercoaster is headed back down. Look at the White Sox. Before the All-Star break, they won 25 of 30 games (including winning streaks of 11 and 8 games each) and propelled themselves from 9 1/2 games back and third place on June 9 to first place by a half-game on July 11. Since the break, the Sox are 3-4 but have built their lead to 2 1/2 games.

In addition to the Cardinals’ ongoing streak, they have won 9 of their last 10 games and, in doing so, beaten three of the “charter members of the Cardinals Killer club” in the process: Bud Norris on July 9, Kyle Kendrick on Monday and now Joe Blanton last night. So things have definitely turned around!
The Cardinals’ eight wins have come in a variety of ways, with a variety of heroes, as Angela detailed in yesterday’s photos of the week. Last night was another strong pitching performance, as Jaime Garcia was outstanding in his 7 innings and allowed only 1 run on 4 hits (with the run coming on a homer to Ryan Howard). Perhaps best of all, Jaime threw only 95 pitches to go those 7 innings. Offensively, Albert gave the Cards a short-lived 1-0 lead when he drove in Wonder Boy Jon Jay (pictured above, and he went 2 for 3 last night with a sacrifice bunt). Hunky Matt Holliday continued his homer tear to put the Cards up 2-1 in the 7th – giving Jaime the well-deserved victory. In the 8th, the Cardinals added three more runs thanks to Everyone’s Nemesis Aaron Miles, Brendan (with help with a Phillies error), Felipe Lopez and Colby Rasmus. Even Ryan Franklin had the opportunity to bat that inning, since he came in to get the final out in the top of the 8th. Not that Franklin actually did anything with the bat, however – like even swing it at all. But he stood there to get the third out before heading back out to pitch his way to save number 18.

Who knows how high up the ceiling is for the Cardinals this season? Thankfully, that’s still to be decided so we can just appreciate the games and enjoy the ride. And we don’t have long to find out how if they can sweep the entire homestand: game four against the Phillies is this afternoon at 1:15 p.m. Central time, with Adam Wainwright going for his second win of the streak.

Photo: UPI/John Boman Jr.

Photo Diary of a Winning Streak

7 wins in a row. Beautiful feeling, isn’t it? 

We’re switching things up here on Cardinal Diamond Dairies and moving our photo day to Wednesday. Today instead of just random pictures I’m trying something out – a photo from each day of the 7 game streak (plus a bonus shot – you’ll see)! Hope you enjoy it!

7/11/2010 – Cardinals 4, Astros 2
Matt Holliday provided almost all of the offense with this 3 run blast the day before the All-Star break began. I don’t know how to point out the packet of sunflower seeds in his pocket that made me laugh without sounding like a #chickcomment… so there you go.

David J. Phillip – AP Photo

7/13/2010 – NL 3, AL 1
I couldn’t help but put in a shot of the Cards’ All-Stars together at the game in Anaheim. Hey, our team won that night too, so it fits!

Kirby Lee – US Presswire

7/15/2010 – Cardinals 7, Dodgers 1
The Cardinals jumped right back in after the break, putting up seven runs against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, who had been very effective against the Cards… until this night. After a day in which we were treated to no baseball at all, it was nice to be back seeing scenes like this one of Chris Carpenter pitching in the fifth inning.

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

7/16/2010 – Cardinals 8, Dodgers 4
You can’t help but enjoy a game that features runs and flashy defensive plays like this one Albert Pujols made from the seat of his pants! Two games after the break we were seeing what looked like a team that was putting things together. Solid pitching, scoring runs in bunches and defense? We love it!

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/17/2010 – Cardinals 2, Dodgers 0
With Adam Wainwright on the mound, thankfully the Cards didn’t need more than two runs on this day. Close games like this mean turning solid double plays like Skip Schumaker does here. Note where his feet are. Where is second base? (I’ll spare you all from the “Who’s on First?” joke I almost made here.)

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/18/2010 – Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4
The Cards were rather rude hosts to the Dodgers, running them out of town with ninth inning heroics on Joe Torre’s 70th birthday no less! Allen Craig didn’t care about Torre. He had his own 26th birthday to worry about, and he did it in style, making the hit to tie the game in the ninth inning and set up Matt Holliday for the game winning hit in the next at-bat!

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

7/19/2010 – Cardinals 8, Phillies 4
Back to back days of come from behind wins. This is a treat we were not privy to in the first half of the season. The team started chipping away at an early 3-0 hole behind Blake Hawksworth, scoring a single run in both the first and second inning before exploding for three home runs (including Allen Craig’s first big league HR!) and five runs in the fifth to blow the game open. This photo? Yadier Molina picking Jason Werth off first in the third inning. I like Albert sticking his tongue out at Werth. ‘Nana nana boo boo. We got you!’

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/20/2010 – Cardinals 7, Phillies 1
After a couple less than Carp-like starts towards the end of the first half, Carpenter has been a rockstar since the break, throwing 62 strikes over 90 pitches in eight dominant innings last night against the Phillies. Randy Winn kicked off the fireworks in the third inning with his second home run in as many days, and Matt Holliday put the game away for good with his three run blast in the fifth that put the Cards up 6-0. 

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

Winning is fun. How about we keep it going tonight, say 7:15? Jaime Garcia will be there…

These things happen

Obviously the Cardinals are in an ugly stretch right now. The month of May has been awful so far (a record of 6-8 to date) after a successful April when the Cards were 15-8. Yes, as many on Twitter lamented and as online coverage is continuing to hype, the Cardinals are now in second place in the NL Central, half a game behind the Reds. (Both teams have 21 wins, by the way.)

Let’s all take a deep breath and relax. These things happen.

And these things happened a year ago too. The 2009 Cardinals went 13-14 in May, fell from a 4-game lead over the Brewers on May 1 to a tie May 13-14, then fell further to a low of 3 games behind the Brewers May 18-19. They did tie the Brewers again on May 23, even had a 1-game lead on May 27, then shuffled back and forth in May and June. Speaking of June 2009, do you remember how terrible it was? The Cards record was 12-17. Then there was that brief period in early August when the Cubs tied the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. (I remember it clearly, as it started on my birthday.)

It’s not just this and last season where these things happen either. Our friend Bob Netherton, known as Throatwarbler on Twitter and his very informative blog, had some interesting information about the 1968 National League pennant-winning Cardinals. They started the season 20-10. Then, “the Cardinals would hit a bit of an early season slump, going 2-11 over the next 13 games, including losing six of seven games against the Philadelphia Phillies.” By May 29, the Cardinals had fallen to fifth place, 3 games behind the Giants. (As an aside, if you are on Twitter and not following Bob – @throatwarbler – please do so. You will learn much! If you’re not on Twitter, his blog is available at http://throatwarbler.wordpress.com/.)

So, on May 17 and with 124 games remaining, there’s no need to panic about the 2010 Cardinals. There are, however, definitely reasons to be concerned.

  • The string of quality starts by the rotation ended and, after yesterday, every starter but Jaime Garcia has had a non-quality start this month. The starters have now allowed homers in five consecutive games. (At least everyone is getting involved.)
  • The Cards have grounded into 17 double-plays with runners in scoring position this season, according to yesterday’s post-game report on FS Midwest. This is the most in the majors.
  • Then there’s the offense overall. Yeah, we all know how terrible it’s been, about the lack of hitting and timely hitting, the number of strikeouts, Brendan Ryan … No need to get into details.
Lucikly, amid the bleakness, there are a few bright spots.
  • Skip Schumaker now has a 6-game hitting streak and has hits in 12 of the 14 games he’s played this month.
  • Erika detailed the latest on Ryan Ludwick on Saturday, and his hitting streak reached 8 games later that day before ending when he pinch-hit yesterday.
  • Courtesy of the STLToday.com, David Freese entered Sunday with 29 RBIs in his first 50 major-league games. Only four players in franchise history — Albert Pujols (51), Joe Cunningham (36), Ray Jablonski (36) and Wally Moon (32) — have generated more in their first 50 games.
  • Jaime Garcia continues to do nothing but impress. His current 1.42 ERA is second in the National League.
  • The pitching overall still has the third-best ERA in the Majors, currently 2.91, trailing only the Padres (2.64) and Rays (2.75).

In closing, perhaps some advice from the reigning NL MVP is best: “There’s no pressure. We need to pick each other up. That’s the key.” And the next chance to do that is tonight at 7:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time.

Photo: May 13, 2010; UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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