Since we last spoke, things are on the up and up for the Cardinals. For as much as the six game stand in Oakland and Anaheim twisted my soul into knots, this weekend’s dusting of the Marlins and the anticipation of getting fat on the Astros and Cubs has me wide-eyed and chipper. It also helped that Pittsburgh dropped two of three to the Cubs, bringing the Cardinals back into a tie for 1st place. And while Miami has become the pinata of Major League Baseball – a team that good teams are supposed to pound – any one who has been forced to watch the 2013 Marlins undoubtedly comes away thinking the same thing: they aren’t THAT bad. It’s a young team that makes bonehead mistakes and is cutting its teeth on the fly, but there’s enough talent and 95 mph fastballs there to kill you if you don’t have your shield up. So, it was nice to see the team win all three and pull out a couple of tough games.
Pete Kozma returned to the starting lineup on Sunday and promptly went 0-2 with a walk on 7 pitches. Before you get too excited about that base on balls, I’ll point out that it was of the intentional variety and not of Kozma’s making. Basically, Kozma’s day was 2 outs made on 3 pitches. That’s efficiency. It’s also nondescript other than for the fact that Kozma’s in a funk like Bootsy Collins and was given 3 games off to clear his head and practice his swing out of sight, with the hopes that he’d return and not do things like make 2 outs on three pitches.
Lance Lynn pitched a solid game on Sunday, going 7 innings and striking out 7, while only surrendering two runs. More impressively, Lynn managed to tuck another W in his pocket despite the “he’s going to give it away” cloud that hovered over his head all day. And while that cloud was a figment of the overly paranoid imagination of this dedicated fan, a cloud that forms far too often for my liking and flat out ruins a host of otherwise enjoyable games, I still can’t help but worry a bit about Lance Lynn. Lance is a win factory, he’s 29-10 since the start of the 2012 season. He’s also enjoyed a heaping helping of run support from his teammates – Lynn led all qualified pitchers in 2012 and is third in support in 2013. He pitched his way into the 2012 All-Star Game in July, then posted an ominous 6.66 ERA in August.
And here’s the point where you rightfully call me an ingrate. You say, “Oi! Your team is 19 games above .500, tied for the best record in the game, and has a +122 run differential.” All kidding aside, look at that run differential. Ridiculous. But, my response is that I know these things, and they bring me an incalculable amount of joy, but, in my experience, part of being a fan is pointing out everything your team could be doing better all the way up until they win the Championship. Then you soak yourself in beer and happy tears for three days, then go back to saying things like, “if they don’t get a decent SS for next year, I’ll quit watching.” Being a fan is not dissimilar from being an overbearing grandmother. And is it so wrong to want it all? No. And honestly, my complaints are minimal right now. As it stands, the Cardinals have a 96.5% chance of making the playoffs, according to some computer algorithm which also has the Marlins clinging to a 0.1% playoff rope. Take it for what’s it worth. Either way, life’s good right now. Until next week…