Friday night’s game demonstrated exactly why Thursday’s loss was so devastating.
It had nothing to do with the emotional letdown (which was real), or the select few bullpen arms that have been heavily overused during the run (which they have). It has to do with margin for error. Trailing Atlanta by one game with 6 to play would have given the team margin. Down two with six to play gave them no margin.
Did anyone really expect Chicago to come into St Louis and roll over? The rivalry has been a tad bit one-sided, especially in terms of playoff appearances and World Series titles, but it is still a rivalry. Chicago is in St Louis, playing the Cardinals in a series those Cardinals absolutely have to have, with a chance to sink their playoff aspirations. Of course Chicago is going to play hard – this is their playoff series. Ryan Dempster kept the Cubs in the game, and Alfonso Soriano crushed the Cardinals with a eighth-inning 3-run HR.
There were plenty of people on Twitter after the game exhorting folks to not lose hope, and to not jump off the bandwagon. Certainly there is a fair number of fans who will throw up their arms in disgust and walk away from the Cardinals after the last 2 losses. I am a fan, and I know fan is short for fanatic which is usually associated with irrational loyalty to a cause or individual, but in a game ruled by numbers one has to be coldly rational. Atlanta has to lose 3 of their remaining 5 games for St Louis to have a chance. In order for St Louis to have that chance they have to win out.
They have to win out.
Atlanta plays two more against a bad Nationals team and 3 against a Phillies squad more concerned with setting up their pitching staff for the NLDS. Atlanta losing 3 games this week is a long shot.
Being a fan means you stick with the team through thick and thin. It’s been a fantastic ride in September with the 2011 Cardinals. No one still reading this blog expected the team would rise from 10.5 games out to get within a game of the wild card lead. Late on a Friday night in San Diego, David Freese’s HR to win Wednesday is starting to look a lot like the Cardinals Zenith for this season. It evokes memories of Dmitri Young’s triple in Game 4 of the 1996 NLCS that gave St Louis a 3-1 series lead. St Louis scored 1 more run in that series and lost in 7.
St Louis has lost 2 straight and trails by 3 with 5 to play. Realistically I don’t see them getting into the post-season.