18-8 can be a dangerous thing.

It can hide fatal flaws. It can mask limp batting. It can make you think you're better than you are.

The Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh before coming home to face the woeful Astros and the middling Reds. 10 games over .500 will be a reality soon again. And many in Cardinal Nation will say the team is back
on track. It was a bad 3 games in Philly. Who cares? Long season. It's early. And various other platitudes that patronize mediocrity and celebrate the obvious.

For the rest of us? A 4 game stretch against the Phillies was pure nightmare fuel.

Last week we thought Philly might be better than the Cardinals. This week we know it.

I can't say this enough- The Cardinals have already won the NL Central. They will be in the playoffs. This is not in question. But with this team, a division title isn't and shouldn't be the goal. They should consider anything less than a World Series a failure.

And that means the Cardinals have to figure out how to beat one team in the NL... the same team that dominated them for three straight games with little muss. Or fuss.

But how?

Hitting the baseball would be a start.

Figuring out what's wrong with Kyle Lohse could help.

Sending multiple hookers to Roy Halladay's place with a vile of syphilis is mandatory.

But that? Whatever THAT was wasn't working in Citizen's Bank Ballpark. And while it's easy to take shots at a middle reliever when he gives up a 10th
inning shot, the fact of the matter is that the Cardinals have several very high priced players that didn't show up to win the game for their team this week.

Big time players, make big time plays, when it matters. I can't point to one instance where the Cardinals had anyone figuratively or literally step up to the plate and make the Phillies pay when it would have swung the balance of a game.


Matt Holliday. Albert Pujols. Kyle Lohse. These are highly priced players that will need to thrive in the post-season. And the earliest audition of 2010 was a cold slap of reality. Right across the brow.

The Cardinals are not as good as the Phillies. We now know this.

The question is, who will prevent a Dodgers sequel in October? The answer at this point is still very much in question.

Aaron Hooks is managing editor of
CardsDiaspora.com and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He writes every Friday for InsideSTL. Follow him on Twitter.

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