posted on September 03, 2013 06:25
The Tuesday Morning Scrappy Utilityman
Last Wednesday, I wrote a column titled “The Resurgence of The Redbirds.”
Since that column appeared six days ago, the Cardinals have lost four of five…and in every one of those losses, they’ve not only been beaten, they’ve been bludgeoned. The Reds and Pirates, each responsible for two of the backside kickings apiece, have combined to outscore the Cardinals by a total of 26 runs in those four wins.
The Resurgence of The Jinx.
Understandably, considering he’s been justifiably considered the Cardinal ace, much of the focus is and will be on Adam Wainwright. Following his 128 pitch complete game on August 23rd against the Braves, Wainwright has gotten rocked twice by the Reds to the tune of 15 earned runs in eight innings pitched. This is the worst two-start span in Wainwright’s career.
Remember that absurd strikeout to walk ratio Wainwright had to start the season? Over his last two starts, Wainwright has struck out just five…but walked four.
Now, before jumping off the Poplar Street Bridge, there is a chance that these two starts are just a hiccup. Hell, it was only 11 days ago that the man pitched a complete game against the team with the best record in the game while striking out nine and walkng none…and only 16 days ago that he beat the Cubs by striking out 11 and walking just one.
But, Cardinal fans have never seen Wainwright look so helpless out on the mound as he has over these last two starts.
“I’m obviously frustrated. This team deserves more out of me. The last two times out I haven’t given them what they deserve, so I’ll just ask them to be patient with me, and I’ll ask Cardinal fans as well. I plan to be very good down the stretch,” Wainwright said on the Fox Sports Midwest Post-Game Show.
Wainwright’s short-term stability is a legitimate concern, especially considering that outside of Joe Kelly, no one in the rotation can be counted on right now. But, amidst the legitimate angst surrounding Wainwright and the starters is an offense that has scored a total of three runs in these four losses over the last five games.
Compounding the offensive situation is the fact that Yadier Molina left yesterday’s game with a wrist issue that dates back to the World Baseball Classic. The dropoff from Molina to Rob Johnson is drastic, and the Cardinals’ record and the pitchers’ performance with Molina behind the plate are even more dramatic.
Six games remain during this critical stretch against the Reds and the Pirates. Following yesterday’s loss, the Cardinals lead Cincinnati by 2.5 games and trail Pittsburgh by one.
Considering the recent outings from Wainwright and the health of Molina…and considering who they’re playing over these next six games, the manner with which the Cardinal starters and offense respond to the recent troubles of the past week over the next week will likely determine whether they win the National League Central or not.
We’re five days away from the start of the Rams’ season, and I think it’s safe to say that the anticipation that existed for Missouri this time last year has been swapped with the anticipation regarding the Rams this year.
The arrival in the SEC---and in particular the Saturday night game against Georgia---had even non-Missouri fans watching and anxious to see what would take place in Columbia. Less than 365 days later, it’s the Rams’ new era that has the casual fan looking forward to what’s to come in 2013.
Similar to Missouri’s debut that started in a promising manner with a lead late in the third quarter against the Bulldogs but eventually collapsed with a disastrous fourth quarter, the Rams’ first impression is critical. Unlike college football where perception dictates rankings…which dictates postseason placement, the NFL avoids the polls…unless you’re dealing with Doug Vaughn’s favorite, the power rankings. But, from a logic standpoint, with the Rams starting the season as 4.5 point favorites against Arizona at home, and then heading to one of the NFC favorites in Atlanta and a game at Dallas…before coming home to take on the defending NFC Champion 49ers…this is a pretty damn important Week One game.
Do with it what you want, but I’m shocked to see the over/under for total points scored at 40.5 for the Rams and Cardinals. With the injury disclaimer always out there when making predictions that are a few days, weeks, or months off, I really like the Rams and the over in this one.
Outside of simply going 1-0 for the 11th straight year, there weren’t a whole lot of long-term determining factors that could be garnered from playing Murray State. I’m well aware that every school plays a cupcake or two before getting into conference play, so that statement isn’t a shot at the Tigers. It’s an observation that even though the running backs, offensive line, wide receivers, and quarterback all put up incredible numbers in crushing Murray State, it’s difficult to know whether or not they’ll be able to do that against the vast majority of teams remaining on their schedule…including this weekend’s opponent, Toledo.
Some of the focus of Gary Pinkel’s press conference yesterday and the video he uploaded on GaryPinkel.com was on his time in northern Ohio as the Rockets’ head coach. Considering this is the first time he’s coached against Toledo since taking over as Missouri head coach in December 2000, that’s quite understandable. However, because I took the Rockets as my Lock of The Week this past weekend…and also placed some cash on them plus 24 points in Gainesville…I watched Toledo for four quarters go up against the Gators. While it wasn’t an impressive offensive effort from the Rockets in losing 24-6, they did show some talent on defense.
In other words, while many, including myself, looked at the first two games on Missouri’s schedule as sure wins, I can’t be as certain after watching Toledo this past Saturday.
Don’t get me wrong…based on Missouri’s talent and health on offense right now…and based on the fact that the Tigers happily speed it up while the Gators consciously slow it down…the Tigers may be able to put up 40 plus on the Rockets.
I’m just not sure what to expect after playing Murray State. But, after Saturday, we will have a gauge on where this team is in reference to at least one of its competitors in the SEC East. Toledo hung around in Gainesville before the Gators pulled away.
Florida was a 23.5 point favorite. The Tigers are a 17.5 point favorite. I’m a little surprised by how high that number is.
Hopefully it won’t be a concern.
-Best moment of the weekend was Henry Josey’s return close to two years after having his knee ripped up in all possible ways against Texas at Faurot Field. Running in the different direction…but still running right over the spot where it happened…Josey broke off a huge touchdown run to cap off his comeback. And, Gary Pinkel honored Josey’s return by handing out a game ball to an individual player for the first time in his career. Here’s a look at the video:
-And then, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s this moment from the Georgia-Clemson game in which it looks like Leonard Floyd does one of those “fake injuries to stop the clock” things. But, according to Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt, he actually was hurt and had gotten “kicked in the privates real hard,” so he told him to stay down:
-Regular guest on The Ryan Kelley Morning After, Jeff Passan, broke down the remaining schedules for all of the contenders in Major League Baseball. Of the 16 teams in the mix for a playoff spot, only four have easier schedules than the Cardinals according to Passan. For the record, the Pirates have the 7th toughest. The Reds have the 9th toughest. The Red Sox the toughest…and the Braves the easiest.
-Martin Kilcoyne interviewed Marshall Faulk to get his take on the 2013 Rams. Suffice it to say, Faulk a) wasn’t a big fan of what was going on the last few years in St. Louis and b) is pretty fired up for this season and what he sees the team building:
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