I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve heard a person say they’d rather lose a game by 15 runs than one. (Or something similar…) Well, the Cardinals tested that theory in their series with the White Sox. It was ultra painful to watch them get their brains beat out in the first two games, and uber painful to watch them take a tough 1-0 loss.
However, I’m not really one to dwell on the negatives of a baseball season particularly when my team is still leading its division by four games. Yes, we got swept by the Chicago White Sox, and that is not good. No, it is not the end of the world. I rated this series as a six on a 1-10 importance scale before it started, and I refuse to get all worked up at this point.
First and foremost the Albert Pujols returned to the lineup tonight after missing just 15 games. A chunk of games, to be sure, but every Cardinal fan realizes it could have been much worse. He didn’t get a hit tonight, but he also didn’t look terrible at the plate. Somebody is going to pay very soon…he has some ground to catch up. The remarkable thing (if Albert Pujols is still capable of being remarkable) is that he is still tied for the National League lead in home runs and is just one RBI behind league leader Ryan Howard. Unbelievable!
Of course the story of the night was Anthony Reyes’ performance. Just for the record, if he hadn’t been called up to make the start as Tony LaRussa hinted, I think I would have slipped into a deep clinical depression. Tonight, although he lost a heartbreaker, he stepped up in a big pressure situation and performed better than well. Most of the time when a major league pitcher gives up one run over the course of a complete game they win…not that that obvious statement is capable of making Reyes feel any better tonight. They showed a shot of him walking through the dugout right after the game ended. Barry Weinberg gave him a pat on the back of the head and fellow starter Jeff Suppan reached out and slapped his shoulder. I’m not sure if Reyes looked extremely angry or extremely sad, but either way my mom and I both released a big, “AAHHHHH” for him. I don’t know a thing about his personality and I assume this loss isn’t going to stick with him in any negative way, but the disappointed/disgusted/disturbed look on his face after the game is going to stick with me for a while. He deserved to be smiling, and he and the rest of the world knows it. (Insert obligatory kudos for Freddie Garcia here.)
Still, Reyes was impressive yet again as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. If he ever again finds himself a Memphis Redbird I’ll be as shocked as I was watching Jim Thome’s homer land in the stands tonight. He’s here to stay not because the Cards desperately need quality starting pitching (they do) or because he’s a top prospect (he is) but because he has earned it with repeated superior performances that I don’t think even Tony LaRussa can in any way discount.