Obviously the Cardinals are in an ugly stretch right now. The month of May has been awful so far (a record of 6-8 to date) after a successful April when the Cards were 15-8. Yes, as many on Twitter lamented and as online coverage is continuing to hype, the Cardinals are now in second place in the NL Central, half a game behind the Reds. (Both teams have 21 wins, by the way.)
Let’s all take a deep breath and relax. These things happen.
And these things happened a year ago too. The 2009 Cardinals went 13-14 in May, fell from a 4-game lead over the Brewers on May 1 to a tie May 13-14, then fell further to a low of 3 games behind the Brewers May 18-19. They did tie the Brewers again on May 23, even had a 1-game lead on May 27, then shuffled back and forth in May and June. Speaking of June 2009, do you remember how terrible it was? The Cards record was 12-17. Then there was that brief period in early August when the Cubs tied the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. (I remember it clearly, as it started on my birthday.)
It’s not just this and last season where these things happen either. Our friend Bob Netherton, known as Throatwarbler on Twitter and his very informative blog, had some interesting information about the 1968 National League pennant-winning Cardinals. They started the season 20-10. Then, “the Cardinals would hit a bit of an early season slump, going 2-11 over the next 13 games, including losing six of seven games against the Philadelphia Phillies.” By May 29, the Cardinals had fallen to fifth place, 3 games behind the Giants. (As an aside, if you are on Twitter and not following Bob – @throatwarbler – please do so. You will learn much! If you’re not on Twitter, his blog is available at http://throatwarbler.wordpress.com/.)
So, on May 17 and with 124 games remaining, there’s no need to panic about the 2010 Cardinals. There are, however, definitely reasons to be concerned.
- The string of quality starts by the rotation ended and, after yesterday, every starter but Jaime Garcia has had a non-quality start this month. The starters have now allowed homers in five consecutive games. (At least everyone is getting involved.)
- The Cards have grounded into 17 double-plays with runners in scoring position this season, according to yesterday’s post-game report on FS Midwest. This is the most in the majors.
- Then there’s the offense overall. Yeah, we all know how terrible it’s been, about the lack of hitting and timely hitting, the number of strikeouts, Brendan Ryan … No need to get into details.
- Skip Schumaker now has a 6-game hitting streak and has hits in 12 of the 14 games he’s played this month.
- Erika detailed the latest on Ryan Ludwick on Saturday, and his hitting streak reached 8 games later that day before ending when he pinch-hit yesterday.
- Courtesy of the STLToday.com, David Freese entered Sunday with 29 RBIs in his first 50 major-league games. Only four players in franchise history — Albert Pujols (51), Joe Cunningham (36), Ray Jablonski (36) and Wally Moon (32) — have generated more in their first 50 games.
- Jaime Garcia continues to do nothing but impress. His current 1.42 ERA is second in the National League.
- The pitching overall still has the third-best ERA in the Majors, currently 2.91, trailing only the Padres (2.64) and Rays (2.75).
In closing, perhaps some advice from the reigning NL MVP is best: “There’s no pressure. We need to pick each other up. That’s the key.” And the next chance to do that is tonight at 7:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time.
Photo: May 13, 2010; UPI/Bill Greenblatt