Note of the night: There was a really cool atmosphere at Great American Ball Park all weekend. It’s clear that Cincinnati is excited about the Reds, and as a baseball fan, that’s great to see. This has, at times, been a great baseball town, and the game is IMO better when historic franchises like the Reds are good and relevant.
It was somewhat striking to me, though, that in talking to Cardinals players and staff, there was almost an air of something like “that’s so cute” about the whole thing. Nobody explicitly said that, or even came close to saying it. But it was very clear that the Cardinals perspective on the weekend was, “win this series, just like every other series.”
That’s a very La Russa mindset, and I’m not even suggesting it’s the wrong one. But it did seem to be the context of the weekend. Bronson Arroyo said as much postgame today, when he said “It’s not a big deal to them. It’s definitely a bigger deal on this side.”
Asked about the standings, here’s what a couple of Cardinals had to say.
Albert Pujols, asked if it was a big deal to fall out of first place, said:
“It’s a big deal losing a series. We came here to try to win the series, and we had a pretty good chance. That chance slipped out of our way. W don’t care about first place right now, because first place is a long way from now. You still have a long season. I think the idea is to try to win series, and that’s what we focus and concentrate on every day.
“We were in first place until they won, and that [didn't] guarantee us the playoffs automatically. Until the last game of the season, that’s when you want to be there. If this would have been the last game of the season and we would have fallen out of first place, it would be a big deal. but we’ve still got a lot of games against that ballclub, and we’ve still got a lot of games against great ballclubs in the Central division.”
And here’s Brad Penny, asked a very similar question:
“I’m not really concerned right now. … It’s exciting for them. Not many years they’ve been where they are now. It’s better than not being there at all. I can definitely understand their excitement. They’ve definitely got a better team this year. If their pitching holds up, they’re going to be pretty tough.”
Take it for what it’s worth, but I thought it was interesting.
Stat of the day: After allowing nine home runs in the season’s first 33 games, and at one point going 21 straight games without giving up even a single homer, Cardinals starters have now allowed a home run in five straight games.
For all the talk about how the Cardinals offense has leaned too much on the home run, the simple truth is this: teams that hit home runs win more often. If you hit a lot of them, you’re going to score runs and win. If you give up a lot of them, you’re going to allow runs and lose. The homer rate that this staff had earlier in the year was unsustainable. It will be interesting to see how the rotation fares as that number normalizes a little bit.
Fun with double situational splits: Colby Rasmus is 0-for-16 at home in May.
And, finally, the playlist:
Today, it’s culled from things we heard at GABP this weekend. This is one of the best ballparks around for music.
The Bar-Kays, “Soul Finger”
Dire Straits, “Skateaway”
The Rolling Stones, “Waiting On a Friend”
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, “I Second That Emotion”
R.E.M., “These Days”