I was sitting at work on Wednesday afternoon loading up MLBtv so that I could watch the game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Cardinals, after winning the first two games of the series, were going for the sweep against Mike Leake. This was a great sign for the Cardinals, against whom Leake had a 5.95 ERA against over 8 starts. With Shelby Miller on the mound and his career 3.24 ERA against the Reds, things were looking positive.
But then the game started. Miller struggled to stop the Reds while Mike Leake, on the other hand, turned in arguably the best start of his career. 8 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 0 earned runs. The Cardinals offense was held silent.
Some fans want to call it a lack of effort. Some claim they were just mailing it in. Some bemoan the bipolar offense that gets stymied by a pitcher they’ve destroyed in the past. I doubt it is any of the above.
This is the magic of baseball.
No matter how good or bad you are as a pitcher, you can go out there and just shut someone down any given night. It happens. No team is going to go out there and score 6 runs every night. Some nights you’ll just struggle to get it going. It happens to the best of them.
Baseball is really unique among the major sports in that one player is the lynchpin that can completely destroy the other team. If your pitcher is locked in, there is no stopping him. And Leake has very quietly become a pretty good pitcher.
Something to remember when we look back at the start of this season, we started it with 9 games played against two teams that won 90 games last year. Furthermore, those two teams have been our main intra-division rivals for the last couple years. So they know us really well. Because of that, I’m comfortable saying that the Cardinals may have had the toughest schedule over the first 9 games of the season of any team.
Once you consider that, it’s really no surprise that they’ve struggled at points so far this season. We’ve played two really good teams who know our strengths and weaknesses really well.
Bottom line is no team in the history of baseball has ever gone 162-0. Losses are going to happen. It is inevitable. As long as we’re winning more than we’re losing, everything will sort itself out in the end. That’s good enough for me.