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09 July 2010

Relax Cardinal Fans, Maybe Rockies Just Have Our Number

Fans of The St. Louis Cardinals have their feathers a flutter after getting swept by the Colorado Rockies in 3 games at Coors Field.  Blowing leads of 9 and 7 runs in the first two games, the Cardinals were blown-away by Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez in the 3rd game Thursday as Jimenez out pitched Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter.
     The gut-wrenching sweep has left fans and sportswriters alike wringing their hands and pushing the panic button.  Tweeters were all a twitter about the demise of a season so full of promise, people openly questioning if (future Hall of Fame) manager Tony LaRussa has lost it, and folks ready to trade a bullpen that had been a rock until the last handful of games.

     But this isn't the first time the Rockies have stunned the Cardinals with a sweep - and big innings.  It happened just last season.

     On June 5, 2009, the struggling Rockies came to St. Louis for a 4-game set.  The Cardinals weren't lighting the world on fire at the time, but did come into the series tied for the lead in the NL Central with a 31-23 record.  The Rockies were in sad shape at the time.  Colorado had fired Clint Hurdle as manager after a disappointing 18-28 start and found themselves 14.5 games out of first in the NL West.  New manager Jim Tracy was 8 games into his tenure, and entered Busch III with a 3-5 record as skipper and fresh from a victory over the Houston Astros.  In the first game of the series, it was a tight game entering the 7th inning with the Rockies leading 2-1 and Adam Wainwright on the hill for the Redbirds.  Wainwright walked Ian Stewart to lead off the inning and was promptly replaced by Dennys Reyes who then walked 2 and gave up a single and a run before being himself relieved by Jason Motte.  Motte allowed 5 more runs to score before Jess Todd was touched for a 3-run homer by Ian Stewart to compete a 9 run inning for Colorado.  Sound familiar.  Rockies won that game 11-4.
     The Rockies used a 4 run 9th inning to cap a 10-1 victory in the second game.  Another 4 run inning  - the 8th - helped Colorado to a 7-2 win the next night.  And the sweep was completed with Jason Marquis getting the win in a 5-2 game.
     Cardinal Nation wasn't pleased with such a poor showing against such a poor team - angst that would eventually lead to the trade with Oakland for former Rockies start Matt Holliday.  But the Rockies were not such a poor team.  The sweep of the Cardinals exemplified how Colorado's new manager had kick-started the team and they went nuts, going 67-38 after the series and made the playoffs.

     The Cardinals recovered nicely, finding their mojo in the second half.  The Holliday trade was a big boost, but Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter were unstoppable after the All-Star break, Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan picked up their play, and the team breezed into the playoffs (before getting inexplicably swept by the Dodgers.  Things happen like that happen in the playoffs - see 2006).
    While this recent series sweep has Cardinals fans describing the club as pathetic and begging the team to stand up, it was one series against a good team.  Lost amongst the hue and cry dominating cyberspace and radio sports talk is one important point - the Rockies are a damn fine team.  Before the season started well-listened to national radio talk show host Dan Patrick picked Colorado to win the World Series this year, and he was not alone.

     The Cardinals being swept in a road series against these Colorado Rockies isn't the end of world, Redbird fans.  History tells us so.

Show your appreciation Cardinal Nation and Stand for Stan

[Credits: (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

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