Nevermind that the Cardinals won yesterday's opening game of their NLDS series against the San Diego Padres. Forget that they jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, which Reggie Sanders doubled with a grand slam in the fifth inning. Regardless of the fact that Chris Carpenter pitched six brilliant innings and shut down the opposing hitters, the true achilles heel of this St. Louis team became quite evident after Carpenter's exit.
Comfortably leading 8-0, the Cardinals bullpen promptly gave up a run in the seventh, a run in the eighth, and three runs in the ninth, before closer Jason Isringhausen got the final two outs, preserving a shouldn't-have-been-so-close 8-5 victory.
I know, I know, they won and that's all that matters, but that bullpen still worries me. One of the best in the league all season long, but they lose Al Reyes right before the playoffs start, and they just kind of fell apart. I'm just hoping that Mark Mulder can go eight innings in tomorrow's game, leaving less chance for a bullpen meltdown.
In other news, the hated Yankees beat the Angels in Anaheim, which doesn't bode well for the Angels. They had their best pitcher going, Cy Young candidate Bartolo Colon, and he gave up four runs, which was just enough for Mike Mussina and the Yankee bullpen.
And in the Battle of the Soxes, Chicago beat the everloving crap out of Boston, and all the blame can't be heaped onto Matt Clement (Boston's starter)'s shoulders. Sure, he gave up eight runs in less than four innings, but the Red Sox bullpen gave up six runs the rest of the game, while the White Sox pitchers gave up a mere two. Methinks the Red Sox blew their wad last year. The deal with the devil is coming due. I wouldn't be surprised if they got swept out of the playoffs.
The other National League series just got underway today. Houston at Atlanta. This could be an interesting one. The Astros have great starting pitching and an awesome closer, but they have difficulty in scoring many runs. Conversely, Atlanta has no problem with scoring, but their starting pitching consists of just two proven big game bulldogs, Tim Hudson and John Smoltz, and their bullpen has been pretty shaky all year long. The Braves need to get to Houston's middle relief and do some damage before Brad Lidge comes out of the 'pen, otherwise I'm not sure their own bullpen can keep a game close or hold a small lead.
Should be an interesting postseason. If I had to choose right now, I'd go with the St. Louis Cardinals (yes, I'm biased. What of it?) and the Chicago White Sox (or New York Yankees - hard to argue against that offense) to represent the NL and AL, respectively, in the World Series.