Blog Entry

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

Posted on: September 3, 2010 11:02 am
We circle them on the schedule. We ask about the matchups.

We even feature them in 3 to watch.

And then, right before our eyes, the most important series of the summer can fizzle out before they even begin.

And we wonder if they were ever as important as we made them out to be in the first place.

Reds vs. Cardinals?

Remember what happened last time?

Yeah, we remember. In that all-important series last month in Cincinnati, the Reds did all the talking (and some of the fighting), and the Cardinals did all the winning.

Important series, right?

Yeah, except that the Cardinals seem to have forgotten that cliché about how every game is important, about how it doesn't matter if you win the head-to-head meetings if you then lose against somebody else.

Since those three wins at Great American Ball Park, the Cards are 5-13. They've won just one series (against the Giants), and lost five others -- all to sub-.500 teams.

The Reds, meanwhile, have gone 14-4. They've lost just one series (against the Giants), and won five others -- two of them against winning teams.

So now, as the Reds and Cardinals meet again, the Reds come in with an eight-game lead.

There's still plenty to talk about, and perhaps Brandon Phillips will open the series by doing more talking.

There's Albert Pujols vs. Joey Votto. There's Walt Jocketty and Scott Rolen coming back to St. Louis as likely NL Central conquerors. There's Tony La Russa vs. Dusty Baker, and who knows if that's the last time we'll see them go against each other.

And, if you think the Cardinals still have a chance to catch the Reds, there's the point that now this really is the most important series of the summer.

And that's why we're still featuring it in 3 to watch.

1. Five of the last 10 teams to make the World Series had at least a seven-game losing streak at some point during the season. That's not a prediction that the Padres will make it, just a reminder that their current seven-game spin doesn't necessarily doom them to collapse. It does put huge pressure on them in the 10-game homestand that begins with Rockies at Padres, Friday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park . The first game would be an interesting one, anyway, because for the first time since May, the Padres are going away from their five-man rotation, in this case starting 25-year-old rookie Cory Luebke. For now, Luebke is only giving the other five starters an extra day of rest, but if he pitches well and ends the streak, manager Bud Black will have even more to think about in the days to come.

2. It's hard to blame the Cardinals' collapse on anyone in particular. You certainly can't blame Pujols, who has a 1.142 OPS over the 18 games. And as for the pitching, the Cards' team ERA over the last 18 games (4.15) is better than the Reds' team ERA (4.69) over the same span. But take a look at Adam Wainwright, who might have been the Cy Young leader after his Aug. 11 win in Cincinnati (which left him 17-6 with a 1.99 ERA). Wainwright is 0-3 with a 5.21 ERA in three starts since, heading into Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium . Travis Wood, Wainwright's 23-year-old mound opponent, didn't face the Cardinals in the series in Cincinnati. In the three weeks since, he's 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA.

3. The Yankees and Rays are both heading to the playoffs, but they say it's important to finish first in the American League East, in part because it means home-field advantage if the two teams meet in the American League Championship Series. In effect, there's the same kind of battle going on this weekend, in a series that ends with Rangers at Twins, Sunday afternoon (2:10 ET) at Target Field . The AL Central-leading Twins head into the series with a 1 1/2-game lead over the AL West-leading Rangers, which means that the Twins would have home-field advantage if these two teams met in the ALCS. The Twins have other things on their mind, with just a 3 1/2-game lead over the second-place White Sox. The Rangers also have something else on their mind: Cliff Lee's back, which was sore enough that Lee had an injection this week in Texas. Lee's scheduled side session Saturday may be as important to them as any of the games they play this weekend.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:07 am

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: January 14, 2012 9:31 pm

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 31, 2011 12:09 am

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 4:23 pm

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 9:52 pm

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

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3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

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Posted on: October 22, 2011 9:10 am
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Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: October 19, 2011 2:43 am

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

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Since: Nov 27, 2007
Posted on: September 4, 2010 12:03 am

3 to watch: The Importance of showdowns edition

If I remember correctly, the Reds played three extra inning games in Philly and had one where they had a late innng collapse by Cordero.  He isn't same pitcher he was then...and now they also have Chapman.  the Phillies are good too, but they certainly haven't been world beaters either. 

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