Friday, September 7, 2007

Cardinals poised to take division lead

With the Cubs and Brewers tied for first place and leading the St. Louis Cardinals by a single game in the standings, the top two teams in the division showed within the first hour of play that neither team is capable or even willing to grab the pathetic playoff berth that the NL Central will be.

The Brewers continued to wet themselves away from Miller Park. In the first inning, Dave Bush was tagged with six runs on seven hits, but his defense let him down. Rickie Weeks was too lazy to get his body in front of a ground ball, turning a sure double play into an RBI single for Ken Griffey. Then, when Brandon Phillips hit a ground ball up the middle, J. J. Hardy's nonchalant flip to Weeks was late, turning another out into a Reds safety.

The Cubs seemed equally unwilling to try. Mark DeRosa doesn't know how to throw the ball on time, or on the mark for that matter, and Lee took his offensive and defensive struggles with him on the bases. Alfonso Soriano refused to make contact with the ball or play any level of competent defense. Geovany Soto needed time to think before realizing that he needs to throw the ball when a baserunner tries to steal on him, while Rich Hill simply doesn't think that he's required to play defense and he is unable to stop the bleeding. Feeling there is no difference between allowing one run and four runs, Hill gave up after the Pirates dented the scoreboard.

Not only are the Cardinals the only team within the division that has been playing good baseball recently, but they appear to be the only team that really gives a damn about winning. If they can win later tonight against the Diamondbacks, there will be a three-way tie atop baseball's most pathetic division. St. Louis has been outscored by 58 runs this season and was 10 1/2 games out of the lead as late as June 30, but the Brewers' and Cubs' incompetence has put St. Louis in the driver's seat.

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