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AZ 1, Cardinals 9 - Nothing to see here...

Record: 19-17. Change on last season: -2

Move along. Really, you can't help the situation in any way, and gawking at the carnage from today isn't going to make it better. For this was a reality check, in no uncertain terms. Oh, it's very easy to think you're something, beating up on the likes of the Pirates, or the rest of the NL West. But then you meet a genuinely good team, and the gulf between them and us becomes painfully apparent.

What today showed in particular, is that our starting pitching, outside Webb, is painfully inconsistent. Former waiver-wire baby Vargas came in, having allowed just two earned runs in nineteen innings - but that was against the Padres, Dodgers and Reds. After just three innings today, his reputation was slinking towards the exit, staring at its shoes and mumbling something about another appointment. Eight hits, including bombs to Pujols and Rolen, three walks and eight earned runs.

We were four runs down before Vargas got the second out of the game. He did get the first hittert before the Cardinals scored - that was an improvement on Cruz yesterday - but after that, Rodriguez doubled, Pujols drove him in, Edmonds walked, and Rolen scored three runs on a homer that just stayed fair down the left field line. And that, effectively was the end of that, as far as the game being a a competitive contest was concerned.

Arizona briefly threatened in the second, after Jackson extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a home run to lead off, and Shawn Green then singled. But we failed to do anything more. In fact, we only managed one more hit - another single to Green - in the 24 outs which followed. We came in, supposedly the best hitting team in the NL, and were three-hit over seven innings by a pitcher with an ERA of 6.00. Like I say: reality check.

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Today: An Uphill Struggle

Thanks to the brave band of commentors, who endured being outhit by a margin of 15-3 this afternoon: Otacon, Devin, Ben and npinenda. Our day will surely come again. It just might not be Sunday though...

Our starters' combined ERA is now 4.78, which is only 10th best in the league - and we're closer to the 13th place Phillies (4.90) than the 9th place Rockies (4.57). Take Webb's 2.30 ERA out of the equation, and the other starters this season are up at a manatee-friendly 5.81. As today shows, when they're good, they're pretty good, but when they're bad... Outside of Webb, does anyone feel a genuine sense of ease at first pitch? "Fear and trepidation" is probably closer to it.

Our bullpen, however, continues to battle manfully: five innings of one run ball today, from Grimsley, Medders and Aquino. It was Medders' turn to strike out the Cardinals today, albeit around two hits and a walk. Though he finished it off in the most dramatic way possible, fanning Pujols with the bases loaded - sad to say, that was probably the high-point of the game for Arizona. Our relievers' ERA is 3.31, beaten only by the Cardinals. And talk of "overuse" may be excessive - the 117 innings they've pitched is only sixth most in the league.

Sunday sees us trying to avoid the sweep: given the pitching matchup, I'm not overly optimistic, but we'll see...