Sports Outside the Beltway

Astros Win 9th Straight: Cards On Verge of Historic Collapse

Houston sweeps the Pirates to take 9th. straight game. Cardinals drop 8th out of last 9 to Brewers, allowing Houston to climb within a half game of the lead in the NL Central.

Now the Cardinals’ NL Central lead is down to a half-game.

Jason Marquis got just six outs and St. Louis fell behind by eight runs in the third inning, losing to the Milwaukee Brewers 9-4 Thursday night.

In a swoon that could become one of baseball’s historic collapses, St. Louis (81-77) has lost eight of nine and wasted nearly all of what was a seven-game lead with 13 to play.

Incredible. The 1964 Phillies are being brought up, who choked with a six game lead late in their season. No one else has collapsed in this way since. In addition, the loser of the NL Central is likely not in the wild card race, so if they lose, they go home.

The suddeness of this collapse has taken the baseball world by surprise because of how improbable it really is. The Astros had been counted out since the beginning of the month – mathmatically alive, but pretty much discounted as a force at all at the end of the season. Roger Clemens must have thought that chances weren’t good, because he asked for a special exception to pitch one last time in front of his home fans (although I suspect he’ll be back next season). Again, because no one expected the Cardinals to collapse quite like this, I can understand Clemens thoughts. Now, he may just get another chance to pitch in the post-season.

There are three games remaining in the season for both teams: the Astros play at the Braves, and the Cardinals continue their four game series at home against Milwaukee. These circumstances seem to favor St. Louis, but that’s what I would have said yesterday (both Milwaukee and Pittsburgh are fairly bad teams, and the Cardinals are playing at home). The Astros seem to be red hot, and the Cardinals ice cold. These are going to be an interesting next few days for both Houston and St. Louis fans, and if the Cardinals do finish this collapse out, it will be a blemish on their organization for years – much like the 1964 Phillies.

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