The Cardinals appeared to wrest control of the NL Central by sweeping the Reds in a brawl-marred series in early August. After that, however, St. Louis dropped 10 of 15 games to fall five games out of the division lead and three games out of the wild-card slot through Sunday. Despite outscoring their opponents 72--70, an 0--5 record in one-run games crippled the Cards during that stretch. A running theme in all five losses was a lack of punch atop the order, where Felipe Lopez, Jon Jay and others have failed to provide enough OBP. Since the Reds series, Cardinals leadoff men and number 2 hitters had a .293 OBP. In the five one-run losses, the two spots combined for a .167 OBP. Having the best player in baseball, Albert Pujols(below), is nice, but he needs to bat with runners on for the Cardinals to get the full impact of his talent.
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (PUJOLS)