Talking to Cubs manager Lou Piniella before their 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Thursday night, he feels blessed that his team's worst stretch of the season really hasn't cost them anything in the standings.
''You look at our situation and you say, 'Boy, if we had just played well,' '' Piniella said. ''What's happened basically is that we have let a couple of teams back on the peripheral. But the main team that is chasing us, Milwaukee, has struggled, too. But if we play really good baseball here over the next seven days, and we'll get ourselves in really, really good shape.''
These days, the Brewers are spending as much time llooking over their shoulders than straight ahead at the Cubs. Now, outfielder Gabe Kapler -- the Brewers' best pinch-hitting option off the bench with a .323 average -- appears to be lost for the season.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes an honest look at the Cardinals. And Bernie makes an interesting point: After losing two of three to the Cubs at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals are 78-68 after 146 games ... but are 10 games out of first place, and 4.5 games out of the wild card. In 2006, before they'd go on to win the World Series, the Cardinals were also 78-68 after 146 games ... and with that record they led the NL Central by 5.5 games.
Dismissed by the Yankees thanks to a 5.71 ERA, former Cub LaTroy Hawkins has been unhittable with the red-hot Astros.