There are some pretty daunting numbers to illustrate the St. Louis Cardinals' colossal four-game nosedive, which began in Pittsburgh and continued in Washington the last two nights. One number is 36. That is the number of consecutive innings in which the Cardinals have trailed in those four games. That is also the total of number of innings played. In every game, the Cardinals starter allowed at least a run in the first inning -- Adam Wainwright gave up two on Friday in a 10-0 loss to the Nationals. The second number, or set of numbers, is 32-1. That is the aggregate score in those four games, and the only run scored by the Cardinals was unearned. There has not been a streak of futility like that since 1958. The starting pitching has gone nine games without a quality start and six games without completing six innings. But it is the offense that is the most puzzling. It has combined for only 16 singles and three doubles in those 36 innings. "We face good pitching all the time," said manager Mike Matheny. "This shouldn't happen to us one day, let alone four. "These guys are embarrassed right now. We're all embarrassed. This is not the team we are. It's baffling to them as much as it is to all of us." But what should the first-year manager do? "We shake things up," he said. "It's not like we're sitting around on our hands. "But as far as reinventing the wheel, you've got to be careful. There's no reason to do something drastic." Somehow, the Cardinals still hold the second wild-card spot in the National League.
- Adam Wainwright