GAME 11: Extra Thrills
On a chilly night at Busch Stadium, Kyle Lohse outdueled the infamous Johnny Cueto for seven excellent innings. The pitcher’s duel morphed into a battle of the bullpens, with the Cardinals (8-3) finally defeating the Reds (4-7) in extra innings 2-1.
CRAPPY POSTER NIGHT: Almost 40,000 fans arrived early to pick up a World Series poster on this special promotion night. The poster was basically a picture of the Cardinals celebrating on the field last October. It’s a picture anyone could find online and print out, except that it had a Shelter Insurance logo on it. YAY.
DESERVED TO WIN: Lohse was dominant for seven brilliant innings, striking out six and surrendering no runs. His best inning came in the fourth, when Lohse followed a walk and a single with three strikeouts to end the threat. He was never in trouble. It’s a shame that Lohse hasn’t been pitching like this for the last three years when we were paying him $12MM a year for nothing. Just give us one great year, Kyle!
MISSING TLR: Johnny Cueto started his bullshit in the second inning, plunking Yadier Molina and forcing a warning for both benches. Cueto hit Rafael Furcal last week, too. These are the times when you wish Tony La Russa was glowering in the dugout like a wraith while ordering a retaliatory hit on a Reds player. You can almost hear TLR hiss, “Hit Votto in the spine … or take out one of his kidneys.” I love Matheny, but he’s just too damned nice to do something proper like that. I imagine Matheny holding an impromptu prayer meeting to help Cueto’s soul find peace and rest in God’s love. Really, some moments and some people are, by their actions, just asking for some violence. Cueto is that person, and he really, really deserves it.
PAYBACK’S A BITCH: After Cueto hit Yadi and Jon Jay singled, Daniel Descalso grounded back to Cueto, who attempted to start a double play. However, Jon Jay barreled into Zack Cozart at second and took him down, extending the scoring chance. THAT’S how you do it! Pay them back with tough, hard-nosed baseball!
WASTED: The Cards had ample opportunities to really bust this game open on Cueto and the Reds, but couldn’t ever come up with the big hit. I refuse to give Cueto credit for wriggling out of the jams, so I guess I’ll blame the Cards for failing to capitalize. I just have no idea how the Cards can have a runner in scoring position in seven innings and score just one run on a homer. They had the bases loaded twice with less than two outs and couldn’t score. Disturbing.
QUIET GREATNESS: Carlos Beltran had another nice game, going 2-3 with two walks, an RBI, and a run scored. He’s just so professional about it that the numbers seem to sneak up on you. Beltran is like a faithful dog – he’s always there with such regularity that you start forgetting about him. That is a compliment, I think.
LET DOWN: Mitchell Boggs came on in relief of Lohse in the eighth and the game immediately got away. An error by Daniel Descalso opened the inning, and was immediately followed by an error on Boggs on a sacrifice bunt. A single by Zack Cozart tied the game and snatched a third victory from Lohse. Hopefully the error-filled hiccups we’ve seen over the last few games is just a temporary thing instead of a 2011-like trend of bad defense.
DEAD COLD: When the opposition walks Carlos Beltran to get to Matt Holliday (as the Reds did in the bottom of the ninth), you know that Holliday is not doing well. I have no idea what happened to Holliday – he was hitting .450 all spring – but he has really hit a wall. His swing looks awful, and he seems extremely frustrated.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM: When the Cardinals loaded the bases for the third time in the tenth, fans held their breath in the hope that they wouldn’t waste yet another opportunity. Matheny decided to send up the team’s hottest hitter, Matt Carpenter, to try and win it. And Lil’ Carp continued his torrid pace, stroking a line drive into right field for a sacrifice fly as Tyler Greene slid past the tag by Ryan Hanigan. It was Carpenter’s 11th RBI (tied for the team lead). What an incredible week for this kid!
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Lohse. The offense really let down a terrific pitching performance.
CONCLUSION: No doubt about it, this team can hit. Not only did the Cardinals win, but they also stranded 14 additional runners. They get on base, they run, and they hit. In some respects, this would’ve been a 10-run game for the Cards had they not faced someone as crafty as Cueto (I can’t stand complimenting him). Hopefully they don’t waste scoring chances like this too often, though.