GAME 111: Insult To Injury
The Cardinals experienced a trifecta of failure tonight; the pitching sucked, the defense was atrocious, and the at-bats looked like those of a sleepwalking little league team. Almost nothing went right as the Giants ripped the Cardinals (60-51) 15-0, ruining a perfect chance for the Cards to gain another ground on the suddenly-reeling Cincinnati Reds.
PREGAME: The Cardinals held a mysterious press conference about Allen Craig that caused a mild panic among Cardinal Nation. It turns out that Craig had some rib cage discomfort, and the club wanted everyone to know this in the most dramatic way possible. Is there some way we can limit press conferences to events of actual importance?
THE FIRST TIME: Joe Kelly has given the Cardinals more than they could’ve ever hoped to receive in place of Jaime Garcia. Kelly has consistently kept the Cards in every game. Tonight, though, Kelly hit a wall against the Giants. He eventually surrendered seven runs in six innings, significantly raising his ERA to 3.47. However, Kelly managed to keep the score just 2-0 until he reached a disastrous sixth inning in which the Giants scored five times and really put the game out of reach. Every pitcher faces this kind of game eventually; more important is how they respond to the adversity. I imagine Kelly will be just fine with the new challenge.
HOW MUCH LONGER: Tyler Greene, seldom-seen in the last several weeks, had a terrible game in almost every respect. Greene struck out twice, and also contributed two misplays (one error) that helped the Giants pad their lead. The boos were loud and noticeable at the home of the Best Fans In Baseball™. Whatever good will and high hopes we once projected for Greene are now gone. Greene is incompetent in almost every aspect of the game except for pinch-running. Does a professional pinch-runner really have a place on a major league roster? Of course not. It’s time for the Cardinals to cut Greene loose and give someone else (Adron Chambers? Matt Adams?) a chance to make an impact.
CREDIT: If we must tip our cap to any one San Francisco player, it would be Brandon Crawford. He made at least two excellent plays tonight, and delivered an RBI single. He had a magnificent night at short.
UNNECESSARY PICKOFFS: Joe Kelly has one of the better pickoff moves in baseball, especially for a right-hander. However, he has a tendency to throw over to first more than what seems to be necessary. In the third, this came back to bite him when he threw away a pickoff throw to set up the Giants’ second run. Here’s a question: given the risk of an errant throw when compared to the number of successful pick offs, what is the real advantage of throwing over continuously?
LEFTY RIGHT: I’ve been quite impressed with rookie Barret Browning. He’s suffered just one rough inning since he arrived, and, after more than 12 innings, Browning has a solid ERA of 3.65. He’s not overpowering, but it’s pretty clear that he will be a successful big league relief pitcher.
SLOWER THAN YADI: I guess that, after Yadier Molina swiped three bases last weekend, everybody felt like they should get in on the act. And so it was that Jon Jay took off for second base in the fourth, hoping to emulate Molina’s speed demon sensibilities. Sadly, the Cardinals’ centerfielder doesn’t possess the kind of raw speed of Molina, and Jay was thrown out easily at second. I was just that kind of night for the Redbirds.
F-U-FUENTES: Well, that didn’t take long. New lefty reliever Brian Fuentes choked in relief, surrendering four brutal runs in a disastrous one-out appearance. His Cardinal ERA is now 7.36, which is approximately the same ERA I would have under similar circumstances. Is Fuentes done?
A FINAL INSULT: Mitchell Boggs has been excellent for most of the season in high-pressure situations. Tonight, he came into an 11-0 game in a mop-up, get-us-outta-here ninth inning. Boggs wasn’t satisfied with that, so he loaded the bases before coughing up an ugly grand slam to Marco Scutaro (seven RBI on the night) to really ladle on the horror. A horrendous, rotten cherry on top of this melted, tasteless sundae.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Matt Carpenter for his two hits, including a huge-but-wasted triple.
CONCLUSION: Well, the Reds have suffered through a four-game losing streak, but the Cardinals have only gained two games. That is piss-poor strategy. When the Cards lost last night, they could at least enjoy the fact that they played a solid, fundamental game. However, tonight the team played one of their worst games, fumbling the ball repeatedly and lunging repeatedly at balls out of the strike zone. They didn’t deserve to win this one, and were rarely in it even when the score was just 1-0. How can a team as talented as this one play so well one day and then fumble so badly in the next?