GAME 132: Ace Hole
The Cardinals continue their free-fall with another perfect storm of terrible starting pitching and an absolute lack of competent offense. This time, Adam Wainwright flatlined, managing only three useless innings as the Cardinals dropped a second game to the swaggering Nationals 10-0 in Washington.
ACE HOLE: Wainwright looked nothing like what we’ve seen over the last two months. Throwing over 80 pitches in less than three innings, Wainwright surrendered six runs on nine hits. Even worse, it looked like Waino was working on a faulty split-fingered pitch from time to time instead of focusing on winning the game – frustrating! We seriously needed something good from our ace at this critical moment, and Wainwright didn’t deliver. But he sure does have a fun dance in the dugout, doesn’t he?!? That makes it all better!
NO HITS: The stagnant Cardinals offense was no-hit through four by an electric Gio Gonzalez, and their only threat (in the sixth) ended quickly with a double play by Matt Holliday. While I might concede that the Cardinals were the recipients of some bad early calls at the plate, mostly their woes involved some terrible pitch selection and a lack of solid contact. This isn’t brain surgery – you either hit the baseball, or you lose.
KOZMIC DISASTER: Former number one Cardinal draft pick Pete Kozma continued from where he left off last year by going hitless with one strikeout before Matheny finally pulled him for Daniel Descalso. Kozma had a decent season in Memphis this year, but it’s clear that he’s not going to make a big impact at the big league level, and he’s certainly not the answer to replace Rafael Furcal in the middle of a wild card race.
WALKING THAL: Trevor Rosenthal looked decent in emergency relief of Wainwright. However, he got into trouble in the fifth, and the runners he allowed eventually scored thanks to Marc Rzepczynski. Still, it’s nice to see a few of our long relief guys getting good work in during this hideous rotational meltdown.
BENEFITS OF BLOWOUTS: I guess the one good thing about having multiple blowouts in a week is the ability to get some extra rest for critical starters. For the second straight night Yadier Molina was pulled for a backup, and others like Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran have seen early exits. That’s a pretty thin silver lining on that dark cloud, though.
SKIPPING RECORD: With another shutout tonight, the Cardinals achieved a dubious mark – 39 innings without an earned run (their last came on Monday). Can we finally stop talking about how this 2012 team has the “league’s leading offense” and “baseball’s best run differential?” None of that makes any difference if they aren’t winning games.
NOT A MOTTE: With the Cardinals down 8-0 in the eighth, Matheny decided to give Jason Motte some work. Bad move. Motte was clubbed for two hits and two runs (on a Ryan Zimmerman homer) in just one-third of an inning. Yikes! Can anybody stop this slide??
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Hard to say, but maybe Rosenthal.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Waino.
CONCLUSION: What can be said about this tailspin? Ever since Molina was crushed in Pittsburgh, this team has played like a bunch of children pouting after punishment. They look like they’re ready to cry. They seem to have no plan at the plate, and the rotation has been deflating. They look like they desperately want this suddenly-miserable season to end. They just might get their wish, but does it really need to end in such an ugly way?