GAME 134: Labored Day
After a troubled 10-game road trip, the Cardinals returned to the cushy confines of Busch Stadium. Their opponents, the Mets, have been on a roll of late; their starters have posted a sub-.300 ERA in recent weeks. But the Cardinal offense feasted on Mets starter Collin McHugh in support of another tough performance from Joe Kelly as the Cards escaped the Mets 5-4 on Labor Day.
ONE TOUGH GIRAFFE: I’m increasingly of the opinion that, outside of Yadier Molina, there isn’t anybody tougher or more resilient than Joe Kelly. Goggles simply refuses to give in. He was vastly improved today over his previous start, deftly mixing a laser-like 95 mph fastball with some devious low-eighties changeups. But he showed his guts in the second; after Kelly slashed a double into the left-center field gap, Kelly pulled up at second with a twinge in his right calf. Did that stop him? HELL NO. He forced himself to stay in the game, and continued his dominant performance for nearly seven innings until he gave up two runs in the seventh. Kelly is the REAL DEAL, and should be penciled into this team’s roster for years to come.
FIRST STRIKE: After a week of playing from behind, the Cards came out swinging in the first. Jon Jay led off with an opposite-field triple to lead off the game, and was immediately driven in on a groundout to second by Matt Carpenter. The early lead seemed to really energize the team. Best of all, it was fundamental hitting that led to the run.
BREAKOUT: The Cardinals pulled away in the middle innings. Following Kelly’s score of the second run, the Cards slashed three consecutive hits for another run. The biggest hit was a monstrous hit by Molina that slammed so hard into the wall that he was forced to stay at first. We haven’t had an offensive sequence like that very often of late, and it was truly a breath of fresh air.
ATTACK OF THE MUJICANS: Edward Mujica continued his incredible, largely-overlooked streak of scoreless innings. Coming on in relief of Kelly in the seventh with a runner on third and the Cardinals in danger of losing a lead, Mujica slammed the door shut for his 16th consecutive scoreless appearance since arriving at the trade deadline.
BOGGED DOWN: After the Cardinals tacked on a fifth run in the seventh, Mitchell Boggs entered the eighth and asked to hold the Mets to their two runs. However, Boggs was awful, quickly surrendering a single and a homer to Daniel Murphy to put the Mets within a run. Two batters later, Boggs walked Ike Davis. Three batters, one out, two runs. I’m not sure what’s crawled back into Boggs’ mind, but he’s reverted back to his shaky end of 2011.
NINTH INNING TERROR: Motte came on to try and get a five inning save. He got the two outs in the eighth, and gave up a double to Andres Torres to start the ninth. However, Torres passed first without really stepping on the bag – replays show his foot coming down right next to it. On appeal, the umpire called Torres out. It was a shocking moment that totally reversed the flow of the inning. Despite Motte giving up a walk, he was clearly charged up and gained his 33rd save. YIKES!
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Gotta give it up to Kelly, who gave us the first quality start in over a week.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Boggs.
CONCLUSION: It’s a bit troubling that the Cardinals struggled against a Mets team that just isn’t particularly good. They also benefited from some Mets errors. Still, a win is a win.