GAME 48: Walks of Shame
Another bullpen implosion – this time against baseball’s current comeback kings – lost another win for Jaime Garcia and nearly lost it for the team, too.
A titanic struggle ensued today at Kaufmann Stadium between the I-70 rivals, the Cardinals holding on in a ten-inning, 9-8 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Neither starter had their best stuff, but Garcia pitched well enough to win. He left in the sixth leading 7-3 and in a strong position for his league-leading sixth victory.
But the bullpen, so strong in the last two weeks, collapsed again. The Cards threw an astonishing SIX relievers at the Royals in a feeble attempt to stop their charmed comeback attempts, but they were like Terminators in baby blue uniforms. Miguel Batista came on after nine days on the bench (why?) and quickly coughed up two runs. Then Brian Tallet, freshly activated from the DL, was greeted rudely by Alex Gordon with a home run. Even Eduardo Sanchez couldn’t stop the Royals, who scored off of him in a clumsy ninth inning that tied the score and led to extra innings.
Of course, the Cardinals should have had 25 runs today, but the offense kept missing opportunities to really pile on runs. The Cardinals received 13 walks, a philanthropic amount that could probably be written off on Kansas City’s tax return. Colby Rasmus had FIVE all by himself, the largest number of walks by a Cardinal since 1974. Yet, time and again, the Cards couldn’t string together enough to really put the game away. The most egregious moment came in the ninth, when Jon Jay bounced into a double play with the bases loaded and one out. How many times has this happened this year??
Fortunately the Royals’ sloppy play eventually did them in. Two incredible bases-loaded walks in the tenth inning gave the Cards a two-run advantage, which Fernando Salas almost lost in the bottom half of the inning. Thankfully he did manage to get the final out and secure the victory. WHEW!
DAILY DOUBLE: The double plays are absolutely killing this club. It’s hard to complain on a day when the team wins a high-scoring game, but the Cards continue to swing at first pitches and bad pitches in crucial run-scoring opportunities and ground into two outs. It’s maddening.
PUJOLS WATCH: He grounded into another DP today. That’s 13 on the season. He’s on a pace for 40-45. He’s never had 30 in a season in his career. It’s a gigantic black hole in the center of this lineup.
COLBY CRAIG: It drives me crazy that TLR keeps batting Rasmus at the fifth/sixth position while Craig bats second. Rasmus is a perfect #2 hitter; he should be batting there until he’s 43 years old. Rasmus was on base five out of six at bats … I wonder what that might have done to the dynamics of this game having his speed on the bases that often in front of the big three. Yeah, you get my point. BAT RASMUS SECOND EVERY DAY.
MORE BAD NEWS: Holliday went down again with another muscle strain. Seriously … can someone give these guys some bananas? A massage, maybe? And if we MUST have an injury, why can’t it be Tyler Greene or Ryan Franklin? Must it be the league’s leading hitter and our current MVP?
Even worse, the Cards also lost backup catcher Gerald Laird thanks to a broken index finger on a hit-by-pitch in the ninth. Laird has been surprisingly good this year, and a jolly presence in the clubhouse. It’s incredible how many injuries we’ve sustained by hit batters this year already. Are people gunning for us or what?
EN FUEGO: I’m not sure there is another player in baseball as hot as Yadier Molina right now. It seems that, with adequate rest, Molina still has some life in his bat. With a scorching .600 over the last two weeks, Molina has raised his average to .333. He’s almost licking his lips as he walks to the plate these days. Hopefully TLR continues to rest him and doesn’t run him into the ground like he did last August.