GAME 74: The Winning End Of Crazy
Jake Westbrook pitched well enough to win. Sadly, the bullpen blew the game out, leaving it up to the offense to stage a dramatic, two-out, four run ninth to set up some insanity in extra innings as the Cardinals (39-35) stole a stomach-turning win 8-7 over Miami at hideous, disgusting Marlins Park.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Anybody who has followed Jake Westbrook over the last few years probably expected ten runs in three innings from him after his marvelous complete game shutout last week. However, Westbrook pitched well enough to win, surrendering just two runs in six innings. His only really dumb Westbrookian move was throwing a perfect bunt pitch to Ricky Nolasco with a runner on first, which then moved the second run into position in the fifth. Other than that, he really did a nice job … too bad the offense went AWOL one again.
CHEAP SEATS: Miami fans are a f*cking joke. They aren’t real fans. They don’t go to the ballpark because they love the game, they’re bar hoppers wasting time before the beachfront clubs open. That’s why they have that hideous, amusement park stadium; anything more traditional would bore them. These “fans” showed their class once again by dumping beer on Matt Holliday as he was making a play in the fifth inning. GOOD IDEA, COOL GUYS! Truly, putting a franchise in Miami was one of the worst moves of the last two decades of baseball history.
TRUE ALL STAR: Did anyone besides Cardinal fans see that unbelievable throw by Yadier Molina to absolutely nail Scott Cousins (who had a good jump) at second in the sixth inning? Are baseball fans across the nation so damned dumb that they’re going to nominate Buster Posey as starting catcher over Molina? It’s hard to believe, and even harder to accept.
SUDDEN CHILL: The same offense that mauled the Royals last weekend cooled off considerably against Nolasco, who wasn’t exactly dominant. The difference? SWINGING AT EVERYTHING. Nolasco was practically bouncing balls across the plate, and the entire lineup went after them like a bunch of blind Willie McGees. It’s amazing how this team can take such great at bats one day, and then stray away from that plan the very next game.
TAKING ADVANTAGE: The Cardinals weren’t helping themselves much, so the bumbling Marlins gave them some assistance in the seventh. After a single and a walk, Rafael Furcal bounced a ball up the middle that was misplayed at second by Jose Reyes. This loaded the bases for pinch hitter Shane Robinson. Then, Marlins reliever Randy Choate tossed a wild pitch, allowing the Cards to score their first run. Thanks guys!
BULLSEYE: With the bases loaded and scorching-hot Matt Holliday at the plate, we practically had Jason Motte up in the bullpen ready to nail down the win. Then Holliday slashed a liner toward the gap between first and second that hit Robinson as he was running. Instant out, inning over. What are the chances of a rally ending like THAT?
EDUARDON’T: Having great stuff and using great stuff are two radically-different things. Nobody doubts the abilities of Eduardo Sanchez – blazing fastball, knee-buckling curve, vicious slider. He also has the kind of attitude you like on the mound, a cocky, take-no-prisoners stance that screams dominance. It’s just too bad that Sanchez can’t control his stuff. Sanchez came into the game in the seventh with two on and the game stalled at 2-1 Miami. Sanchez intentionally walked Jose Reyes on four wild 88 mph pitches (why is he doing that??) to load the bases.
Then, the wheels came off. Sanchez walked Hanley Ramirez (after getting him to 1-2 in the count), and followed that with a walk to Giancarlo Stanton on some scary, running fastballs that Molina barely grabbed. Suddenly the game is flying away at 4-1, and Matheny came out to mercifully pull Sanchez. An embarrassing outing once more … I think that’s the end for Sanchez on this roster.
FRUSTRATING: We scored two runs, but nobody received an RBI because they all came courtesy of errors. The Marlins committed three errors, and we still lost by four runs. Terrible.
NEVER TOO LATE: You must give the offense some credit – they continued to fight, even with two on and one out in the ninth. A hit by Beltran and a sacrifice fly to the wall by Allen Craig drove in two late runs, which left Beltran on first and Yadier Molina at the plate with two outs. So what does he do? He CRUSHES his eleventh home run to tie the game!! Unbelievable!
ASSHOLE GUILLEN: There was a confusion about the lineup card in the bottom of the ninth. Umpire Bruce Davidson misheard Matheny’s move to put Marte in the fifth spot, thinking that Marte was supposed to be in the seventh spot. Ozzie Guillen went out to the umpires and screamed at the top of his lungs (in other words, his normal voice) about the problem. Eventually, Craig had to come out of the game (ugh) for Tony Cruz, and everybody looked like a bunch of amateurs in the process.
MORE OF 2011: The Cardinals opened up their Pandora’s Box of magic dust with an incredible tenth inning that featured an RBI double from Furcal to score Tyler Greene from first, followed by an infield single by JOE KELLY (yes, the rookie pitcher) to score Furcal. A mind-blowing tenth like that was the perfect capper to one of the more bizarre games in recent memory.
ALMOST BLOWN: Jason Motte continues to scare me. He’s far too young to look like the 2011 version of Ryan Franklin. Given a two-run lead, Motte proceeded to give up a double and a walk before surrendering a single to score one run. That brought up the dangerous Jose Reyes with the tying run at second. Fortunately, Reyes lined a ball to center, ending the game on a terrifying note. I think it might be nice to have a closer who can emphatically end the game. Where are the Lee Smiths and Mariano Riveras??
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Yadier Molina, National League All Star Catcher and one of the greatest Cardinals of all time.
CONCLUSION: This was one big mess of a game. Westbrook pitched well enough to win, but once more our awful, discombobulated bullpen let it slip away with unacceptable sloppiness. However, an unbelievable comeback by a resilient offense has this team flying high emotionally. It was fun (because we won), but I’d really rather not have many more games like that this season. Holy cow.