GAME 78: Cold On A Hot Afternoon
Lance Lynn‘s third straight ineffective start combined with clueless at-bats to doom the Cardinals (40-38) in a flat 7-3 loss to the Pirates.
JUNE SWOON: The difference is startling. After two brilliant months in which he raced out to a 10-1 record with an ERA under 3.00, Lynn appears to have hit a wall. In June, Sasquatch has a 2-3 record with an ERA of 4.76. Lynn emotionally sunk this game in the first when, with two outs, Lynn gave up two hits and a walk to set the table for Pedro Alvarez, who crushed a grand slam right on cue for a 4-0 deficit.
So what’s the deal with Lynn? Is he tired already? Have opponents figured out his stuff? It could be both of these possibilities. But considering the state of our crumbling staff, Lynn picked a pretty bad time to look human.
CLUTCH: As Bernie Miklasz recently noted, there seems to be a contingent of Cardinal Nation that doesn’t consider Matt Holliday to be a clutch ballplayer. I wonder what they were complaining about when Holliday slashed a two-out single to score Jon Jay with the Cards’ second run (the first run scored when Tony Cruz scored on a Jon Jay groundout). When Holliday is “right” at the plate, he is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. Whiners need to find something legitimate to complain about.
FRESH MEAT: Matheny wasted no time in throwing rookie left-hander Barret Browning against the red-hot Pirates in the sixth. The soft-throwing off-speed specialist composed a rarity in this series: a scoreless inning. Browning never touched 90 mph, but he showed terrific control of a beautiful changeup that danced between 77 and 87 mph. In the process, he recorded his first major league strikeout. Finally, a bit of good news from our bullpen! Welcome, kiddo!
STREAKING ALL STAR: Carlos Beltran continued to pad his his All-Star resume with another hit and RBI in the eighth inning to extend both his hitting and RBI streak to eight games. It’s hard to imagine where this team might be without Beltran this year. He’s been inspirational.
RALLY KILLER: With the Cardinals’ offense threatening to come back late, the important role for the bullpen at that point is to hold the opposition in place. That didn’t happen, though. Victor Marte surrendered a single to Alex Presley to lead off the ninth. Then, a wild pitch combined with a bunt to put Presley on third base, and he scored easily on a fielder’s choice for another tough run. Exactly the opposite of what we needed then.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Holliday.
CONCLUSION: Ths Cardinals aren’t playing like a team inspired by anything other than getting in front of a giant fan with a cup of Gatorade. The Cardinals are taking terrible at-bats again, and today they didn’t make Jeff Karstens work hard enough on a day (temperature of 100 degrees) when he could’ve been knocked out early. The Pirates are showing how to do it right, and they’ve deserved both wins in this series so far.