GAME 88: Extra Painful
Kyle Lohse produced another quality start, but the offense left him hanging like so many other starters. Some late hits evened the score late, sending the game into dreaded extra innings and our infamous bullpen. The Cardinals drop a second game to the Reds with a gut-wrenching 3-2 loss in ten innings.
NOT THE BEST: These are the two best teams in the National League? That’s hard to fathom as both teams have committed about 45 combined errors in two games. I’ve seen better defense at the Special Olympics. I suppose the fact that today’s errors didn’t lead to any runs helps stomach the sloppy play. I just haven’t liked much of what I’ve seen from either team already in the second half.
QUALITY DOESN’T QUALIFY: Kyle Lohse has really been in a groove lately. He once more provided this team with a quality start. It wasn’t particularly dominant – Lohse surrendered 8 hits in six innings – but he battled the Reds and held them to just two runs. Unfortunately the offense left him twisting in the wind …
CHOKING: The continued sputtering of the offense isn’t a problem if the starters aren’t producing. But when quality starts are repeatedly squandered by a schizophrenic offense, it begins to grate on the nerves. Why is this offense struggling to score early runs in support of the starters? Part of the problem lies with impatient at-bats. Like we saw from Matt Holliday last night, there are too many overeager swings on balls. These guys need to focus and come to the plate with an approach.
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE: Yadier Molina has certainly made his presence felt in the two games since his return. Today, he put the Cardinals on the board in the seventh inning with a big home run, his first in more than two weeks. He also added pressure to the Reds in the eighth with a walk to help load the bases. He’s one of a kind, isn’t he? Nothing against Tony Cruz, but Yadi makes this lineup much more dangerous.
YOU’RE KIDDING ME: This team is among the league leaders in almost all offensive categories. Except hitting with the bases loaded. The Cardinals constantly tempt momentum’s wrath by squandering multiple bases-loaded opportunities. Last night, Holliday’s bases-loaded failure completely shifted momentum. This time it was Tyler Greene swinging wildly at a ball inside and popping out.
WAKE UP, MATHENY: So Dusty Baker brought his closer Aroldis Chapman into a tied game in the ninth – always the kiss of death. Rafael Furcal leads off the inning with a walk. Almost everyone in the baseball universe was expecting Furcal to steal second; Chapman has a slow motion to the plate and has allowed quite a large number of steals this year. BUT MATHENY DOESN’T SEND THE RUNNER! Instead, he decides to have Jon Jay BUNT against Chapman’s 100 mph fastball!! It ends in Jay striking out on three bunts – end of rally. I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with Matheny doing incredibly dumb things that a ten year-old would know not to do.
THE BITTER END: The Cardinals clawed into extra innings with three arms remaining in the bullpen, including their closer; they were theoretically in better shape than the Reds. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the fact that the Cardinals have the worst bullpen in the history of the game. So it was that Victor Marte was called in to face Ryan Ludwick, and, after nine ptiches, Marte gave up a home run to abruptly end the game. AWESOME.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Lohse, who once again deserved better.
CONCLUSION: There is no excuse for the limp offense, which is entirely the reason why we ended up in extra innings. And we all know what happens then …