GAME 91: Impotence
Young Joe Kelly didn’t pitch well, but well enough to win. Unfortunately, some defensive miscues and another sputtering performance from the offense allowed Milwaukee to sneak past the Cardinals (47-44) 3-2 at Miller Park.
NO GO JOE: I sincerely believe that Joe Kelly will be a major league star, but only if he can get control of his spectacular stuff. This is a kid who throws 96 mph fastballs without blinking, and drops 82 mph changeups on the outside half of the plate with ease. And Kelly doesn’t rattle, either. While watching him, you’d never guess that he’s pitched just a handful of games. But he needs to get control of that stuff. He threw some wholly-inappropriate changeups in key situations, and the Brewers didn’t miss them often. Learn, young Padawan! Learn!
OUCHIE: Matt Holliday (i.e. our hottest hitter) took a Randy Wolf fastball (approximately 45 mph) in his left knee during his first at-bat. The tough Holliday came out an inning later after limping around the outfield. The team classified it as ”an upper thigh contusion,” which probably means Holliday will need surgery later this week and will miss four to six weeks. The only upside to the HBP was that Holliday’s 15-game hitting streak remained intact, but that would be cold consolation if we lost him for any length of time.
HEADS UP: A walk to Rafael Furcal and a single by Allen Craig had two runners on with one out. Up came Jon Jay, who has been desperately looking for a hit. He slapped a double to the opposite field to score Furcal. That brought up Carlos Beltran, who hit a sacrifice fly double play to score the second run. However, that second run doesn’t score if Jay doesn’t avoid the tag long enough at third. His heads-up play shows again why Jay is one of the smarter players on this team.
WHOOPS: With the Cardinals leading 2-1 in the third, Kelly walked Norichika Aoki. Kelly then threw the ball into the stands on a failed pickoff. However, despite the ball bouncing off of a fence and back onto the field, the umpires ruled it a one-base error instead of two, so Aoki had to stay at second. This was a huge break that Kelly should’ve used to his advantage, but he didn’t; an Aramis Ramirez single drove in the tying run anyway.
WASTED CHANCES: Less than 24 hours after the Cardinals staged a dramatic, two-out comeback, they immediately reverted back to their impotence in run-scoring opportunities. Leadoff singles by Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter in the seventh gave the Redbirds a terrific chance to even the score. Matheny (of course) called for a bunt with Tyler Greene at the plate, and Greene laid it down perfectly. So Matheny had Lance Berkman pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot. Berkman fought against Wolf in a long at bat, but was eventually called out on strikes (and then ejected for arguing – unusual). Furcal then popped out to end the inning. This team is INFURIATING to watch. They make it so easy to forget the heroics just a night before.
THE BITTER END: David Freese doubled and Molina singled to lead off the ninth inning down 3-2. Matt Carpenter grounded out, moving Molina to second. Two runners in scoring position and just one out – surely they wouldn’t blow this chance, would they?? OF COURSE! The most frustrating offense in baseball proceeded to waste this precious gift, with Skip Schumaker swinging at balls over his head to eventually strike out and Daniel Descalso popping out to end it. These kinds of cock-tease endings are just too much to endure anymore. How can we have that many runners on base and not plate them? It’s mystifying.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: I’m giving it to Fernando Salas, who supplied us with two crucial innings of work that gave us the best chance to comeback. Sadly, it was wasted.
CONCLUSION: This team is going nowhere unless it can start taking better at-bats in run-scoring situations. End of story. We are not losing these games due to poor pitching.