GAMES 141-143: The End, My Friends
The Padres came out swinging in the first game, unloading on another erratic road performance from nutcase/enigmatic lefty Jaime Garcia. The 11-3 beating featured four runs to Garcia, and seven runs to four subsequent Cardinal bullpen arms.
The Cardinals took an early 2-0 lead, but immediately gave the game back with a fourth-inning defensive meltdown featuring two errors. The Cardinals looked like they were fielding grenades. The defensive incompetence gifted the Padres with five quick runs, and they never looked back after that.
Meanwhile, the offense left a staggering 30 runners on base. The Padres almost DARED the Cardinals to score, giving them EIGHT WALKS. Yet they couldn’t. This was a game that the Cardinals could’ve won, but just refused to.
After losing the first two games and seeing their wild card lead down to one game, the Cardinals really needed to win this one. They fell behind 2-0 before Matt Carpenter ripped a long homer to tie the game. However, the Padres scored one tiny run, and it proved to be their undoing.
The ninth inning provided a microcosm of the second half of the season. Allen Craig led off the ninth with a double. Matheny replaced Craig with Adron Chambers in an attempt to get that tying run (a questionable strategy given that you might want Craig’s bat in the event of a tie). But then Matheny ordered Yadier Molina to bunt. Again, Matheny ordered one of the Cardinals’ best contact hitters to bunt. Molina bunted Chambers to third, where he now stood with one out.
But two groundouts ended the “threat” and left the Cardinals with a bitter and avoidable sweep by the Padres.
Overall, the Cardinals went 4-32 with runners in scoring position. You won’t win against the Astros with stats like that.
Basically, this Cardinals team is playing out the schedule. I recommend they spend their fast-approaching winter healing and learning the fundamentals of baseball strategy.