Sure, there are a lot of things one could point to in this game for reasons why a 5-1 lead was blown and the game was lost 6-5. Take your pick.
-The Cardinals left 9 runners on base and 6 in the first three innings.
-Shelby Miller couldn’t make it through 6 innings and the bullpen was destined to be maxed out and tested.
-Peter Bourjos made an uncredited error in center field.(I’m truly kidding here, just trying to spark the Bourjos loyalists).
Here’s what happened. Mike Matheny fed his critics by managing horribly in the late innings. Let’s skip to the end. Past the two home runs(first back to back) by Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta. Let’s go past the three run homer given up by Seth Maness to make it a 5-4 game going into the 8th.
Pat Neshek came into the game. He threw 9 pitches. He got three outs. He did it effortlessly. He did it so easily that one would question if his feet were actually on the ground. Now, this may be the coffee or Italian talking, but is there really a reason to pull Neshek from this game? I hope Matheny gets asked that question. He will answer by coming undone and probably because he knew his stupid idea wasn’t going to work. Sometimes, I believe managers make moves that don’t make sense and realize it afterwards.
Skip to the bottom of the 9th. One other thing about that Neshek move. Shane Robinson double switched into left field, thus taking Matt Holliday out of the game. Holliday had been on base three times, scored twice and drive in a runner. So what, Matheny thought. Let’s bring in the gold glove(in Matheny’s mind anyway) Robinson and a man who has the bat of an angel. This was an illogical decision in my opinion.
I am mad right now, so pardon the lack of respect I have for a manager I have defended a lot this season. Matheny is young and needs time to grow and learn how to manage a game. John Mozeliak said this. He is right. However, what Matheny did today was just bad baseball and these results leave a bitter taste in one’s mind.
What happened in that eighth inning for the Cards? Matt Adams pinch hits, gets to second base and Shane comes up and pops up on the first pitch. Now, Holliday may have done the same thing. However, I still want Matt in there and not Shane in a one run game. Holliday’s defense has improved dramatically in left field this season, due to better health in his legs. Shane isn’t that good of a defender to make this move stick. Not at all.
Instead of leaving Neshek in, Matheny elects to go with Randy Choate and Trevor Rosenthal for the 9th inning. Choate got his guy. Rosenthal came in and gave up a base hit. He struck out Giancarlo Stanton on a wicked changeup. On his 23rd pitch, Rosenthal gave up an RBI hit to Casey McGehee(who suddenly has 52 RBI on the season). Yadi dropped a well thrown but one hop sinker from Mark Ellis at home plate. Game tied. Sam Freeman comes in and gives up the go ahead single to Jeff Baker. Steve Cishek closes it down in the bottom half of the 9th.
Here is something I noticed. Peralta got a base hit in the 9th. Matheny pinch ran Daniel Descalso for Peralta. So, at that point, if the Cards tie it, the game goes into extras with these guys out of action. Matt Holliday, Matt Adams and Peralta. Right…..
I don’t like blaming managers for a loss but this one sticks pretty close. Matheny could have easily rested a worn down Rosenthal and let Neshek finish the game. He could have let a fresh Jason Motte finish the game. Why not? Neshek has been your best pitcher in the bullpen so there is no reason to push Rosenthal in July after so many innings already. Sure, it would be wonderful if Trevor didn’t surrender 25 pitches per outing at least, but once again, he’s a young closer and has only been doing it since late September. People forget the man is only learning on the job. Rosenthal blew it but Matheny lit the fire.
Side note. Jaime Garcia pulled a Ray Lankford on Mozeliak and the Cards. Planned surgery without team. His body. His arm. Still, Jaime, there’s a contract. Bye bye.
Also, Mo, let’s go ahead and DFA Descalso and Robinson. What are they giving this team at the moment? Mistake filled baseball. A nicely turned double play on occasion. Scrappy presence with no finish.
The Cards seem to be on the cusp of something special and they mess up a win. They could have been 8 games over .500 for the first time this season. That is gone. They may have picked up ground on the Brewers(winning 1-0 in the 7th against Cincinnati). That is gone. They are instead 47-41 and 4.5 games out of first place. That’s pathetic and for one reason. A waste of opportunity. How many more times are the Cardinals going to waste opportunities to get ahead in 2014? How many false starts will the Cardinals have before they truly take off in 2014?
I have no answers. Just blame to spread around. I have said for years that players deserve the majority of the blame on most days. Trevor Rosenthal deserves some blame for blowing a save. Seth Maness deserves blame for turning a 5-1 route into a nail biter with one bad pitch. Yadi Molina deserves blame for dropping a close throw at the plate. Sam Freeman deserves blame for surrendering the game winning hit. Matt Holliday for not refusing to leave the game.
Today, I give the most blame to Mike Matheny. He had the moves right in front of him to make a victory happened and he went the other way. You can disagree with me but I have my feet buried deep in the ground on this one. Matheny has no excuses for this one. Why Rosenthal? Why not Neshek? Why not Motte? Why Robinson? Why not Holliday? I could go on. However, I have a kid that just woke up from a nap and he wants to go outside and play. I am going to do that.
Thanks for reading and stay easy Cardinal Nation.