This One Is On Matheny

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.

@buffa82

  • Gary Todd

    the same story all season long, one step forward two steps back. Matheny, when you keep doing the same thing and getting the same result, it’s time to change your thinking and strategy

  • D Scott Horton

    Matheny seems to have learned his managerial skills from Tony LaRussa but he has nowhere near as much experience. Rosenthal almost blew it last night, so why would Matheny think it was a good idea to overextend him the very next day? On the day that TLR announced his retirement I thought Jose Oquendo would be an ideal replacement and I still believe that. Matheny is in way over his head. Sorry Mike, I like you but you are making too many dumb mistakes.

    • Tulsa Terry

      Matheney doesn’t have the experienced pitching coach in Dave Duncan to bolster him like LaRussa did. Derek Lilliquist should have known that Rosenthal was gassed tonight AND last night. If he did know and Matheney overuled him which is worse?

      • D Scott Horton

        That too is a valid point.

  • Thomas Donley

    I read that Holliday came out because of an injury, so Matheny, holding a lead at the time, decided to replace him with defense in Robinson rather than offense in Taveras. Also, Choate came into the game to face the lefthander and shorten the inning for Rosenthal. Brilliant move in light of his long outing yesterday. We need to judge managers’ decisions based on the situation rather than the result. It’s easy to say that Matheny made the wrong decision because players didn’t come through, but it’s not fair to him. If Neshek had stayed in and blown the lead, I guarantee you would be blasting him for leaving him in. That being said, it would’ve made more sense for Oscar to pinch hit for Robinson once the lead was lost and the tying run was in scoring position.

    • Dehart Connections

      very well said Monday morning arm chair quaterbacks can second guess but blown leads will happen every now & then

      • famousmortimer

        But Neshek didn’t stay in. Would you have taken out the guy who just breezed through an inning for the reliever who did a lot of work the day before? When you’ve already been criticised before this season for overusing him?

        To say that criticising a decision in sport is just meaningless “armchair quarterbacking”…why on earth did you come to an internet discussion of the game then?

        • Dehart Connections

          yes I was lil surprised Neshek was not in for the 9th Rosey had a tough save with a lot of pitches the day before but he allmost got through it Casey McGee very tough at bat have to say he batteled very hard & won that time yes MM could have went with Mott or stay with Neshek I my self may have start inning with Neshek if trouble pops up go with Mott & still have Rosey warm if needed to get last out

        • Dehart Connections

          you know as Thomas said-Choate came into the game to face the lefthander and shorten the inning for Rosenthal too

  • Dehart Connections

    do something any thing except putting him in the line up with Peter Bourjos he has bobble or drop more balls in part time play then the entire OF all season combind 2 times this season was put in as pinch runner in tight games & has over slide a stolen base to be tagged out he cant even get a bunt down oh yea he can run like a jack rabbit lol

  • SocraticGadfly

    Matheney’s halfway into his third season; time to stop making the “he’s growing” excuses. Oh, and Sugar Shane’s back down; Wong is up!

  • Court13

    Matheny has misused his closer too many times to recall. Anyone catch the game in LA when they were up by two, bottom of the 8th, 2 outs, nobody on base, Freeman is mowing them down, and he decides he must bring in Rosenthal for a 4-out save. Rosey ends up getting the save, but throws 42 pitches and therefore, isn’t available for the next game. And how many times has he put Rosey in with a tie game in the 9th & have him pitch 2 innings with no decision. Matheny manages the ends of games like he has no reliever in the bullpen outside of Rosenthal; they have arguably the best bullpen in baseball! When you have Freeman, Neshek, Motte & Siegrist (when healthy), it seems crazy to have to overuse Rosey with all of the multiple inning saves & pitching him in tie games. Furthermore, the Cards aren’t going to win the pennant with four position players hitting at or below the Mendoza line (<.200). Bourjos, Ellis, Robinson & Descalso aren't rookies and half a season is enough. And Matheny is benching Tavaras, Wong & Adams when a LHP is on the hill? For these guys? The young studs need reps – let them play! If the other guys aren't even hitting as well as the pitchers, you're not even risking anything. Mabry shouldn't be getting a pass, either, in all of this; every single hitter with the exception of Adams, is hitting worse this year than last (in some cases, by 30-40 points). The Cards have so much talent they should be running away with the division. SI had a great article about the Cards mis-managing their young talent a little over a month ago and it's unfortunately being played out. It's time Mozeliak steps up and makes the tough decisions he was paid the big bucks to make. Go Cards!

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