Good old baseball. It will break you down if you let it and lift you high at any given time. It’s romantic. Passionate. Maddening. Full of despair. Moments like last night’s ninth inning thriller make you both love it and hate it all at the same time.
The Cards surged ahead in the bottom half of the eighth, taking a 4-2 lead and Trevor Rosenthal was handed the ball in the 9th to get three outs. He was facing the Padres, and not the Orioles. That is not taking a shot at Ron Burgundy’s favorite baseball team, but merely stating that the task shouldn’t be as tough with a light hitting group. Rosenthal has lights out stuff, so it didn’t seem like hard work for the 24 year old.
Nevertheless, the inning turned into classic Rosenthal overkill. While I have praised his efforts to nail down results this season, the epic heights of drama he reaches with his one inning outings is never easy to endure. He made a potentially satisfying turn into an ugly win. He feel like king out there but the fans watching can only claim the status of a hopeless wanderer.
Whether or not A.J. Pierzynski actually tagged Alexi Amarista at home plate in the ninth can be left up to anyone’s judgement. I will simply call that a home field dose of luck that the Cards badly needed. If Rosenthal had followed through and blown the game, the twitter frenzy would have been furious and Pat Neshek wouldn’t be suggested for just the new closer role, but the mayor and lead spokesperson of all peace dealings in St. Louis area. Nevertheless, the call at home was out, the 4-3 lead was intact and Tommy Medica swung at a ball inside to nail down the save and ease Rosenthal off the plank.
The rookie closer(as in first year on the job) has 36 saves in 40 chances. He has also thrown over 1,000 pitches this season and hasn’t had a 1-2-3 ninth since July 31st in San Diego. He’s walked 30 in 56 innings. His half innings don’t seem like three simple outs. They play out like 12 Angry Men in 3D. Rosenthal will keep the closer job. That is for sure. However, when fans clamor for Pat Neshek, what can you tell them? Neshek is the setup man and your current reliever who can go 2 innings when necessary. If they were to switch, would you feel any better with Rosenthal in the 8th inning? My answer for now is…let it be. Rosenthal still closes. Just keep the blood pressure pills close.
Notes from the game-
*John Lackey delivered a solid performance. Seven innings, 2 earned runs, 5 strikeouts and 110 pitches. This is what you can expect from Lackey as the season comes to a close. His Baltimore outing was bad but that team was lighting up any pitcher that week not named Lance Lynn. Lackey has produced a pair of strong home outings when the team needed it. Lackey is the reason I don’t plead for the return of Michael Wacha. He completes the division series three arm attack that was missing before his arrival. People still whine that the Cards gave up on Joe Kelly too soon, but they got the better pitcher at the moment in Lackey aka “Chris Carpenter Jr.” as I referred to him last night. He is going to enjoy pitching in Busch Stadium in 2015.
*Jon Jay just keeps hitting. The veteran versatile bat is hitting .298 with a .359 OBP and has driven in 7 runs in his last seven games. People still cry out for Jay to not start but at this point, Peter Bourjos and Oscar Taveras have to earn the playing time because Jay has been steady all season. You can’t sit a .298 hitter who shreds LHP. In 57 AB(small sample size but still revealing), Jay is hitting .421 in 2014.
*Shane Robinson‘s throw wasn’t perfect but he currently has the strongest arm in the outfield. Nobody else comes close to nailing Amarista last night.
*The Matt’s went 3-10 with 2 walks. Matt Adams collects two more hits and slowly raises his batting average. Matt Holliday went hitless while Carpenter drew a walk and a hit. The trio is a reliable bunch when seen as a whole on any given night.
*Seth Maness has quietly made a comeback. He was awarded the win for a scoreless 8th inning and has pitched very well in the past month. Maness gave up four runs in a mop up outing against San Diego but in 9 of his past 10 outings, Maness has allowed zero runs, 3 hits, 2 walks and has struck out 8 batters. Maness had a shaky start to the season but has came on strong when the bullpen needed it. He has reaffirmed himself as a different breed of reliever this year. He can pitch entire frames and not just come in for the double play.
The Cards send the resurgent Lance Lynn against the Padres tonight with the hope of their 3rd win in a row and a chance trim away the Brewers division lead of 2 games. The Cards are back in second place and may be putting something together. With three more games against San Diego followed by series’ with the Reds and Phillies, now is the time to take advantage of average to poor teams.
Thanks for reading as always. Follow me on Twitter for more instant doses, @buffa82.