I am in the midst of training my son(3 years old on Sunday) to use the toilet and every time he feels like revolting, he tells me with a stern glare, “NOT YET DADDY!” I feel like telling many Cardinal fans and Mike Matheny the same thing about the 2014 regular season. It’s far from over and some people think the division is wrapped up and all is well. I didn’t know that when a team reached 16 games over .500 in September, they officially clinched the division. Matheny is acting like it’s over as well. I didn’t mind him playing rookies in spots on Tuesday but what I did mind is his choice of relief pitchers during that game and his pinch hitting lineup in the 9th inning last night. I won’t rant about everything I am mad about with the past two losses because that would take a book, a pot of coffee and lots of smashed tables. Let’s focus on the two things.
Tuesday Night-Mike Matheny calls on Jason Motte, the former closer firing soft blanks towards the plate, with NOBODY out and runners on second and third. Brandon Phillips immediately lined a two run double and a 4-1 game became 6-1. This was huge because the Cards ended up scoring 5 runs and made it close. The lineup left 19 runners on base and Michael Wacha got roughed up, but still, the little decisions get a team killed in September. Motte shouldn’t enter any ballgame right now, much less a close one in the middle of a pennant race. It wasn’t a bad idea. It was stupid.
Wednesday Night-Cards are down 4-2 in the 9th and here is who Matheny calls on to face Aramis Chapman, who carries the left arm of Zeus. Mark Ellis, Peter Bourjos and rookie Tommy Pham. Ellis “battled” on Tuesday against Chapman but can’t touch his 102 mph fastball. Bourjos strikes out against lesser pitchers with soft tossing stuff but yeah let’s send him up there to have three fastballs blown past his bat. Pham had no reason to be up there. They don’t make Chapman’s down there in Memphis. This was a civilian facing a Demi God in a comic book. Why not Jhonny Peralta? He make look like he takes his time everywhere he goes but he has a quick bat. He also leads the team with 20 home runs. He is also hitting very well. He is also the best, when WAR is concerned, player on this team. Why not? Why not use Xavier Scruggs, who has a bigger bat than Pham at the plate. If he gets a hold of the fastball, it won’t land until it clears the Ohio border. Also, why did Randal Grichuk pinch hit for Oscar Taveras earlier? If he had not, maybe you save Grichuk until the 9th(pinch hit Bourjos in the 8th). Just a lot of ideas and alternatives.
I know what you are thinking. Shut up writer. You aren’t a manager. What do I know? I know this my friends. If I can recognize a stupid decision from my couch in St. Louis, so should Matheny. His 9th inning crew was hopeless and had no lightning in their bats. It’s not rocket science. I have defended Matheny all year and withheld the “Fire Him” chants because I think he does a good job overall. However, there are areas where he really struggles and this is year three. He managed the two situations as if the Cards had already won the division.
That is wrong. That is premature and unwise. This season has 17 games left. Plenty of time for Pittsburgh to flip the table and take this division.
The facts. If the Cards go 8-8, and the Pirates to do no better than 12-5 and the Brewers 13-3 for the division to be won. It sounds simple but it is not. The 2011 team proved that to the rest of the league.
Slow it down, ladies and gents. The 2014 season isn’t wrapped up yet. Think back to rougher times. Recapture that mindset.
The Cards play at 1135 this morning and need Lance Lynn to take the mound and be his regular great 2014 self. They need this game. Don’t leave the door open for the Pirates. Slam it shut.
Before the Cards do that, it would be wise for Matheny to manage like his team is down 3.5 games and not up by that margin.
Thanks for reading and have a good day,