Sometimes you get a call, sometimes you don’t. What you do next is what counts.
If you watched the entire top of the fifth in yesterday’s game, John Lackey had an issue with at least one other call from Home Plate Umpire Baker. There was a 2-1 curve ball to Wong that was called a ball. It was close to the top of the zone and John thought it should be a strike. He stared in at the umpire for a moment, then recovered to get Wong.
With that as prologue we get to the 2-2 pitch to Carlos Martinez.
That pitch was a strike, and Martinez was out. He knew it,; Lackey knew it; Cubs catcher Contreras knew it. Baker missed it and called it a ball. Lackey lost his mind. Not unusual, Lackey pitches with his emotions on his sleeve. But here’s the thing: The count was 3-2 now. Lackey could still get out of the inning if he executed his next pitch.
He didn’t. He hung a fastball and Martinez lined it to RC, giving the Cardinals the lead. You saw what happened next.
Lackey blamed the umpire for the run, repeatedly shouting “You’re horrible!” at him as Wong crossed the plate. But here’s the thing – the Umpire didn’t leave that 3-2 pitch in a hittable location, Lackey did. That run is on Lackey. Yes, he had every reason to be upset, and frustrated, with not getting the strike call on the previous pitch. Take a breath and execute the next one. Screaming at the umpire is poor form. That’s what I’d expect a 6-year old to do, not a veteran pitcher who’s won a World Series.
From a St Louis fan perspective, it’s too bad the team couldn’t hold the 2-1 lead. We needed the win, and relying on San Diego to beat Colorado in Denver is like hoping the San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles via Carson sell out the Home Depot Center for their home opener (local content there; I apologize). It ain’t going to happen. At least the Cubs got their catharsis out of the way in the same game by scoring 6 in the 6th. With the emotions from the missed strike call (and subsequent ejections) successfully discharged into the ether, perhaps the Cardinals can recover and win the next two. They have to. If they have any hope of making the post season they cannot afford to lose many more games.
Fifteen games to go. Remember, beating the Cubs isn’t enough; Milwaukee needs to lose enough to slip behind St Louis in the standings.