Welcome to the Internet’s favorite pastime, The Blame Game! The Cardinals again cracked their head on that glass ceiling that is three games above .500, losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Reds last night. You’ve got fingers, let’s point them! Who do you like for this one? Is it….
….Kevin Siegrist? After all, the Cardinals had just tied it up in fairly dramatic fashion, only to see it vanish eight pitches later. It was a bad pitch, but Joey Votto’s no slouch, even if you do throw with your left hand. I mean, it’s not like he walked in a run or anything–Votto did have to earn it, even if the pitch was a cookie.
….Mike Matheny? Hey, Mike, you know that Siegrist has the reverse split! Lefties always hit Siegrist better than righties! Of course, that’s partly because righties do so, so bad against Siegrist. Votto was 0-10 against Siegrist, enough success to trust the guy that some have clamored to be the closer to get through an inning. You might use Trevor Rosenthal there, except this is the one time this year that he’s actually had too much work, having gone three days in a row before the off day.
….the replay officials? Matt Carpenter tied it up in the top of the ninth with a two-run double that should have been a triple if those replay guys wouldn’t have botched things, man. Carpenter was initially called safe, but the replay overturned that. It was a difficult thing to see whether some part of Carp was always on the bag. The tag seemed to stay applied while Carp’s hand and legs took turns anchoring him to third. I was surprised to see it overturned, given the inconclusiveness of it, but some seemed to think that killed the game for the Cards. Even with Carpenter on third, you still have to get him in. Aledmys Diaz popped out right after, which you can’t assume that he would have done with a runner on third and the pitcher in the stretch, but you can’t assume the run would have come in either. I mean, have you seen this team strand runners?
….Matt Carpenter? What was Carpenter thinking going to third anyway? We love Marp, but occasionally his baserunning is suspect. While a runner on third was better than a runner on second there, you aren’t going to sneeze at the rally continuing with two shots to get him in from second. Carp was lucky that the play was as close as it was, honestly.
….the offense? After all, John Lamb shouldn’t look like Cy Young, but it took the club three innings to score their first run ever against him and then another three-plus to get him out of the game. And, really, if it hadn’t been for a rare back-to-back error situation for Brandon Phillips, the whole ninth inning would have probably been moot. The club got 10 hits, but six of those were against that flammable Cincinnati bullpen. Otherwise, they were as meek as a….yeah, you know.
….Mike Leake? It figures that just when you think you’ve got a rock in the rotation, they go out and stumble. Leake gave up more runs last night than he had in any start all season and as many has he had in his last five starts combined. I’m sure that returning to his old haunts may have been a little distracting and we know that Great American is not the best ballpark to pitch in, but giving up a home run to Billy Hamilton–a home run that proved pivotal–is never something you want on your resume. Not only did he give up four runs in the fourth, he did so right after the Cardinals took the lead. That was his worst inning, but that’s a really bad inning.
Take your pick where you want to put the blame, but you know, sometimes you just lose. Not all comebacks are successful. Not all ties go to the team with “momentum”. Playing at home means a lot in the late/extra innings and that’s what happened there. The Cardinals could have played better, but tying it to one specific person or moment is really tough to do, even in a situation like this. (That said, of course, I still have to name a Goat. I’ll go with Leake, given that six runs is a serious chore to overcome.)
There were positives, of course. Jhonny Peralta made his return and went two for four with two doubles and two RBI. If that’s indicative of what we’ll see going forward, that thumb might not be an issue like it was for Yadier Molina. Of course, it’s also just one game with plenty of adrenaline going for him as well. We’ll see how he’s doing a week or 10 days from now before drawing too many conclusions. Still, it was very good to see him return in that fashion and we’ll tag him with the Hero marker for this one.
Stephen Piscotty and Matt Adams continued to be pillars of this team, both getting two base knocks. One of Adams’s drove in the first run of the game, which was Piscotty. It’s always good seeing the homegrown guys develop into part of the foundation of the team, isn’t it?
Yadier Molina didn’t rest, meaning that nothing I said yesterday looked terribly foolish. He did get a hit in the late innings, which was good to see. He also allowed four stolen bases, which is almost unheard of for Yadi. That said, three of them came in the eighth and really couldn’t be pinned on him. The first was Hamilton going second to third, but Jonathan Broxton was in more of a windup and Molina didn’t even through, as Hamilton was almost on the bag before he received the pitch. Hamilton then stole third as part of a walk, and then Ramon Cabrera (who drew the pass) stole second trying to get Yadi to throw so Hamilton would be able to try for home, but Yadi would have nothing to do with that. Now, the steal by Votto I didn’t see, so I don’t know how much to assign blame to Molina there.
Frustrating to lose a game like that when the Cubs also lose and the Pirates wind up winning a doubleheader. Still, we would like to think the Cards will win this series, which means taking the next two games (and that would get them four over .500 for the first time). Tonight, Jaime Garcia goes up against Alfredo Simon. We know that Garcia’s been solid all season and, folks, Simon is just bad (and this has nothing to do with that shooting death he was tied up with). His ERA is almost 9, though that’s skewed by allowing 10 in one start to Cleveland and eight to the Cubs in another. He’s only pitched six or more innings three times this year.
In other words, if he shuts St. Louis down tonight, we’ll have another round of The Blame Game.