May 23rd, 2009 – Kansas City Royals @ St Louis Cardinals
Cardinals 5, Royals 0
Well, if it weren’t for the goings on of the eighth inning (which you can find over at Fungoes), the ninth inning would’ve been an uneventful and good end to the ballgame for the Cardinals.
Indeed, the game wrap-up had plenty of good news to report.
After being hit in the right (or pitching) elbow in the bottom of the eighth inning and proceeding to run the bases as well, Cardinal starter Kyle Lohse did not come back out to pitch the ninth.
Reports are that he has a bruised elbow and shouldn’t have any issues making his next scheduled start, but it seemed pretty obvious that the manager wasn’t interested in taking any more chances with his high-priced starting pitcher after some doubted the decision to send him to the plate in the first place.
Lohse had only thrown 98 pitches to that point, so it’s not unreasonable to send him out with a chance for the complete game shutout, but it is certainly out of character for Tony LaRussa.
In our opinion, the bright spot in the ninth was Chris Perez.
Perez made an efficient sixteen pitch, one-inning appearance to close the game down. He allowed one hit to Jose Guillen that wasn’t hit hard and was actually almost snagged bare-handed by second baseman Brendan Ryan.
Perez threw eleven strikes in his sixteen pitches, striking out two.
It seems that Perez is getting more comfortable with throwing his slider (and a five-run lead probably helped), getting it over three times in four attempts, using it to get all three outs in the inning, including both strikeouts (according to MLB.com’s Gameday pitchFx information).
While we’d love to see Cardinal starting pitchers continue the roll they are on, sooner or later the bullpen is going to be counted on again to win some games. If Perez can be efficient in his appearances and use the slider as an out pitch, he will be a huge asset for this ballclub.
Check out the rest of the UCB Progressive Game Blog posts by going to the United Cardinal Bloggers homepage.