Cardinals fans at Busch Stadium this weekend have been treated to three starting pitching gems so far in just two games – two for the good guys (Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse) and one by the opposing Brewers (Yovani Gallardo). Lohse’s required a bit more wiggle work, but he was outstanding again nonetheless.
We enter the ninth inning with a score of Brewers 1, Cardinals 0 – as the Cards got the leadoff hitter, Daniel Descalso, on to break up Gallardo’s no-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, but another display of sacrifice bunting “prowess” from Tyler Greene left the bottom of the lineup unable to capitalize on the early base runner.
Top of the ninth – Brewers 1, Cardinals 0
Mitchell Boggs pitching…
Boggs gets a first pitch foul ball on the fastball, then a good slider for strike two. McGehee chops one over Descalso’s head that is fielded by Greene on the outfield grass – Greene’s strong throw makes it close, but McGehee beats it out.
vs Mark Kotsay – McGehee on at first
Quick 2-0 count to Kotsay, while John Axford, Milwaukee’s closer, begins warming in the bullpen. Excellent location on the outside corner by Boggs to get strike one. A much less successful location for the fastball results in the second hit of the inning, runners now at first and second.
vs Jonathan Lucroy – McGehee on at second, Kotsay on at first
Boggs desperately needs a double play ball here, Lucroy squares to bunt and is barely able to keep the pitch from hitting him in the face while fouling it off. Strike two on a high pitch, Boggs sitting 91-95 on his fastball according to the Fox Sports Midwest broadcast so far. Lucroy fouls the third pitch off of his foot after taking the first pitch on the finger while fouling the bunt – the catcher is beating himself up a bit here in this at-bat. Nasty slider from Boggs with great location outside of the zone low and away – but unfortunately, Lucroy does not chase. 94 miles per hour fastball high and away gets Lucroy swinging and now a double play gets the Cards to their half.
vs Carlos Gomez – McGehee on at second, Kotsay on at first
Gomez fouls off a 95 miles per hour fastball straight back – strike one. Boggs throws a slider in the dirt to even the count, and the ball bounds away from Yadier Molina, allowing the runners to move up. (McGehee on at third, Kotsay on at second) As Molina walked back to the screen to pick up the wild pitch, he apparently got up-close-and-personal with a Fox Sports Midwest microphone and voiced his displeasure with the play – watch your mouth Yadi! Reigning Over-Manager of the Year Tony La Russa elects to switch pitchers mid-at-bat. Jason Motte pitching The discussion between Dan McLaughlin and Al Hrabosky has centered around Motte being more likely than Boggs to get the strikeout of Gomez here, but they fail to mention that he’s probably also more likely to issue a walk. Instead, Motte tries to get cute with a slider and one of the worst hitters in the Milwaukee lineup triples over Lance Berkman‘s head. Brewers 3, Cardinals 0.
vs Yuniesky Betancourt – Gomez on at third
First pitch fly-out to left field scores Gomez from third easily. Two outs, three runs scored in this inning. Yay.
vs Rickie Weeks
Now Motte decides maybe he should stick with the fastball. 97 miles per hour for strike one. Motte continues to throw fastballs and – SHOCKING! – he strikes Weeks out – with the gas – 97 miles per hour – you know, the heater? – WHY DIDN’T YOU THROW THE FASTBALL TO GOMEZ?!?! – to end the top of the ninth inning.
Bottom of the ninth – Brewers 4, Cardinals 0
John Axford pitching
vs Colby Rasmus
Colby takes a long look at strike one, followed by a 98 miles per hour heater for ball one inside. Strike two is a 97 miles per hour fastball swung through by Rasmus. Straight gas from Axford – this one upstairs for ball two. Axford apparently subscribes to the Anti-Motte theory – get hitters out with your best pitch. Another fastball, this one fouled off. Finally, you guessed it, another fastball finished off Rasmus swinging.
Pujols walks in oh-for-three, further confounding fantasy baseball experts (among others). Quickly 1-2 to Pujols as Axford finally shows off the off-speed breaking ball to Albert. Another breaking ball in the dirt. One more breaking ball and Pujols feebly strikes out. This game reminds me of 2010 – ugh.
Axford has fallen in love with the breaking ball, and his first one in the dirt draws a swing from Holliday. Fastball inside runs the count to 1-1. One last breaking ball induces a weak little bouncer back to the mound, and that’s all she wrote.
Brewers win, 4-0.
I mentioned it above, and will do so again, this game eerily reminded me of watching a 2010 Cardinals game – seemingly lethargic, questionable decisions late-game, defensive miscues that won’t show up in the box score as errors but affected the game – didn’t like a bit of it.
To be fair, Yovani Gallardo had the goods today – he was dealing much like Garcia last evening, working the corners, getting bad swings.
To me, this is the type of game that I have come to expect the 2011 Cardinals to win. Go into the ninth inning down a run, take care of your business (keep in mind that the bullpen has mostly been blowing leads, not letting the other team add to them), and have your two-three-four hitters walk it off in the bottom half. I know that they won’t win every game in that fashion, this one just leaves a bad taste. The Brewers had been scuffling and this one was there for the taking.
Hats off to Kyle Lohse for another great start – shame that he couldn’t get any support today.
Every time the world hops on the “Pujols is breaking out of it” bandwagon, he drops a nasty oh-fer – today’s was nasty.
Now for the manager – you’ll remember from above that McLaughlin and Hrabosky believed that Tony brought Motte in because he was more likely to get a strikeout than Boggs. Hopefully Tony had a different reason. Not only is Dan and Al’s assertion false, but my assertion that Motte was more likely to issue a walk was true. Hard to imagine what Tony was thinking there (maybe someone asked him in the post-game I couldn’t watch?), but I’m not certain Motte had any measurable advantage there over leaving Boggs in with his superior repertoire.
At any rate, I hope you enjoyed this recap of the ninth – please visit Cards ‘N Stuff and Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Night for the top and bottom of the eighth inning, respectively, and C70 at the Bat for the postgame recap. You can find all of the innings posted at the various United Cardinal Bloggers sites via the UCB website.